Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Literary and real-life struggles

It's been a long time since a piece of literature has moved me like Norwegian author Karl Ove Knausgård's ongoing six volume epic Min kamp (My Struggle) about his own life does me now. Through reading the first three volumes (only the three are out yet), the level of reflection over my own childhood is what has most notably been boosted. His detailed memories, which cannot be distinguished from his fictionally empowered vague or incomplete recollections, are in themselves quite striking, but what has been really freeing for me is the way he looks straight at his own earlier life, not filtering or trying to escape the shame and embarrassment which often follows in the wake of childhood memories. He is looking directly, unsentimentally and quite painfully at his own childhood, warts and all (literally so). Embarrassing moments, every fear he has had, every shortcoming and every blunder; all is portrayed and layed out for the reader to see.

From this description, Knausgård's project may sound like social pornography, or like a man seeking complete attention for who he is down to his most petty flaw, but I can't see it like that. For one, this author is rather withdrawn, not even wishing to do interviews when his books are published, or even really caring about appearing for collecting awards (although he does do all these things). Secondly, this six-volume work is really good literature. I don't know any better way of describing his writing than as being really good literature. His writing is epic, novelistic, essayistic, confessionalistic, but all in a mix that is quite uniquely Knausgårdian and carrying the mark of high quality. This is a novel whose content is played out on wide screen rather than on a normal screen, that's what it is. Far more detailed, plunging, playful, broadly scoped and painfully more honest than most well-written literature. It's even silver screen writing for what I know.

So, where does all this leave me? Amongst all the moments of elated reading and painful recognition, I am left in a state of influence. His way of fearlessly taking in who he is and used to be, is nothing less than inspiring and somewhat paradigm-changing to me. This is something which rarely happens, but all the more enjoyable when it actually does: that something I read enters my own life or personal space for real. Turning mental pictures and ideas into reality. That's what good art does to me.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Brautigan's Scarlatti Tilt

How about a short short story?

I know Hemingway is said to have claimed that his best short story went like this: "For sale: baby shoes, never worn." While this seems to be a more or less truthful anecdote, this kind of strikingly short way of expression has spawned a movement of six word stories and other kinds of flash fiction. In Norway, a book called "Du trenger ikke mer enn 6" ("You don't need more than 6") has been published - no doubt inspired by the Hemingway-anecdote.

This really isn't my area of expertise, but I immediately thought of a short short story by Richard Brautigan, brilliantly named "The Scarlatti Tilt":

"'It's very hard to live in a studio apartment in San Jose with a man who's learning to play the violin.' That's what she told the police when she handed them the empty revolver."

And that's it!
It's perhaps not too difficult to write stories in a fragmental way which the reader has to put together to a kind of meaningful web, but more interesting, I find, to write short short stories with a point or plot. These kinds of stories share the structure with the riddle or joke, but are still something different.
A short short post on a long long Sunday.

Monday, November 02, 2009

e.e.cummings: i carry your heart with me

I just had to put out this poem by e.e.cummings. For a few days, the opening lines have pounded through me -- not like a mantra -- but with its very own, strong rhythm. What strikes me so, I think, is a combination of an almost naïve serenading of the I's beloved and the amount of courage it takes to stitch such simple, open words to the world's most terrifying experience: that of being in love. And then to publish the poem in all its straightforwardness - stout heart, mr. cummings-bard!

The imagery of the poem is clear and almost concretely solid, with its sun and moon, fate, soul and tree of life. Almost like the illustrations of a childrens's book.

"I carry your heart with me I carry it in my heart" - such simple but strangely strong words. The repetitiveness and the insistence on the word heart beats through the whole poem and contributes to the archetypal imagery which makes up this poem's stem, its own tree of life.
The last sentence (before the first sentence is repeated) is liberatingly expansive. The sun and air and immense black space of existence always gushes in through my chest when I read this. That the power of our own care and love is the strength which keeps the stars apart - what a freeing thought.

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go, my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in my heart)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Sebastian Faulks' Engleby and Mozart in words

Currently I am reading the novel Engleby by Sebastian Faulks and I enjoy it greatly. I picked it up in a library of the old sort - the kind you have in old manor houses. Amongst various philosophical books and other kinds of nonfiction, this gem was hiding. Once again, Vintage shows a real knack for good covers. This cool, yet somewhat mystic cover certainly made me interested.

