Epilogue

I just got out of the sauna. The dog was in, and my friend, too. My friend’s still there, but I had the need to write something down. So I logged in to MOQ.FI to write an article. There were again some aggressive, sad comments from Llama, but I’ll read them later. I felt he had began harassing me, so I had told him never to contact me again.

Reading the foreword by Antti Kukkonen was an overwhelmingly positive experience. The other foreword from Ciaran Healy wasn’t, although it gave the book some merit. Despite having no relevant academic credentials, Healy seems to have managed to turn philosophy into a job. But he does his own thing, and in retrospect, I don’t think it was in his interests to understand my work. Kukkonen, on the other hand, was so positive about my work that it seems I have to let go of my apprehension towards the academia. Studying in the University might still not be my piece of cake, but I guess I don’t need to hate the academia anymore. There’s also another reason for that.

Earlier, I blamed the media for not turning philosophy into a big thing, but looks like the situation has changed. The scandal revolving around prime minister Jyrki Katainen and philosopher Pekka Himanen has escalated to such an extent that it’s no longer right to say that the media is disinterested of philosophy. Himanen wrote a mediocre book and got paid 700 000 euros for that. The prime minister who commissioned the work has been accused of using the academia for making political propaganda. The accusations are so severe that some, including I, have said that the prime minister should resign. I think that strongly advocating philosophical work, that is this bad, warrants resignation because it’s embarrassing. But many other people, who also require the prime minister to resign, do not think like this. They think the prime minister should have used the normal academic process instead of picking Himanen in advance. I’m not sure what to think about that. As far as society is a game with no inherent purpose, such a reason can be used to change the prime minister. And this is indeed the way things are being conducted, if we take a look at drug legislation, sexual freedom and many other social problems, to which politicians don’t bother to do anything. But I don’t believe the prime minister should be rendered unable to commission a particular person to create a work – only that work done in such a manner should be good, ecspecially if money is poured to having the author make expensive trips to apparently irrelevant conferences and generally look like a hot shot. I speak from experience when I say such luxury is unnecessary.

The media has been hard on Himanen. If there are any beneficiaries of this turmoil, I am likely to be one of them, as I just happen to pop out of nowhere and offer people ostensibly good philosophy that, if not primarily related to social issues, has nevertheless a strong connection to them. Although I don’t want anyone to suffer, I might even become the final nail in Himanen’s coffin, so to say. Therefore I have felt a need to look deeper into this issue so that I would not only further some agenda, but also understand the issue itself. How does Himanen perceive himself? Is he a swindler, or did he sincerely have good intentions?

Himanen obtained a doctorate in philosophy at only twenty years of age. In 1994 he appeared on a newspaper under the headline: “I want to lead Finland forwards”. At age 21 he was invited to the Presidential Independence Day reception. I’m reading all this from a newspaper article headlined: “Himanen was bestowed his doctorate in a hurry”, which is again quite telling of the tone in which the media approaches Himanen. But in a way, I can relate to him.

I felt a lot like Himanen when I was refining the obscure, bad theories of my own creation that were called “Sensicalism” or “Exact Phenomenology”. I was carrying the world on my shoulders. The future of our nation was my sole responsibility. But one thing was different: I had no credentials. Nobody believed in me except myself. When I ceased to believe in myself, the project kind of vanished for two years. I had the option to give up. But Himanen obtained a doctorate at the relatively immature and tender age of twenty, and this spectacle imprisoned him. In a way, there was no option not to try to turn him into a hot shot, and he probably knew it all along. Philosophical accomplishment was bound strongly to his ego when that doctorate was given. It should not come as a surprise that such a mental disposition is harmful to creativity.

Research on creativity has indicated that people are not very creative when paid monetary rewards for good ideas. Rather, people are creative when they have a high standard of living so that they don’t need to think about money. This is scientific wisdom, and also the wisdom of many old people I personally know. But it seems that in modern Finland, with National Coalition the right-wing party on the rise, this wisdom has been forgotten. This country is run by people who seem to actually think that creativity is a product among others, and can be made subordinate to money. That if someone obtained a doctorate at twenty years of age, and he is given a lot of money for taking business class flights to foreign conferences, he is very unlikely to fail in creating something profound. The same right-wingers at least seem to want to decrease social security under the pretense that people on welfare, such as I, do not contribute to society.

In reality, getting visibly successful at a young age can preclude a person from ever achieving any more in his life.

Suppose some fifteen-year-old develops a revolutionary cancer treatment. Things like that happen. It’s quite conceivable that the worst thing that could be done to him would be to elevate him and give him lots of money. Yet if a fifty-year-old scientist did the same thing as the culmination of his career, it would be most fitting to award the same accolades to him.

I remember reading about a scientist, who invented a blue LED that’s cheap to mass produce. His creation is ubiquitous. Blue LEDs are still used excessively in consumer electronics, even when there’s no good reason to pick the blue color. The inventor was a respeted scientist in his home country, which, I recall, is Japan. But he moved away from there. He wanted to be treated as the dumb foreigner, who doesn’t speak the language. He wanted that, because it made him angry. He needed anger in order to be creative, so he purposefully put himself at disadvantage. That’s the opposite of what happened to Himanen. Getting a doctorate at the age of twenty and partying with the President, Himanen obviously was at an advantage. If my egoistic desires had been nurtured like that when I was twenty, I would have probably become as unrealistic as Himanen. But society kept signaling me that I’m pretty much nothing. I haven’t exactly had the “high standards” of living supposedly required for creativity, but apparently I have learnt to make do with less and I have had supporters. Getting a N900 smartphone as a birthday present, like I got from Suvi, is no small thing. I use the device very much.

