Monday, September 29, 2008
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
I am surprised to find that I haven't written about this Norwegian poet before.
Olav H. Hauge is a significant voice in the Norwegian literary landscape. In a fashion he also is a significant voice in the Norwegian geographical landscape, as he in many ways expresses its grandeur and simplicity, its wildness and purity, and the human feeling of separateness from each other and from nature, while at the same time he transmits a sense of unity with everything and everyone.
His poetry varies in form, from sonnets to short haiku-like poems, and the quality varies as well, but he has written a great deal of poems of simple beauty and usually with a meditative approach to all things small and universal.
In addition to a body of hundreds of poems, Olav H. Hauge left many volumes of diaries behind when he died in 1994 and they bear witness of a widely read man. Professionally he worked as a gardener, and it seems almost strange that this single man living alone (for a great part of his life) in the green and mountainclad landscape of Hardanger (Western Norway) read Chinese poetry, French, German and British poetry, philosophy, classics, literary magazines - more than I am aware of, naturally. What a library he must have collected in his house at Ulvik.
He writes in a characteristic dialect, and the special tone this brings to his poems is hard to translate, but I think the following is a good translation by Robin Fulton. More of his translations of Olav H. Hauge's poetry can be found in this book. But here is an example of Hauge's poetry:
Drops in the East Wind, 1966
You've left the big storms
behind you now.
You didn't ask then
why you were born,
where you came from, where you were going to,
you were just there in the storm,
in the fire.
But it's possible to live
in the everyday as well,
in the grey quiet day,
set potatoes, rake leaves,
There's so much to think about here in the world,
one life is not enough for it all.
After work you can fry bacon
and read Chinese poems.
Old Laertes cut briars,
dug round his fig trees,
and let the heroes fight on at Troy.
A few lines from this poem bring another towering figure in Scandinavian poetry to mind: Tomas Tranströmer. In fact, the whole poem reminds me of Tranströmer, but especially these lines: "But it's possible to live / in the everyday as well, / in the grey quiet day".
This greatly resembles Tranströmer's "Efter en lång torka" which you can read (in Norwegian, not the original Swedish) here. The last stanza goes as follows:
Det går att ringa upp hägringens ö.
Det går att höra den gråa rösten.
Järnmalm är honung för åskan.
Det går att leva med sin kod.
In translation it sounds something like this:
It's all right to telephone the island of mirage.
It's all right to hear the gray voice.
Iron ore is honey to the thunder.
It's all right to live by your own code.
The poem "Everyday" by Hauge also reminds me of Jack Gilbert, a poet I have discussed earlier (here too).
Again there is a certain Easternness in a poem that attracts me. When I say Eastern, I actually refer to a sense of simplicity which I most clearly see in various Eastern traditions. But in fact this is a quality of existence that every human being can occupy to great extent. You only have to look for it. Simplicity, space, openness and quiet is there all the time - it is just that we are usually looking in other directions.
The following poem is widely famous in Norway, and I think the craving for freedom it expresses translates well into any human language.
It's the Dream
Drops in the East Wind, 1966
It's the dream we carry in secret
that something miraculous will happen,
that it must happen –
that time will open
that the heart will open
that doors will open
that the rockface will open
that spring will gush –
that the dream will open,
that one morning we will glide into
some little harbour we didn't know was there.
There is currently a new volume out in English, with translations by Robert Bly and Robert Hedin.
The following is a deeply interesting view on what Sara Palin represents not only in American politics, but in psychological terms, hence international and intrapersonal terms.
I agree with Chopra in that viewing political processes from a psychological angle might be questionable, but I find that he has a clear and plausible approach to the matter.
The wish to remain status quo and stick your head in the sand to the world's challenges (like a common ostrich) as many of the conservative republicans do is a trait no politician should possess. When this is exactly what we see in a presidential candidate and even more so in his candidate for vice president, it is timely to be alarmed.
I cannot tell you how apprehensive I am to the upcoming presidential election in the United States. In many ways it seems to me that this is the most important election for a long long time. More is at stake now than ever before in terms of who is chosen to lead the most polluting and most military powerful nation in the world.
