Blog Image

The Selfish Idealist


When 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.

3:40 AM, June.

What’s your move?

Uncategorised Posted on 16 Sep, 2019 08:24

So…this is not so well done.

It looks, from out here, just as an excuse to bomb Iran.

You know, Don, no one doubts the US ability to perform military strikes.

No one doubts that you are strong over there.

But…we may sometimes doubt your mental sanity.

All cultures have brilliant sides, and stupid ones.

Of course.

But some stupidity stays at home, other things hurt others…more.

The USA have started quite a few wars during the last 80 years, contributing substantially to the amount of refugees entering all countries of the world. Of course, wars would probably have happened somewhere without you, but one must say you have contributed.

You have a ridiculously high military budget, the world’s largest per capita, I think.

This move looks stupid.

Why would a country like Iran do a thing like this in a situation like this?

I’m not even sure that a small group would do such a thing, knowing that…some people in your administration is just waiting for a reason to bomb Iran, to destroy the regime in Tehran.

So maybe they gave the opportunity to themselves?

It looks so much like a US setup, it’s almost comic.

That history with the tanker…

Not quite convincing either.

You know…sir…you’re actually not entitled to use the world as your battlefield.

To protect one’s country…I would say it is a last resort, but it is considered, by most, a right to do so when you have to.

But you’re not doing that.

You’re attacking another country which lies not even close to US coasts.

It’s all about oil, isn’t it?

We’re not so happy about American money everywhere, either.

I don’t see a lot of money as…success.

Helping others…helping the world. 

That’s success.

To give…is to get.

If you give aggression…you might easily get aggression.

If you give love…

It’s not an easy thing to do. 

I’m not saying I manage all the time.

It takes not only a good heart, it also takes cleverness.

Your heart is always in a concrete situation, and it’s not the same situation all the time. It depends what you do.

You have to think out what’s best.

Not only for yourself, you have to think about others too.

Both, I would say, is an ideal. But you often get something out of helping others.

You need to be someone to be able to give others something.

At least this is partly true.

I don’t mean someone big, just someone, as opposed to…no one. Some people are treated so badly as a kid, they have very little left of themselves when they grow up. 

The things that happened to you still sit in your personality.

You often don’t feel yourself if you’ve had to take too much beating.

It’s much more common than you should think.

I think everyone has had some such experiences.

It depends how bad it feels, and what part of you it occupies.

And the shit that you received, or the shit that the beating created, has to come out somehow, somewhere. 

The art of living…many things, but one of them, to create something sound out of the shit of your life.

Art, sports, hiking, I guess those are the most common means here. Eating together, actually, too.

Meditation. In church, in nature, anywhere.

To get rid of some problems, to get some air, give yourself a break. 

To get…real.

And that thing with money…they don’t really give you a life, do they? You need money, of course, and yes, they can be used creatively or destructively, but…

Actually you create a life out of something else.

Working for others, not yourself.

Working for yourself is ok, I guess, but if you do only that…I don’t think that’ll work.

Working because you love something, either the thing you do, or the things that it creates.


Giving love to your kids.

Thinking about what they need.

Giving unconditionally to someone, with a risk of being hurt or with the risk of being…what’s it called?  Turned away. Dismissed. No, thanks, I don’t want your love, your attention, whatever.

If you really want something.

To risk the danger of looking stupid, if you need to say something plain…and nice.

Not easy.

It has to be true, too.

Honesty is considered very important in my country.

Being able to receive from others.

To actually receive compliments, love.

I find that difficult.

We don’t want the world to be swarming with…your refugees.

Maybe you could take them all on?

I don’t know…a few hundred thousand Iranians? A million this time?

They are actually pretty nice.

I like them.

But why should we do it?

enjoy immigration to my country, but some people here don’t.

I’m a little tired from explaining to them that refugees come for a reason.

As I see it, you create part of that reason.

You’re about to do it right now.

RefugeesI don’t think they want to move.

Don’t you think they’d rather be home, like you and me, we like to have a home, don’t we?

I enjoy my city and my room, the view over the small river and the trees outside.

The sound of the tram passing by.

