Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Wake-up Call

I think some of the most important tasks for mankind today is to delve into themselves in order to know who you are so that you cannot be tricked or hoodwinked to believe what others may want you to believe -- like staying alert and not being blinded by the mass media, TV programmes, commercials and other propagandic offspring.

The critical, awakened mind is pivotal to the individual's staying exactly that -- an individual. Every society needs its alert and independent people. If we all took what our leaders say for granted, 1984 would soon be upon us.

What do you say to the constructed dicotomies in the US, for example. How "real" is the world view that G.W. Bush presents? How many people actually believe in the "axis of evil", in the compartmentalizing of people into either being good or evil? How many actually think that this is our reality?

The same goes for all kinds of commercial behaviour. Through ads and commercials in every shape&form imaginable, needs are created in people. The need to buy a certain kind of product, itself produced to "fill a gap" in people's lives; "gaps" they never thought they had. Movies, TV series and books produced - not necessarily with the awake intention of doing so - to dull people's minds, to lull them into a technicolour dreamworld; to create an ILLUSION in which we are supposed to LIVE.

I believe people can think for themselves, but that many persons of today are too lazy, or too used to be living in an overly commercialized society to recognize in just how many ways we are heading towards the Orwellian 1984-scenario.

The world-wide "War on Terrorism" for example. This global, black-and-white war is alarmingly stupid, alarmingly lethal, and gaining an alarmingly lot of support in the public here in the West. What might this turn into? Perhaps a West vs East/Orient war? Is this wholly unthinkable? Isn't this the dicotomized world a certain president Bush is trying to make us believe is going to happen, if "we" won't attack "the others" first? Is this not what we are supposed to believe? And is this not the reason why many people will agree to set aside their individual and constitutional rights, and let their leaders equally set aside their nation's constitution in order to protect them against "terrorist attacks"?

Well, the military state might not be as dead as we thought it was.

The Annotated Pride and Prejudice

I bought this copy of the annotated version of Pride and Prejudice this Saturday. I have read the book several times, but this version with commentaries is so satisfyingly fat and with delicate colours (nicer than the picture shows, and with a smooth, yet textureful surface) that I just had to have it. 5 - 6 comments on each page gives you a more profound knowledge of Jane Austen's own times than by just reading the text.

It is interesting to see how words and phrases have twisted just a notch and today having a sligtly different meaning than back then. As English is not my first language, this is particularly helpful and makes me learn a lot. At the same time, not being a native English speaker, I notice that I am more open to what words might mean, and tend to bend the phrases to what they are supposed to mean. Also, being a Norwegian, I can easily see how many of the words in English stem from the Nordic languages - old Norse, as it is called. Even the syntax of old English resembles our syntax more than the modern English. So being an outsider can be quite helpful in some ways.

Every foreign language will always lead to discoveries. That is what makes it so interesting studying other languages. And I have to say, English is one of my favourites. It is flowing and musical and soft. My major lingua-love might be Latin. There is something so satisfying about that almost mathematical, seamless language. I wish I knew Greek, and Sanskrit, and I would really like to be able to read Chinese and Japanese ---

Well. That's never going to happen. But still...

I am such a dreamer.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

My English Dream

For a long time I nurtured a dream of studying at Cambridge or Oxford University in England. From the age of 14, I believe, I really wanted to go there and study literature.

I mean, look at this place:
How could you not want to walk amongst those stony streets, breathing the learned gusts of ancient stone and dusty books?

My sad story is that I never quite believed that I could do it. My English would have to need a serious brushing up. I would have to read a lot more books (even though I love reading, there are SO many books I haven't read, and I am afraid my list of read books aren't quite up to scratch as to what is required in these institutions). The unconscious mantra I have nurtured sounds something as follows: "I am just a Norwegian girl, a tiny dot on this planet, how am I ever to rise up into any position of influence or interest to others."

This is such a self-subvertive view of life! It really bothers me that I have believed in this for so long! And even though I may come round to viewing life different now, at the age of 26, much is too late! I am never going to go into any of those great institutions, I am hanging around here in Norway, University of Oslo, because that is what seemed more safe at the time I started my "academic carreer" (I haven't finished my MA yet, so there you go. "Carreer" my bleep).

Anyway. Thinking back, now, it is sort of sad to see in just how many ways I have hindered myself in doing just what I would like to do. If I could, I would like to time-travel back to my 14-year old self, giving out wise advise and telling me that I can actually do what I want to. I can pursue my burning interests to the other side of the planet, if that is what would pay off most.