The sense of my own single existence's insignificance pervades me and I can do nothing but hope for the best outcome. On behalf of nothing less than humanity.
From: Deepak Chopra
Posted: Friday, September 5th, 2008
"Sometimes politics has the uncanny effect of mirroring the national psyche even when nobody intended to do that. This is perfectly illustrated by the rousing effect that Gov. Sara Palin had on the Republican convention in Minneapolis this week. On the surface, she outdoes former Vice President Dan Quayle as an unlikely choice, given her negligent parochial expertise in the complex affairs of governing.
Her state of Alaska has less than 700,000 residents, which reduces the job of governor to the scale of running one-tenth of New York City. By comparison, Rudy Giuliani is a towering international figure. Palin's pluck has been admired, and her forthrightness, but her real appeal goes deeper.
She is the reverse of Barack Obama, in essence his shadow, deriding his idealism and exhorting people to obey their worst impulses. In psychological terms the shadow is that part of the psyche that hides out of sight, countering our aspirations, virtue, and vision with qualities we are ashamed to face: anger, fear, revenge, violence, selfishness, and suspicion of "the other." For millions of Americans, Obama triggers those feelings, but they don't want to express them. He is calling for us to reach for our higher selves, and frankly, that stirs up hidden reactions of an unsavory kind. (Just to be perfectly clear, I am not making a verbal play out of the fact that Sen. Obama is black. The shadow is a metaphor widely in use before his arrival on the scene.)
I recognize that psychological analysis of politics is usually not welcome by the public, but I believe such a perspective can be helpful here to understand Palin's message. In her acceptance speech Gov. Palin sent a rousing call to those who want to celebrate their resistance to change and a higher vision.
Look at what she stands for:
• Small town values – a denial of America 's global role, a return to petty, small-minded parochialism.
• Ignorance of world affairs – a repudiation of the need to repair America 's image abroad.
• Family values − a code for walling out anybody who makes a claim for social justice. Such strangers, being outside the family, don't need to be heeded.
• Rigid stands on guns and abortion – a scornful repudiation that these issues can be negotiated with those who disagree.
• Patriotism – the usual fallback in a failed war.
• "Reform" – an italicized term, since in addition to cleaning out corruption and excessive spending, one also throws out anyone who doesn't fit your ideology.
Palin reinforces the overall message of the reactionary right, which has been in play since 1980, that social justice is liberal-radical, that minorities and immigrants, being different from "us" pure American types, can be ignored, that progressivism takes too much effort and globalism is a foreign threat. The radical right marches under the banners of "I'm all right, Jack," and "Why change? Everything's OK as it is." The irony, of course, is that Gov. Palin is a woman and a reactionary at the same time. She can add mom to apple pie on her resume, while blithely reversing forty years of feminist progress. The irony is superficial; there are millions of women who stand on the side of conservatism, however obviously they are voting against their own good. The Republicans have won multiple national elections by raising shadow issues based on fear, rejection, hostility to change, and narrow-mindedness.
Obama's call for higher ideals in politics can't be seen in a vacuum.
The shadow is real; it was bound to respond. Not just conservatives possess a shadow – we all do. So what comes next is a contest between the two forces of progress and inertia. Will the shadow win again, or has its furtive appeal become exhausted? No one can predict. The best thing about Gov. Palin is that she brought this conflict to light, which makes the upcoming debate honest. It would be a shame to elect another Reagan, whose smiling persona was a stalking horse for the reactionary forces that have brought us to the demoralized state we are in. We deserve to see what we are getting, without disguise."
I can only say as the famously outspoken journalist Edward Murrow used to: Good night - and good luck.
Monday, September 15, 2008
Utrolig mange forfattere på ett sted, og ikke noe hvilket som helst sted heller, men den fine hvite nye demokratiske estetisk vellykkede Operaen i Oslo, med virkelig mange forskjellige arrangementer. Hele operaen er i bruk, den store salen, den lille salen, taket, kafeen - det ser virkelig interessant ut.
