Adult sense and nonsense

How hard can it be to call a spade a spade? Very hard, it seems. Especially for Americans.

I am thinking of the word “adult” now. It is not used in an adult way. An adult, if he went to see what is popularly called an adult movie or bought an adult magazine would call it an erotic movie or pornographic magazine. Without shame. He might even use the word sexual in this context, a very spade-like word.

Shame, however, seems indispensable to some people. Pornography and erotic subjects must be dressed up, made respectable, called something else. I guess the Victorian era is still alive and well in the US of A.

The fact that “adult movies” and “adult magazines” are seen and read by young people who cannot be called adult don´t seem to matter.

Euphemisms matter.

Enough ranting. Now let´s get a bit more adult.

Adult is one position, or role, in the thinking of Eric Berne, whose “Games People Play” I just discovered, and much enjoy. Eric was American, and I have met wonderful adult people in America, as well as impressive Americans in Europe.  So the general (?) rule sure has exceptions. (I sometimes even suspect that it is easier to find real adult people in the US than here. Maybe strong stupid general rules create exceptional exceptions.)

Anyway. Berne contrast the Adult with the Child and the Parent. (All these are inside us.) I think one could call it grown-up as well.

A grown-up is more and more separated from his parents. That happens automatically with time, but does not automatically mean that we become real grown-ups or adults. People about to die can still be very close to their parents, in that they still act out roles from their childhood.

This seems to happen in two ways, according to my current, very fresh and probably limited understanding at this time.

We either take the position as the Child, and act like a child.

Tell me I´m a good boy...
Tell me I´m a good boy…

Meaning that we affirm our helplessness, our need for outer help. But also that we indulge in defiance (not doing something only because someone wants us to do it), puerile protest, tantrums (screaming, crying, shouting — middle aged people can intensely enjoy being angry at each other), being easily hurt (“how COULD she say something like THAT to ME?!?”) throwing responsibility, restraint and common sense to the winds.

I think acting out our Child can feel like freedom. One kind of  freedom. Maybe abandonment is a better word, being unrestricted, letting it all hang out.

This unrestriction seems double-edged. It can be free as the wind but can also be reactive (dependent on others). Our parents (parent figures) are often present in the picture. It is towards them that we act as a child. They may not be in the room, may even be dead, but they live on as a helping / saving-salvaging / admonishing / scolding / punishing force in the atmosphere of our psyche.

It is to them (present or not) that we turn for help, it is against them we react. In a way we do things because of them, not because of us. If they weren´t there, in some way or form, we would not act like children.

The other position we can take is the Parent. Now the picture is reversed, but possibly it is the same picture, you just move around in it.

goodboy reverse
Tell me I´m a good parent…

Now we are not childish, help-seeking, mad, screaming or rebellious. On the contrary, we are very sober, mature and “adult”.  (Note quotation mark.)

We help out, save the situation, give wise advice, are reliable, understanding and patient. Just as a good parent would be.

goodboy reverse
Tell me I´m a good parent…

So what´s wrong with this? According to Berne, being in the Parent role means that you imitate your parents or do what  you have learned is a “parent thing”. Handy if you have children and act like this towards them.

But real children are not necessary, since other people can be given the role of Child. Not even other people are needed, since all of this can be internal; your Parent advising, scolding your Child. (Or the other way around, your Child rebelling against your Parent.)

Whew, what a mess! But I suppose this is what things are like if viewed through a psychological microscope. We go in and out of roles, taking one position now, another the next minute, towards real parents, real children or surrogate children and parents, outer and inner.

Who said “It´s complicated”?

Well, we wouldn´t do it if we on some level didn´t enjoy complication. The whole of creation, I believe, goes from simplicity to complication and then back again. Some of us are moving towards more, some towards less complication.

Which brings us (finally!) to adults.

The Adult in Berne´s system, or let´s forget about dear Berne; I am just speaking of my understanding here. It is what it is, whether I understand Berne correctly or not.

So I would say that the real adult is very much separated from his parents, in the way that matters most. They may be alive, he might have a lot of contact with them, but he is free from imitating them and taking on the role as parent. He also does not feel like a child, has no need to rebel, protest and demonstrate how independent he is. He IS no longer a child, and also no longer feels any compulsion to act like a grown-up, to prove that he is mature.

