Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Who Wants to Live Forever?

Scientists have reversed the aging process in mice. They say that they're still miles away from doing the same on human beings, but doesn't it get us all dreaming! Now that the option seems to be approaching, we have to ask ourselves – do we want to live forever?

The essay has been moved to my personal website:

WhoWants to Live Forever 

Monday, November 29, 2010

Where's the Global Warming When You Need It?

I was in Lausanne, Switzerland, last week, for the SportAccord Forum. I also had time to take some photos, which you find below. The one above is not mine, though, but it shows clearly why I had so much trouble getting home.

The essay has been moved to my personal website:

Where's the Global Warming When You Need It?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Troops Don't Mind Gays

On Tuesday, Pentagon will release a survey showing that 70% of US troops don't mind openly gay persons in the military forces. The politicians have feared the issue unnecessarily. Wisdom grows from the bottom up, not the other way around.

The essay has been moved to my personal website:

Troops Don't Mind Gays

The Biggest Blogs are “Blogs”

Having a look at the competition in the blogosphere, I'm disappointed to see that the top positions are occupied by what are not really blogs at all, but big commercial ventures, similar to newspapers online, with hired staff and all. That's not what I would call a blog.

The essay has been moved to my personal website:

The Biggest Blogs Are "Blogs"

Touching Water

I don't paint much, although I long to do so. It takes too much of the time I don't have. But photos are quick, made in fractions of seconds. So, now and then I take a bundle of them to please my eyes.

I usually take photos in projects. Not just this motif and that, but focusing on some kind of theme. Some themes are recurring. Water is one. A beautiful, mysterious element, generously showing its many shapes and patterns, although it's transparent by nature.

I'm sure that the many appearances of water have mesmerized mankind since the dawn of our species. Splendid entertainment before the birth of movies and TV.

The above photo is from one of my website exhibitions on the water theme. I took photos of my hand touching a water surface, to create different patterns on it. The camera flash revealed these patterns, which would otherwise be difficult to observe with any clarity.

There's something sensual in the delicate meeting of the hand and the water. It's the element of our origin, it's also the substance of which we mostly consist. No wonder we long to return to it, again and again.

I had great fun making the photos one night in my bathroom sink, a few years back. See the whole exhibition here:
Touching Water

Friday, November 26, 2010

Idol is a Tragedy – Literally

Most things we humans do adapt the form of drama, and follow the structure described in Aristotle's Poetics, the classic text on the subject. Not only plays on theater stages, movies and most fiction follow the pattern of drama, but so do sports events, religious myths and practices – and every reality show on TV.

The essay has been moved to my personal website:

Idol is a Tragedy – Literally

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Jesus was Not a Christian

The rage of atheists on YouTube and elsewhere is understandable. They react to the increasing nonsense from Christian fundamentalists, mainly in the USA. But Jesus is not really to blame.

The essay has been moved to my personal website:

Jesus Was Not a Christian

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Condom News Sensations

The condom makes the news twice – the Pope suddenly expresses an understanding of its use to protect against HIV, and Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is accused of not using it sufficiently. The rubber has the center stage.

The essay has been moved to my personal website:

Condom News Sensations

Sunday, November 21, 2010

In Your Face

Sometimes I refrain from the use of words. It's rare, but it happens. Above is a video I did for my YouTube account. Just for fun. Others might find it boring. To each his own.

I started my YouTube account in 2006, delighted by its treasure of videos of celebrities as well as very regular people. The latter intrigue me much more. People are wonderfully creative – or not – and display it in ways that can be anything from delightful to grotesque. The internet is truly a blessing, making all this creativity possible, and serving it to the whole world.

My small contribution, so far, is no more than 32 short videos. Mostly visual experiments and ploys, but also some poetry and what-not. I do it mainly to amuse myself, so I don't expect that many visitors. As long as I am pleased with the results, I'm fine.

The name of my account is Aravadia, which is the name I invented for a character in a novel I wrote years ago, a stone age drama. In 2006 Google had no hits at all on the name, so I hurried to use it for my account. Now, it gets 815 hits.

The video above is one of the first I made. It's just me in a dark setting, involved in improvised little amusements. I keep a very straight face all through. That's what makes it so funny to me. The contrast between that serious face and what happens to it.
Let me know if you are amused, too, or not at all.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Occasionally I Contemplate Murder

One of my intentions with this blog is to present my books, hoping for visitors to comment on them. I start with a book of fiction, which is not really a novel. Occasionally I Contemplate Murder might be called an essay. It's just my train of thoughts about life, death, and the meaning of it all.

I started it as an experiment in writing a book where I would not hide behind a story, but just plainly say what I thought about some eternal questions. I would put my message on the lines instead of between them. It was a kind of challenge for me.

What I found, though, was that some stories were needed to get the message through. Some subjects, the most difficult and profound ones, cannot be grasped and explained without the use of stories.

Fiction is fact, indirectly and subtly, often confusingly, but nevertheless fact. About human nature, about the terms of existence, and so on.

By fiction we can embrace subjects that otherwise escape into the chaotic complexity that we summarize as life. Fiction is needed to tell the whole story, maybe not as it appears to the scientific instruments of analysis, but as we experience it. We are subjects, all of us, not objects. So, a relevant rendering of life as we experience it needs to be subjective.

I found myself pulling my train of thoughts forward by the use of stories.

The grim title and theme of the book, discussing life from the perspective of death and different causers of it, came from me being triggered by the assassination of the Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme in 1986, shocking our otherwise rather peaceful country. I had met him a few times, enjoying his intellectual sharpness and the confused longing of his soul evident in his eyes. So I was also shocked.

