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The Selfish Idealist


If you do things for yourself, do you have to be destructive towards the world? Life can be made fairly good both for you and for the rest of us.

Maybe you'll not only help out, but even give everybody a good laugh from time to time.

The moon, an old friend.

What are the concepts?

Digital sanity Posted on 10 Feb, 2020 03:49

An important issue in today’s Internet world is of course algorithms, whch ones are in use? They move our thoughts in specific directions, and are basically kept secret.

But another part of this is in general, how things are grouped on the screen. Someone with an education in informatics is probably able to give more of an answer to this question, but the thing is…is set theory the central concept or method, or what is actually the basic structure or structures in this way, yep, the electronic way, ways, of making or changing a text or another type of information?

Programming and organising of data in the ways that are done today are after all based on math to a great extent, and what is being done is to organise texts and other information as simple as possible, since complicated ways slow down your webpage and also in general, simple solutions are also often better in other ways than more complicated ones.

But simple…according to what principles?

Normally, and «in the old days» (they’re actually not that far away) the way of organising the information was different, and the result…different. We are forced into specific ways of thinking that are also related to the organising of the information.

You’re saying…paranoia has hit me?

I’m not so sure. And even if it has, who’s to say that no one is actually after me? 😀

Articulation on the Keyboard

Music Posted on 06 Feb, 2020 19:31

Since I first tried to play a harpsichord, as a student in Tromsø in the 80s, I’ve never understood why articulation is not exploited more on this keyboard instrument as a means of musical expression.

The organ impresses you so much, it is so great, that you maybe don’t feel the need for any more than what is immediately given you as you pull out the stops, or you feel perhaps that your wish to use for instance articulation to a greater proportion even here should not be…articulated. But actually, the organ also invites the variation and creativity of staccato and legato, to put it simple and even childish. 

To hear comments about the harpsichord, that it is a limited instrument, with no way of varying the tone…

It sounds almost like a jealous pianist or piano teacher who has heard almost the same about the piano. I mean, you can’t change the tone of a piano after you’ve hit the key, can you?

Anyway, in both cases it’s nonsense. Varying the music is always possible. Even if you play the same music, you should only ask the question “What Händel am I playing today?”

There is something to learn from literature, or acting, staging, theatre. It is not always necessary to go as far as the revolutionary theatre directors, maybe, but still, the text in literature is not a completely finished thing, a new reading, or interpretation, is always possible to imagine. There are always new things to say about it, because our minds keep changing as time goes by, so thereby our thoughts change, about…in principle, anything.

Even Bach and Mozart.

We play “Bach and Mozart”, and I agree that if we intend to do that we should normally not create new notes in the text or anything similar, but what those scores tell us is not quite a given fact, that’s part of why I go to concerts, to hear some new thoughts discovered.

Sometimes you can hear a string quartet go too far in dynamics, they play too loud, simply, and the sound breaks, you have the feeling that they don’t think a fiddle or a cello has a big enough sound, or the score contain so much that it fills more than a string quartet can possibly say. 

It may happen, perhaps, that thingsare badly written, and it is a little difficult to answer such a question because so many who play seem to just accept any frame for their work and concentrate on the rest. But basically, I think, if you accept the frame around your pictures, you’re left with a lot of freedom when it comes to what you do inside that frame, and how you form the frame is also not given from the fact that there is one. The question of how is still left open to a certain extent. The development of baroque interpretation should make that clear, if nothing else does. It is considered to be authentic, but it is also a new thing in the history of playing music.

The intensity of the sound does not only relate to the number of decibels or the amount of instruments on the score, but to the intensity of the emotions or the madness and sanity of the ideas you had when you wrote the music or when you played it.

So any format will possibly do, just listen to the old recordings of Frans Brüggens recorder playing, solo, and…hey, his instrument is not an obstacle, you won’t even think of an idea like that.

I can truly say that one of my favourite types of noise is a huge romantic orchestra playing Brahms or Mahler or Debussy. I threw away the Norwegian variant of the soprano recorder, tussefløyte, when I was around 12, after learning some tunes, which was actually fun, but the instrument felt too feeble, to weak for me to play on, the piano had much more sturdy, solid qualities, I felt. I could hit it and it hit back, I liked that better. Like woodwork compared to needlework. I do’n t particularly like working with fabric, but making wooden things for fun suits me.

But this is about playing music.