He can truly say, with the Bible: “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”

I think this adult thing might hinge on responsibility. You are ready to carry it (the Child isn´t),  but you feel no compulsion (a key word!) to carry it for others.

Why would I carry somebody else´s burden? Well, I could become a martyr, very altruistic, feel like a “good person”, get the advantage of later being able to say “remember what I did for you back then…?”. I can see a number of attractive, but sneaky, advantages to be gained. So the playing of Parent roles is perhaps nothing strange.

I have probably been too harsh here with the Child. Seem that many very positive impulses come from him. “In the Child reside intuition, creativity and spontaneous drive and enjoyment.” (G.P.P.) Those are very positive forces.

However, when we get stuck in a play not of our (aware) choosing the negative side of Child rears it´s obstinate, defiant head. The other side of the coin.

POSTSCRIPT: These ideas a new to me but already feel like old friends. Not just as a way of thinking but tools for breaking out of a play that I have been tired of a long time.

One confusion is between Adult and Parent. I think what is absent with the Adult is the need to make somebody a Child. How can I feel like a Parent when there are no Children around, just people?

I also note, when rereading this text, that the first part of it (about adult / erotic) was written a bit from a Parent role. Like talking to a Child (America) who is not really grown up.

Maybe I am just excusing me, or maybe this is how it actually is: Doing the Parent-Child dance on the level of social criticism is perhaps the best use you can put it to.


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The perfect trap

Oh how wonderful the word “perfect” sounds, and how many problems and difficulties it creates.

Yes, obviously when we eat a meal or hear a piece of music or see a painting where everything is just right, we exclaim IT IS PERFECT. And all is well with the world.

That´s not what I am talking about. Finding and discovering perfection can be wonderful. No, I mean striving for perfection. Wishing for, longing for, waiting for perfection.

Especially when it comes to artistic creation this can be a paralyzing, debilitating impulse. Also when it comes to interpersonal contacts and also more practical ventures.

The fear of doing wrong is an important part of this. Especially when it concerns a new field or person or project, you don´t know what is right and wrong. You discover it along the way.

I guess you will learn less if you try to do right than if you try do wrong (or just don´t care).

If you do wrong and things go wrong, you have learned your lesson. If you do wrong and it turns out that you did right, you also learned your lesson. But if you are lukewarm in between, then the results will be inconclusive. Did you do it right or wrong, or what?

Confusion, all stemming from this perfection-striving.

In cybernetic theory the guided missile or torpedo “reacts to “criticism” just enough to correct course and keeps going forward toward the target. This course will be … a series of zig-zags.”

I believe a correction of course, however strange it might seem, could not well be wrong.

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Care and fear

More small nuances (that turn out to be big.) We sometimes think that care and fear are related, even synonyms.

Care is a double edged (s)word. When I hear someone say “Take care” I always add in my mind “and throw her down the stairs”. Careless it is not good to be, better to be careful. But to be full of cares is no good either…

Careful for me = being cautious. Which in turn means to keep one´s eyes open, look around, stay alert and awake. It is almost mindfulness.

Fear is the opposite of this, a paralyzing force that sweeps over us like a flood. It devours us, awakens phantoms in our heart and often scares the sh*t out of us. In short, fear closes our eyes and makes us more asleep (dreaming a nightmare).

Just as being blind is not seeing, being afraid is not being careful. So let us be careful and not confuse fear with care.

For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me. (Job 3:25)


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Tolerance and the fear of not seeming

Ah, the BIG difficulties we get ourselves into by not nothing small differences. Actually they are not small at all, but you have to stop yourself and reflect to see that.

Take tolerance for example. It means being open to differences, accepting that others are not like you, don´t think or feel like you. Tolerance is encapsulated in the old saying “live and let live”. Urbanity is another term that covers more or less the same thing.

There are many aspects and shading of this term that one could and should go into, like “Should we tolerate anything?”,  “What not?” and “Why not?”. But breakfast is waiting for me. So only one aspect, but an essential one.

Fear of not seeming tolerant ≠[does not equal] tolerance.

This is an immensely important thing to consider in a world where appearance and image (and image management) are so central.