To any other young girl out there (yes, "girl", because there are mostly girls who don't have enough self esteem) I would like to say: Believe in what you've got. Trust that instinct telling you what you are good at. Follow your gut.

And. I know: Easy to say now, hard to believe then. Nevertheless. It is true.

Believe in yourself, girls!

Confessions from a Chocolate Connoisseur

I am, despite the headline for this post, quite a sucker for healthy food. My diet consists mostly of clean meat (fish, chicken, turkey etc - organic if possible), vegetables, olives, nuts, green&white teas, water, herbs (parsley, basil, thyme - you name it).

BUT: I am also quite fond of the dark-brown realm of the cocoa bean. if you can manage to control your intake of this substance, not allowing it to exceed 40 g a day (...), I see no reason why you shouldn't enjoy your melting, brown friend.

To the left is one of the chocolates I usually have a small stock of in my cupboard. This is a good blend of 85% cocoa and real vanilla, but the main reason I keep exactly this brand of chocolate in a cupboard or purse near me, is due to the grocery store's politics of what they choose to put on their shelves. This Swiss chocolate is nice, though, so there's no complaints there.

If in reciprocal nearness to this endazzling little friend, however, I generally go for the darkest of this brand. Their chocolates are organic, and if I remember correctly, real vanilla is used here as well. (The taste of vanillin is such a disappointment once you have bent your tongue to the real stuff.)

Everything in these products are organic, from the vanilla to the raw cane sugar (of which I would actually like some replacement, as I avoid sugar at all costs, exept for this, let's call it - aristocratic, habit).

If you like, you can check out their website here.

Now for the crown of the chocolate God-head; the best of the sumptious brown stuff I have ever tasted. Probably not a shock for most cooks or choco-connoisseurs: Valrhona chocolates.
Well, what can I say. I tasted this brand in a chocolate mousse (containing only chocolate and water) at a rather famous food-scribe's home about a year and a half ago. You know, I never really believed in the aphrodisiac effect of chocolate, but right there I nearly fell out of my pants. What a total experience of heavenly sumptiousness! I didn't just taste with my mouth; my whole body was in on the tasting. I remember feeling a sort of slow, still whirlwind spiralling around my head, heading down through my stomach, down to under my feet and then up again - all in a split second. Mind you, this split second lasted through the small (though sufficiently sized) portion of cocoa bliss. If I had had no self-control, the maker of this mousse could have had me, right there and then. (Only with the slight drawback of his beautiful girlfriend being in the room...)

I believe cooks mostly used their products earlier, but as the taste is so unbelievably --Mmmh-- more and more people seem to have discovered this brand.

Writing about this surely makes the level of saliva rise... I realize that I am actually quite capable of writing myself into a choc-craving state. Ah, well. Why not.
Healthy interests anyone? Anyone?

Monday, May 21, 2007

So hard to concentrate!

Menstrual cramps should be forbidden. How am I supposed to concentrate about my Baudelaire-thesis when it is difficult and painful to sit still, and my belly seems empty even though I just had an avocado, or a handfull of walnuts, or some olives...? True, the thinking centre is not situated in the lower belly, but trust me; your body has enough influence on your thinking as it is.

"Free your mind" - not so easy when your body drags you back down!

It usually helps drinking som nice, white tea. But today that just propels me into a spiral of "now I need something salty, because the tea washed all my minerals out", or, "this detox and purification thing happening when drinking white or green tea surely means I can now have some more olives", and... Blaargh, you get my drift.

Get Up&Out&Walking seems the only solution to this. Or, perhaps, viewing another episode of the BBC Pride and Prejudice?

Well, venting my frustration also seems a good idea.
But that doesn't make the pain go away.

Enough complaining for today.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Tower of Song

Leonard Cohen

Well my friends are gone and my hair is grey
I ache in the places where I used to play
And I'm crazy for love but I'm not coming on
I'm just paying my rent everyday
In the Tower of Song

I said to Hank Williams: How lonely does it get?
Hank Williams hasn't answered yet.
But I hear him coughing all night long
A hundred floors above me
In the Tower of Song

I was born like this, I had no choice.
I was born with the gift of a golden voice.
And twenty-seven angels from the Great beyond
They tied me to this table right here
In the Tower of Song

So you can stick your little pins in that voodoo doll ---
I'm very sorry, baby, doesn't look like me at all
I'm standing by the window where the light is strong
They don't let a woman kill you, not
In the Tower of Song