When it comes to listening, I enjoy almost anything, as long as the musician(s) have the ability to convince me and I agree at least partially with what they say. There is philosophy in music, and attitudes, and I don’t expect myself to enjoy everything as much as…everything else.

But anyway, the harpsichord…a lot of things possible. Every instrument has its own world, its own ways of saying things, and its limitations. To compare music played on a harpsichord and a piano is interesting.

The harpsichord went out of use for a hundred years or so, and when it came back, pianists had had the time to steal and arrange its music and make it into piano music, which is a fantastic world in itself, I find. I have always listened to Dinu Lipatti when he plays arrangements of Bach, which was of course written for a harpsichord or even a clavichord, which is even another thing. Myra Hess, and who else? Rachmaninoff himself plays really well, but maybe not exactly in a tragic way. There is a whole period in interpretation, of playing, which I love, maybe from the 1930s to the 50s, and it coincides almost with the times of Rachmaninoff, Debussy, Ravel, which are also among my favourite composers. Rachmaninoff also wrote and played arrangements, a really nice one of some movements of a partita, a violin piece, or a suite of pieces, by Bach. Here is the first of those movements, fantastically played by a French pianist who is travelling around the world today, Helène Grimaud.

So, what is also interesting is comparing the two instruments with music in hand written for the harpsichord, by Bach, for instance, and to play it on both.

One of the things with the recordings from the 30s, 40s, 50s, is the seriousness of the interpretations, the feeling of tragedy, which has always appealed to me. Mozart’s c minor concerto, played by Robert Casadesus, most of violinist Ginette Neveu’s recordings, for instance  of  Chausson’s Poème, Dinu Lipatti is mentioned, Myra Hess, I don’t know, there are a lot of others from this period. In the late fifties and the sixties many performers play much more straight, not so interesting or excting to my ears.

Now, what happens if you play (if I play) Bach’s F minor concerto on a piano? It is very easy for me to fall into the same mood, the idea of tragedy, but if I take the notes over to the harpsichord and play, it comes naturally out as aggression, because of the plectrum which sort of rips the strings. It all happens at a low decibel level, but considered as a part of the package, the whole sound of the harpsichord, it is actually pretty violent, like a sharp claw.

You can take the piano sound and turn it into something else. I’ve done that a lot. In the beginning it was totally unconscious, but I loved the orchestra from the moment I heard one, or rather, I was in shock, which have luckily never left me, and to play concertos on the piano with friends was always a thrill. I had two musical friends especially when I was a teenager, one playing the trumpet and the other the French horn, two sisters.

So we played Richard Strauss and Haydn and Arutunian’s trumpet concerto, which ended up as a real favourite of mine. Actually all of those pieces.

We stayed friends, too.

Playing stuff like that is either a bother, if you’re made of soloist material, perhaps, or a fantastic way of playing, if you just love music, like I do. I can’t say that I wanted to hear oboes or be an oboist or a fiddle player sitting on the piano stool, but the mass of it all, the really great, big, sound, I enjoyed making it. And I more or less started playing anyway because I wanted to hear the music that I had heard at concerts. Some of the notes of Chopin polonaises etc were lying at home, so I found my way into it.

I always wanted things to be fun and noisy.

So you can do the same, but think of a harpsichord instead of an orchestra. To me that meant at least to create a sharper piano tone, to give it an edge which is not supposed to imitate a harpsichord directly, it’s more like translation, you go from one world into another and use similar means, maybe, but not identical, to achieve – maybe – similar effects. I later learned that you should use no pedal at all in Bach, presumably because it was written for a harpsichord, which has no sustain pedal, but this is also not quite logical, because you don’t play it on the same instrument anymore. It is in effect a transcription, not with different notes, but with a different inetrument.

Polina Osetinskaya, here playing Bach’s d minor concerto, may have had some similar ideas, at least you can say that i is played with a lot of flair and aggressivity which of couse is normal in this converto, but still. I mean, there is enough room for contemplation and other interesting stuff in this interpretation, but as a performer, you sometimes feel the need to really come through to the audience.

Using a little violence is not always wrong, because a lot of music contains violence.

Glenn Gould has of course been a great influence, not only in general when the talk is about Bach, but when it comes to articulation. There is not much soft Schumann legato in his playing, not even in Schumann.

I think it is quite useful to consider where those instruments come from too, I mean the idea of a harpsichord is so close to a lute or a guitar, it is not the same thing at all as a grand piano or an organ, soundwise or technically. To pluck a string…and to have a kind of machine pluck a string, more similar than to have a hammer strike a string, which sounds more like a glockenspiel, and the action looks more like a dulcimer, actually the sound too is maybe a mix of the two and of course new possibilities compared to both, and a new, different world too.

