Breaking the private barrier

As so many people, I have kept a strict, if not intentional and logical, border between my private and public life. “You can’t come closer than this!”

In a way I am even more strict with this nowadays, in this eaves-dropping, wired-tapped world. None of your concern where I am at the moment, who I am with or how I feel.

But at the forking of the roads, our society chooses piracy [state controlled] before privacy.

In another way I am more and more letting go of my privacy, the part of it which has to do with… let’s call it embarrassment, maybe shame.

PARENTS AND TEACHERS: “There are certain things you shouldn’t talk about or admit. Don’t expose your vulnerable neck; keep your dark (or even light) secrets to yourself.”

There is some wisdom in this, and some folly. It definitely has a tinge of war-logic.

Going to the other extreme, I am also NOT interested in the rather embarrassing and unseemly public confessions that media figures and celebrities are making, seemingly to boost the sales of their books or music.

Exposing your sex-life or delivering juicy gossip will find a large audience, but then the confession was just mercantile. The goal was not to get rid of not-needed, hindering armor and defenses — just boosting sales.

So obviously I am not going to tell you all about my life, nor trying to lure you, as a fly, with sweet and sticky stories from my private sphere. However, getting rid of no longer needed coverings and defenses are not only in order; they are a necessary step.

In this I am guided, and inspired, by a saying of Cyril Connoly. “Art is by the lonely for the lonely.” The art in question here is my current monologue, to an audience of presumable, and at least partially lonely people. I am not addressing the masses, so that they will buy my book or CD.

And IF my audience is a mass audience, I still address its lonely part, not the collective, imitative tendencies.

Am I building up to an awful let-down here, as Fred Astaire sang? Maybe.

I wanted to talk about pain, a subject best avoided in “cultured” circles. Embarrassing. Maybe. But part of so many people’s lives, so one can question the wisdom of making it a taboo subject.

I am in pain now and my thoughts go to the question of acute versus chronic pain.

Acute may be sharper but is definitely shorter. I take some pride in not asking for anesthesia at the dentist. I can at times suffer harsh treatment for an hour without resorting to chemical help.

That’s acute.

Chronic is something different. I know, and know of, people with chronic pain. The few times I’ve had it, I see frightening things happening to my psyche. It becomes dark; thoughts, feeling, impulses… all turn dirt grey-black.

This is not unavoidable but it takes much effort to stop this darkening. And that is perhaps the virtue of chronic pain; it lets you gather your forces against a strong(er) opponent. After having lifted only 10 kilo, you now have to lift 50 or 100.

In this process something else happens; a demarcation, a division, a separation: between my lazy and comfortable sides, and my inner let’s say Jedi. If I am to not drown in the swamp of negativity that the pain generates, I need to summon my best and strongest inner forces. Less will not do.

If I am somewhat successful in this I might come to the point where pleasure and pain, pleasant and painful, lose their antithetic qualities. They are no longer opposites; both are part of how life feels.

We learn early in life to divide experiences into light and dark, pleasant and painful. But this division seems to ensure that while we are in some kind of pain, we do not really exist; only the pain and the complaining about the pain exists. Seen logically it is a pity that bodily pain (or psychic pain, can be just as bad) should have the power to make us non-existent.

So this text could also be called breaking the pain barrier.

I sometimes say that if I get into a situation of really drawn out chronic pain, I will commit suicide. As a sober observer remarked, the thought (sic) of suicide has helped many a man through many a difficult night.

Question is also, drawn out for how long? I now think there is a virtue in resisting the pscyhe-darkening tendency of  bodily pain. In the long list of different kinds of fasts (from food, drink, talk, sleep, etc) this could be called pleasure fast; not asking or requiring life to be pleasurable (to the body).

There are some people who punish dogs who shit in inappropriate places by forcing their head into the shit. That’s cruel, but I think life sometimes does something like that to humans. Making us “eat” what we have considered un-eatable, nudging us towards the state of omnivore.

PS: There’s more to say about being secretive. Another time. Let’s hear what Spirit has to sing about it.