BUT this was supposed to be a small post about a funny passage I read in this novel. The story is told in first person, and the first sentence (a theme not uninteresting), goes like this: "My name is Mike Engleby, and I'm in my second year at an ancient university." The following sentence nuances what kind of narrator we're dealing with: "My college was founded in 1662, which means it's viewed here as modern." Short and to the point, but with a chilly, detached and sarcastic undertone. The style is sophisticated, smart and slightly unnerving.
This narrator called Mike Engleby has a distanced view of the world and seems after a while to go from critical and laconic to half-mad and on the outside looking in. He comments his surroundings and his own history with a somewhat disinterested voice, even when what he reports is rather disturbing. It is as if he is on a stabilizer drug, not allowing either emotional highs or lows (and slowly as the novel unfolds you begin to suspect he is not completely trustworthy - he certainly does his share of illegal drugs, and the turn of the story with a disappeared girl he seems obsessed with, makes you think that you're being presented with a very limited version of the truth).
But what first struck me about this novel was the compelling, smart, witty, intelligent voice that opened up and led me through the story. As an outsider to the British ancient university and educational system, this seemed to me an interesting peephole into that honourably stoneclad and dusty space. The narrator is obviously bright, having started in English literature before he transferred to Natural sciences. This kind of witty, inventive and knowing narrator's voice seems almost absent from the Norwegian literary scene. More of that, please!
SO what about this funny passage? It is really quite simple and short, but it made me laugh out loud while reading it on my flight from London to Oslo earlier this week. He simply portrays the way Mozart turns his musical motives:
I can't see the point in Mozart. Of Mozart I can't see the point. The point
of Mozart I can't see. See I can't of Mozart the point. Can't I of Mozart point
the see... I can't see the point of Mozart.
That's not a tune, it's an algorithm. An algorithm in a powdered wig.
See what I mean about witty and compelling? I have to smile again, reading it a second time.
Perhaps I shall write a followup to this post when I have read the whole book - it is always a danger to describe a book when you haven't read the whole thing. But I think I am beginning to understand the plot here, and things are not looking good for poor dear wacky Engleby.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

First sentences

There is a Norwegian author named Karl Ove Knausgård who has embarked on a literary project somewhat similar to that of Proust's. In six volumes, counting 2500 pages, he writes about the whole of his life from childhood to today - though he is no more than forty. The style isn't quite as enveloped and enveloping as Proust's (a good thing, surely, as this work is actually a hundred years) and, funnily enough, far more prosaic. At least on the surface.

Only the first volume has been published, but two more will follow before christmas; one in October, one in November. The last three probably in January, February and March. (If anyone is cunning in Germanic languages, they will notice a concordance with the title on the picture to the right to the work of an infamous

Austrian some 70 years ago. An edge the author obviously wanted to his already quite noticeable endeavour. He is certainly not afraid to be called pretentious, and has also called this project a "literary suicide". As this theme demands a whole post of its own, I am continuing on a different note.)
I'll have to admit at once that I have not yet read this latest book of Knausgård's, but I am probably going to as I have read all (two!) previous books of his. Just the first page. But often you can get a sense of the whole work just by reading one page.
Like Proust, Knausgård introduces his hexalogy with a sentence easy to remember: "For hjertet er livet enkelt: det slår så lenge det kan." Or in English, something like this: "For the heart life is simple: it beats as long as it can" (pretty direct translation, no work of an expert). In Norwegian this sentence has a rhythmical drive, a simplicity in sounds and words, yet at the same time a poetic edge made out of words as basic as stick and straw, water and stone. What follows in this opening paragraph is a detailed, physical description of human death. Detailed, but still with that literary voice trailing behind, leading the prosaic (though dramatic) course to its end.
Proust's opening sentence is one of the most famous in the history of literature: "Longtemps, je me suis couché de bonne heure" - or "For a long time, I went to bed early." As we know, Proust has forever linked his name to the little dry bisquit called madelaine. I remember listening to a radio programme sometime around my twelfth year, hearing a woman speak passionately about an author who wrote in these marvellous sentences which stretched over two pages, and how he could describe the taste of a cake through pages and pages - and I remember really longing to find out how this literature was. Sadly the lady in my radio never mentioned the author's name from the time I got to listen to her, but I feel quite sure that it must have been Proust she was going on about. The joy of being presented with this strange and unknown literary master was almost greater than that of years later finding out who this person was, and later still to read some of his prose.