Now, I ask the right-wingers, what price tag do you wish to put on being treated like an idiot, if that makes one free? Free to invent a blue LED? And if you put a price tag, does that person have to pay it? Would that scientist have had to pay millions in order to be treated like an idiot? Why not, as millions are what his invention is worth. And should I have paid Horse to kick me out of MoQ-Discuss? Do I owe money to the bully in the vocational school? Both of those made this book possible.

Of course, it makes no sense to pay of such things. While monetary value can be assigned to them, it is irrelevant, because the thing is financially valuable only to the person who has it. He can’t sell it to anyone or buy it from anyone.

Excessive money and status do not attract creativity, and if they mandate creativity, they are likely to repel it. It is already hard enough to try to create a world in which the most successful people even become rich. What is even harder is to try to create a world in which the “top-notch” departments or academic groups actually are composed of the best possible experts. I was never a social security fan because of “humanitarian” interests, and I even harbor a kind of a dislike towards things labeled “humanitarian”. If the right-wingers could make observations that are contrary to their political dogma, they would find out that social security is simply the best way of funding progress. There is a myriad of reasons why you can’t gather the best people together in some University department by offering tons of money. First and foremost, no matter how much money you offer, you will never find the most creative experts that way.

Right-wingers may have misunderstood creativity. Creative people do not tend to be motivated by money or credentials and can spontaneously form networks relevant for their work. It’s hard to help them from the outside, because they may begin demanding things before they have produced valuable output. If given help in such a situation, they might never produce valuable output. Perhaps something like that happened to Himanen. A doctorate at the age of twenty is not as much of a contribution as it is a fetish: a charm superstitiously believed to embody magical powers. Any society will have a hard time supporting creative work if it does so under the assumption that creative people must be discriminated from everyone else before support is given. Particularily in philosophy it is rare that someone with academic credentials would contribute much, and I and Pirsig are not the only philosophers who have thought so.

But what does all this tell about Himanen himself? I don’t know. Maybe he really is a bit naive. But maybe he doesn’t like the right-wing politicians because of their ignorance, like I don’t. To trick the prime minister of Finland into endorsing such bad work could be a politically motivated act. It would expose the prime minister’s ignorance to the voters. If this is the case, it’s possible Himanen will never publicly admit it. Then Himanen would never again enjoy the admiration of the general public, but maybe he doesn’t care about that.

I admit that I have expressed, in this book, a need to get money and influence, but a tendency to be quite crude and corrosive. But if you think it’s a good idea to turn me into some kind of an icon, I will play along as well as I can. I do need a bit more money – like I said I’d like to be middle class. That would be enough to remove most of the desperation that is the root of my hostility.

I no longer have that much of the anger that kept me going. People who know me have often accused my creative works of portraying me as a completely different person than I really am, so I guess I should make note that this feverish aggression is something I don’t like to direct at other people. I have attained a personal feeling of success by writing this book, and as a result I nowadays spend a lot of time simply wondering what life is about instead of making judgements. I am not harshly opinionated and am generally a pleasant person. If you want to turn me into some kind of an icon I am curious what that would be like. I think it would make for a good story. As long as I’m not on an obscure mission under disagreeable circumstances, I could behave so civilly and politely as if I were the President, although I can’t say I’d look forwards to having a packed schedule like prominent politicians do. To be sure, looks like I’ve learnt to live as an underground celebrity, too. The troubles are pervasive, but that way of life does leave a lot of creative freedom. What would I do with a yacht and whisky if I were not happy? I like such things but owning them… could it be a burden? I like dogs, too, but I’m not sure whether I’d like to walk one every day. It’s too bad our society has to be built so that whisky, yachts and dogs can only exist as someone’s property. But creativity ain’t no-one’s property and it may punish you if you treat it as such, as we have seen with Katainen and Himanen. This country is led by young fellas. I’m young too, but I can’t bring myself to believe I’d approach philosophy as crudely as Katainen if I had that much influence. Influence might make me gentler. I would have to seriously reconsider my life and possibly become pleasant and a little boring and have kids. Given that I’ve never had the opportunity to be something like that, there’s no way to be sure I’d be happy that way, but I wouldn’t deny the offer as it would be a new experience. I’ve already been young once and if you were to make me old I promise I wouldn’t curse you for that. I might not live as long if you keep me young. A healthy lifestyle is beyond my wallet as I need some money for work, too. If this doesn’t change when I get older I guess we’ll have to see whether Sanni will be able to earn the money I couldn’t. I believe she will be, so if you think Himanen’s work is worth paying for but mine is not, I will probably be able to deal with it. It looks like Sanni’s going to get good grades from the matriculation examination, and I’m going to be supportive of her future ambitions.

Anyway, if you don’t want to turn me into an icon, then I’m curious… what was this thing you tried to do with Pekka Himanen?

I have an idea what the iconic philosopher would be like. It would be me in the sauna with a golden retriever named Arrow resting his head on my thigh.