Friday, September 22, 2023

Hearing secret harmonies - or J.S. Bach Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 in D major BWV 1050 - 1. Allegro

Et al. Our civilization is red in tooth: mass murder to industrial lengths, brutal colonialism, rape, torture, famine knowingly induced etc ad infinitum et nauseam. Largely like every civilization known to humankind. We have just been particularly clever about going about it, particularly lucky, unlucky. But not for us, not for any of them, has it been the whole story. There have always and everywhere been secret harmonies, there has always and everywhere been grace and mercy, love, glad sacrifices. There has always been this and there always will be:

Wednesday, August 09, 2023

Life classes

Pat Barker is so effortless with history, with people in it. Well, educated, mostly liberal minded English people, but still. This summer's strongest literary experience was re-reading her second trilogy. So sharply, so memorably etched characters, moments. Those generations of the world wars: youth, love, death, betrayal by history and life. I think this contrast was probably at its starkest with educated, liberal minded people - young, educated, liberal minded English people, one somehow feels. Others would have had much less a sense of betrayal and loss, being more attuned to the ways of this world.

But it's not just history but the people, the life sketched, the moments, the language and the skill. How light is the touch, how sharp the commentary, how deep the grief not really ever directly addressed. Though maybe that's a certain failing too, too liberal to effectively rage. I don't know. Only these books linger in mind. In any case in these times one does tend to return to that crimson era. History didn't end after all, wars and betrayals did not end. In this absurdly privileged part of the world there was for a brief moment a foolish luxury to believe that.

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Sweet is the night-air

This summer has been customarily good - the sun working its over the top magic in these northern latitudes, the scents in the soft air of the twilight, reminding one of this quote:

"Jag skall minnas den här stunden. Stillheten och skymningen. En skål med smultron, en skål med mjölk. Era ansikten i kvällsljuset. Mikael som ligger och sover, Jof med sitt strängspel. Jag skall försöka komma ihåg vad vi talat om. Och jag skall bära det här minnet mellan mina händer lika försiktigt som vore det en skål breddfylld med nymjölkad mjölk."

Etc. Etc. Private lives do go on in this idyll, maybe a relative idyll, but thinking of this intensely burning world, yes, idyll. Uninterrupted by the catastrophes of history, just interrupted by the normal catastrophes of life. But what else can we do but live our lives?

Saturday, June 24, 2023

Special parenthood

It has been such a great privilege to have been gifted this task in my life: to have have experienced this love, this responsibility. To have this brilliantly loving, brilliantly uncompromising, brilliantly joyful, brilliantly impossible son. This experience, this ride is beyond any words. All I know is that I'm lucky, privileged having him in my life.

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Modern times and rough beasts

The modern version of this is so heavily stressed, needing so clearly to underline the horror. As I suppose we do forget rather easily, needing reminding. But once this was obvious. And maybe we are about to get fresh reminders, who knows.

Thursday, April 27, 2023

La mia parte intollerante

My aim has been ever since of founding some semblance of control (in my late 20's) to be rational and analytic, empirical. Detached in this world of passion fusing with stupidity and self-pity, this world of bloodshed and unreason. Obviously, even this rationally, proportionately - without love, without genuine sentiment we are nothing, and even more in thrall to our passions. Like bloody Robespierre et al.

There are limits though: I have needed tremendous amounts of self-discipline to watch this fascist, shameless rape of Ukraine. To witness it from a very close distance. Obviously, this is what the world is, but some things get through, when some don't. That is human. Anyway, for once, maybe, aggression and bloodlust won't be rewarded here, in this world.

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Reliable things

These times are rather Nietzschean: our burning, hysterical will is able to override all reality, all the uncomfortable empirical and logical circumstances. You can just ignore every contradictory thing and feel the way you want to feel, happily go down the long slide. For a brief while at least, for the time you need to ignore these circumstances here is rather short, these reliable things: empirism, logic, mathematics, death.

And also, not to forget, our half-instinct of being kind, constructive, curious, flexible, hopeful, genuinely loving. No, none of these things for these times, for the fear is too intense, the hatred too inviting, the flesh too weak.