This simple yet alluring opening sentence reminds me of what often pulls me into a book: a taste of the author's very own universe, with the novel's specific tone included. Isn't this the reason we read books? To be enveloped in a strange but somehow familiar world where time is most relative and you are in a strange position between being the master of deciding the world's progress (as you decide when to pick up the book an break it off) as well as being led by the hand through a story you have no control over. "The world moves in appetency on its metalled ways", Eliot would have put it ("Burnt Norton" III).

A good example of first sentences which also says a great deal about the rest of the book is the beginning of Jane Austen's Emma: "Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her." In this rather long sentence, we are introduced to the main character and the story which will unroll almost directly from her characteristics. This is a character-driven story with Emma in the thick of every twist and turn of the intrigues; she is actually the embodiment of the plot.
I love the idea of opening a book on any given page and getting the flavour, or almost the whole idea, of a book. And this flavour is probably strongest on the first page, where the author holographically presents his project to you, the reader. One can become incredibly wealthy feasting on brilliant minds. So subsequently, which place to go expand your mind-wallet beats the library?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Jorge Luis Borges: The Ethnographer

I happened upon a story by Borges which has stayed with me. It is called "The Ethnographer" and is from In Praise of Darkness, a collection from 1969.

The story is about an ethnographer who starts out as an eager researcher in his field work in a tribe of native inhabitants somewhere on the American continent. Here he is supposed to live with a reclusive tribe and learn their secrets, for further use in academic studies.
He leaves a dedicated scholar wanting to lure out knowledge no one outside the tribe has ever had access to, so as to preserve it and publish it and then gain personal glory for his discoveries.

The young man stays for a few years with this tribe. Sleeping on the prairie, parttaking in big and small activities.

When he returns to his professor a new man, the conversation is as follows:
"'I learned something out there that I can't express.'
'The English language may not be able to communicate it,' the professor suggested.
'That's not it, sir. Now that I possess the secret, I could tell it in a hundred different ways. I don't know how to tell you this, but the secret is beautiful, and science, our science, seems mere frivolity to me now.'
After a pause he added:
'And anyway, the secret is not as important as the paths that led me to it. Each person has to walk those paths himself.'"
The turning point of the tale is really quite remarkably beautiful and simple: "The young man found that on nights of the full moon he dreamed of buffalo." This one sentence resets the web of the story and gives direction to the underlying mystery -- a mystery which is setting this man, this presumed antagonist, free.

Dreams of buffalos at the full moon leading to knowledge of the mystery.
Makes total sense to me.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Written on the sky - poems from the Japanese

I came across this book recently in the ever visited Norli bookstore. It is a small volume of Japanese poetry translated by Kenneth Rexroth, of whom the back flap tells me was "considered by many as the father of the San Francisco renaissance of the 1940s", and "brought public attention to world poetry through his [...] brilliant translations of Chinese and Japanese poetry".
What first caught my eye was, I must confess, the book's cover. The digital representation to the left here doesn't completely give the real book credit. It is a small, glossy black piece with the flowers and letters printed in a thick golden material, and the embellishment also flows across the book's back. The design reminds me of art deco, only with Eastern patterns and images.
So much for the cover, here is a sample poem:

How can I blame the cherry blossoms
for rejecting this floating world
and drifting away as the wind calls them?

(By "Shunzei's daughter")

There is something about the Japanese and cherry blossoms. As well as moonlight. Their very own kind of melancholy.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Summer melancholy and Kent

Again with the melancholy and the Scandinavians. It seems to me that every summer, bright, short, warm, damp, cool, whatever is going on in my life, the inevitable summer melancholy hits. Why is it?

