Malleus Maleficarum: First Question

Is the claim that users of magic exist so true, that to say the opposite is heresy?

Basically, this question and the succeeding chapter seek to prove the existence of magical forces in the world. First, we are presented with the most common claims to the opposite, namely that only God may change things within the world or in the human body. Through this it must then also be true that demons and witches have no powers.

These claims are then debunked, using Bible verses and writings of such wise old men as Augustine and Ambrosius among others. Unfortunately I’m not that familiar with such works as summa contra gentiles, de civitate Dei and de doctrina christiana as to argue with any of the arguments… and my latin is sketchy at best.

The basic ideas presented to us are as follows: God may want to use the magic as a punishment for the victim and thus allows the evil to happen; the Bible gives examples of God allowing demons to have an influence; and God’s law decrees that witches must die. Isn’t that an irrefutable argument for witches existing if anything, so bad they must die? Ancient laws against fortune telling, scrying and witchcraft also serve as prove to the existence of magic.

We arrive then to the conclusion that the Devil and demons may work in the world by themselves or through magic users if God so allows. These magic users, if caught, must then be punished as decreed in law. We are also reminded that everyone should turn in their neighborhood witch.


I daresay it took me an hour to get an understanding of the chapter. I’m not particularly sure I still understood everything right, and this book is in my first language. Oh my, I do not know how I’ll pull this through. I really thought there’d never be a day when I didn’t understand what I’m reading (with the exception of government forms, no one understands those).

The translator has done an amazing job, it couldn’t have been easy to tackle that particular beast. My Bible must be a bit different of the one used in the book, however, because I checked the verses and some of them ‘weren’t there’, as in the number didn’t match. In one case there was a verse, but the contents didn’t match the subject matter. It is also completely possible this is due to my inferior Bible-skills.

So far I can’t really argue with the book. If we accept the existence of God as true and Bible as truth as well, the arguments against the questions are sound.

Next up, Question Two.

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Hello 2018!

… Albeit we’re already almost a month in.

Time’s just been flying by. I’ve been trying to get myself more organized. That included going through a lot of my old writing (part embarrassing, part passably good) and cleaning up my notes. I re-read all my space related material and have a new list of things I need to look up and also a list of new, more defined ideas for the actual story part.

I’ve been flexing my writing muscles as well. I didn’t write that much for a long while because of my hand, but these past couple of weeks I’ve tried to get back into the saddle so to say. It’s been fun and I hope I can get some longer stretches in soon.

But to set up some expectations for this year…

I remember I promised not to make any promises. In spirit of keeping that, I’m just going to say that in the name of boosting my productivity and cutting procrastination to the minimum I’ve set some goals for myself.

This year I’m planning on at least starting on my Malleus series. As I’ve said before, it’s heavy reading, but I’ve been trying to come up with ways to split the task up into manageable portions. I’m looking forward to actually writing some posts and not just talking about it.

In spirit of not-promising, I also stated myself the hope of writing a blog post every week. Already totally failed that, so now I can say once a month is a great baseline and everything above that is spectacular. Ahaha. My standards for myself are borderline embarrassing.

To be fair, I have too many plans and too many things to do already. I have to keep pushing the things I want to do ahead and focus on the things I need to do. The house still needs work, obviously, and the yard even more. I need to devote energy and time to finding ways to earn some money – so many plans, so few facts, so much bureaucracy.

Also, in the spirit of sparing the national treasury a bit, here’s hoping our presidential election is solved already tonight. I’m sure the costs of a second round are not that great, but since the nation must check it’s spending…

See you (hopefully) next week, I’ll go check the current score.

What have I been reading?

Since I’ve been occupied outside the house these past weeks I’ve had very little time to sit down and actually write. I thought that once the frost set in I’d have more time at home, but instead I’ve been dragged around with my mother.

Sitting in a car or a bus, I’ve been reading quite a bit. I started my third read through of Gardens of the Moon. I have the feeling I have a few more left before I catch every hint.

I’ve also returned to Sci-Fi after a very long break. I loaned Heinlein’s The Cat who Walks through Walls from the library and I’m just about halfway through. I’ve been enjoying the story and the language quite a bit – although I’d really love to see some of the names and terms in English. I should return it tomorrow, so I’m in a bit of a rush to finish it. I had too much to do to get started on it right away, and now I’m forced to speed through it to avoid late fees. Meh. I’ve been liking it so far, so I guess I’ll loan it out again later.

