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The Selfish Idealist

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Freedom has been on everybody’s lips for decades, actually a century and more, and changes in the way of life have been going on for the better. 

But we are not completely peaceful beings, and increased freedom calls for responsible behaviour. There is violence and violent reactions to it, and increasing oppression is going on and is on its way, I believe in all countries, and right now it ought to be a time for thinking and talking rather than for rash action.

Winter morning, Oslo

The United States…of the World

Uncategorised Posted on 11 Aug, 2022 11:55

I am asking in ignorance, but I don’t understand why the US has the need and the right to have military bases more or less all over the world.

The Founding Fathers are presented, in Wikipedia, ok, but still, as national heroes.

That’s normal as part of history writing from the time a nation is new, and as identity building, anywhere.

But this job ought to be more or less done by now, or what?

I don’t question the existence of the USA, but I have some doubts…about the justice or fairness, or necessity, of The American…United States of the World.

You don’t represent us all, sorry.

Are the military expenses a holy cow in American politics? You spend more per capita and in total than anyone. It would probably even be an important contribution to the solving of the climate problems – reducing your spending on soldiers and missiles etc.

The »Mayflower» had on board religious dissenters, from Britain.

What role does this cultural fact play in the US, your way of thinking, of how you see yourself?

I know too little…but what, in reality, did the founding fathers try to escape? Did they succeed, or is this part of a still ongoing project?

I believe many native American tribes were warriors. Again, I am ignorant, sorry, but did this affect your American culture?

The talk of »security issues» very easily slides into war these days.

The cultural impact of the USA is mixed. There is the world of jazz, which has made my life richer, more colourful, fun. I left some of it for some reason, as a musician, but I am coming back, it is a huge part of my musical life.

There is the world of entertainment nonsense, which I enjoy as long as we’re talking about the part of it that I like, and maybe not too much. I love going to fairs, circus, eating too expensive candy, enjoying an evening firework…not all of this originated in the US, but there is a connection to some of it.

If you believe that a joke is just a joke, and take serious talk only seriously, you have understood little of both.

Danish words, written by Piet Klein, author and mathematician, those words and some others by him used to be very famous in my country, and more elegantly formed in the original version than here.

A gun, on the other hand…is not a joke.



The upbringing of kids…

Uncategorised Posted on 29 Jul, 2022 23:18

Some parents seem to think that the question of authority is impossible to solve, seen in the light of already decades of public debate. Personally I don’t think I ever left the position of opposition, to a tradition that felt outdated already in the 1980s, although of course, with your own kids around, you have to think more…

Some are still conservative, especially older people, either in practice, I guess, in their own family, or through what you hear, read, in comments in social media.

Everybody has some kind of mix between freedom and restrictions, in a family, only not in the exact same connections. Cultural specialities, habits.

Also, the effect it gives when you move from one country to another, when you get real riends, maybe even marry into another culture, somehow it has to move you, partly, out of the position you left, you have to make some sort of mix of cultures if you stay in that country or in a relation with someone who used to be foreign to you.

This is for me mostly guesswork, I have not married a foreigner, but spoken to many.

Of course, any couple needs to create a new mix of cultures, all families are different, very different or slightly so, it should be a process which all who are lovers, married, even friends, which is easier, but any relation between people is a mix of cultures, in a sense, when the two involved come from the same town and when they come from different parts of the world.

In some ways the same thing.

But parent authority…

In my world, here in Norway, Scandinavia, I guess Europe, USA, other parts of the world, I don’t know, we went through a real debate about authority, both parent authority and political authority, starting probably in the 60s, and since I was born in 1963, and turned myself into an environmental activist during the 70s and 80s, with a lot of opinions about abuse of authority, I used to think we were the aftermath of the aftermath of this development.

Of course, everything takes time.

Some stayed in the old concepts of authority in upbringing.

The first thing that comes to mind when I try to discuss this is that absolute definitions, concepts, ideas – easily make trouble. After years of hard, but actually fun work with your own kids, my kids, ideas, ideals, have changed so they can’t quite be recognised, sometimes they must be more or less disregarded, or maybe some survive. 

Simple solutions do perhaps exist, but more often they don’t.

So if childless friends or old people stick to ideas like there must be no compromises, kids today have no discipline, etc, I feel the discussion is sometimes meaningless. To a certain extent they may be right, to a certain extent I may be right. 