“Esse non videri” means to be and not seem to be. However the actual case is more often “videri non esse” — seem to be, not be. This is the predominant logic of our world. Therefore it is not strange that we should confuse tolerance with fear of not seeming tolerant. Not strange, but still not excusable if we aim to live some kind of philosophical life.

Enough, breakfast is waiting. And yes, I AM hungry, is not just my image.

PS: It is supposedly something bad or ridiculous to be a wannabe. No, it´s great to want to BE, and act accordingly. Again we are missing a nuance; we should criticize the wanna-be-seen-as.

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Silence is golden, we often say. Versus silver, which is talking. In that case listening, which is more than silence, is perhaps platinum?

silver gold platinum
I have always been fascinated with the listening process, the Yin side if you will. But I realize more and more how hard it can be to really receive, really be attentive to what goes on, to what is said.

Listening to music is relatively easy (even if quite hard for many who have the habit of mixing up music with thoughts).

Listening to each other is harder. Sure, if I ask you what time it is there will be no problems for me to hear the answer. But if emotional factors enter, personality traits that want to control, direct and decide things, listening becomes much more difficult (in effect, much less interesting).

I begin to see that another factor should be added to my list: wanting to help.

The impulse and intention to help can also make us, at least me, half-deaf. A strange insight, this. When I scratch its surface I see that “helping” can be a way to build pride, even arrogance.

“I am such a helpful person, so full of good-will, common sense and wisdom. Oh, how lucky those that are in need when I´m around. Form a queue, folks! It will soon be your turn to receive the blessings of the philanthropist (me).”

So, silver talk is easy, golden silence is harder, but the hardest is platinum listening, which I suspect is the base for being able to REALLY help. Helping others, and yourself, by doing and not-doing (just allowing).

This might be the Yin way to membership in the Platinum Club.


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Smile Power

The 1960s was the decade of flower power.

Of course the power of flowers is still intact, even though it is not à la mode currently.

But there are other powers. One of them seems to be the smile.

Here I admit that I have been let us say “unfavorably disposed” towards the smile. (As towards many other pleasant and positive things, silly me.) Especially the “smiley” was a target of mine. I was of the opinion that the smiley was a thing of low, almost barbarous stupidity, demonstrating how poor and primitive online communication often is.

There is a grain of truth in this; the smiley cannot compete with a lovely, or even ordinary smile. But it does convey an energy. Some of us are more susceptible to the energy of a smiley, others (like me) less so. But it does have a positive (+) charge.

Yes, there are smiles and smiles. There are the ones only involving the mouth and then the real thing, the Duchenne smile.

And I guess this one is real too, in its own devilish way.

But we have devils enough. Let us turn towards the inner smile of Eastern philosophy. I see it as a tool to help us reach positive emotional states quicker and easier, and as next step letting those positive emotions influence more material things like hormones, etc.

Also, the practice of smiling to my knee or heart or foot can be updated to smiling towards other, more remote, “body organs”. Like my neighbor, my cousin, or YOU. Here the smile is inner produced, inner decided and inner directed.

Very probably the inner smile is most efficacious and needed when we have absolutely no urge to smile — swimming against the stream…

Then we have another kind of smile, where things from the outside (pictures, videos, sentences, etc.) make us smile, thus creating Smile Power.

(Talking of power, I´ve always felt that out of two people — one smiling, the other frowning — the smiling one has so much more power. It feels impossible to imagine the smiling person envying the frowning one. But that´s my old personal (frowning) perspective. Those who can´t help smiling might see it differently. But I think I am right and they are wrong .-)

In this case too I have been the sour, sarcastic type, heaping criticism on all the cute animals that are so popular on Facebook and such forums. Well, not on the animals themselves, but on the phenomenon of posting such pictures and getting all exited about them.

And now I will do exactly the same. Or something even worse!






I hope this brought a smile to your face.

What could be worse than this?!? my old frowning colleagues ask. Answer: Pictures of animals that are not only cute but are THEMSELVES SMILING. Twice as bad. Or good .-)


If you want to revel in even more smiling animals, visit the page from which I borrowed the pictures.

Enough of animals. Humans can smile too, at least some of us can. I´ve been wondering why women are so much better at it. Of course there is the trained, rehearsed On-Off smile that is no more than decorative, but many women have fantastic smiles.