But as always in writing, the book quickly took over and went its own way, exploring the mysteries and ethics of life and death, in the eyes of men as well as those of gods, if there are any.

If you've read the book, please humor me by commenting it and the thoughts it might have awakened in you. Of course, you are equally invited to comment if you haven't read it, should some thought come to mind – whether you are tempted to read it or not.

Here are the opening lines of Occasionally I Contemplate Murder:

This world is, I find, a strange place to be, wherein my brain is not the best of guides.

Somehow, somewhere in the very core of my being, I believe myself to understand all as clear as day. I really do.

But that’s in the core, a center unreachable, hidden inside layer upon layer of misconceptions. My conscious mind is lost.

It’s like an onion. Rip off the peels, one after the other, until you reach the center — only to find it empty. No nut, not a thing to explain all those peels, covering the kitchen sink and making you weep.

Yes, the onion contains the secret of the universe. I dare say that the onion is the secret of the universe.

You can reveal it with tools of the hand and of the mind. It doesn’t even take very hard work. But you find nothing, and it sure makes you cry.

It’s all very logical, I guess. If you take the peels away, if you dig down to the very core — well, then it’s no longer a core of anything. So it’s nothing. What else could it be?

Where’s a poor human being, the biggest brain among primates, to find guidance?

So, occasionally I contemplate murder.

You can find the book at Amazon US and Amazon UK.
If you're Swedish, it's quicker and cheaper to order the book from AdLibris.

What Makes Me Tick

Here I go with a blog in English. I've had one in Swedish for a couple of years, with just about a thousand posts so far. But in my writing, I focus more and more on English books, so I thought it's time to do the same in blogging.

Changing language for my blogging, I might as well try to change its themes. To my surprise, I have found myself writing quite a lot about politics in the Swedish blog. Also a number of critical observations about journalism and the Swedish press.

Beforehand, I thought that I would mainly be writing about culture and art, which are at the core of my own activities. Certainly, there's been a number of such blogs, too, but not nearly to the extent that I had guessed in advance.

What caught me was the temptation to be current. That sort of automatically leads to politics and the news media. That's all fine, and sometimes quite exciting, but here I wish to return to my initial aspirations – even if it will be at the cost of becoming less current.
It doesn't worry me much. All the truly essential stuff is timeless.

This is my very first English blog, so later on we will see how I manage. If I'm again attracted to politics and current affairs, like the moth to the light bulb, then alas, that has got to be my destiny. In any case, I'll make an effort to emphasize the timeless, even when talking about things with a lifetime expectancy barely exceeding that of the moth mentioned above.

What brings color to life
So, I'll start off with blogs about the things nearest to my own activities and interests. That's a bundle.

First and foremost: I write books. That's the red thread going through my life since I was about ten years old, or something like that, when I hacked on my mothers travel typewriter (a big mechanical thing made in the 1950's). In my early twenties I started for real, having my first novel published in 1979, when I was 25. It even won a prize, but made me neither rich nor famous. That still hasn't happened to any mind blowing extent, although several books have followed.

Success is not the decisive factor when it comes to writing. There is an inner urge of dreaming, thinking, and telling about it, which drags the author through the pages. By time there's also a skill of turning ideas and subjects into books, fiction as well as non-fiction. In my case, also the non-fiction is rather fictional at times. I need room to speculate, so I choose subjects that allow for it.

Also since childhood, I've been occupied by art. If I didn't manage reasonably writing books, that's probably what I would do professionally, even though it's even more difficult to earn a living that way. I love oil painting. I made my first “serious” one at the age of 13 – a still life having just about nothing to do with my life at the time.

Painting takes time. I need at least a couple of days just getting into it, so there's not been much of it since I started writing in a concentrated manner. But I keep longing to the day when I can grab the brushes again. Instead I've done some drawings and some more photography. Instant imaging. It's a breeze with the digital camera.

My books and some of my art can be found on my website.

Writers often venture into journalism, in order to get a steady income. So have I, but just in Swedish, which is why I won't dwell much on it here. I started as a literary critic for the Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet in the early 1980's, then I was a rock critic at the Stockholm newspaper Dagens Nyheter, where I also wrote theater reviews. When I moved to Malmö, in the south of Sweden, I became the secret restaurant critic for Sydsvenskan, the major newspaper in that region.

So, in my journalistic work I've mainly been a critic. That's no surprise, since I got my first jobs there because I was an author, and not from an ambition to muckrake and expose cheaters in high office. Many critics are novelists or poets, because that means they are equipped with integrity, an opinion of their own, and a rich language by which to express it.

My academic career is a never ending story, within the history of ideas at Lund University, where I study the thought patterns to be found in creation myths. There should be a dissertation sometime, but don't hold your breath. There will surely be a book about it, one of these days, though not necessarily in the form of a dissertation. Anyway, the history of ideas has enriched me both by what I've learned about it and what it teaches about knowledge per se.

Finally, I've practiced the peaceful Japanese martial art aikido since I was a teenager. Except for writing, nothing else has stayed with me that long. I am easily bored, but not by aikido. It combines mental and physical training into one, bringing insights that could not be achieved otherwise. Also, I should be thankful for this pursuit making me move my body from the keyboard occasionally.

Since a number of years I teach aikido, and that brings another dimension to it. Learning and teaching are intertwined. The one can't travel that far without the company of the other. Again, this is particularly true because aikido combines mind and body.
Philosophy should be like that.

Well, in a verbal nutshell, the above is what my life is all about. So, that's the source from which my blog will be nourished. And then some.