Now you can say that I've grown bitter, but of this you may be sure:
The rich have got their channels in the bedrooms of the poor
And there's a mighty judgment coming
But I may be wrong ---
You see, you hear these funny voices
In the Tower of Song

I see you standing on the other side
I don't know how the river got so wide
I loved you, baby, way back when
And all the bridges are burning that we might have crossed
But I feel so close to everything that we lost
We'll never have to lose it again

I bid you farewell, I don't know when I'll be back
They're moving us tomorrow to that tower down the track
But You'll be hearing from me, baby
Long after I'm gone
I'll be speaking to you sweetly from a window
In the Tower of Song

Listen to this song on the album I'm your Man. I like it a lot. Perhaps you'd also like to see the documentary from 2005, I think it is called Leonard Cohen - I'm your Man. Made himself quite a catch-phrase there...

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Jonathan Culler at play

Today I went to a doctoral dissertation or whatever the English term is - an oral dissertation for the doctoral degree, at the University of Oslo, Norway in this case. It was my brilliant teacher in short prose and prose poems who defended her written doctoral dissertation in order to become a Ph. D. in comparative literature.

While the content of her dissertation was&is highly interesting, the first opponent, Jonathan Culler (professor at Cornell University, US) spent most of his time babbling away about his own reflections on literature as a whole, and posed only three questions at the doctoree (again: whatever you call it in English). Three questions during an hour and a half's worth of speaking, this might give you a clear view of just how much Mr. Culler enjoyed listening to his own voice.

As he himself proclaimed, this was his first ever time as first opponent in this kind of environment, but that does not explain why he spent most of the time elaborating his own views of literature and quoting French authors in loud, well-articulated French (my guess is that he wanted to show off his good knowledge and practice of the language).

I am shocked!
I had hoped that one of the celebrities within literary studies would prove more interesting, and more sharp than this.
Not too brilliant, I have to say.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Akademia - humaniora

Noen ganger skjønner man ting. Man skjønner dem på en slik måte at de griper rett inn i livet ditt, i ditt livs midt. Når man er litteraturstudent synes man i begynnelsen at det er veldig spennende, og at man får holde på med noe som for mange bare er en hobby. Men spesielt innenfor litteraturvitenskap skjønner man raskt at liv og lesing er to forskjellige ting. Man kan analysere dikt og noveller, lese teori og baske med abstrakte problemstillinger - dem går det aldri slutt på. Og det er gøy, bevares, lenge er det det. Men når man holder på med noe over lang tid, er det uomgjengelig at det man har viet seg til spiser seg inn til eksistenskornet som alt spinner seg rundt. Om noe ikke er helt riktig, viser det seg etter hvert - og ofte har man hatt en anelse om det lenge.

Litteraturvitenskap er fremdeles interessant og gøy, men det slår meg stadig vekk hvordan akademia alltid ligger ett skritt bak det som skjer, og at det tar jobben med å forklare og teoretisere og sette inn i historisk rammeverk.

Det dannet seg med en gang et slagord for dette: Fra lecteur til aktør! For hva er det vi driver med her vi sitter bøyd over bøkene? Analyse, spalting, forsøke å se hva andre har ment og tenkt og hvordan de har gjort det, mens de som har skrevet bøkene faktisk gjør noe. De lever gjennom ordene. Vi gjenopplever, gjenskaper, sekundærproduserer. Ikke rart at jeg noen ganger føler meg som en parasitt. Og et hakk fjernet fra eget liv. Det går nok fint an å leve et helt liv i hodet, noe sier meg at det er mer normalen enn unntaket. Men det er ikke bra nok for meg. Jeg må være her når jeg er her, for å si det sånn. Så får vi se om denne måten er den beste å gjøre det på.

Til slutt må jeg si: Jeg elsker litteratur, jeg elsker å lese, lære, reise gjennom andres ord. Det kommer jeg alltid til å gjøre. Men leser som livsvei er jeg ikke like sikker på om er holdbart i lengden. For meg.

Friday, May 11, 2007


Dette er biblioteket i Oslo slik det ser ut nå, i hovedhallen. Alt som står oppetter veggene er vanskelig å komme til, de færreste går helt oppe under taket for å finne bøkene de vil ha. Det er vel ca 20% av alle bøkene som står framme i dette "hovedbiblioteket" i Oslo - tegn på plassmangel, mon tro ---. Vi trenger virkelig et nytt, større, mer inspirerende sted å gå for å låne og lese bøker! Gleder meg altså veldig til det nye biblioteket skal stå ferdig, men jeg kan tenke meg at det ikke er ferdig før om ca 10 år... Hvorfor må man alltid vente på gode ting?