Friday, February 24, 2023

The way we now live

The centre is obviously not holding these days. A constant theme of this blog as it happens. History, as ever, is slowly bulldozing through lives - and all previous certainties turn out to be totally ephemeral, passing, gone. There are no real ethical constants here, nothing not consciously created and upheld. What we mostly have is just this sorry species, mostly feral, mostly blind, stumbling through time towards the inevitable precipice, no doubt.

Saturday, January 14, 2023

The Last of the American Girls

The once fierce Republic is now feeble and feverish - the worst are so full of passionate intensity and the best are largely not even participating. This, evidently, is what happens when you effectively give a free hand to big business and big finance. A near apocalypse already now when many of the old structures still do go on, still exist. Even if feebly, even if mostly not remembering why. A shining city on a hill no more. Well, it never was, but there was a genuine dream, sincerely held. What is there now?

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Vita brevis

We have only just emerged, a few minutes ago - yesterday we used to be panicky apes under a scary, inexplicable sky. We have had a pitiful 6000 years of recorded history, 500 years of some sustained enlightenment, 80 years of relative affluence in some small parts of the planet. We are grass. There is no telling now how things will end up, how things will be transformed. Maybe for even worse than this current barbarism, maybe for better. We have not earned the right to pessimism or optimism. We know nothing yet.

Friday, November 11, 2022

Canterbury tales

It is strange to be a Nordic anglophile, trying: one's own society is so much better organized, so much more fair. And the image of England one has, of liberal, of literary England is rather unreal. The actual reality is Völkischer Beobacht..., sorry, Daily Mail and the plutocratic tory sadism and corruption. And so it has been rather too much of the time. The extended family where always the worst people are in control. Still, still: there is always the other side too, the decency and reason, reasonableness, gentleness. The place invented liberalism, had Shakespeare, first broke away from the brutal, primitive shackles of pre-modernity. A very strange country. (And not talking of Britain here, Wales and Scotland are something else, very different.)

Thursday, October 06, 2022

Fighting fascism in Ukraine and in the USA

Strange times these. In many ways retro as I have often mentioned - the 30's come again. Or the 40's as in the present Ukraine fighting against a full blown fascist invasion. While we in the West waver and wonder, Germany and France among others ever being so eager for appeasement. And everything basically depending on the ever more unreliable US, being itself besieged by a scarily strong mosty homegrown movement of unreason, anti-empirism and anti-liberalism. Strange times indeed.

Monday, September 12, 2022

In praise of Jaana Rinne

This is rather obscure probably. Clifters was one of my favourite bands back in that distant youth, late -80's, early 90's. And Jaana Rinne wrote most of their lyrics - not melancholy linear stories in mostly literary language like most of her male counterparts, but impressionistic, joyously disconnected sketches of brief moments often only tenuously linked, written in very natural flowing spoken language, youth language. Quite like actual poetry. Then something happened and she stopped writing this high quality stuff and, I believe, took up a position in a tabloid. Never mind, those glory days were enough for several careers.

Thursday, August 25, 2022

In less keen sounds

I have been re-reading Eileen Warburton's excellent biography of John Fowles - and again wondered about the chasm that so often exists between the art and the artist. Obviously in the former's benefit. The story of how his marriage came about is in parts simply sordid. The casual misogyny of those times: it was in the air they breathed, internalized by virtually everyone. Art doesn't begin to justify those dealings. Of course situations are complicated, private connections run deep and are not explicable to outsiders. But still.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

The widening gyre

I believe that in pretty much most eras people have thought they were living in decadent end of times which mostly has basically meant that there had been some actual progress and improvements, and that the young were as young and as insolent as they usually are in the eyes of their preceeding generations.

But it is getting harder and harder to deny that there is something rotten, something rottening, in this global, high tech capitalist system, in this finance capitalist Anglo-Saxon version of the market economy. There is hysteria in the air, a panicky hatred is spreading. The Western democracies are weakening, splitting from the inside. Decadent, hysterical times, aided and abetted by the social media and the irrational, crazed enemies of the West, of liberalism.

The coming challenges are gigantic: the climate changing, threatening the very existence of our high tech civilization and which obviously can't be withstood by thinking and reactions focused on the next quarter. The various technological revolutions and the ever lessening the need for human workforce, the corruptive influence of the global entertainment industry and the ever more toxic social media. We are not confronting any of these: no, we are being carried by a flood stream.

A true cultural fugue, surely.