I would like others to have what they like.


Comment Posted on 28 Aug, 2019 23:17

A lot goes on in Norwegian newspapers and among people right now, I’m thinking about discussions about immigration and cultural meetings in general.

I am sympathetic with the voices that speak of being colour blind as an ideal, I feel that what you do and say should normally be the proper criteria for becoming an insider, not where you come from. There are functions that demand insider knowledge, but I feel that where you come from should not be the general criterion for participation, rather what you can contribute.

But you should know that this question, Where do you come from? has a tradition as a completely normal icebreaker in Norwegian conversations. It does not necessarily imply anything else.

Consider also that identical words, in many other connections, in our language, can cover a huge variety of meanings, that Norwegian, I believe, is a language with a lot of special features in that understatements, insider humour (and not one type, many), humour with double and triple meanings, hints and allusions, the tone of voice, give the words its final meaning, in short a language which covers itself up even for native speakers, so that in a time where suddenly everybody meet because of the Internet, all those double meanings and hidden irony become problems even for inborns, because the expressions and ways of communicating have belonged to special groups and in specific settings, they have not all been common language and have not always meant the same.

Also think about the cultural isolation we grew up in (I am 55) – where other cultures were far away and for many of us not well known.

We are in some ways a young nation, and have had little time to get used to The world will live as one.

Be a little patient, and if you grew up here but was born into a “foreign” or foreign family, just see the whole integration thing as a process.

I want it to happen, and I am not alone.

Even if some hasn’t gone into that process, many of us have, and it probably needs to go through some specific stages even if they come late or for some reason are postponed.

In waiting

Tourist at home Posted on 26 Aug, 2019 17:08

I was going to take a walk and take a look at a statue of Rodin, which stands in Solli plass, kind of the beginning of the West End, Vestkanten, as different from Sentrum, the central parts of town, which is of course a concept with a little changing content.

But anyway.

The statue wasn’t there, just a kind of box which could have hidden and protected the sculpture, and with a picture of it on the outside, but the inside was empty.

I don’t quite know why.

One could phantasise about anti-art governments or politicians, who don’t care about art, and who don’t push those processes which always go on in administrations, necessarily so. Those processes, I believe, although I’ve never been an insider, often depend on people who wants this or that and push things they feel are important in a particular direction. In the direction of doing, not just thinking, which, I acknowledge that, is also necessary.

But I ‘m sure there is a good reason that the statue is not there.

Dead sure.

I passed Ibsen and Bjørnson on my way there, they were standing in front of the National Theatre, and looked a little high up, which is of course an unneccessary way of seeing them, as long as you stick to what people write and not what someone says about them, I mean, their art is a lot more interesting than their lives, at least it should come first.

I met Ibsen once more, sitting outside his extravagant appartment in Drammensveien, which is now Henrik Ibsens gate… Here he looked a little comic, sitting on his…pedestal would maybe be a proper name for it, I don’t know if the artist had a particular reason for making him look funny, this could be interesting to know, or just had a thing with humour in general.

I have nothing against making fun of Ibsen, but I would love to know the reason for the mocking. I’m not bigger than that…

I don’t know why Ibsen is considered our only great playwright, and I say this straightforward, I don’t know it, but I believe we could as well get others out from the shadows and read them and play them.

It’s probably done already too, just as the music of Norwegian classical composers are coming out from their shelves, where they have been sleeping for quite a while. Everybody who are into classical knows Grieg, Svendsen, Halvorsen, but seriously, there is also Catharinus Elling, Johannes Haarklou, Hjalmar Borgstrøm, there are loads of composers and fantastic music which only need to be understood and played.

Actually, it seems to be happening. New recordings emerge, more and more interesting.

A national renaissance? Why not, we’ve been actually too timid to appreciate our own stuff properly. As long as it’s used for thinking and contemplation, not war, I find it totally in order to revive this part of tradition.

No war against other nations, and no war against popular culture, which was always strong here and should go on being important.

Why not have it both ways?

I think it can’t be wrong.

So I guess I’ll check out Bjørnson, which I have read just a little of so many years ago that I can’t remember what it was.