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Stranger danger!

I am sitting in a café and spot a girl with Rosetti hair. Can I take a portrait of you, I ask. Not make, take — since this is not about painting but photography.

She gives me her email address. I write to her and send some photos.

After a week or so I get a reply, very polite and cultured (she is neither Hungarian nor Swedish, sorry to have to write that), saying that she is open to being photographed but… “you must understand that stranger danger has been running in my head like a mantra all through my childhood”.

Never heard that phrase before, but Google gives me 397.000 hits for “stranger danger”.

I know why I have “missed” it. And why I don’t miss it. It feels very correct for me not to know this saying, since I actively try not to mistrust and fear strangers, and life.

I write back to her, saying I understand her worry and suggest a couple of places where we could meet, open, well-lighted, not at all shade places.

After that, I don’t hear anything from her again.

This universal fear of The Stranger… is not universal, but very common.

The worst part of it is that Big Mother (the up-to-date, softened, feminized version of Big Brother) very actively encourages this fear, by stressing our need for security. Everywhere we turn, we are told that we should stay safe, shown all the measures (surveillance cameras, etc.) taken for OUR security. Beside Big Pharma and other biggies stand Big Security.

These measures are not for OUR security but rather spying tools for the security of Big Mother, who is herself TERRIBLY insecure. Unless she knows what we, her citizens, her subjects, are doing she cannot sleep at night.

So in her typically sneaky way she is trying to assure her own safety by making us fear for ours. Big Mother is a primitive creature, inspiring us all to be just as primitive: careful (full of care), fearsome and paranoid.

Being careful can be wise. Fearsome is not necessary, if you are a careful in a sane way. Paranoia is optional, and very popular.

Stranger danger! Women should (and do) fear men. Men should not (but do) fear women. No, not being raped but being rejected and snubbed.

“Living dangerously” is a nice-sounding phrase, but its meaning has shrunk. Nowadays the danger we are prepared to face are perhaps being without our smartphone for a day, maybe even two. Remember how it worked in the old days? “ring-ring” and “Hello?”. You had no idea who was calling you before the era of Caller ID. Today you are living dangerously if you just say “hello?” without looking at the screen to see who’s calling. That’s modern courage.

Of course it shouldn’t be called living dangerously but living fearfully.

I can’t sleep well at night if YOU can. Remember: stranger = danger!


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Inside the box (Une Saison en Enfer)

I haven’t felt well for the last two days and I know exactly why: I went out into cold weather with too little clothes.

The result is fever, insomnia, pain in most of my body, including head, jaws and teeth. Been there before, it’s over in two days.

What is interesting is that dreams are also affected; they turn boxy and repetitive.

Now hell is not something that I think a lot about. It’s a four letter word, maybe there is no reality corresponding to the word. However, dreams such as these — the same or similar chunks of action repeating again and again, assembled as LEGO bricks, turning round and round, not getting anywhere, as being stuck in a roundabout — are my idea of hell.

You are inside a box and there is no way you can get out. At least so it feels. In such a case the thought and realization “nothing lasts forever” comes to the rescue.

Thomas Burke: The Nightmare

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Det är en glädje att titta på mig

Soligt och fint senhöstväder. Jag är väg på till saluhallen för att köpa grönsaker och frukt. En söt kvinna ler mot mig. Och håller kvar blicken några sekunder. Jag säger: Hej, hur mår vi?

-Bra tack, svarar hon. Det är en glädje att titta på dig.

-Oj! säger jag. Det är inte ofta en man får höra något sådant.

Och så blir jag lite filosofisk.

-Relationen mellan män och kvinnor har blivit märklig på sistone.

-Jo, svarar hon. Vi har kommit ur balans. Men den kommer tillbaka.

– Vi hoppas på det. Vi jobbar på det. Hej då.

Människors möte, inte i skog utan mitt i stan.

Jag blir stående lite på gatan och samlar mig. Säger oj igen, och lyser upp
inombords. När har något sådant hänt tidigare, när har någon sagt något sådant? När jag tänker efter: aldrig.

