Literature is not a luxury but a lifeline – Jouni Teittinen, winner of the HS Literature Prize, sums up his year as the winner in his essay – Pledge Times


“It was a pleasure to meet so many new worlds in this year’s debut,” thanks Jouni Teittinen, the winner of last year’s debut book competition. This year’s winner will be announced today.

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Thursday 14.11. 2019, just before ascending to the far too big stage of the awards ceremony combined with HS’s 130th anniversary gala, I spun in the restroom like an injured animal and met my printed and crossed out speech in a hurry. Nothing at all I I could say?

Now that pretty much exactly a year later I try to write down the feelings of the elapsed time, one in the last drop and one in the sock, at most the weight has started to change places. Maybe it’s not a slight change: What I do I could say.

After all, it is not about me in the end, but about the opportunity to say it.

I sit on the living room floor in the middle of stacks of books. The shelves come on Friday. I don’t know how many books there are, some tens of meters though. Something old, something new, something borrowed (yes, I might have it).

In an environment like this, it starts to feel very small. The information embedded in the books is differently impressive than the trivial amount of the internet, but above all it is about style. Whichever book I pick up and open, something speaks to it with their own voice, not necessarily at all recognizable – few encounter style as immediately as, say, a face – but with a voice equal to everything.

Somewhere out there, my thin volume also sounds, a stack of author pieces chirping in unison. But why? How could it stand out from the endless crowd, how could this year’s firstborns?

I have there is such a mistake that I would always quote Ralph Waldo Emersonia. For example: “I hate quotes. Tell me what you know ”(Diary, May 1849).

But who today knows where the line between heard and personal knowledge goes? What about the borrowed and your own style?

In my award speech, I talked about my own voice, about the pressure to find a “own voice” often for a first-time writer. Not that the most self-righteous would necessarily succeed, that they would even be paid. You also have to sound with the right note, whether it is determined by aesthetic, commercial or other grounds.

Volunteering is close to a short circuit. Still: your own voice should be.

Size the question is a paradox. On the one hand, no one’s voice is their own, everyone’s text is inhabited by a legion of predecessors and companions, just as the human body is inhabited by more microbes than our own cells. Without those bacteria, the human body will not function, and the text will not live without foreign exercise. On the other hand only in you the sounds combine just like that, echo for you. The writing is always unique.

Thus, although books do not write themselves, it is important to see the weave of styles and sounds in relation to the literary choir in which the expressions are extracted, change the host animal, sometimes catching on even the slightest hint. One can find that he has received a gesture from someone else, his face, his text, and yet it is at home.

The expression is bigger than the detector. You may not want to stop looking for your own voice, but the feeling that it can’t be found as such in the end – even if someone else believes they found it for you – can bring relief. And the more other sounds, books gather around him, the more certain new compounds there are in the mixture.

Let’s get back to the room.

And let’s face it. I don’t know anything about most of the books rising around me because I haven’t read them. Some are written in languages ​​I don’t know but one day I imagine I will learn.

Most of the books, I can promise, I won’t even browse like when I dust the books. Their main task is to collect dust, and yet you can breathe better in the middle of them, because I could really open anything, read a couple of lines, a chapter, a book. In the future.

That’s the trick. Books are the material of the future. I don’t just mean imagining possible and impossible worlds on their pages, even if it is done and tolerated, against the charming noise of the autofiction boom. (How crippling if literature always repeats only what is at hand; although there is always more at hand than at hand, when understood, even when discussed at the beginning.)

It is about literature as a form which, by its sheer stubborn existence, keeps the direction and character of reality open, even in the opening, millions of little feet between the closing door of the world at any moment. It can always be different. Not escapism but new connections.

Philosopher Gilles Deleuze describes true style as a transcendental activity that explores a different way of being, a new opportunity to structure the world, or to comb its members. In this sense, literature is not a luxury but a condition of life: not predetermined (like biological boundary conditions) but dictated by life, insofar as life needs it in an attempt to transcend its former boundaries, mutated, transformed into more than material.

Of course visit other roads, but literature is one. Written style is the possibility of a certain experience, the experience of opportunity.

It was a joy to meet so many new worlds, people, colors and perceptions in this year’s debuts, experiences I hadn’t been able to miss and which, in one moment, became absolutely possible. A lot over the years, a lot grabbed.

Congratulations to the winner!

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