Or someone else.

The same with painters, the last years we’ve seen things of women, Harriet Backer was of course known, but had a lot more than I knew, Kitty Kielland, there are doubtless more of them too, men and women, painters I didn’t know of.

In this vein Lillehammer kunstmuseum is worth a visit, I believe, and others, I shoud not say too much, I’ve been too few places. There are regional museums around the country.

They have closed the National Gallery in Oslo in waiting for the big new museum…they, maybe some of them could emerge from their shadows and tell us why. Kunstindustrimuseet, also closed, used to be a beautiful place, I thought.

The Munch Museum is still going on like before, even if this museum is also moving into another new, huge building.

The Høvikodden and The Astrup Fearnley, modern art places, I haven’t been there for a while, but I usually check out what’s happening when I feel like it.

The Rodin statue is nothing big, and it’s a copy, but I guess those greats had people working for them anyway, they didn’t actually do all the work themselves all the time, although the shape, of course, the mould or the result is supervised by them and the form is…formed by them.

He’s just a sculptor I really like.

But right now I didn’t find him where I thought he’d be.

“Second rate” music revived

Music Posted on 22 Aug, 2019 05:47

Really well played, those pieces of Clara Schumann, which proves my point from a few years back, that her music is firstrate, and in my opinion still, alongside other female composers and alongside so-called secondrate male composers whose music has been laying in the shelves, but is actually beginning to enjoy a renaissance.

People like Agathe Backer-Grøndahl from my own country, Catharinus Elling among the men, Hjalmar Borgstrøm, Alf Hurum. David Monrad Johansen is known, but not for early, romantic pieces – a violin sonata and other chamber music has got a fantastic new recording by the Oslo-based ensemble Fragaria Vesca.

I still feel there is sometimes a tendency to overemphasize the classical, European side of this Norwegian music from the romantic period, and even if this side is often a really well done part of the compositions, we also need to hear the real shit of the trolls and the harmonic strangeness not least, which exist in some of these pieces.

It’s often there, but I feel it could sometimes be interesting to experience more of it, to have the courage to be…sorry, more strangely Norwegian and not see this feature as German or European music, just not quite as good…

After all this music was made in a period where nationalism established itself throughout Europe and perhaps wider, and today we could need this base in order not to exaggerate it – as long as we have it, what’s the point of bragging or be afraid of other countries’ culture?

Much of it was meant to explore the special and peculiar sides of a country 100% when it was written, its character as different from others, but of course in a common idiom, a more or less similar style across Europe. Today we can use it for adjustment to other cultures, to tone down sides of our own culture is easier when you feel confident, and one may listen to others without losing oneself totally.

Just a bit.

Here is the first movement of Monrad Johansen’s piano quartet:

His violin sonata also deserves attention. Here is the second movement:

Seriously, Don

Comment Posted on 07 Aug, 2019 17:09

It won’t work, you know.

Every country, every people on earth basically wants to rule themselves.

I don’t find that difficult to understand.

Even if your country is ruled by brutal people, a dictator, an outsider can’t fix that.

If someone seriously attacked my country, I would stand back to back with my own (and hey, this also means people from all over the world who have moved here and become Norwegians to the extent that please them, and me. I know them well enough. They love Norway as much as I do.)

I’ve been pretty much involved in political discussions here in Norway, conflicts, of course, too, but if someone actually interfered or attacked us, I would not care about internal politics. I would join my political opponents in the ways that I would find useful and necessary. If it was necessary and useful, I would have things going even with people I really dislike politically.

I wouldn’t hesitate.

You cannot spread democracy or freedom by military means, economical pressure…in short by any sort of serious pressure.

You have to wait and discuss.

That’s democracy, actually, another side of it, that sometimes you’re not having it your way because if you do, you’ll fuck up the whole system.

You don’t know what a foreign country needs, either.

You’re not a crusader, you know.

You shouldn’t be a crusader, either, that’s not your role as a leader of the USA.

We don’t need that.

To actually attack someone because they don’t treat their citizens ok is like…fucking for virginity.

I think that’s a very old joke among some of my friends.