Visst har man ibland hört att man är snygg eller stilig, särskilt när man har klätt sig till konsert eller fest. Men det är ju för att man har ryktat sig, klätt upp sig, gjort sig fin. Inte VARIT fin.

Först känner jag mig glad på ett fåfängt sätt, lite som en ytlig tjej. Efter en stund tänker jag (för jag är fortfarande inne på att det är mitt klädval som var glädjande att titta på): hm, det att göra sig fin kan också vara ett sätt att GE på. Inte bara en simpel fråga om vad man får utan hur man får andra att må. Det som vännen Peter Siepen är så bra på.

Nu har jag inga höga tankar om mitt klädvals möjligheter att glädja andra, fast det skulle jag kanske ha. Man kan i all fall betänka vilka energier man vill sprida kring sig.

Kvinnor är experter på det här, har svart bälte på ett område där män är gröngölingar. De är bra både på att få blickar, beundran, men också att glädja genom att göra sig fina.

Inte minst att glädja andras ögon.

Jag tror inte kvinnor förstår hur viktigt det är för män att “vila
ögonen”. Att parkera dem på något vackert och låta dem stanna där, pusta ut, andas ut.

Men också andas in. Vissa ansikten, kroppar, är som specialsyre för hjärtat och anden. Jag har förstås mina ansikten som är syre för mig.

Tänk om kvinnor som dels gör sig supersnygga, dressed to kill, och som dels klagar på att vi män tittar och glor, förstod detta. Visst, ibland glor vi, oftast på kvinnor som verkligen tar ut svängarna. Men ofta vilar vi bara ögonen.

Jag skulle nog också kunna tröttna på sådant om kvinnor varje dag glodde på mig. Så kul är det inte att bli beundrad. Men det är inte heller kul att aldrig bli det. Och jag befarar att många män aldrig blir beundrade.

Det sägs ibland att vi lever på olika planeter (Mars-Venus). Tänk så annorlunda liv det blir när det andra könet tittar på en hela tiden, respektive aldrig tittar på en. Inte konstigt att man har olika referenser och knappt förstår varandra.

Nu undrar kanske läsaren “Men hur såg du ut då, vad såg hon?”.

Det här. (fast i  färg)

Om jag hade några miljoner i annonspengar skulle jag göra en kampanj. Den skulle göra två flugor på smällen.

I kampanjen skulle jag säga ungefär så här: Kvinna! Var som vi. Låt också mannen känna sig attraktiv och åtråvärd. Om du tycker han är värd att titta på, gör det. Vänd dig rent av om efter honom.

Var inte så attans rädd för att “väcka monstret”. Vi män är trötta på att betraktas som Mr Hyde, doktor Jekylls demoniska nattsida. Ge oss en paus från svartmålningen.

Detta skulle kunna ha minst två positiva effekter. Dels skulle män kunna känna sig en smula mer uppskattade. Det skulle också bryta könsrollerna “män tittar – kvinnor tittas på”, en trist och dammig klyscha vi borde kunna arbeta bort.

Kvinnor vars näsa pekar alltför högt skulle få träna sig på att vara vardagsgenerösa mot karlar istället för att självklart förvänta sig att vi ska hålla upp dörren, betala notan och drägla som Pavlos hund bara för att de klär sig i den minimala lilla svarta; att någon är lättmanipulerad är en invit att INTE utnyttja personen.

Sist men inte minst skulle vi män lära oss vad det betyder att vara betittade. Utan att klä oss i drag skulle vi kunna nynna på Zarah Leanders paradnummer.

Vill ni se en stjärna, se på mig! Ni får mycket gärna se på mig!

När nyhetens behag över att vara attraktiv och uppskattad hade gått över skulle vi börja fatta att SÅ roligt är det inte att bli beundrad. (Alltså för sin yta. Geni och inre egenskaper är delvis en annan sak.) Vi skulle förstå kvinnor bättre om vi s.a.s. gick i deras högklackade skor en dag.

Kanske skulle detta rentav göra världen en smula mer harmonisk.

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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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