Anyway, I remember discussing this with a friend about 10 years ago. We both have the same inclination to the still waters of the mind and she mentioned how she every summer returned to the Swedish rock group Kent. And tonight, I did exactly that. What better soundtrack to a melancholy lone summer evening? I think it's actually been a few years now since I listened to this band, but my! do they bring back my 18 year old self. Or rather, they remind me of everything which was back then and allow that old self image to exist as a ghostly figure right next to the presentday me. It's a weird feeling, but weird in a good way - like being a doubly developed picture from a camera taking snapshots from different epochs.
I kind of like that idea, existing on many levels at once while showing only one face to the world.
But I've got to say this for the melancholy: It's widely different now from before. Far less consuming, more...pleasurable I think is the right way to put it. I guess I rather like my hits of summer melancholy.
Awww, and this makes me think of The Smiths. Sigh. What a great band for adolescent longing. I guess I know the next band for my nighttime playlist.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Monica Zetterlund

This is a Swedish jazz singer with a quite unique voice - something which is surely true of many jazz vocalists. She died a few years ago in a fire at her home in Stockholm, Sweden.
For a Scandinavian, or rather the Swedish or Norwegian listener, she represents something in addition to the soft, smoky tones of her voice. She was one of the first to sing Swedish folk tunes in the framework of jazz, always honouring them with a simple yet personal style.
It's hard to explain why many Norwegian and Swedish folk tunes resonate so deeply with these countries' inhabitants - or they do with me, anyway. It's like a nostalgic longing for a time I haven't experienced but which is still whispering of its existence in my bones. In her interpretations of the Swedish folk tunes she knew so well, Zetterlund transmits a vulnerability and something close to melancholy which is blood deep and is hinting of a green, shadowy, spruce-clad foresty landscape that every Norwegian or Swede is familiar with. It's like these green shadows, the smell of moss, fir and spruce and everything coniferous evokes the Northern parts of our souls - the bright white light in summertime and the dark cold of the winters. Or, again, this may just be me.
Anyway, I simply love Zetterlund's voice which is both cool and warm, soft and rough, and everything it hints at. Smoky jazz clubs and pine fresh air alike.
The album I most strongly recommend is Waltz for Debby, a co-act with Bill Evans. This album was recorded on one afternoon in 1964 and she had to rush to a concert she was to give that same night.
The author, filmmaker and comic Tage Danielsson captured her in verse in 1967. The following (in Swedish) is an excerpt from a longer poem called "Det eviga" (The eternal), and is both ethereally beautiful and almost brutally wild, just like our Northern nature - complete with a melancholy timbre:
En nattklubbsdrottning doftande av logar.
Ett lingonris som satts i cocktailglas.
En blond negress från Värmlands huldraskogar.
Monica Zetterlund. En jazzpaschas,
en sång som hejdar sej, till hälften hunnen,
och drar den där när Fröding satt på dass.
En väv, av guldbrokad och vadmal spunnen.
Men märk det vemodsdraget över munnen:
ett nordiskt sångardrag, en sorg i rosenjazz.
Danielsson clearly sees her inherent dicotomies, the mountain cranberry in a cocktail glass, a fabric both gold and hodden, and the sorrowful set of her mouth (which he explains as a familiar feature in Northern singers).
The concluding line (hard to translate) sums her up expertly: A sorrow in a jazz of roses. This obviously refers to her "Jag vet en dejlig rosa" (I know of a beautiful rose) from Waltz for Debby. Just listen to it.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Tomas Tranströmer in Oslo

Tomorrow evening the Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer is on a visit in Oslo, in Litteraturhuset (House of Literature). He will be accompanied by a Swedish actor who will read from his poems, and a Norwegian poet and writer, Espen Stueland, who will introduce the poet and comment on the poetry during the evening. Tranströmer will be there and play the piano with his left hand.

I visited his last performance in Oslo a few years ago, at the club Mono. If you haven't yet been to a reading with this poet, I would advise you to go. He is getting on in age and his health isn't that good. But his poetry is. That good.

You can read an article about Tranströmer in the Guardian here.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Strongly recommended

From today's play list, there are two pieces of music I would like to tell the rest of the world about, although a good deal of the rest of the world already knows them. Anyway.