An organ…an orchestra, of course, but sometimes also not so far away from a harmonica, even, or an accordion, because, technically, I mean the way the sound is produced, they are similar, at least to some of the voices of the organ.

But if you listen to some harpsichordists you certainly have the feeling that they have not left Schumann (I love Schumann, but maybe not on the harpsichord), they play basically legato when it goes fast. I would begin with thinking that I played a lute, and then see where I ended up. I don’t know if guitar or lute players do a lot of musical experimenting with articulation, and I have no idea whether they have or feel the need for it, but on a keyboard, at least, it feels right to me.

So in the end maybe you have no need for changing or increasing orc decreasing the volume of the instrument, because you have found other means of changing the intensity and of saying what you have to say musically. I remember I heard Ketil Haugsand, harpsichord player, in Gamle logen, one of the concert halls in Oslo, and he, being the person he is, of course went crazy in Bach, I think maybe in the great solo in the Brandenburg no 5. To me this was then a new experience, that a harpsichord could explode musically – I had of course heard it in other connections.

Ehm…it’s stupid to add things after publishing the first time, but I can’t resist this one, sorry again.

Here is the first movement of the Bach partita, played on the violin. The violinist, Arthur Grumieaux, was born in 1921, and even if he belongs to a completely different generation than both Rachmanoff and the rest of the composers I mentioned, and the performers too, his ideas and way of playing are maybe not so far away from the Bach arrangement of the Russian romantic.

Here is a recording of Bach’s a major concerto with Gustav Leonhardt as a soloist, on harpsichord, filmed in Copenhagen in 1966. I sometimes find Leonhardt a strict fellow musically, even if he is a great musician, but this concerto has a lot of light, so all in all maybe a neat compromise between darkness and light. If such concepts apply at all…when I was a kid I didn’t need any concepts to take in the music, they just happened, whenever I listened to live music.

Yeah, I think I meant the ideas.



Comment Posted on 31 Jan, 2020 00:38

No comment needed, I think.

Be brave, don’t be so brave

Comment Posted on 04 Jan, 2020 16:35

Is your highest duty to defend your country…with a gun?

Actually, I believe quite a few here in Europe would see it differently.

For my part, as I have said to you already, I feel that maybe the foremost duty of a politician is to avoid war, not to plan for it.

To do that…you have to make plans…for peace.

Why…do you consider your country to reach all across the world?

Why do you consider it lawful and ok to attack foreign people, even officials, in their own country, and call it defense of yourselves?

It’s weird.

You know what?

On that video…

You look almost like you’ve found yourself, as is the cliché expression is here.

You look rather friendly, in a very strange way.

You…also look like a boy who finally got down to doing what mom told him to do.

You are…I can’t quite find the English expression, but the way one used to look in my childhood when you were a good boy and happy for it.


You can probably find someone who knows enough Norwegian or maybe Danish, to explain this word to you. It’s a pretty old-fashioned word which you maybe find mostly in literature, but it means something.

It’s how you describe someone coming home with his first girlfriend or something. Telling dad that you got drunk for the first time, and it was ok.

You have red cheeks.

You sound actually happy, humble, almost.

You call that general a terrorist.

You believe that to be a reason, if it is true, for doing…anything?

Of course, a human can’t go much farther than killing another man or woman.

You caught him in the act? …of planning things?

What…do you know of, understand, about democracy?

Dictatorships are known for killing people because of thoughts, because of words that are said or written. Because of plans.

Ok, he’s a general.

But he doesn’t live in the States. He’s not a subject of the United States. Even if he were, you would not have the legal right to gun him down.

He’s probably done things too, but don’t you think you should leave that to the Iranians?

“I terminated him”?

You killed him.

You seem to be a religious man, at least you go to meetings and let yourself be prayed for.

If I were a relative of yours, I would say, go to church, alone, and if you go to a service, stay for a while after it is finished, and think. 

Pray, with no words, just let God, if you are actually a believer, be there.

Let God be there, and see what happens.

Don’t ask for anything, just be…open.

Actually, you should do something like this regularly.

It doesn’t have to be going to church, just go to a place where you think it’s calm and where you are yourself and can think soundly.

But if you go to church, then pray for the man you killed, and for the many men and women who will be killed in the war that will hit us all if you don’t stop it.