Dumt for meg at jeg ikke er i Norge akkurat da.
Og: Om du ikke har lest Bisettelsen av Lars Saabye Christensen, er det et lesetips fra meg. Første halvdel kan være vanskelig å skjønne mye av, men språket er umiskjennelig Saabye Christensensk. Og når du har lest boka ferdig, kommer du til å ville starte på nytt igjen - og da får du mer ut av første del. Sikkert lurt å lese Beatles og Bly om igjen også, eller ha dem innen rekkevidde for å sjekke referanser. Jeg savnet det da jeg satt i min ettroms uten barndomshjemmets bibliotek for hånden :-)
Det er spesielt å ha en så egen stil at den kan kjennes igjen på en eneste metafor, og slås fast når man leser to eller tre setninger i sammenheng. DET er et kvalitetsmerke ikke mange har opparbeidet seg.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
In the interesting yet entertaining (an accurate description of Jon Stewart's TV persona itself) article in The Guardian today, I learned more about this satirist and his impact on the English speaking society.
When a number of well educated and intelligent people actually switch over to Stewart's The Daily Show to get a more accurate angle to the news than they get through American mainstream media, it says a lot.
The figure of the jester in the king's court is well known, as the only figure allowed to speak the truth without layers of cloudy rhetorics. In Shakespeare's King Lear, the jester is the one speaking the truth to spectators and readers and adds depth and clarity to the seriousness of the characters' actions. He puts his finger straight to the wound and tells us how and why it hurts. The same can be said about Jon Stewart and his crew.
As a Non-American it is refreshing to see his view on reality. From the outside it is hard to see what the American people actually think about the wildly subjective angles presented in the Fox News Channel, for example, or the black and white rhetorics of the present president, George W. Bush. To see Stewart make as much, or even more fun of the U.S. president than foreign media does is enlightening as well as entertaining for the outsider.
His take on the reality presented through mass media probably reflects many people's frustration with news coverage in the U.S., and I must say that The Daily Show's news angles come as a relief to me. At the same time he feeds us non-Americans with sharp-witted information and creative constellations about what is actually going on in the U.S., without all the filters the news normally seem to go through. So the filters are down, but what's up is an intelligent approach and an eye for surprising parallels between recent and not so recent political climates (like, for instance, the comparison between George W. Bush's speech 8 years ago discussing what he was going to change when president, almost identical to one of John McCain's most recent speeches).
I'd rather see Jon Stewart's news show before many of the "serious" news from different American media, as with Stewart I find witty and to-the-point interpretations of what is going on. Which is quite time saving, really. Why read five different editorials in serious news papers, when Jon Stewart does the job for you five times better?
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
The poem is from around 1862, one of her most productive and poetically successful years, and reads as follows:
The Soul selects her own Society—
Then — shuts the Door —
To her divine Majority —
Present no more —
Unmoved—she notes the Chariots — pausing —
At her low Gate —
Unmoved — an Emperor be kneeling
Upon her Mat —
I've known her — from an ample nation —
Choose One —
Then — close the Valves of her attention —
Like Stone —
I find this description of the soul's will to decide for herself with whom she intermingles quite accurate. First of all, the word soul is a slightly problematic concept, given the word's many and varying meanings throughout history. But I take it to be something deeply personal to you, yet universal, like it is your specific part of the large Being we all partake in and are composits of.
So your soul, according to Dickinson, has an inherent ability to choose what is exactly right for you, an ability to select the company or society best suited for you to evolve and expand into your expression of the capitalized Being we indeed take part in.
This I believe in as well, or rather, I know it is so. But I also know that we more often than not let other interests or confusions or mental noise or beliefs about how we should or shouldn't be, disturb our own frequency (you know, like the radios) and interfere with the best way for our souls to pick up signals. If staying by herself is what Dickinson thought would protect her soul's perceptability, that most certainly is her own choice.
Dickinson's isolation seems an actual choice which she made, actively and knowingly. It might be easy to think that she made this choice once and for all, but really what it means is that she made this choice over and over again, every minute of every day. So this quiet and solitary existence seems to have been the better way for her to live and produce her poetry - just herself and her soul. And it certainly looks a most fertile relationship, in poetic terms.