That is not the forte of us men. But I have at least two examples here of male smiles (very discreet, close to being inner smiles) that I find very attractive.

Yes, John Travolta sure has smile power. As also has…

the fantastic Gene Kelly.

One might think that gurus and holy men might have great smiles. Maybe. Here are some favorites.

Meher Baba
Meher Baba
Mikhael Avainhov
Mikhael Avainhov

Note the androgynous qualities. These are not “men” but something above that. Talking of which I will end this with a non-smiling but still fantastic picture of Meher Baba. (Or rather, his smile is so inner (innerlig) that you have to be an “innsider” to really see it .-)

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The true life of Salamon Ödön

The view of Samuel Butler starts to take hold. Today I had a most enjoyable hour together with Salamon Ödön. He died in 1903 but is living his “true life” now, sometimes with me.

We met in a bookshop, where I picked up (for 390 FT) a slim volume called “Minden jóra fordul, de későn” (Everything turns out for the best, but belatedly),

A book of aphorisms, of course. Aphorisms very easily lead to satiety. Imagine a jar filled with magic peas. The magical thing: each of them can expand so as to fill the entire jar, if not burst it. Now imagine eating five or ten of these peas. You will be more than full.

I opened the book from time to time, took out a few magically expanding morsels and saw that they were good. Once I took out a morsel that was so good I almost threw up. The goodness about it was almost — lethal. Moving in the land of “Gloomy Sunday”, that supposedly suicidal song, — no, it doesn´t kill itself, but those who hear it, if you believe it, and I don´t; it is regularly played in the cafés of Budapest, and if it leads to suicide it is of the delayed kind that cannot be distinguished from ordinary death — I have come to believe in the lethal powers of, as I said, not songs but certain sentences.

One of them was contained in this slim volume.

It was not just an expanding pea but more like a fish-bone that gets stuck in your throat and wipes you out by cutting off your air supply. Clearly there was MUCH power in that small book!

Today I picked it out again and tried to find the dangerous aphorism. (I usually bend the top of pages that contain something special but there was no clue.) Finally I found it, but didn´t read it. I read many other aphorisms, though, too many for my digestion but I couldn´t resist them, they were so good. How good? So good that several times they brought a broad sunshine smile, beyond Duchenne, to my face. Now that´s a sign of being in good company.

I will not share the dangerous aphorism with you, but here are a few others. Before that I should say a few things about the author. I know little, and am content with little. I mean, when you have a really good time with someone, the first thing you do after parting is not looking him up on Google. That´s how I see it. But I know that he lived a relatively short life, 39 years. He spent some time in Paris and worked as a journalist. I think that is enough really.

Now for some expanding (exploding) peas.

Hátunk mögött semmi, előttünk minden: ez legyen minden nagyra törekvő jelszava.

Angyalok sem szoktak soha beleizzadni a munkába.

A mai versenyvilágban a szerénység halálos mérge a tehetségnek.

Meg akarod tudni a jövődet? Add össze múltadat a jelennel, vond le ebből a konzekvenciákat, és előtted áll a jövőd.

Már sok óvatos ember járt úgy, hogy a veszélyt mindig elkerülve, oly hosszu utat választott, amelyet kijárni nem tudott.

Néha, hogy életban maradhassunk, új életet is kell kezdenünk.

Az ember regénye ma a kiadás és bevétel közti külömbségből áll.

Tavasszal jobban hiszünk barátainkban.

Mennyi balsorson kell átesnünk, hogy a boldogságot megbecsüljük.

A művelt férfiak kesztyűben és frakkban teszik egymást tönkre.

Csodálatos sajátossága a pénznek, hogy éppen a zsenilális emberek zsebébe unatkozik legjobban.

Ugyan ki törődik azokal a patkányokkal, amelyek a süllyedő hajót nem hagyják el!

Gyermektelen szülők figyelmébe ajánlom azt a körülményt, hogy legtöbb kisgyermeket a tengerparti vidéken láttam.