One is Keith Jarrett's Vienna Concert. The first part of it, which I know best, is a slow build-up to a rhythmically complex but strikingly compelling stretch of about 10-15 minutes, which then slows down again to a sort of meditative ending based on wide open triads in major, with Jarrett's signaturial pure, wide and deep sound.

The other one is Bach's Brandenburger Concertos, and the piece I was jumping around to today is the first movement of the 5th concerto. In the end there, at least in my Trevor Pinnock recording, the cembalist outstrips and outcools any rock music I have yet heard by far!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Modern American Poetry - a link

Very short today:

In my search for the station of the metro poem by Ezra Pound I came across this wonderful web resource, a compilation of modern American poetry. Hooray for Bartleby!

This is the poem I was looking for, by the way:


The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.

Monday, April 13, 2009

"A different sun" by Kolbein Falkeid - "En annen sol"

A different sun

Silent around the boat, silent
like stars when Earth is switched off and people's words,
faltering thoughts and dreams are forgotten.
I place the oars in their rowlocks,
lower and raise them. Listen.
The small splash of drops in the ocean
cement the silence. Slowly, towards a different sun
I turn my boat in the mist: The tight-knit nothing
of life. And row,

* * *
En annen sol

Stille rundt båten, stille
som stjerner når jorda er avskrudd og menneskers ord,
famlende tanker og drømmer glemt.
Jeg legger årene i hver sin tollegang,
senker og løfter dem. Lytter.
Det vesle plasket av dråper i havet
sementerer stillheten. Sakte, mot en annen sol,
dreier jeg båten i tåka: Livets
tette ingenting. Og ror,

* * *

To me this poem is likea mix of the written poem and a lyric for a song. You can hear this poem performed (in Norwegian) by Anne-Grete Preus accompanied by Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes.
It was written as part of a collection of poems Falkeid wrote in the time after his daughter had committed suicide, and is a desperately beautiful part of a suite of twelve poems in this collection, named "A different sun" ("En annen sol").

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Famous blue raincoat - a metaphor that lives

The heading for this post refers of course to Leonard Cohen's song. I was prodded into writing about this strangely alive metaphor by hearing the song again.

The blue raincoat transcends the whole lyrics, the whole song, and leaves me on the other side with a new impression imprinted in my being. This image leaves blue streaks in its wake, embodying and generating a bluish world of its own. The raincoat comes alive, that's the easiest way of describing what I mean. Easier still is to call it by its rhetorical name: This piece of clothing becomes a full-blooded symbol, though a symbol which seems to live by itself, which has taken on a form and transmits the content of the song just by existing as a symbol. Perhaps this is what some writers mean when they say that their characters become alive and start talking and having opinions on how the story should develop.

I love this quote from Cohen about his own blue raincoat:

"I had a good raincoat then, a Burberry I got in London in 1959. Elizabeth thought I looked like a spider in it. That was probably why she wouldn't go to Greece with me. It hung more heroically when I took out the lining, and achieved glory when the frayed sleeves were repaired with a little leather. Things were clear. I knew how to dress in those days. It was stolen from Marianne's loft in New York sometime during the early seventies. I wasn't wearing it very much toward the end."

And so the formatting strangles me. Marianne by the way is Cohen's Norwegian girlfriend from those years - So long, Marianne is spun around her.

(Also, if you're Scandinavian or can understand a Scandinavian language, it is worth checking out the recording of this song made by Kari Bremnes on the tribute album Cohen på norsk - "Cohen in Norwegian".)

Saturday, March 28, 2009

William Blake: The Problem of Sense-Organs

William Blake is a poet whose work I have scarcely touched the surface of. This little poem (which is an excerpt from the 330 lines long poem called The Everlasting Gospel) transmits the notion that it is not your eyes that do the seeing. It is something else. And I couldn't agree more.

I wouldn't necessarily call the sense-organs problems, rather as bodily (seemingly) functions which are necessary in our relation to the world. Both the outer and the inner. The problem occurs when you believe that this is all there is to it, that the organs are the sensing. If you sink into it, you will probably find that your sense-organs function on the inside as well as on the outside of your body. And where, one might ask oneself, is the seeing, feeling, listening, tasting and hearing happening then?

