Tuesday, June 22, 2010


“Have you heard of Finnish sisu?” asks a character in “Mortlake” — and it turns out that sisu is a sort of stamina or staying-power which the Finns have had to develop as a result of living next door to the Russians.
— Nigel Dennis, New York Times Book Review

When my car’s engine was threatening to stop as I was driving in the darkness to NYC, I was thinking of this clip. Not because of all the driving prowess, but because of what they said about sisu — a Finish version of guts, spine and other organs symbolizing courage and determination.
Lesson over, we stopped for a cup of hot raindeer blood [not really] and talked about why the Fins are so suited for motorsports.
— Tell me a bit about sisu. What’s sisu?
— Sisu in English means “courage”. What to a Fin is courage. Let me give you an example. Climbing up this tree. And then jumping down from there. Now that doesn’t mean sisu. It’s not courage.
— That’s stupidity.
— Exactly. Now, sisu we can relate very much to in motorracing. For example, you are driving a rally car in a forest extremely very fast. And you need courage to break light, to go throttle very early or go very close to the apex of the corners...
Now, I didn’t need to do any of that. I just needed to keep driving. In a way, it took more sisu (if I have any — I was born just across the border from Finland) than driving through ice on I-84E that I did last winter.

A little more sisu:

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