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Two apples (comparison and fantasy)

How unhappy we are at times when we compare ourselves and our lives with others. “Miserere, how I wish I had your life, money, car, wife, etc. ”

Sometimes this can be something positive, if it forces us to get our act together and actually work (not just yearn) for that which we want. A kick in the butt. As when Rubinstein heard Horowitz play and realized he needed to practise more .-)

But what is a comparison? Putting two things beside each other, looking at them and measuring the differences. You can compare two apples in front of you but not one apple here and another in a different continent. You cannot compare an apple and an Apple computer. That´s unscientific.

But it gets worse. When we compare our lives with other people´s lives we can get into really muddy zones. A classic, modern example is the Facebook comparison.

Let´s look more closely at the FB-apples.

One apple is my life. I know quite a bit about it, if I open my eyes really wide I can know quite a lot about it.

The other apple is your life. I see it, if seeing it can be called, through the FB-lens. Which is also a filter, and a crop tool, plus all the other Photoshop tools.

With a photo I need some kind of original, but frankly there is no need for that on Facebook. Everything can be made up. Name, profile picture, history, occupation, every status message can be downright fake. So how the hell can I compare my apple with yours?

That is an extreme case and we don´t need to go that far.

But even so, that other apple — your life, or what I see, or think/imagine, as your life — is probably cropped, censured, sanitized and beautified. You show what you want to show, other parts are concealed or never mentioned. Some things you enlarge and exaggerate, others you reduce or depreciate.

And yes, some parts you or I might even make up. That picture of your stylish dinner might be your third cousin´s dinner, and my login at Sheraton Dubai, well, let´s not look too closely into that.

But the pictures sure look nice, and it could have all been true (in an other, better world)…. Yes! Why not better this dull, imperfect world sometimes? And what better tool for that than Facebook?

Back to our science and apples. But also to some comfort and consolation (things science seldom gives us).

If you find yourselves being depressed when you compare your life with the life of somebody else, ask yourself if this is a comparison or a phantasy.

Sorry, I don´t want to involve YOU in all this grit. If I find myself being depressed when I compare myself with someone else, I can ask myself if this is a comparison, or just a fantasy.

Are the two apples both visible to me, in front of me? When did I last meet or talk with this other “apple”, more than over a short lunch? What and how much do I actually know, and what do I believe, assume and surmise?

We dance round in a ring and suppose,
But the Secret sits in the middle and knows.
(Robert Frost)

If the answer to those questions is “what I KNOW is very little” then I am not comparing, but only indulging in a fantasy.

Why we, you and I, do that is another question. The enjoyment of complaining and self-pity sometimes seems to be a universal or at least global force. Masochism takes many interesting and “intellectual” forms. And so on.

Knowing why might not help much. Seeing the what — that I don´t compare but just indulge a fantasy — can hopefully disperse the clouds of confusion, at least a bit.

Coda: When I see that I don´t compare but making things up, I might get a glimpse of the real values of my life, as it is here and know. And doing that I might totally forget to “compare” (fantasize) and actually live in the present.

And seeing that there is no real ground for comparison, even the desire to compare might go up in smoke and evaporate.

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Favorite thinker: Ashleigh Brilliant

Usually when we say “thinker” we mean writer, probably someone who has written books of at least medium if not interminable length. One more example of our blindness for the values of the miniature.

Small might be beautiful, but short is just, well, short.

However, saying things with few words is a higher art than expounding and pounding your readers.

A favorite thinker of mine who manages to say it with 17 words or less is Ashleigh Brilliant. He is known to me for making small postcards with a picture and a sentence. That´s all.

But what sentences! Brilliant has an eye for the human condition and the ear and brains to formulate his observations. This one for example has a decidedly Swedish, Bergmanesque flavor.

go out
Here are some of my Brilliant favorites, but BE WARNED: A maxim is a like an inflatable air-bag; when it makes contact with an open and ready mind it expands remarkably. A few words well chosen can fill us up entirely. However, read many at once and nothing happens. None of them are given a chance to really expand since while one of them starts to swell, another one comes along, then another. This mental crowding will not make you illuminated, just satiated.

That said, I will still give several examples. If you are wise and diet-conscious you will only read one, and return another day for a new one.

I waited and waited, and when no message came, I knew it must be from you.

I happened to see you passing through my life, so I thought I’d love you.

When all else fails, eat!