The Problem of Sense-Organs

This Life's dim Windows of the Soul
Distorts the Heavens from Pole to Pole
And leads you to Believe a Lie
When you see with, not thro', the Eye
That was born in a night to perish in a night
When the Soul slept in the beams of Light

William Blake, The Everlasting Gospel

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Kjernesunn familie - ja takk!

Hallo, hallo.

Har dere vært borti Kjernesunn familie-konseptet i Danmark? Hvis ikke vil jeg drive litt snikreklamifisering!

Enkleste måten å få vite mer om dette på er ved å gå inn på hjemmesiden deres, http://www.kernesundfamilie.dk/. De har også en nettbutikk. Ettersom de er lokalisert i Danmark er det ikke så mye vits å handle fra dem (blir fort mye momsbetaling, pluss rådyr frakt), men det er en fin side å få inspirasjon og guiding til hva man kan og bør ha i skuffer og skap av mat, oljer etc -alt uten kjemiske uhumskheter, sukker, melk og gluten.

Dette høres kanskje surmaget og trist ut, litt som Vegeta her i Oslo (nå Aubergine), men det er et heldekkende og friskt konsept, som egentlig ikke burde kalles noe konsept ettersom de forfekter en naturlig måte å leve på. Først og fremst er det mat familen Mauritson setter fokus på, men også trening og mental og fysisk (både kropp og hjem) utrensing er på programmet. Og viktigst er overbygningen av BEVISSTGJØRING.

Hvorfor skal man gå rundt som zombier uten å vite hva som er godt for en, og kanskje viktigere: hva som ikke er godt for en? Jeg kan godt svare: det er ingen grunn til å være zombie. For eksempel er det ofte en sammenheng mellom forskjellige krefttyper og hva man spiser/har spist opp gjennom livet, stress, leveforhold, og dette er ting man bør vite så mye som mulig om.

Jeg føler meg også mer og mer sikker på at melkemat ikke er godt for menneskekroppen, og har kuttet den helt ut. Nåja, om jeg skal begynne å skrive om hva jeg synes er bra og ikke bra å spise/gjøre/tenke, vil det bli et alt for langt og trettsomt innlegg dette. Men engasjert i disse spørsmålene er jeg! (Og jeg har mer enn litt dårlig samvittighet fordi jeg ikke trener nok, men trøster meg med at etter masteroppgaven er innlevert har jeg tid og rom til å få det inn i uka.)

Viktig er også mental rengjøring (et noe klamt begrep), og den kan nok gjøres på flere måter. Her er jeg imidlertid ingen mester. Tankevaner er vonde å vende, og det å falle inn i halvdepressive, selvdømmende mønstre er så alt for lett. Så muligens skriver jeg dette avsnittet mest for å oppmuntre meg selv. Og vet man hva: det hjelper!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Daffodils, Wales, spring

Back from Wales, where the spring has arrived and the daffodils are flourishing! This picture is just like the road to Buckland Hall in Brecon close to Abergavenny, where we have just spent a week. What a difference from the Norwegian iceclad slopes. I must say, though, that I was very happy when returning to see that the snow had almost completely gone. Won't get my hopes too high up, though, a Norwegian knows better than knowing for sure that spring has arrived in late March. I remember three years ago when snow was falling thick in April...

Weather talk is a bore, but at the end of winter the hope for sun and mild weather is almost all-consuming!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Jeg så igjen Dunderklumpen! i går kveld, og så moro er det lenge siden jeg har hatt det. Eller: så fint og barndomstrygt og -magisk er det lenge siden jeg har hatt det :-)

Filmen så jeg en gang da jeg var rundt 7 år, sammen med en venninne som hadde fått hjernerystelse og måtte holde seg våken. Siden da har jeg ikke sett filmen, men boka har jeg lest mange ganger som barn og også seinere.
Det er noe med svenske barnebøker og filmer som går rett inn hos meg nå og også gjorde det som barn. Handlingen i denne filmen er på midtsommernatta, og stemingen er intet mindre enn magisk - ikke bare gjør Dunderklumpen lekene levende, men den lyse natta og det velkjente norsksvenske landskapet med gran- og furuåser og fosser og kjemper og morgendis over vannene er perfekt setting for midtsommernattsmagi. Og så er det noe med 70-åra (som jeg ikke har opplevd) som virker så jordnært og fantastisk på en gang.