If you’re not able to pray for yourself, light a candle for yourself. It’s supposed to accompany a prayer, so that maybe, if you think about that candle, the thought and the prayer follow you for a couple of hours, after you have left the church.

I feel that a public position very often is a stupid position. Everyone seems to have opinions about you, and when the shouting starts, no one can really hear much, not even from a position…on the street.

But if you do stupid things when you’re on the top…

Why do this?

Someone, maybe many people, must have abused you or stopped you, probably, to make you look like that in a situation like this – stopped you mentally, from reaching a pretty important goal in life: To accept yourself.

I mean, we all have problems with ourselves.

No one is…perfect.

On that video, you look happy.

It’s not a sound thing to be happy because you have killed a man, or even, when you have just killed him.

Let alone happy for starting a war.

A war doesn’t solve problems, it creates problems.

It creates above all, death, and it creates destructed houses, and it creates refugees…

I’m not saying the general is an innocent man. Probably not, but I don’t know anything about him, not more than I know, in general…about Iran.

None of us are, of course, innocent, but what you accuse him of…check out your own country’s history. You don’t even have to know very much, it is enough to mention South America. I think still many here can remember Chile. That also gave us refugees, I know one.

Sometimes the situation somewhere is difficult to understand, or we, the newspaper readers, don’t have enough time to follow every conflict in the world, or every conflict that you, the united States of America, is involved in. But I have heard the noise from Venezuela, Colombia etc. right now, or recently.

I can hear hatred in your voice when you talk about islam.

can tell you that the more I learn about people I meet, the more I love them, and the more I like their culture. Their ways of acting, talking, their food, music, the whole package. Humour.

Islam is not one thing, as Christianity is not one thing, although there are of course some common features with both.

No, I don’t think you should get hung up with the bad sides of anyone, really, if you can avoid it.

Start with the cool things, then see what is possible.

I think it has become a pretty normal thing to think, here in Oslo, that there are crazy people everywhere. 

But you don’t have to support them in their madness.

I would say, better to meet everyone in their sanity first, so that the madness and crazy things can find their place in safe surroundings.



Sports. Be a sports shooter, why not?

Or find yourself another sport to participate in.

Go to a game.

Listen to whatever music.

Go for a walk.

Be cosy, if you get things out that way, and if you can get close enough to someone.

If I can’t live like this, this is still what I want.

I have bad sides as well, I act stupidly, cowardly, whatever, but seriously…

Starting a war…and why?

If you don’t know the consequences of this, maybe Europe can help you on the way. 

I think, as I’ve said, mentally, we’re not more than just about finished with the second world war. 

Even I, who are born in 1963, don’t want more of that stuff. It took me my life until now to sort out just a little bit how my parents actually took it, because they hardly told me anything about it. They must have been afraid more or less their whole lives, in a sense, experiences, in their childhood, that was not really finished in their heads.

A war contains arguments, that is what I frequently say. This is actually a sad fact, because discussions should happen with words. The aim of a discussion is to find out something or to solve a problem.

So use words, not weapons.

Go see a John Wayne movie instead of this, and instead of feeling as high up as him, afterwards, think of it as a game. Not quite real.


Ha ha, just kiddin’.

You can call it sublimation.

It means that you feel the same things when you watch the movie as you would have if you did for real the things John Wayne do on the screen.


Some of he shit we all carry.

That’s one of the ideas with art, of all kinds, sports, whatever.

Be a fucking monk this time, Don…

Overcome yourself, if that is necessary.

I don’t want more sad faces from the Middle East flooding in, because some people here gets so stirred up when they see a hijab somewhere, they can’t think anymore.

Everybody needs peace. 

We all want it.

So give it to us.

A starry night, maybe

Music, Uncategorised Posted on 04 Jan, 2020 04:57

For those of my readers who are not familiar with my music, here is one improvisation on the piano: An imaginary visit to Baku, inspired by Azerbaijani friends whom I met in Oslo and who live here.

Links in web pages

Digital sanity Posted on 04 Jan, 2020 02:20

Another side of the computer world that struck my mind the other day, is links.

In all the articles I have written about the computer universe, I have been looking for problems, so to say, elements that confuse my…established world of knowledge in certain ways.

To talk about “an established world” of knowledge may seem strange, but as I see the computer as it is used today, quite a bit of it does crash into established ways of thinking.

My writing on this is maybe one-sided in another direction, but we will have to discuss how to merge those two worlds, if you see it like that, how the “new” world should relate to the “old” world is a very necessary thing to talk about.