Why don’t you write, and give me a chance not to reply?

I don’t have any solution, but I certainly admire the problem.

Please don’t tell me to relax – it’s only my tension that’s holding me together.

Your smile is one of the great sights of the world.

Never resist a mad impulse to do something nice for me.

If God had approved of the metric system, he’d have given us ten fingers.

Anybody who thinks I am strange ought to meet you.

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If you want peace, prepare for peace

I know, the original say differently. Si vis pacem, para bellum (if you want peace, prepare for war). But that was supposedly taken from a Roman military book. And military men who don´t want war are like pianists who hate Steinways, right?

According to popular wisdom if you want peace you prepare for war. And if you want war you prepare for, I suppose, war. Whatever you do, you prepare for war. Boring!

Boring? After THIS everything is boring...
Boring? Does this look BORING to you…?

It is said that soldiers returning from war have a hard time getting used to everyday life where nothing really exiting ever happens. And so the beat goes on.

When will peace get a chance if we always prepare for war? Well, individual peace need not wait so long. Listen to a master of the inner kind.

“Look at the net and its many contradictions. You do and undo at every step. You want peace, love, happiness, and work hard to create pain, hatred and war. You want longevity and overeat, you want friendship and exploit. See your net as made of such contradictions and remove them — your very seeing them will make them go.”

This is from Nisargadatta. If he had lived today he might have said “matrix”, not net. One could also say: Look at the Net, and all ITS contradictions. All the spam, the virus, the salesmanship and the SEO hunt, all the noble projects, the Hunger site (helping people without having to get up from your chair, a philanthropic wet dream), etc. Well, Internet originally started from a military idea (Arpanet) so we shouldn´t be surprised.

Here a dialogue with a student:

S:  I am familiar with the general sense of what you say. I do not crave for more knowledge. All I want is peace.
N: You can have for the asking all the peace you want.
S:  I am asking.
N: You must ask with an undivided heart and live an integrated life.
S:  How?
N: Detach yourself from all that makes your mind restless. Renounce all that disturbs its peace. If you want peace, deserve it.
S:  Surely everybody deserves peace.
N: Those only deserve it, who don’t disturb it.

One contradiction here is working for outer peace with, or even through, inner war and restlessness (popularly called “passion” and such names).


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No vibrations are good vibrations

Here is a very clear thought I just read: Mind likes to vibrate. These vibrations (thoughts) may be good or bad, may be seen as positive or negative, but vibrate they will, or want to.

“Good vibrations” with the Beach Boys, with its strangely beautiful Theremin vibrations (Sol Sol Fa Mi Fa) is a great piece, but these are not the vibrations I am thinking of. Life itself is probably just vibrations, on different levels.

No, there is something you could rather call shaking. Most of us are, in James Bond lingo, shaken and stirred. Our thoughts and ideas and fancies and attractions and repulsions like to vibrate, to shake us. This can result in a sort of mental / spiritual seasickness.

Seasickness is probably not enjoyed by anyone. But the “Shake it, baby” of Mind is. Like some insect who jumps this way and that, we enjoy flying in all directions, drawn or propelled by this impulse or that Hot / Cool link. (Social media are experts at inspiring us to JUMP LIKE INSECTS.)

So, the “Shake it, baby” of Mind is enjoyed, until it isn´t — until you tire of your boat being tossed this way and that on the stormy sea of Mind. Until you no longer see it as a sign of being “active”, “dynamic” and “alive”, but as seasickness.

Then you might want to anchor your boat and go ashore, to stand still on Terra firma. You will still vibrate, still enjoy good vibrations. (Possibly you might want to skip the excitations bit.)

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Detta är ett intressant ord. Som hälsningsfras tycks det vara en förkortning av “ödmjuke tjänare”. Av vilket det bildats diverse kortformer: tjänare, tjäna, tjenis, tjenis p*nis, samt den kanske roligaste, mjukis.

Saken handlar också om kronor. “Vad tjänar du?” eller “Hur mycket tjänar du?” Bägge dessa frågor fokuserar på lön och pengar.

Men — man kan besvara den frågan lateralt, kanske med “Mammon”. Eller “Konsten”. Eller “Det sköna”. Då handlar det inte om pengar utan om att tjäna något.