Filmen er fra 1974 og har god musikk (Toots Thielemans), levende og sjelfylte tegninger og ikke minst stemmer - Gösta Ekman og Hasse Alfredsson er to av de som gir stemmer til karakterene.

Heldig for meg at biblioteket hadde denne stående i hylla, ellers ville jeg aldri fått sett den på nytt. Kommer nok til å skaffe denne om jeg får barn noen gang! Mulig jeg er på vei til å bli gammeldags, men jeg liker godt de barnefilmene som ikke bare er action og skrik og skrål, men som har en rolig og morsom stemning. Og, ikke minst, magisk. Det er nøkkelordet på barndomskulturopplevelser som sitter spikret.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Hommage to the maker of a cover

As the title of this post hints, this is written just to honour the designer of the cover of the first compilation of Emily Dickinson's poems in Norwegian translation. It looks even better in real life, as the branches are glossed in shining black and slightly elevated on the cover. The book both looks and smells of cherry blossoms.
There is to be another volume before the translation is complete.
The translator, Kurt Narvesen (who is also a poet) told me a long time ago that he was working on translating Dickinson's poetry. I was thrilled but not quite sure whether he was really telling the truth. As he had just finished translating Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass, though, I hoped he was indeed telling the truth.
And so he was.
The result can now be viewed - and read! - if you visit a well-assorted book store. May I suggest Norli? Just follow this link, and you're on your way.
I heard the first spring birds singing today in the late March snow. It left me in a strange mixture of melancholy and optimism for what's to come this year.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Jack Gilbert: Say you love me

Har du også hatt opplevelsen av å sitte inne i en glassboks, mens den du er sammen med sitter i en annen, med en helt annen farge på veggene enn dine? Eller at dine linser er konkave, mens den andres er konvekse? Noen ganger lurer jeg på om mannen min og jeg lever i samme virkelighet, eller om kommunikasjonen mellom øye og sinn går i rette, blanke skinneganger hos ham, og i krøllete, mangefargede ulltrådmønstre hos meg. Noe liknende har visst Jack Gilbert også erfart.


Are the angels of her bed the angels
who come near me alone in mine?
Are the green trees in her window
the color I see in ripe plums?
If she always sees backward
and upside down without knowing it
what chance do we have? I am haunted
by the feeling that she is saying
melting lords of death, avalanches,
rivers and moments of passing through.
And I am replying, "Yes, yes.
Shoes and pudding."

Fra Refusing Heaven, 2005

Thursday, January 08, 2009

"I would not have been a poet, except..."

Long time no write, but by a strange coincidence, Wendell Berry once again ignited my desire for sharing through blogwriting. Berry is a poet I didn't know until I received a poem by him from a friend. This poem flowed in my direction from the same source, and how grateful am I.
I have not read any essays or stories by him, but I imagine his poetic vein infuses his words with lyric qualitites whatever genre he writes in. That is just the way with artists of language.
I find it particularly moving and true the way he honours silence and the huge world of wordlessness by circling his way around these truths through words. How else can we communicate truths to each other if not through some kind of language that we share? That is one of the beauties as well as shortcomings of language and being a human.
But, as we know, communicare necesse est. And what gems do not exist because of our need of communication? It is a most important web which ties us together.


by Wendell Berry

I would not have been a poet
except that I have been in love
alive in this mortal world,
or an essayist except that I
have been bewildered and afraid,
or a storyteller had I not heard
stories passing to me through the air,
or a writer at all except
I have been wakeful at night
and words have come to me
out of their deep caves
needing to be remembered.
But on the days I am lucky
or blessed, I am silent.
I go into the one body
that two make in making marriage
that for all our trying, all
our deaf-and-dumb of speech,
has no tongue. Or I give myself
to gravity, light, and air
and am carried back
to solitary work in fields
and woods, where my hands
rest upon a world unnamed,
complete, unanswerable, and final
as our daily bread and meat.
The way of love leads all ways
to life beyond words, silent
and secret. To serve that triumph
I have done all the rest.

from A Timbered Choir: The Sabbath Poems 1979–1997