And what you will achieve is a lot…dead people, many, refugees, another wave of refugees who will maybe come here.

They will certainly be going somewhere else, they won’t stay in a war zone.

A destroyed country is perhaps not exactly an easy place to be.

You’ll be left with even another country that you actually will have to…rule.


If you don’t see the ridiculous about that…you may perhaps see…some practical difficulties?

You’ll be violating principles and creating chaos.

Here in Norway we will have to go into new discussions, quarrels, about how many refugees we have room for, it will squeeze us and our internal conflicts and disagreements, and I don’t doubt that the same will happen in all countries that will have to deal with the refugee crisis that will suddenly appear.

All of us, basically, will feel this.

I missed the details in the news of that part…of the tanker no. 1 taken into Gibraltar and the tanker no. 2 taken in the Hormuz strait, but it all sounds more or less criminal if it is part of a stupid political game.

Do you know, mista, sir, that right now people are dying in Iran because they lack insulin, and other medication?

My friends tell me you can hardly get anything in Iran right now, I believe they mean, in the shops:

You are hurting the people more than the leaders with your sanctions.

And I don’t think they will give in. The people.

You are part of a country even if you loathe what your leaders do.

A culture.

It is not possible to take that out of a man.

Or a woman.

People will think like I would have thought, don’t fuck up our country.

So what’s your agenda these days?

Weren’t you going to do something for…the people?

Your actions reach almost every country if the world, so seriously…

Have you got anyone to talk to?

If you don’t have an agenda, get one.

One that’s aiming for peace, not war.

We, the people, never actually want war or need war.

We want to go on having a beer or a coffee on the corner, to eat our neighbour’s food
because she sells it or because he invited us for lunch.

To deal with small conflicts and try to keep them…kind of small.

Keep that in mind. That’s the aim of the whole shit.

I mean, all of politics, simply.

To give all of us possibilities to live.

It is at least one way of seeing it, not the worst, I think.

I am sure you enjoy life as much as I do.

Eating, drinking, being with someone.

Watching the view from your window or just thinking of something that crosses your mind.

Feeling the stars over your head.

Breathing the air outside.

Walking a street that you like.

Going to a restaurant.

Thinking about the skin of your lover before she comes to your room.

Our drinking water

Oslo Posted on 05 Aug, 2019 00:06

I met some tourists, I think Italian, in the local shop, and they were going to buy bottled water, as usual asking whether it had “gas or no gas”. I told them, just drink from the tap, it’s actually the best.

I think this is true. And it is free of charge, already paid for by their hotel.

Water supply is still part of our “social state”. In a private home it is a relatively small expense.

Our water is very drinkable, I think, it should be a tourist attraction in itself. Of course, you don’t drink from the tap in a toilet, but that’s only because you are in a toilet. The water is the same everywhere, pretty fresh and clear and by all means healthy. The only place I can remember to have seen those signs that say “don’t drink the water” is on the trains.

The only thing I forgot to tell them is, leave the tap open for a few seconds so the water gets cold.

When I was a kid we were told that as long as the water was moving, flowing, we could drink it, from brooks and rivers and lakes. Of course you had to, have to, check the smell and the look of it, but basically I think it is right to say that the water in nature here is clean.

I remember I had a wooden cup in the belt which I got as a present from someone, or drank from my hands. You had to be quick.

Tried the tap water in Spain too, when I was there, and it was quite ok. I didn’t get sick, it tasted a little like all those tapas dishes with somehow fried garlic. Both flavoured by the soil and the climate, or what?

D. goes to war?

Comment Posted on 31 Jul, 2019 03:07

So, Don…are you actually starting that war?

I mean, WW3?

World War Three.

Sounds like it, at least, from this side of the Atlantic. The Russians lining up with Iran?

Well, I wouldn’t know why and how. Maybe you would know.

It’s in the news here, that our government is considering sending troops down there.

Tell me, do you think you, I mean you Americans, are…defending your country in this way?

I didn’t know that it bordered on the…Hormuz strait, that’s the place, isn’t it?

I don’t know that much about international law, I’m not a lawyer or anything.

