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Many of our holidays are family-dependent; without kin they are, if not empty, somehow less enjoyable. This doesn´t mean that if you have a large or even small family, holidays are automatically enjoyable — they can be torturous (speaking from experience). But at least you will be without that lonely feeling that family-less people are prone to. At least you will not be bored. Just check out all the family drama in Bergman movies.
Some of us go deep into the meaning of Christmas, put it into a larger context. Some only see it as a reason to connect with family, give and receive Christmas presents, make money on people buying Christmas presents, or simply an excuse to (over)eat. I mean, I´ve never felt as full as at the (admittedly fantastic) “julmiddagar” that my dear publisher David used to hold at Hotel Grand in Lund, Skåne.
Without intending to I happened to be drawn into a julbord yesterday, very far from Lund. And I noted that without necessarily involving religion, family or food orgies Christmas can be a moment of friendly, positive and warm energy. I was, guards down, touched.
May you who read this be similarly, or differently, touched by the “spirit of Christmas”. Touched by a special, non-standardized, extra-ordinary, non-commercial feeling.
When I hear the word “boring” I think of the excellent TV-series “Sherlock” with Benedict Cumberbatch. Sherlock, as he is portrayed there, is really a character: outlandish, brilliant, weird, nerdy.
“Harmonious” is hardly a word I would use, though.
When I have something to print, which often happens, I go to a print shop run by some Arab guys. We have developed a warm feeling between us. Especially one of the boys (he can be around 30) is SO simpatico.
When I had an errand there today I noted, more than usual, his harmoniousness. It´s not like he is saintly or holy. It´s that… things are in place. There is a lack of neurosis, he has a natural and warm smile, is soft spoken without sophistication, friendly but un-businesslike (even though he is in business).
Being near him I saw myself clearer. Saw my disharmonies, how much more like Sherlock I am, complicated, complicating, looking for originality, having moments of genius but even more moments of boredom.
If you ask me: Would you like to trade lives with the Arab friend? [always a good question to ask when admiring somebody] I would probably say “no”. No. His harmony is his, and my (to speak PC-lingo) “differently harmonious” life is mine. But I am opening up to what he has and is, appreciate it more, not saying “boring” about it.
Complication, what a seductive quality that is for some of us! Some individuals, but also some groups and even whole domains.
I am thinking of how uninteresting and even prohibited harmony has become in the domain of modern music. Disharmony, dissonance, augmented fourths and major sevenths, clusters, etc. have all become normality. I suspect the same goes for modern poetry, though I have little contact with it.
Generally, in modern art disharmony and complication are not only more interesting but somehow also finer and on a higher level than harmony. Going astray is “better” than never leaving your home, to be alienated is more “cultured” than being happy about the world.
Oh, how I recognize myself in this. Now I begin to see that I am actually trendy, in harmony with this disharmony – though tiring of it.
I need to print more documents to get near that Arab friend and have some of his niceness rub off on me.
I am lying on a bed, getting magnetic treatment for my back. I am surrounded by voices, mostly old, some slow, some energetic.
A voice in particular captures my interest. It is a women, around 50 or 60. I can´t see her but, strangely, I can see her. Her voice paints a picture for me.
This is not a scientific experiment so I cannot verify that my impressions are true. But for me it is interesting enough that from a mere voice comes so many impressions.
“Mere” is a way to put the voice down, subordinate it on the ladder of the senses. You are supposed to see so much in a person´s eyes — the “windows of the soul”. Generally, the visual sense is supposed to give us rich information about a person´s psyche. But possibly we are underestimating the role of hearing. I think I have been doing that, even though I am a musician with a trained ear.
While I follow this woman´s voice with great interest I ask myself if I am just making things up. Or maybe I can really hear her character in the vibrations of her speech: A certain cynicism, control of others, coldness, the color grey, a scheming trait — this is what I fathom in her voice, the mirror of her character.
I approach him in the interval, between the first and second acts of Lohengrin. (No, I didn´t stay for the third. Enough is enough.) I noticed him right away when he entered the balcony. Two scarfs, a strange thing around his neck, the look of a dandy.
I go up to him: Hey, you look so elegant. He shines, and tells me about his clothes. He doesn´t call himself “artist” and the word dandy seems unfamiliar to him. But he has a female tailor, he tells me, and then recounts where all the stuff he is wearing come from. He is like a kitchen on two legs! There are spoons and strange forks sewn into his apparel. Seems that Italian Alessi cutlery is not only elegant, it is wearable, too.
He might not be an artist but he sure is a character. In another culture and time he might have be the center of attention, and conversation. Here at least he is the center of my attention.
I should have taken his photograph, or at least asked for his name or email address, but I didn´t. You just have to imagine him.
One of the boring things about not being on Facebook is the loss of the instant (more or less) joy of sharing.
Having found a great picture, article or video, and having thousands, or let´s be modest, hundreds of FB-friends shout “Wow, what a incredible thing that was!!” creates a nice (impressive might be a better word) energy.
You throw a stone into the pond of “social media” and huge, splashy waves spring out from the center. You play a sonata in a church with great acoustics [I did that some years ago, it was as if the best reverb in the world was turned on). You yodel into a mountain range and never-ending echoes are thrown back at you.