And of course it is difficult to judge other people’s families from the outside. I also don’t feel this is my job. I say what I think, people who read it must take what they want and disregard what they don’t want. When it comes to politics, family economy etc and general principles, I may have more to say, but everyone is free to create their own life and their own family life, I feel there should be pretty wide possibilities, but also debate, in order to think and discuss and make an impact on each other’s thoughts and lives.

The discussions and relations across cultures I feel always need time, in order to avoid misunderstandings, and in order to step back when one senses that something is going too far into other people’s lives or things happen which are unacceptable for some. We have and had a culture in Norway which also needs to be respected, but everyone does not have to live exactly like “us”, and “we” don’t live exactly alike either, and in general, there has to be time to think and to withdraw from positions when it is necessary. To make space and then see where we are.

In general I feel that the discussion about consequences towards kids is meaningless if you don’t consider what kind of presence the father or the mother normally have, how soft or hard they are, how the kids are normally treated. To what extent there is space left for the children to live, I mean basically mentally.

…I general, I feel there are rules, and there are exceptions to rules, even possibilities to break some sometimes. I even teach my kids this, when I feel it is right, and to ask when and when not – I am not sure it is an easily answerable question.

Lying to the kids is generally something I feel should be avoided. Some say that you should protect your kid against the evil of the world, possibly as long as you can? – and in some ways I may agree, but to what extent? They also need to learn to defend themselves, and to take chances too, even if they may fail.

I also think there is a general rule that if you want to know a person, and get to know someone – to be 100% positive, all the time, doesn’t work. Of course, a friendship has to be based mostly on…friendly feelings, but if you absolutely never say anything negative, never react a little aggressively, never ever gets angry, in the end, I would definitely say you don’t know the person in question, it is not possible to have an overview of what he or she will do or think, which you need a little of, as a friend or if you are in a family.

Some are so polite you don’t actually know how they really feel, at least about certain things. 

Ignorance exists.

Politeness is ok, absolutely, to a certain extent, sometimes really important, and with a certain content. It can be a way of showing respect and even friendliness. 

But you need to get beyond that to know someone.

And talking about protecting the kids…also from your own problems and shitty sides? Again, how much?

Again, I don’t think I believe too much in…100%-positions. Kids are so close to you anyway, they will sense a lot of things even if you don’t tell them, like we sensed our parents, but didn’t always know what was the problem, for them, in their minds. 

Sometimes it is ok to be honest and straightforward, sometimes you will want to wait, I think. To check what is necessary for the kids, what they need to know, is probably a sound thought. But sometimes you can end up having to tell them things even if you wanted to protect yourself.

Not always a way around that.

The English writer Roald Dahl’s story Danny, the champion of the world, is about this kind of problem, adult secrets, in this case illegal pheasant hunting.

The kids don’t know what lying is from the start – in the beginning, there is no acting, at least I am used to this, if not even this is changing because the world is changing… I don’t really believe it is possible, really small kids can’t lie.

There is a lot of brutality right now, it seems, in the world, in our country, too, sudden outbreaks of harsh attitudes, but it is a question how much of it was there already, only very sparsely disguised or hidden, now coming up from our psychological underground. Partly because of freedom, is my very rough guess. I wanted freedom, still do, but we must learn to handle it, and we also have to discuss its limits, in a new context, a new situation.

But I will not tolerate to be taken back to my parents’ or grandparents’ systems of respect. Respect should be given in both directions, from the old to the young and the other way round, and the reasons for the old to say yes or no should be they have more knowledge, of course, when this is an actual fact, and protection.

But freedom, and developing real independence of mind, are always issues.

And the times change…sometimes too slowly, sometimes too fast, so there has to be room for discussions. 

There are claims today, in a Norwegian context, that kids demand too much and are given too much space.

This may be right, sometimes, but it takes work and some mistakes to get us out of the opposite problem, too little space for them, too little independence, too little freedom. This was the old world as I conceived it.

I grew up almost without any punishment. There were some incidents, my father gave me a handful on my butt, which he later denied, but my memory is quite clear…I ran up the stairs to the second floor and locked me into the bathroom to escape.

I don’t think it happened many times, and it was probably an issue of conflict between my parents. My mom must have won that argument. (They never fought when we heard or saw it, but had real conflicts which were never settled, leaving the house sometimes in a feeling of…electric tension).

