At the closing banquet at the NAES conference, and in the middle of the tunes of Brazilian music played by the Swinging Arctic Band, I see the organizer, Anthony Johnson, and a most dear friend as well, walking into the circle with his violin. He plays a prelude, a Bach fantasia, and I'm the only one who notices the shift—the others present were busy socializing with food and drinks. I go to him instantly, throw myself at his large corpus, and kiss him loudly. “I played that for you, my dear, you see,” he said, and I nodded. A few weeks ago in Helsinki, someone asked me how many times I've been to Finland by now, and I said that I was happy to report that I had lost count. In Oulu this week, if there was something I also had lost count to, it was how many times I've hugged Anthony during the day. People were beginning to wonder. But I know what I know. Anthony is a rare genius who has a photographic memory, who read everything about paleontology between the age of 4 and 12, and went on to write a dissertation at Oxford about roundness. Anthony creates circles, and his love of some people and some things is boundless. I'm always invited at his home, and round things always happen. Between playing several instruments—Anthony can play them all—he showed me his latest academic productions. And he always hurries to open his books to dedications and epigraphs, as he knows I like those. One of his articles is dedicated to me, and another has this line in it as an epigraph: “This living hand—I hold it towards you”. It was the second time in two days that I'd experienced Keats's poem being mentioned, and in two contexts completely independent of each other. I tell myself that such a coincidence is due to the roundness of Oulu. Try saying Oulu. In Oulu the mouth is a living labyrinth, held open constantly towards the other. In Oulu you find things. Like the time when Anthony's good friend and neighbor, the musician and composer Markus Lampela, found his house for him one day. Anthony said to him: “a house next to you my friend, but of course, one has to say yes.” He moved in the same day with a few books, a few bottles of champagne, and a few musical instruments. The taxi driver said that that was the easiest move he had ever experienced. I would also like to live next to Markus, who once played Bach on uilleann pipes with the Finnish symphony orchestra. Markus turned to me and said: “do you want me to put a sauna for you?” It was one o'clock at night, and I was ready to lose my shadow, as one does in that special moment called the blue hour, when all the animals go quiet because they wonder where theirs have gone, and the smell of summer flowers is the strongest. I didn't need a sauna. There was enough heat emanating from special, round people around.


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