Her er noen biblioteker jeg gjerne skulle sittet og lest i!

Og drømmestedet? Det originale biblioteket i Alexandria! Ingen vet hvordan det så ut. . .

Men Escher har bedre fantasi enn de fleste.
Det øverste av disse andre bibliotekene har jeg faktisk vært i: Det er fra Trinity College i Dublin. Bøker er tunge tilstedeværelser, og atmosfæren er sumptuous (den ordlyden er bedre beskrivende enn de norske ord jeg kunne komme på).
For å se flere fantastiske bibliotek er det verdt å sjekke ut boka til Candida Höfer, med intro av Umberto Eco. Den heter rett og slett Libraries og har ISBN 0500543143.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Litt skuffende filmopplevelse

Ok, oppdatering på ting jeg sa man burde glede seg til denne våren/sommeren:

Nå har jeg sett Spider-Man 3. Den var ok, men de to forrige var langt mer interessante. Bilkræsj og tjue meter høye sandmenn klarer ikke holde på min oppmerksomhet særlig lenge. Denne filmen utfordrer svært lite. Og blir i overmål moralsk på slutten - så uttalt rett og riktig moralsk sett at man skulle tro det var en Disney-film. Amerikansk til de grader.

Firer på terningen er passende for denne filmen.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Predictions HP7

Had to do this prediction exam at The Leaky Cauldron - my fauvourite Harry Potter website (except from J.K. Rowling's own, of course). Good fun.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Wallace Stevens: The Plain Sense of Things

The Plain Sense of Things

After the leaves have fallen, we return
To a plain sense of things. It is as if
We had come to an end of the imagination,
Inanimate in an inert savoir.

It is difficult even to choose the adjective
For this blank cold, this sadness without cause.
The great structure has become a minor house.
No turban walks across the lessened floors.

The greenhouse never so badly needed paint.
The chimney is fifty years old and slants to one side.
A fantastic effort has failed, a repetition
In a repetitiousness of men and flies.

Yet the absence of the imagination had
Itself to be imagined. The great pond,
The plain sense of it, without reflections, leaves,
Mud, water like dirty glass, expressing silence

Of a sort, silence of a rat come out to see,
The great pond and its waste of the lilies, all this
Had to be imagined as an inevitable knowledge,
Required, as necessity requires.

As the previously posted poem by Nagarjuna (which, incidentally, is not a poem in the traditional way of thinking - rather like philosophical learning in the form of verse) is, by definition, Eastern in origin and form, this poem by Wallace Stevens seems to me to hold a reflection of the Eastern simplicity - within which is contained a profound complexity. It is rather revealing to the Western mind and way of expressing itself that this poem probably would have been put as a three-stanza haiku, had the author been, say, Japanese.

This way of expressing oneself, however, seems to be easier to grasp for our Eurocentric/westbent minds. As I myself belong to the Western camp, I couldn't really tell you the difference in the way of thinking between these two traditions. But I do believe that poems and written Eastern philosophy hints at how different the view of existence in different cultures can be.

At the same time: The direct experience of being human is something every person on this planet shares. So any difference in thinking, acting or organizing one's life and society will never be completely unintelligible. This is something more than one politician and other people of power might want to ponder. Before you go to war, of any kind, search within yourself to see whether there might be some understanding of the "opponent"'s point of view. Most of the time, you will find that there is.

Don't be afraid to look deeper into yourself that you normally allow yourself to do. Whatever you find will not be lethal to you. You might even find that you get to know a person that has longed to be recognized by you: Yourself.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


Litt reklame synes jeg man kan bedrive, i hvert fall når det gjelder en butikk og folk som er så gode til det de driver med: Le Palais des thes er en svært god teforretning som har en filial i Oslo; i Vibesgt 10 på Majorstua.

Ta en tur dit hvis du er glad i te. Du finner garantert noe du liker, og noe du ikke har smakt eller luktet før. Prøv en av de hvite teene, de har en subtil og rund smak. Og hvis du er tekanne-elsker, som jeg, kan du se noen tradisjonelle kinesiske og japanske utgaver (se på, for de er relativt dyre), i tillegg til nyere design. Riktig en forretning etter mitt hjerte!