The new Sunday orgy

Sundays nowadays make me think of my time in New York.

When Sunday meant the Sunday edition of The New Your Times (almost a kilo of reading matter).

That’s because I only read Facebook comments on Sundays. Their weight is open for discussion, but my Slim Line means that I don’t do my usual Log and Run in 5 minutes-routine. I stay a bit longer.

I might even drink a cup of coffee..

In this way Facebook almost becomes fun. Instead of drowning in a steady stream of attention-stealing distraction my Sunday turns into a little orgy, a slightly longer dip in the social media ocean.

As Paracelus said: Everything is poison and nothing is without poison. The dosage decides if it is poison.

Ready for the FB dip!

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Sitter på biblioteket, på barnavdelningen som är helt tom och tyst. Lågt bord, ministol.

Ser mig omkring bland alla vänliga, snälla böcker. Några titlar:

  • Memmo och mysen
  • Vem matar djuren?
  • Min älskling
  • Harguden Isopo
  • Jag älskar Manne
  • Den stora vännen
  • Hur hunden fick sin blöta nos
  • Den lilla trädgårdsmästaren
  • Citronlemonaden
  • Pelle Svanslös fyller år
  • Vi hittade en hatt

Vilken fredlig värld detta är, tänker jag. När börjar kriget? När ska barn också dras in i en värld av konflikter, debatter och slagsmål? Vid vilken ålder upphör vänligheten och snällheten, när börjar konkurrensen, schismerna, utslagningen, utbrändheten? När kommer den själsdödande rutinen, kneget, den bottenlösa tristessen?

Är det det som kallas att bli vuxen?

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My activity nowadays is not here but at . Enough “poems” and such.

However, my old newsletter FIMUM is going to have a renaissance.

I recall from the days before my book Offensiv Nostalgi that I didn’t want to write a book but rather publish a magazine. I now see the upside and benefits of both.

A book, I reasoned, is like a raven. It just sits there on the bookshelf. while a magazine makes a thud on the floor every time it arrives. The thud is now digital but the frequency is still higher than with books.

There is something of the newspaper-man within me. I will release him from his cage and let him ROAR.

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Smile, you are at Starbucks

I practically never visit Starbucks, but the other day I did. At the counter the following fragment of a conversation takes place.

–Customer, C (foreign man around 30): Give me a smile. Can you smile, man?
–Starbucks guy, SG: (Continues with the customers credit card)
–C: Really, you need to learn to smile. What’s wrong with you? Give me a smile!
–SG: (Politely) Is all okay with you, sir?
–C: With me, terrific! With you, I am not so sure… Hey, forget it, cancel the buy.
–SG: (Cancels, and gives him back his card).
–C: (at the door) You really need to learn to smile, man.

There are so many interactions taking place in a big city every day, but this one I will remember. Why? I am not sure.

Of course my written words are not the very exact words, also they cannot capture the whole event. There was also tone of voice, body language, faces and the very bodies of the two persons involved.

The insistence of asking for a smile could have been rude or arrogant. It didn’t see it that way. It was more like a benign but stern and demanding teacher scolding a student. Almost like an oracle speaking.

I am sure the young man behind the counter will remember this episode, at least I hope he will.

The main thing I took with me from this was an energy of generosity: Somebody does not accept your second best, your 99 1/2 or 67 1/2. Somebody ask you to be your best. We didn’t ask him to coach us, but he does anyway. (And maybe our soul did ask for it, but we forgot that episode.)

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The scent of Christmas

Once, when I was a kid, Christmas was about presents. Of course. What’s in that package… and what’s that BIG one over there?

Then Christmas went through many phases: a family affair, the stress of shopping mania, giving rather than getting presents, lonely Christmas, etc.

Now I would say that Christmas, the spirit of Christmas, is a scent. The smell of a Christmas tree, the old classic type that hasn’t lost its aroma, is enough. Christmas is for the nose.

Ahem…. modern surrogate.

Talking about the nose, I notice something in the hall.

We know — though of course quickly forget since we quickly get used to it — that every apartment has it’s own smell. Probably the result of the sum total of walls, paint, curtains, bed clothes, furniture, electronics (TV, stereo, etc), so on. Did I mention the piano?

In some apartments something lovely happens when you open the windows wide. The walls (I suspect) gives off an pleasant, old-world aroma in contact with the air from the outside.

This is one of the so called small joys of life that we (our intellect) easily forget. But the nose knows this.

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Well used and wasted insomnia

I have this recent habit of waking up around the “wolf hour”, four in the morning.

Insomnia and not sleeping well can be very frustrating, especially over time. But at least part of the problem is a thought: “I should be sleeping now”.

Well, I am awake so I rise and write instead. Might take a nap in the afternoon.

So let me use this time well. Let me gather my thoughts, once again as usual, at a less usual hour.

The thoughts on my mind these days (and nights) are very much our modern world: how we communicate, express ourselves, behave, love, what we say and don’t say — and who is listening.