I det första fallet handlar det om vad som kommer till oss, “inkomst”. I det andra om vad vi sätter över oss — ett ideal eller högre princip — och hur vi blir tjänare till denna ovanför oss liggande realitet. (I Mammons fall lite tveksamt med “ovanför”.)

Man kan som sagt göra en syntes av de två aspekterna. “Vad tjänar du på att tjäna konsten?”

Svar: I kronor räknat ganska lite just nu, men jag börjar blir en smula rik på ödmjukhet, och Musan kastar vänliga blickar mot mig ibland…


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Sherlock and I (bored)

ONE SIMILARITY between Sherlock Holmes and me is that people probably think that we live fascinating, or at least very interesting, lives, while we are terribly bored most days of the week.

I sure am. And not only in the week, I would say most days of my life.

My friends, especially those few who have nine to five jobs, might protest. “Let ME tell you about boredom…!”

We probably talk about different things. The boredom of a steady, monotonous job is alleviated, perhaps every day even, by “entertainment”. You put your day job aside and do things that are fun, relaxing or at least somehow different. You probably also see other people at work, which I don´t. Most of my days are lonely (lonely can be wonderful or terrible company) and I can´t say “No, I am not a composer and writer, that´s just my job.”

Anyway, I am on to this great insight that I am bored most of the time, and that boredom is a central factor in my life. There are so many things I´ve done in life just not to be bored — and so many other (often productive and useful) things I didn´t do, only because they were boring.

Boring is like a traffic sign, and in this case I have been law-abiding.

Of course everything said in French sounds fancier than in English or Swedish but the pangs of “l’ennui” or “spleen” might have been just as painful as ever banal boredom was. Especially for sensitive folks like Baudelaire.

I begin to realize the strength, the acid strength of it. Thinking back on my life I have been severely bored, probably as a child but even more as a teenager when moving to Sweden. Ursäkta Sverige, but there is so much boredom and boring things in Sweden that if I could exchange the moments for coins, I would be a millionaire… in a country of millionaires.  (I am certainly not the only non-Swede to feel this way.)

There is even a Latin word for fear of boredom: thaasophobia. Boring.

What is less boring is to slowly realize what a dark and truly heavy cloud boredom can be, how it weighs us down as lead. I am especially thinking of a friend that suffers a lot from this disease. He goes into heavy depressions which I think come from lack of stimulation.

I used to say that there is no excuse for being bored; you are doing something very wrong then. Not so sure about that now. And we don´t need to talk about depression. There is an everyday, “normal” level of boredom.  Some common antidotes are

  • Facebook
  • television
  • eating
  • sitting at a sideboard café (my personal favorite)
sideboard cafe
“Café Terrace at Night” by van Gogh

Another non-boring observation has to do with enthusiasm. I believe it can be a reaction against boredom, even stem from fear of boredom. It need not be a wholly positive energy, it could be based on a running away from-impulse.

Another one: Folk wisdom has it that “one needs to learn to be alone*”. Yes, yes, we´ve heard that one before. Silly thought! One = alone. One is the loneliest number, as Three Dog Night sang.

I believe that many a “one” accepts loneliness, and boredom, far too easily. One can mistake this acceptance for strength or “stoicism”. How noble! But what if one is just wasting precious time,  throwing away one´s life? Perhaps non-acceptance is the only wise choice.

Enough, time to put down my pen.

No, I wasn´t ready yet.

What makes Sherlock bored is the lack of a juicy mystery to sink his teeth into. I cannot claim the same excuse; I have mysteries galore to wrestle with, am presently knee deep in one of them, the dark side of music.

No, there is more to it than lack of mystery, probably lack of company.

More needs to be said about boredom´s relation to loneliness. Much depends on the quality of our circle of friends. If they are not stimulating, and we see them a lot, we will cherish loneliness. If they are stimulating and we see them seldom, the opposite.

With the possible exception of those rare hermit personalities I believe there is almost a self-poisoning mechanism in action here. Being “all by myself” for a long time makes me rust. Even a short visit to Lotz Terem makes me fresh again — for a while.