When one parent is much stricter than the other, you create a dynamic, you could say…one part will maybe tend to be more lenient, and the balance would be different with opposite positions, or change from situation to situtioan, maybe.

Some say…especially some family therapists say, that parents should basically agree, it is held as an ideal.

It is to a certain extent true that agreement is ok, I would say as long as they are both reasonable. Conflicts that never end can be trouble, but again, the worst for me, is not acknowledging problems, not talking about them. 

Even the colonel side of my personality can maybe be tolerable if it is allowed to say something about it and laugh.

The opposite can be trouble too, too much weakness or apologies.

But if your parents are unreasonable, as a kid you have no escape from a possible dictatorship…and many reactions may be produced out of this. I am divorced myself, now, but we were in agreement in having at least two kids, so they could have the possibility of an alliance against us when necessary… Said with a grin, as is pretty common in many situations in Norway, but in my mind at least, at the same time it was meant in earnest.

Also, to know who your parents are, for real, has real value, as opposed to seriously wondering about too much of their personality because your mother, father, is either very unsure of herself, himself, or perhaps not being honest towards himself on certain points.

“The old regime” of bringing up kids…it still bothers me, even if my generation and the environment I grew up in…we did what we could to create opposition, I think, make our own culture, our own life. I was not exactly a revolutionary back then, when it came to family business, I think maybe because my father after all also had a heart, even if he was also difficult and often impossible to talk to, totally out of reach of a discussion. But he had after all other sides and there was freedom and a limit to dífficulties.

But I wanted to make my own version of a mainstream culture, or simply take part in creating a new culture. This became an idea in my head and in many people’s heads. 

Freedom was an obvious issue in this project. I thought maybe one reason, for me, personally, was that there were so many fixed habits in our family – and in other families – things that didn’t change.

The war, or peace after it, had also given my parents’ generation a real boost in thinking about freedom, believing in it, and the will to give me freedom was there, this came not least from my mother. From my father came the will to decide, and as years passed by in my own life, I wondered what role the war had played in the development of his personality and in his life and his way of thinking.

The fact that I had a severe mental breakdown at the age of 27, which lasted for many years, made all problems I had towards family more difficult to deal with, for myself and for the family.

The problem with my father’s authority and style was there from my childhood, but it was also coloured by my mother’s views on those things, she was of course taking part in the conflict, and her built-up tension through many years eventually came out in the open, pretty suddenly, around the time I became a teenager. 

What happened to her was women’s lib. in our house. In many ways for the good, my mother put us to work in the house, which was totally fair, she got higher education (she already had examen artium, secondary education to the age of 18, which was not so common in her generation (she was born in 1929). My father complied, I think, to spenging time and work on the education, I cannot recall any serious problems around this. 

In general the air became easier to breathe in, in the family, at this point, at least I think like that now, when looking back.

My father also broke off a career in shipping around the same time, when I was 16-17, starting to work as a freelance writer. I respect this decision a lot, still, and some of the writing was a gift to us, consciously or subconsciuously on his part, because he told a lot about the place he grew up, Tjøme, outside of Tønsberg, and about work and life along the coast. His father was a skipper, one of his grandfathers a boatswain, a craftsman at sea, specialist in making knots and working with ropes, he was working in the naval military base in Horten and as a teacher there. 

The sea was an important part of our family’s life for generations, before my father and before us.

I was too angry with him to really appreciate his writing, both because of my chaotic situation and because of both my own and his stubbornness in many ways. We had good times too, but trouble…until he died. I spoke to him the very evening before the night he died, and he managed to say that he cared for me, which was a sensation and very important for me. Neither my mum or my dad had ever said those words to me, and I think the same with my brother and sister.

This, I think, is very much a generation problem. I met a German psychologist a few years ago who works here, he is around my own age, and we compared some family experiences and found many similar things, for instance a general remoteness as an everyday state of mind for our parents, and as a phenomenon in their generation. Not in every situation, of course, but in many ways. I know people who hardly ever had a real hug from their dad. You could say things like this possibly came from old-fashioned gender roles, or the shock of the war, or both, or other things. 

The psychologist told me this had recently become an issue in Germany, in public discussions about the war, and the discussion was not only about the war generation, people who had experienced the war, but the impact they had and this had on ourgeneration, people born fairly shortly after the war.