I wouldn't mind having been in the same room as her when she composed some of those remarkable poems, though - and I guess her poems are better company than many people anyway. They certainly last longer.
Monday, September 08, 2008
Isn't this image just remarkable? It is a sculpture entitled "planet" and is part of an exhibition at Chatsworth House in Derbyshire, England. The two people picturesquelly walking past are The Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. I suspect Chatsworth House to be the house inhabited by Mr. Darcy in the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice, directed by Joe Wright.
So long, Pyramid People.
Thursday, September 04, 2008
Die Blätter fallen, fallen wie von weit,
als welkten in den Himmeln ferne Gärten;
sie fallen mit verneinender Gebärde.
Und in den Nächten fällt die schwere Erde
aus allen Sternen in die Einsamkeit.
Wir alle fallen. Diese Hand da fällt.
Und sieh dir andre an: es ist in allen.
Und doch ist Einer, welcher dieses Fallen
unendlich sanft in seinen Händen hält.
* * *
Which beautifully describes the falling of the Fall.
”This is my letter to the world”
Slik skrev Emily Dickinson i ett av diktene sine (følger under). Hun meddelte seg og utforsket universet – innover, først og fremst – gjennom diktene sine, og gjennom brev og lapper. Gjennom det skrevne. Hun var svært intelligent, leste mye og skrev stiler på skolen som vakte misunnelse blant medelevene. Der hun vokste opp, i Amherst, Massachusetts, var ikke omgangskretsen alt for stor. Få kunne møte henne på det intellektuelle eller språklig lekne plan. Det var i det hele tatt få som kunne forstå henne eller romme dybdene, himmelstrebingen og de merkelige fargene hun bar i seg.
Etter hvert som det tynnet seg i rekkene av interessante mennesker og frierfristne, verdige unge menn, og etter hvert som årene gikk, gjorde hun sitt valg. Eller kanskje gjorde hun det lenge før. Hun valgte å føre sin dialog (med himmelen, med sin egen menneskedybde) på papiret. Blyant og blekk, kladdet og sirlig nedtegnet i hefter hun selv tråklet sammen.
Det er ikke riktig å si at ingen kjente til at hun skrev dikt. Hun lakk, bevisst, flere hundre små og større dikt gjennom brev og lapper til vennene sine. ”My friends are my estate”, skrev hun i et brev til Samuel Bowles, den mann hun antakeligvis lengtet etter rundt 1860, ”Forgive me then the avarice to hoard them!” Hun ønsket å bli lest, hun ønsket å bli sett og forstått. Dermed delte hun med seg av det beste hun hadde – diktene sine.
Det hun er mest kjent for ved siden av diktene, er tilbaketrekkingen fra samfunnet. De siste 20 år av livet bodde hun for det meste oppe på rommet sitt i huset som bestefaren hadde kalt ”the Homestead”. Det er vanskelig å gi noen god forklaring på hvorfor hun så gjennomført valgte å isolere seg fra omverdenen. ”Emily is the one who has to think. That is her job. No one else in the family has that to do” sa søsteren Lavinia om Emily. Lavinia gjorde det mulig for Emily å bli boende på rommet sitt resten av livet. Gjennom isolasjonen hadde hun tid og mulighet til å utforske tvingende eksistensielle spørsmål, liv og død, og menneskets forhold til Gud og evigheten. En kvinne i 1850- til 80-årene ville ellers hatt liten mulighet til poesi og filosofi av verdensklasse. (om man da ikke var adelig, men adel har aldri vært en del av det amerikanske samfunn – og blant puritanerne i New England virker det ekstra absurd.)