Both ways too, of course.

But what role do links play, what function in my head do they meddle with?

I would perhaps say, associations, associative thinking.

I remember conversations with friends from the north of Norway, a culture (well, actually several) which own a fantastic, crazy ability to imagine things. I will never get a full overview of this (happily) but it works pretty well for a lot of purposes, for instance creating new ideas where there are no solutions to a problem, or to see totally absurd connections in life or in society, so you totally crack in a flow of meaningless or meaningful laughter, often both a the same time.

In short imagination, to coin it a little properly and a little blandly.

I also get ideas, sometimes fanciful ones, but I was born in a calmer environment than the storms and the incredible idylls of the real north. I am ok with the calmer parts of Norway too, I love Follo and Asker and other slopes of farmland or hilly woods, where I grew up or lived later on. Oslo too, not far from nature, but still a small city. Nature, the surroundings, give me ideas down here too, just different ideas than up north.

The differences of the country are also not absolute, I think, they are a matter of degree.

Anyway, everyone has his or her own associations, to begin with. Your own ideas…that is what comes out of associative thinking.

There are other ways of being creative, also mentally, but this is actually pretty important. 

And under my fingers an before my eyes I find a machine world, and of course, the people who create it every day are also there, their ideas and habits come out of my keyboard and the screen. This world is for me not entirely positive, it moves me to and fro, in many different directions, often away from myself, it often works against my will. 

If you fit into this world very well, you may feel at home, you may even feel that it confirms your thoughts, I have heard people say that the computer itself gives them new ideas for work.

Well, for me maybe in some ways, too. But in many ways the opposite.

But talking about links, every time I push a button, symbol, something that contains a link, I am moved into a new world, basically, a new website or a new page on the same website, talking to me about something else than the text or the pictures that I moved from.

I didn’t make that path, even if I made the move, so to speak.

It came to me from the creator of the website.

Of course, new ideas, outside of this screen world, may also come from other people and other sources than yourself, but then it comes from…the world. 

This whole world is made by humans, even though it more and more functions as the world for us.

The links are another problem connected with it, and one may then of course ask all the usual questions about what sources the editors use and choose, what mentality does the publication maintain, what political views, etc. – and how it connects to this bit of the whole thing.

For instance the questions of political biases and objectivity vs subjectivity in journalism, etc.

Links are just another element, but still, an important one, I think.

Habitual thinking may be a bigger problem than before, if you don’t watch out.

It’s always been a problem, but today…hm.

Edited after publishing, sorry.

Too much carbon dioxide

Comment Posted on 04 Jan, 2020 01:10

You know, Don, the scientists who actually do research on the climate, all agree.

There is no disagreement in the basic facts among them.

That you have a degree or a PhD in another branch of natural science or another branch of science…it doesn’t necessarily give you expertise on this issue.

Some say that carbondioxide is a “life giving” gas, part of nature.

Yes, it is, but in addition to this, we pour it out, so all in all it becomes too much.

The basics are actually as simple as that.

What kind of concept?

Digital sanity Posted on 02 Jan, 2020 23:09

An important issue in today’s Internet…situation is of course what algorithms that are used, what calculations are at the bottom of what we read, so to speak. They often lead our thoughts, ways of thinking, in certain directions, and are, I believe, mostly kept secret.

But another thing which is also important, is how the concepts which form this screen world are formed, and which they are. The algorithms read as concepts formed in words.

Someone sufficiently educated in informatics would probably be able to answer those questions reasonably well, but for me as a lay person, the question is, what is actually the structuring principle or principles of this work?  Programming and the organising of data the way it is done today is for a greater part based on math, and the work, to me, seems much like finding the simplest way of organising everything, possibly the smallest common denominator for two or more different elements in the construction that build up a website, for instance.

But how is this done, just slightly more concretely, and how does the math translate into words and sentences and the rest? What principles are in use?

Normally, in a book, we would be allowed to form concepts much more independently of the texts that we read.

Today this is no longer the case to the same extent as in the times before computers, we are guided more often than with written media into specific ways of thinking and ways of organising facts, most often without us knowing it, perceiving it, consciously.

This doesn’t have to be done with a conscious purpose, it also often just happens, through the transformation of the editor’s attitudes or the developer’s, and also the owner of the media, his or her personality or habits of thinking into the texts that we read and treat in different ways.

It’s not only about the content of a text anymore, form has new meanings and new impact.

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