Something to think about, also, when the talk is about refugees, today.

There were of course a lot of things in my relation to my parents which were totally ok or even fantastic, but what I still don’t accept is an attitude of really not talking about problems in relations, pretending that everything is fine. 

I am sometimes considered a nuisance, a troublemaker, and I have to admit that the last years things have sometimes been over the top for me for quite some time, and subsequently for people I know. 

But we live in special times. I feel the urge some have not to move one millimeter in a mental position, sometimes is in effect real fascism, stemming not only from the war, I think, but partly from the fact that much shit suddenly hits many fans, problems which have worked themselves towards the surface for generations and generations of suppression do exist, now. 

A lot of other things emerge, reactions to freedom, really, too, which in many cases seem unacceptible to me.

Freedom…I asked for it, many did, many still do – we just have to handle freedom, and to keep it, and also handle the shit which comes up together with the joy.

I don’t think there is one solution to all this, other than sticking to as much positive humanness as is possible.

No wonder there are difficulties around, I think, but there are also huge opportunities to solve major problems.

These are some of my opinions on the upbringing of kids. Nothing of this touches upon actual formal laws in society, it is all about how we live and how we regulate life socially, not judicially. 

I have written a stack of articles in Norwegian about the subject, published on my Norwegian blog, which I had the intention of translating into English. We’ll see if I get that far.



Health & entertainment

Tourist at home Posted on 04 Jul, 2022 14:07

Ginger beer at Fuglen…The Bird, in Pilestredet.

I had had enough coffee for a little while, and thought, ok, why not buy one of those new soda types, they often taste good, and some of them are made pretty close to where you buy it, so less transport and less CO2 out into the air.

But this was actually mixed on the spot, with a ginger extract which the bar/coffee shop also made themselves.

No alcohol in the drink, but a lot of lime, it tasted almost like my mother’s lemonade, yeah, from my childhood, which is…I guess tradition, but this one with a clear twist of something else, ginger, which makes it into…something new at the same time, for me.

I love that mix.

Feet on the ground, head in the sky.

Probably the reason for all that coffee that we drink, too, and of course, getting fairly drunk in a normal way is also a possible escape when you need to be somewhere else than only on the ground.

Pilestredet, where the café Fuglen is, is one of those street names which are remnants of Denmark, the »Danish times», as we sometimes say, pil meaning willow, et strede is a street, but a word which hasn’t been in everyday Norwegian language since I don’t know quite when. Long ago, when written language here was also basically Danish.

I love Denmark.

For a joke I sometimes say that Norway stretches from Svalbard to the Canary Islands, because of vacation, I would almost say, in two very different senses of the word, but you have to include Copenhagen as part of a Norwegian cultural sphere, I think the city still functions as our extra garden, an easy getaway from Oslo, at least, and I spend my money there always in a good mood, I really don’t care that they may go fast, because the Danes are always nice to you.

At home in a different fashion.

After the ginger beer I feel refreshed, the trend of mixing healthy and entertaining I wish to applaude, besides the unhealthy things that are always there anyway.

Better to survive just a little longer.

There are actually birds outside of the café, sparrows, quick and fun and tidy animals, cleaning tables a little.

I know that making that ginger extract is also a science…I met some people once who were into that world.

Life just a little below the surface.



Always jazz…somewhere

Music Posted on 03 Jul, 2022 20:16

I’ve been working kind of classical for many years, with music, composing, for instance, and actually listening, but I don’t think I really left jazz, it was a great part of me when I studied and later.

Earlier too, used to be a ragtime maniac from age 12-13 onwards, played a lot of Scott Joplin, Zez Confrey and the others. I didn’t have a great technique, but somehow made it work anyway. I loved showtime things (Dizzy Fingers) but also slower pieces in minor, by Joseph Lamb, for instance (Ragtime Nightinggale).

But I’ve missed a lot of jazz in listening the last 20 years. Here is a concert with Chick Corea, one of my favourites.



Good entertainment?

Comment Posted on 21 Jun, 2022 02:20

…but what is he talking about? 

In the beginning, he sounds like a summary of a “help yourself”-book which is supposed to give you the confidence to do…anything you want, which actually sums up very much of the populist movement today. Be strong, you can do it…too. Like those guys who have been in politics all their lives, who are born into it. Yeah. Let’s go.