= a clear connection between give and get back.
So what would I like to share if I was on Facebook? Right now this video, and this comment about it:The world has gotten old and many, many people have ruined it by giving immorality a baad name. Here the good name is restored in joyous Broadway gold rush manner.
Sometimes people get hoarse, sometimes they lose their voice entirely, sometimes especially singers find something new inside themselves (perhaps thanks to a new teacher) and start to flower in grand style.
I like to think that my voice has softened. I´ve often gotten compliments for my speaking voice. You have such a radio voice, etc.
But it´s not my speaking voice I am talking about, but my human voice. I may be soft-spoken but I am not soft-thinking. The harsh mode, the stern, severe and austere critical tone has been my hallmark.
Now I see good reason to change it. Actually, life has changed it for me (one does not change a long-standing pattern for any old reason).
I don´t remember who said it, “try to grow straight and life will bend you”. That might sound harsh and severe. But consider another quote, by Gaudi. “There are no straight lines or sharp corners in nature. Therefore, buildings must have no straight lines or sharp corners.”
I also don´t want no straight lines and sharp corners. Water and plant, not stone, is my new ideal. I want to be a Gaudi balcony!
However, since I don´t want to turn into a daffodil, l reserve the right to shout (KATSU!!) and scream at appropriate moments.
Keep in mind (or put in mind) that Bach´s first Prelude in Das wolhtemperierte Klavier consists of two thirds dissonance, yet is it one of the most harmonious pieces there is.
I used to love this word, genius. Partly because I considered myself one and partly because the word had a wonderful ring to it: exotic, wild, unpredictable, ill-mannered and fantastic at the same time.
We also had a good start; my first contact with the idea was clearly exiting. It came from an old Hungarian book, a translation of Lombroso´s Genius and Insanity. I read this book — full of wild and weird anecdotes, showing how close the madness of the madman is to the madness of the genius — when I was not much older than ten.
The book somehow made things like hypersensitivity and eccentric emotions excusable, even logical. A romantic poet who, when not getting praise for a poem, rushed headlong towards the fireplace, to crush his own head; that was the kind of wild behavior I longed for, dreamed about, but never saw anywhere around me. Not in Tranås.
But through my many years in Sweden, the country with the local god Jan T. (who severely disproves of the exotic, the wild and the fantastic) I gradually learned not to love genius or even to use the word overmuch. I cut myself down to size, Swedish size.
Why am I writing this now? Because tonight when leaving my current watering hole (a combination of café, bookstore and wine shop) I picked up a book by Salvador Dali: Diary of a genius. I was reminded of my old love for outrageous, outré Dali, and of my former delight in the word.
It is no longer a question of Sweden having stolen an old love — the affection for genius — from me. I see that the kind of genius Lombroso wrote about, very fascinating and weird indeed, is something that is not really worked for, or payed for. It is the result, more or less, of experiences and talents gotten in earlier lifetimes, that are now running wild in this lifetime. I can still be fascinated by that, but I don´t admire it any longer.
Still, the absence of people like Salvador Dali or Sebastian Horsley definitely makes life more boring, grey and predictably dull. They not only had entertainment- and shock.-value (everybody can see that) but also called into question our cherished normality, about which Wilhelm Reich have written words in flame in “Listen, little man“.
They were also good looking and successful, which in some people´s eyes (not in mine) disqualifies them. The “suffering genius” exists, but it also takes a kind of genius not to suffer.
Here are two videos exemplifying these sane madmen that Lombroso surely would have written about, had he lived later. Interestingly, both videos are in some way commentaries on CMC, the Continent of McDonald’s and Coca Cola.
I like especially what he says about him not being eccentric at all. “A real character knows that he is pretty much exactly the same as everybody else. “
I never reflected about it really, but now realize that birds, many birds, migrate. What a wonderful thing to do!
When the weather or the conditions for living change and you no longer have fun, you gather your gang, do a couple of practice flaps and… off you fly — to some nicer place with better drinks and ladies and song and parties.
What a laudable hedonism. Do not accept boredom and lousy climate, follow the Pleasure principle. As some young Swedish “visionaries” put it, when IT and the New Economy was in full swing: Kräv kul! That is, demand and insist, not just hope, that life should be fun. (I criticized that attitude, but later realized how much good thinking there was in it.)
Of course, I now also realize when I think more about it that people also migrate during the winter. Many people spend the cold months in Spain or some other warm country. For some reason it never struck me that I could do that, too. Now, finally, it does, with the force of a hammer.
So, let´s gather the gang (whoever they are), let´s do a couple of practice flaps… and OFF WE GO!
Already when I first started “blogging” some years ago (actually two entire blogs have been launched and removed) I preferred the word diarium (diary) to “blog”. That word rhymes with frog and smog, while diarium, well, “Sorry, no perfect rhymes were found”.
The influence and inspiration is still the same, though: Amiel and the Goncourt Brothers. If you want to read beautiful “blogging”, read their diaries. (The Goncourt Bros. wrote their diary together! The reader has to guess which one of them is speaking. Imagine having a brother that is so close to you that you write as one…)
So, as tradition goes, almost anything will fit into my diary, as long as it´s short, informal and incidental.