The library is a bit poor on the Sci-Fi department, many titles I remember seeing in the old days are gone. I guess they got too worn and niche literature is notoriously difficult to replace in Finland. Reprints are rare and focus on the best-selling titles and classics. The market is just too small to justify reprints, even if that means libraries will end up with no copies available and new readers never get to enjoy them. Oh well, what can I do? It’s not like I could afford buying all those titles anyway.

I also bought couple new Agatha Christie pocket books when in Helsinki couple weeks ago. I read the other one at the in-laws’, that being a Tommy & Tuppence book Postern of Fate. I’d never heard of Tommy and Tuppence until about two years ago when Finnish reprints started popping up. (See what I said about classics? There’re at least three existing versions of some Agatha Christie books in multiple printings, but some Fantasy or Sci-Fi series never get completed.) I took a liking to them. Even though they’re quite a bit more ‘hard-boiled’ than, say, Miss Marple, the novels have a light-hearted spirit to them. Yet again there is a distinct voice setting the cycle apart from Poirots or Marples.

Now that I’ve pretty much covered the subject matter of this post I might just as well tell you a bit about what I’ve been up to since last. You can basically stop here if you don’t care about that 😉

There was the Helsinki weekend, a birthday party for two of my husband’s friends. Here we have an interlude of furious gardening after the first snowfall to gain control of the water flow in our yard (our basement floods. A lot.). Then I had to accompany some lady relatives to various shopping trips, and my gosh they can be taxing… I mean, they’re lovely in small doses, but being confined to small spaces with them for hours is sometimes tortuous.

This week the landscaping guys decided to appear, about a month after they said they would. There are so many rocks in my yard you wouldn’t believe! Everywhere. Even in the patch that supposedly was once a field. I have no idea how anything had room to grow there. The guy piled up three huge pile of boulders in different corners of the yard.

I wanted a spot for a rock garden… well, I got a bit more than I hoped for. The spot I picked out for it had three big rocks before. Now there’s a ~5m x ~5m dome of rock about 1,5m high. It’ll take me a decade to get enough plants to make it look anything but a pile of rocks it is. Can’t complain, I got what I asked for. Maybe I’ll post you a picture if there isn’t too much snow tomorrow morning.

Until next time!

Kaari Utrio

I’ve been re-re-rereading her bibliography over the past month or so. I’ve read most of her books several times before, they’re my go-to easy reading along with Agatha Christie. Since I haven’t had time to do much else productive towards this blog, I’ll try and gather my thoughts for this author -piece.

Kaari Utrio is a Finnish author of both fiction and non-fiction, born 1942. She is a historian by trade and has written several pieces on women and children throughout history. Apparently her works have been translated to seven languages, but I could only find one Hungarian translation on Goodreads of her main non-fiction work. The freely-translated title to that one is “Daughters of Eve: History of European Women, Children and Families”.

Most of her work is strongly colored by the feminist tradition of the 70s university world. She is not the most strongly worded or opinionated feminist, but at times the reader can see a strong distaste towards the treatment of women throughout history (quite deserved, but some like their facts without feelings). In total she has written or has been part of writing 22 non-fiction works.

Her fiction bibliography is long, 36 works since the start of her career in 1968. Most of her work is historical fiction, usually with a female lead character. The main characters are generally from Finland or the Nordic countries. Her main works, the trilogy of books called Vaskilintu, Tuulihaukka and Yksisarvinen (Bronze Bird, Kestrel and Unicorn, literally translated) all start in Northern Europe and take the reader to a tour of Mediaeval Europe. Each of the books follows the life of a woman (and generally at least two other important characters) and their personal growth. Each of the women is linked to each other either by blood or marriage, and the series spans from roughly 1020 to 1100.

The main plot is always a love story. This is one of the only failings of mrs. Utrio as a writer, as the plots are generally very similar in style. The only point when I got tired of her works was when I read them all in one summer as a teen and realized the aforementioned fact.

This time around, however, I was’t bothered by the repetitive elements. I found a new appreciation of finding new ways to portray the basically simple plot. It is a type of talent to be able to reinvent the wheel time and time again, so to say.

I find very little negative to say apart from the repetitive plots. The characters all have distinct personalities and while the reader can usually safely guess which characters will end up together the supporting crew may hold surprises. The end result is also usually reached through amusing or unexpected incidents (even if one knows something more will happen, it might not be what is thought beforehand).