Variatio delectat, but more than that. Change (an important part of which is company) may be not only delightful spice but a basic staple need for humans, at least most of us. Surely for me and maybe even for Sherlock. I mean, he always had Watson to turn to and solving mysteries involves meeting a lot of people. It´s the wait that is lonely, not the hunt.

I will go so far as to suggest that loneliness can kill. Not being lonely, but feeling lonely. In that sense I believe Facebook can be a kind of medicine. And, just like other modern medicine men, Mark Zuckenberg (the sixth richest person in the world, even richer than the Koch Brothers thanks to Facebook earnings) sure knows how to cash in on the disease, this widespread loneliness of our modern world.

A friend of mine some years ago critically called the Internet “one big cry for help”. There is a grain of truth in that exaggeration. Maybe one should say a cry for company. But luckily we need not expose our solitary nakedness. There are smart and sophisticated ways of saying “I feel lonely”. Like posting a picture of our yummy dinner or a cute pet. Or writing a blog post.

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Gap the mind

Trying to understand “Mind” (in the sense that Tolle and others are using the word) and trying to distance myself from it is one of the most important items on my shopping list.

Why? Conflict of interest. Mind has its own interests and agenda, it very often fucks up my life (but not only mine, it is generous…).

I notice that Mind is an “out-thinker”. It thinks out things, ideas. These ideas seem smart and intelligent (to mind!), but seldom lead to harmonious results. For one thing, they are stubborn and inflexible. Much more like stone than water, the favorite element of Taoists.

Mind writes in stone and has a real hard time changing or erasing the writing.

“But stability is supposed to be a good thing, no? Look at skyscrapers, they must be very stable to withstand strong winds.” (says Mind)

But skyscrapers don´t go down with grace. They collapse and explode, while softer, more pliable things just f l o a t  to the ground with hardly a scratch.

“Here lies one whose name was written in water”, the epitaph of John Keats, points to the real  strength of water (even though Keats probably saw writing in water as a weakness). Far better for a poet to write in water than in stone.

“They stoned him with a memorial” said a clear-sighted writer, an observation applicable to many an artist that has floated to the surface, like cream. Whipped cream.

But let us not slander stone. It has its place, its beauty and its love. Let me just remember, and remind Mind, that am flesh and blood and ether, not rock.

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The small questions

Philosophical minded folks (like me) often forget that Big is not better. The Big Questions can be anything but good, they are often pretentious and also impossible to answer (which is one reason for their perennial popularity; we will be able to argue about them for many more long winter evenings…).

I recently talked with the wife of a very good and important friend who passed away  in cancer. How do you cope, I asked her.

Fine, she said, and then – Do you know the hardest bit,  what I miss the most? Coming home and there is somebody who says: How are you? How has you day been? Tell me about it!

These are the small but oh so important questions. Forget the meaning of life and the universe. Forget Truth. All you want to do is to tell somebody you love that your day has been gray and monotonous. Or that you have been at the dentist and she carved around in your face for two hours, with no anaesthetic (your choice), and now your skull feels like a war zone.

How wonderful to be able to recount unimportant details about your life to an interested listener!


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Anarkistiska Teatercompagniet

Låt mig berätta för er om de uppträdande.

De har inget hyfs och inga manér. De kallas skådespelare men är en samling anarkister hela bunten. De tar plats på scenen, men redan det låter för fint. De tar inte plats, de tar över scenen, precis hur de vill. Ingen bryr sig om någon annan: man hoppar upp på scenen, slåss på scenen, knuffar ner från scenen, knuffas ner från scenen, allt med samma ohejdade impulsivitet.

Impulser är allt som finns. Hit, dit, ner, upp, men alltid bakom nyckelordet JAG. Jag vill, jag ska ha, jag tar, jag talar…

Alla menar att deras namn är “Jag”, vilket leder till förväxlingar. När det ropas i högtalaren “Kan Jag komma till scenen?” kommer hela kompaniet springande. Dvs om de inte redan VAR på scenen allihopa, fajtandes om vem som ska stå i strålkastarljuset, vem som ska ha mikrofonen.


De har förstås ingen regissör, även om de låtsas som om det har det. (Det vore inte anarki annars.)

Men det finns en regissör. Han är inte med kompaniet. Det är han som heter Jag på riktigt.

fight onstage
Alla för sig, ingen för någon annan.

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