“Talking to the wall” is a classic expression for being alone but still having thoughts on your mind that you want to formulate, express, whisper or shout.

Who would have thought that a blog is a kind of wall nowadays? A different wall, of course. The neighbors are different. Your physical neighbors are probably not hearing your “wall-talk”; on the other hand strangers from the other side of the planet might. Or nobody might, that is yet another soundproof possibility.

Strange changes, these.

However, loneliness remains, I think that hasn’t changed much. People still feel isolated, forgotten, unheard and worthless. Blogging, Facebooking or Twittering, I believe, are no real solutions to this, though if you are born into the SOC-MED-system (social media), and even if you aren’t, you might think that they are. I ascribe this belief to the different STROKE-phases that Eric Berne has written about in Games people play.

As far as I remember in my dozing state he says that infants get (we hope) hugs and stroking. This is essential for human life; children wilt if they are not held and hugged.

As we grow older we get less and less of this kind of warm physical contact. The need for stroking remains, but we need to find other channels for it. We start to sublimate, even though (I believe) nothing can beat a warm, fuzzy hug, preferably from someone who likes or loves you.

All our SOC-MED — well, not all but much of it, so it seems to me — is a surrogate for hugs. Some of us get real hugs real often, others less often, and then there are those who just aren’t hugged. For them SOC-MED can become a hugging machine.


Another thing has to do with writing. As I am a writer who writes more or less constantly (much more than I publish) it is important to understand the role and function of writing. And the relation of writer to reader.

Once upon a time, not long ago, the result of writing was presented in books (and of course in papers and magazines).

Now there is a very interesting time aspect to writing books. As a rule you need a publisher for books. You send them your manuscript, they accept it, then they print it. This process can take months or years. Contrast this with what happens now.

These words are going to be on the Net in maybe ten minutes. Years, months, minutes, that’s an enormous acceleration.

This also changes the question of audience. Who read a book formerly? Well, all kinds of people. But as a rule there was a basic motivation to read a specific book. You either borrowed it in the library or you bought it in a book store.

This is very different from surfing the Net. When you surf the Net and find something to read then that reading matter is surrounded by a lot of things, mainly digital clutter.

We have gotten used to multitasking, which is a way of being more or less present / absent. I think one example is enough to explain the difference between then and now:

Imagine that you have this new book in your lap. You just bought it and you look forward to reading it. You open it and it rings. What? A ringtone is heard. Where does that come from…?

You continue to turn the pages, and now it rings again. “You have mail” a voice says. You turn another page. “CLICK HERE to win a free iPhone!” is written all over the page. What the hell! I am trying to read a book.

You turn the page and the book finally begins. After four pages it starts again. “Adam liked your post” it says. What post? I am reading, damn it, not writing on Facebook. Oh but you ARE! This is not just a book, you see, this is your mailbox and Facebook and all the SOC-MED you are involved in.

Enough. I think you (whoever and wherever you are) get the picture. Besides, I am tired of this. I will watch “Vargtimmen” (The hour of the wolf) by Ingmar Bergman on YouTube and then try to get some sleep again. OAO.

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Myself and I

One of the funniest persons I know is me. I have spent a couple of hours tonight reading old texts and articles of mine. If it is true that laughter lengthens life I will live several seconds longer now.

But I don’t only laugh. I also half-cry, observing how I was some 25 years ago. What a brave, lonely freethinker I was, not caring about the opinions of the world but still trapped in that strange cage called “Swedish life”. Much of what I read is a reaction and protest against it, a way of banging on the walls of the cell.

I am out of the cell now, even though I feel like I am trapped again, only in another way. That is probably not true. These days I am banging on the walls from the outside. Let me in, let me in! I can’t handle this freedom…!

I wonder what my 25 years younger version would say about me today. Probably: You came this far; you survived. You must have done something right.

I more than survived. I was perfect!
I more than survived. I was perfect!

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Noble days

After just two days in an oldish house with no internet: there is something NOBLE about being “off-line”. (Good reason for the quotation marks.)

How come, noble? That is the word that comes to mind. A big word, contrasted by ignoble.

Off-line is of course an extremely biased word. Off-line with what, online with what?

This has to do with being. I am, my being exists, and is aware of itself.  In this I am very much online with important, essential aspects of existence. But it has nothing to with wi-fi or internet. I am online with creation.

Sitting in front of my computer, on the other hand, with 20 or more open tabs in my browser, unless I have two different browsers open (!), and juggling with Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, stats, WordPress and I don’t know how many other balls, is pure confusion. It has almost nothing to do with presence. Writing this post I already feel myself slipping away.

Language gives it away so elegantly. “Surfing the net”. Surfing is an activity done on the surface of water. On-line with the Net — superficiality, forgetfulness, absence.

Or shall we claim that during the minutes and hours we sit with our computers or “smart” phones we are aware of our butt on the chair, our hand on the computer mouse, our eyes riveted on the monitor? Are we there? Or have we forgotten the very room we sit in? If we are not in the room, where are we? Surely we have not teleported to some other room? No, we are still there but we have forgotten it. (And the room has forgotten us.)