Even though the works span as diverse eras as the first millennium or 19th century, I’ve also always appreciated the adherence to historic facts in her work. The times when she modifies true events to suit her story are few and far between, even though the books are rife with historic characters as supporting cast (several Byzantine emperors and empresses, European kings and queens, and popes). Reading her descriptions of cities like Rome or Constantinople are like small tours of the cities themselves. Personally I’m also partial to the accurate description of dress and items. There are usually also references to things that were happening around those times elsewhere, woven in as news or gossip heard by the characters.

I’m actually more than a bit surprised her work has gone untranslated. While the English-speaking world has many great authors of historical fiction, I’m hard-pressed to come up with many examples of mediaeval Nordics being represented (Jan Guillou comes first to mind with Arn). I was going to shamelessly plug Kaari Utrio to you, but I don’t expect you to learn Finnish to do that…

Oh, well. Until next time.

So, moving…

I had no idea how long it’d take to get everything in order.

My “construction crew” (read, male relatives) kept finding new things to rip out and leave hanging. My mother kept pestering me about unpacking when I only had my bed in place. People kept calling me to sell me shit I really don’t want and couldn’t understand the meaning of ‘no’. I have all sorts of paperwork to take care of, calls to make and honestly some more unpacking.

I was (am) pretty stressed to say the least. There’s still a ton of things to do, and I should really be there rather than here. I just couldn’t put this off any longer, I feel totally stupid to not have written anything whole summer.

I didn’t have a computer for over a month and a half, but still. Or electricity in 75% of my house for that matter.

I’ve done some reading while waiting for the builders to build and rain to stop raining. I’d thought of doing yard work while people who know how to renovate do their thing. No much luck, it’s been the rainiest and suckiest summer I remember. My yard is infested by plants that want to take the world over and they do not want to die (and seem to thrive when it’s constantly 15°C and raining). Also, I learned cutting bushes in the rain or just after is also awful. Good thing I don’t want those particular bushes in my yard at all.

Most of what I read was trash literature, seeing as my husband managed to pick out all the boxes I didn’t want from our storage room at his parents’. I won’t be reviewing those, because to be honest most of it is truly undeserving of more words beyond “cheap entertainment”.

I did read some fantasy in the form of Steven Erikson. I read the opening volume of his new Kharkanas -trilogy and began the second book. At that point I had to actually start doing “important stuff”, because I finally started getting finished rooms. I have been a huge admirer of Erikson ever since I read Gardens of the Moon, and reading more about some of my favorite characters and their origins is just great. Definitely looking forward to finishing the trilogy. (I’ll write more about both books when I get the second one down.)

I also located both my Bible and Malleus Maleficarum already, so I will be returning to that project. Some of my notes are still missing, but I recall not getting that far with my next post before packing away the books anyway.

Well, now that I’ve let you know that I’m indeed still alive and doing something (while not writing or reading still productive) I’ll get back to organizing. I really need more furniture and a slave or something to get this shit done.

 

Busy, busy

So, lately we’ve been preparing our move.

That has meant I’ve turned my focus away from books for the time being, and unfortunately from writing as well. That is, if we’re talking of something a bit more serious that lists of what to keep and where to store it or bucket lists of stuff yet to do.

I’ve got a ton of those, but I bet you don’t care about them. I don’t personally, but I’ll forget if I won’t write it down.

I had also no idea I had this much stuff. I knew I had a lot (because you cannot own around 600 books and not have a lot of stuff) but I honestly thought I’d led a pretty frugal life outside my beloved bookcases. I’ve come to the conclusion that I won’t need a single new piece of clothing until I’ve worn though about half of what I currently own.

And there’s so much to throw out. I have a way of getting attached to stuff, and I really have to shake the habit now that I have to store my things instead of just moving them from under one roof to another. To be honest, I’ve thrown out a lot, but there’s still a lot to go (like my make-up: I don’t use 90% of it, why do I keep it? No reason).

Yesterday Last week we took my balcony planters to the nearby summer cottage. I wanted to keep them intact, because last summer I had the prettiest scented peas and ipomoeas and I’d really want to see the hybridization the plants managed (pretty, pretty pinks and purples and baby blue). That didn’t go quite as planned though, as my husband took and dumped the biggest planter straight out.

There I am, screeching ” What the hell did you do that for!?!” and him looking at me like I’m a crazy woman. Which I pretty certainly am, but usually he doesn’t give me that look. ( 😀 ) Honestly, I had explained to him in length why we were taking the planters there, but obviously he hadn’t either listened or had forgotten. Sigh.