Brevvekslingen hennes var ganske stor, sett i forhold til hvor få hun forholdt seg til i det daglige. Men behovet for å bli forstått og hørt var åpenbart en sterk drivkraft. Hun forsøkte, ordløst, å vise hvem hun var gjennom språket og diktene sine. Og hva hun var. Hun visste at diktene var gode. Originale og annerledes, det visste hun også. Og at dette var skriftstykker som fortjente andre menneskers oppmerksomhet, og ikke bare hennes samtidige, var hun sannsynligvis meget klar over. Hun var ikke isolert, og (på eksistensielt vis) ensom kun av eget valg. Svært få kunne noen sinne ha møtt henne på samme intense plan som hun krevde, og det virker som om ingen var der for henne varig, mens hun levde.
Valget om å betro seg og utforske verden – og med det, seg selv – via papiret og det skrevne ord var ikke ett avgjørende valg. Kanskje tok hun heller aldri den bestemmelsen helt og fullt. Kanskje levde hun hele tiden slik midlertidig, hva vet vi. Det er lett å tillegge mennesker en hensikt med livet etter at de er døde, etter at deres gjerning på jorden er avsluttet og kan ses under ett. Hun åpnet i hvert fall for kjærligheten også i ganske voksen alder. Otis Phillips Lord, en dommer som var 18 år eldre enn Emily, kom i 1870-åra for alvor inn i Emilys liv. Etter at hans kone døde, ble brevvekslingen dem i mellom kjærligere, og en del av brevene leses som rene kjærlighetsbrev. Dette taler jo for at hun ikke stengte andre ute for enhver pris. Hun var ingen fullstendig ”Queen Recluse” - hadde man nøkkelen, ble døren åpnet.
(Leser du Richard Sewells The Life of Emily Dickinson, eller andre biografier, får du innblikk i et tidvis svært produktivt liv, og tidvis svært tilbaketrukket - ofte begge deler på en gang.)
Her er diktet det refereres til i begynnelsen:
This is my letter to the World
That never wrote to Me —
The simple News that Nature told —
With tender Majesty
Her Message is committed
To Hands I cannot see —
For love of Her — Sweet — countrymen —
Judge tenderly — of Me
© Tuva Langjord 2005
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
"Lesning ligger på terskelen til det åndelige liv; det kan introdusere oss for det; det utgjør det ikke. . . Så lenge lesning er sporen hvis magiske nøkler har åpnet døren til disse rommene dypt inne i oss som vi ellers ikke ville ha visst hvordan vi skullle komme inn i, er dens rolle i våre liv sunn. Farlig blir det derimot når lesning i stedet for å vekke oss til sinnets personlige liv, får en tendens til å ta dets plass." - Marcel Proust.
Proust bør være mannen som kan si noe om dette - grensene mellom liv og litteratur var for ham nærmest usynlige.
Men hvorfor skal vi være så redde for at lesning tar over for et virkelig liv? Jeg vil heller si det slik at den utgjør en egen del av livet til oss lesere, og at det ikke er noe mindre virkelig enn den fysisk utøvende del av livene våre. Er ikke lesningen nettopp et sted vi kan hente informasjon, hvor vi kan vurdere nye tanker, skjerpe våre egne sinn mot andres horisonter, som ofte kan være klarere og mer detaljerte enn våre egne. Lesningen er et viktig rom i manges liv. For min del er det et selvreflektivt rom, et sted hvor jeg kan puste ut og lære noe, og se meg selv utenfra et øyeblikk. Lesning er alltid en dialog. Det er en dialog med forfatteren av det du skriver, men det er samtidig en dialog med deg selv og din egen horisont, som stadig blir oppdatert idet du leser og lærer og oppdager nye ting. Lesning er en av de beste metodene for å oppdatere seg og hente erfaringsbrokker og livsinnstillinger og all mulig visdom fra resten av verden.
Det er mye mer å skrive om dette emnet, men ettersom jeg driver og skriver på masteroppgave, og forsøker å overholde den stipulerte innleveringsdatoen som er 15. november, må jeg gå tilbake til det!
(Foreløpig et prøveprosjekt, men jeg har tenkt til å ha norske bloggposter i Esmeraldas rom - en naboblogg. Så får jeg se om det er noen vits i det etter hvert, eller om det er overdrevent selvdiggende å holde på sånn! )