But I usually claim to have some knowledge about politics…I participate at least in private discussions now and then.

I write.

When you read about international law in an encyclopedia there is a lot of talk about principles. Some good principles, definitely.

But you also sometimes get the feeling that someone has whispered things to the author of the article, so the principles sound more like…what’s it called? Excuses, apologia? You know, ways of defending things that are not…quite as nice.

I would say attacking a country which you have to travel this far to get to…it’s not your territory, is it?

Those bases that you have…


Partly started by Donald J. Trump, American president in 2019.



How many millions in WW2?

Things go faster today, so maybe we’ll risk a little less.

How many casualties in the Gulf War in…what was it? 80-something.

How many refugees coming here if there is a war like that?

How many will knock on your door?

Refugee camps…

It’s going to be something in the history books about you anyway.

I mean, the position that you have is like that.

I don’t think…I feel that this time, the opinion here wouldn’t be too positive if we‘re dragged into your war.

Would kind of mean that we were involved in starting a big war too.

The politicians here are usually pretty weak when Washington says something.

I don’t think wewould like that, generally speaking.

We, non-politicians.

Can’t you get some other advisors?

Read something?

Did you read Catch 22, or see the film?

It’s actually fun, it’s from the second world war, in Italy. A novel, not a documentary.

Catch 22 is about this rule, paragraph 22…

The only reason you’ll get out of the war, if you apply for a final leave, the only valid reason to get out, is if you’re insane.

If you apply, it proves that you’re not insane.

So either way, you’ll stay.

It’s a fun read, and I think the film is maybe even better. I saw some scenes.

I don’t know why I’m telling you this.



You started off there, kind of, didn’t you?

I would say, I’m actually not sure I agree with that much of what you say all the time…

But as I said, one good point I can remember, is that the government before you or some governments before you, made a mess in Iraq, and other places down there.

So…what do you do?

Sometimes there are things that can’t be done, rules that shouldn’t be broken.

Things you cannot do even if you really, badly want to do it.

Like putting priests out of power.

A country…is still a country.

It has even rights even if it is badly or strangely ruled..

There are laws that prevent another government from doing things.

And if the government doesn’t know this, there are still principles.

Even in politics.

International politics.

If you break them…you act partly as a dictator would.

As a king of long ago.

Really long ago.

Before law regulated things, the king could do what he wanted, sort of, at least not hindered by written law.

But actually, not now.

One should actually think that a right-wing government would understand it.

That is kind of strange.

I am playing Mozart’s music

Music Posted on 09 Jul, 2019 11:38

I think that competitions in music are principally bullshit, but of course, there is a lot of good music going on…

Another interesting thing is that these guys & girls seem to be giving us more personal versions, not only the most correct Mozart (which can be an interesting thing, of course, to check once in a while, by watching competitions ;-)).

I hope this is a new trend, more individual interpretations, it would be nice with a little more freedom at last. And no, I’m not talking about extra notes compared to a standard text, that is another discussion, I think, but of how to play the whole thing. There are many possibilities.

Correctness is only one aspect of the music.

The question of the correct Mozart remains there, not exactly unanswered…but as part of the package, one way of thinking which will also be important. Many things are.

But it is ok that time moves on once in a while, that the main focus shifts, and perhaps gives us a way of dealing with things that also suits our times better.

One could think like that too.

And of course, to tip over the whole discussion you should actually consider the fact that the grand piano wasn’t invented when Mozart died in 1791, these concerts were written for the fortepiano, which is a completely different instrument. It is just too tempting to play them on a “modern” instrument because they sound so bloody good on it, but actually, I think you have to see these versions as kind of arrangements for another instrument.

At least this is an interesting view and an interesting way into yet another approach.

In the end, and when showtime draws near, too, all ways of thinking about music go into one another like Chinese boxes, and maybe it is not obvious which one is the outer one, the actual frame for all the others, that exact day.

And again, what goes on live is also unpredictable to a certain extent, or should be, because no one really wants to hear what you did last night, at least I very much enjoy a happening, whatever genre or mode.

That’s why we’re nervous playing…

Next »