Oh well. As long as the little birdies didn’t eat all the seeds during the winter I’m pretty sure something will sprout.


I managed to read one book over Easter at my folks. (Hooray for someone else doing the cooking and cleaning up!)

It’s called Guns and Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond. A very thought-provoking book, so if you’ve managed not to read it since 1997 like I have, do go pick it up. It does a good job explaining the contributing factors that led Europeans to colonize the rest of the globe and not vice versa.

(I won’t spoil the reading experience for those who haven’t already, so I’ll just leave it at that. Even if I’m not completely satisfied with that iteration, it was my seventh attempt and will have to do.)


At this point I’ve started and left this text about four times (hence the conversion of yesterday to last week -.-), and I have to admit I’ve pretty much forgotten what else I meant to say. I know there was something.

Well, it’ll make for another post if I do remember.

 

Library

I found my library card a couple days ago.

I hadn’t really missed it.

In fact, I think I’ve been to the library a grand total of three times since I moved here. (Disclaimer: I’ve been to other libraries, that statement covers only the building closest to my current home.)

This morning I kind of woke up to the thought.

When I was growing up, all the way up to moving out, I was a staple visitor to our local library. I got my library number probably before I went to school and always wanted to borrow more books than my teacher would have allowed when we visited from school.

We had a library bus visit our school when we were on first grade, and years later the driver (who also worked the desk at the branch) told my aunt I must have read half of the books there. That’s not true, but I did read a lot. I read everywhere and I wasn’t too discriminant on what I read.

So why did I stop going when I moved out?

It’s easy to pose that question, but much harder to give a concise answer.

Library system in Finland is free to use for everyone. Some services like copying and such may cost, but to borrow books you just need to get a card. Most cards work at more than one library (the one I found for example covers the whole Helsinki metropolitan area) and have all sorts of internet services attached (renewing loans, ordering distant loans and so on).

The system is great and many people use it actively. Over time, libraries have started to offer all sorts of other things than books and magazines and research.

And that’s a bit of what bothers me with my local library here. There’s no library atmosphere. It’s nice youth likes to hang out in the library, but it kinda ruined the place for me. I may sound like an old fart, but I really do like my libraries silent. I remember what it was like to be young and noisy, and that’s all cool.

But not in the library.

The other big no-no for me was the self-service. The machine was cumbersome and when returning the books I felt I was manhandling them pushing them through the slot when I could hear them falling every which way on the other side. At my old library one checks out at the desk with the clerk and returns the books to the desk to the clerk. Only dropping happens if you return after-hours, and I never did that for the above-mentioned reason. Try returning to the desk here and the lady looks at you like you’ve grown an extra head.

The third issue is the selection. At home, I could be sure to always find something to strike my fancy or an old favorite, or even the research for some school project. Over here, I had trouble finding anything interesting – despite professing to be omnivorous with books I rarely venture to war/espionage fiction of which there were aplenty. There were even none of the books I liked back home (some older books that have the number cards still show my number 5-6 times back home, and yes I’ve checked).

I guess I would need to make a distant loan from some other library or make my way to a different branch to find something more to my tastes. And that removes the joy of finding a book just by wandering between the shelves. That would also add to the hassle, as I’d need to make the reservation, keep an eye on when the books come around and go pick them up. With my old job, that would have been nightmarish.

Back when I had just moved here and was pretty lost, I had hoped to find something familiar. I guess the experience was so far from what I knew and loved I pushed it away. The building itself is very pretty, light and airy. But somehow the staff didn’t seem that helpful to me the few times I went there and it is just rather noisy (and not all is from the teenagers – that place must have lousy acoustics).

Even if my old branch had a magazine room and art exhibitions and always a plethora of school kids it was never so noisy as this one. Not even during the children’s reading hours they used to have (and may still do for all I know).

Somehow I doubt I’ll be going again.

It’s funny though, when I moved here and before that, I thought the area would have so many awesome libraries and so much interesting things to read in them. I would never have then believed how wrong I’d find myself.

Or rather, I’m sure the interesting libraries are somewhere there, but I have no idea where to start looking. And to be honest if the self-checkout/return system is in use everywhere I really don’t even want to go.


It is also rather true that at present I don’t particularly need to go to the library. I have too many books to read at home at present. Or not too many, but… you know, a lot.

But it’s still a shame I so disliked the place. I would have so wanted to love it.