The Net draws us out from ourselves. We are nowhere when surfing. We may be in time (now) but not in space (here).

These two internet-free days I was only aware of furniture, smells, old books and wallpapers — and myself. The analog world does not draw me out, or away. It houses me, envelops me, anchors me.

Enough writing. Outernity is sucking me dry.

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The masterpiece

Even though I feel alienated from the literati (who themselves are alienated from so many things) I do keep a book of Cyril Connoly by my bed. This evening I was reminded about something he said about masterpieces. I found the quote:

“The true function of a writer is to produce a masterpiece, no other task is of any consequence.”

Why was I reminded? Because I logged into Facebook for five minutes, of course. If a masterpiece is cruiser then “social media” is a bunch of torpedoes, or let’s says prayers:

“Pray dear Sir, do NOT do, or create, anything great, memorable or astonishing. But do tell us how you feel, and have you seen our new collection of cool emoticons…?”

This is like Eden with snakes hanging from the trees and one single apple. If it was different to withstand temptation back then, how is it now?

The answer, the solution is radical. One must be radical, not “social”, at least not how Facebook would define the word. No, radical as Jesus, Huysmans or Papini were. Not giving a shit about fashion, trends and search engine optimization.

Connoly puts it well and has to much to say to authors. Here is a bittersweet bouquet:

“A writer is in danger of allowing his talent to dull who lets more than a year go past without finding himself in his rightful place of composition, the small single unluxurious retreat of the twentieth century, the hotel bedroom.”

In this true life of Cyril Connoly keeps me company tonight, as I perhaps will keep somebody company a hundred years hence.

“Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.”

“Art is made by the alone for the alone.”

“Slums may well be breeding-grounds of crime, but middle-class suburbs are incubators of apathy and delirium.”

“The artist secretes nostalgia around life.”

Yes, this is one of those nights. But let’s close with a wistfully romantic thought, before I go back to writing a masterpiece.

“There are only three things which make life worth living: to be writing a tolerably good book, to be in a dinner party of six, and to be traveling south with someone whom your conscience permits you to love.”

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Buy more air!

We have a strange situation in the world today. If our product is material — bread, cars, telephones or even creating a new hairstyle — we can always make a living and make money.

If our product is more subtle (poems, music, philosophy, dance) making money is harder. Many people think music and philosophy should be free. They might say “philosophy is priceless and invaluable!” (ovärderlig) but in practice this often means “worthless” (värdelös).

This reminds me of what is written on the gravestone of romantic poet John Keats: Here lies One whose Name was writ in Water. That´s how it is. We artists write in matter that vanishes. Very immaterial, very real, very airy…

This is the beautiful grave of Keats in Rome.


A bit of history: In the past affluent individuals with an understanding of the value of art – and the plight of the artist — often become patrons. Haydn, Tchaikovsky and Wagner are three well known composers who were helped by patrons. And Horace (Horatius) of course was supported by Maecenas, who came to personify the high-minded benefactor.

But aristocracy is not what it was, and patronage vanished at the horizon for a long time. It seems to be doing a kind of comeback now. Not through aristocrats this time but through ordinary (= poorer) folks who also understand the plight of the artist. Folks who are prepared to pay not just for bread and mobile-phones but perhaps even for poems!

I recently discovered a web site that carries on the old patronage idea. It is fittingly called Patreon and I suggest that you check it out. You might find a contemporary Keats there, maybe even make his life less bitter by supporting his “writings in air”.

Horatius (always looking for Maecenas)

PS: My first project on Patreon was the online magazine Headwind, closely followed by Partyology.

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Morning stroll in B-pest

What´s up in Budapest?

It´s raining sunshine.

Raining sunshine

And what time it is?

It´s a quarter to cake.

Five to cakeThen a guy stops me in the street. No, actually I stop and ask him for a brochure. We talk for about 15 minutes. I have to say I respect people who take the risk of being unpopular — and doubly respect people who risk being doubly unpopular.

“Have you ever grieved when a piece or art was marred or destroyed?” Frankly I believe very few of us have.

“God feels the same way about us.” Well, at least one guy cares.

And look at the bottom. Address: 60 Haight street, San Francisco! The freewheeling spirit lives on….

After-cake is followed by opera. Which opera? Mine, of course.





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Looking rich, looking poor

Dear P. A. Montata gives me interesting feedback when discussing my future plans for Patreon.

“Your friend Dag, well he looks like a poor guy, with little money. But how do you imagine people will sponsor you, when you sit there at your sidewalk café, drinking latte and munching on your saucy cake? People think you are RICH, why would they give money to you…?”

Good question. I think I have a great allergy towards begging and a problem with “looking poor”. Asking for and accepting help from friends is different, no problem with that.

But to play the pauper and strike up the pity me-pose for strangers so that they part with their money…. No, I am too proud for that.

I try to keep an old tradition alive: when you lack money the most, dress like a millionaire.

Trying hard to look rich
Trying hard to look rich

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