Some people have been left out of…the political discussions, and they really want to participate. This is a…short summary of many politicians’ attitude today, polticians with the label populist.

Their words are often actually not that interesting, to me, but democracy is made so that actually everyone can participate. 

I also don’t always know what the problem may be for people that I don’t know. It may come out as something, and I may believe I know what that is, but hey, I may be wrong in judging what is their actual problem. It may be something important, or not. One doesn’t always know.

But you regularly have to listen for a long time, at least I do, and think a lot, to find out what some people actually want, and some politicians have to be judged more by their actions, what they actually do, than by what they say, because words and ideas…are not really their domain.

I am not saying that everything they say is nonsense, but to me…sometimes a lot.

Many things are at least regularly out of context. Too much emphasis on actually – to me, again, small things, and they sometimes become big because the words spoken are wholly rejected by other people in the discussion.

This has happened regularly here in Norway.

And to discuss with hard-headed people who don’t move a millimeter is difficult too.

In the end, sometimes, the discussion ends, actually also because of non-communication, and the right-wingers simply do what they wanted to do all along.

This is Norway, maybe not Britain.

But the new voices in politics generally comes from unfamiliar quarters, compared to what used to be on the public scene, and this means not only that the thoughts can be confused, this happens, but also, the lives of those who speak are different than those who used to dominate the scene, which gives different experiences and different thinking. Not always with a good effect, and often with really little knowledge of society, sorry, this is often the case.

Still, some problems are real, in a way, but they may grow instead of shrink if you simply state this and then make no real effort to solve them, just go on saying how bad things are.

I’m certainly not saying that everything the…old society, the old establishment, was doing, was right either, but who are actually the right ones to make a…revolution?

Do we need one?

How much change is actually needed, and how much and what changes are actually happening and what is only talked about?

Many things are in play today, to put it mildly, and I think we just have to consider whatever is said and suggested, to take it seriously, we meaning everyone paticipating in the discussion, political debates etc.

But sometimes you are in need of kickin someone in the ass, because they do the same and don’t really respond normally to a normal argument.

You shouldn’t do it too often, because this habit has entered public duscussion really too much, but I think you have to have this tool in the toolbox as well, in addition to normal arguments. They don’t work all the way, but should be used as far as it is possible.

Still, you can’t ignore what is being said, because, sorry, this is also democracy, and some of what is said may be right even if it comes from a foggy mind, foggy in certain ways or in general when the talk is about the world. I’m not talking of anyone in particular – but in general, there is much confusion in politics today and in society, at least where I live and see what I manage to see.

Some of what is said…may be wrong. Some may be right.

Both possibilities go for descriptions of a situation, politically or otherwise, parts of them too, not only the whole thing from someone, and suggestions to solve what is seen as problems.

The discussion after Johnson’s introduction is becoming gradually more sound than the introduction itself, I think.

To use Churchill as a figure, dead, but arguing Johnson’s own case…well…

You don’t experience things the same way in all positions in society, these can be real differences, and you don’t necessarly think the same way, which may be I guess just about everything from almost creative nonsense to actually interesting ideas.



Homesickness?

Tourist at home Posted on 01 Jun, 2022 19:33

…as a food nomad that could mean many things.

A Romanian food store in Oslo? Cool! 

Not a Romanian cultural centre of Oslo, this does not exist, but food is also an art.

The shop is in Mariboes gate, a few metres from Mela Café, if you know that one, Palestinian/Lebanese food, in the same street. 

I have only tried some cheap stuff, not much money in my pockets these days, a small box of paté, but it was good. There were salamis and I think some cheese behind the counter.

And a lot of other things.

The name of the shop is “Dor de casă”, which I believe means homesickness.

Apparently they already have a shop in Strømmen, which is half an hour or so from Oslo.



The greenhouse effect

Comment Posted on 01 Jun, 2022 11:30

I should have done this long ago.

Still, now, discussions about climate is disturbed by some ignorance: Not knowing about or accepting the existence and the role of the greenhouse effect on the Earth, independently of today’s situation.

Some won’t believe that the small amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (below 0,01 %) plays a role in regulating climate, together with the two other major greenhouse gases – water vapour and methane. Some other gases also contribute.

This is an entry in Encyclopedia Britannica, the 1987 edition.

Methane is not mentioned as a greenhouse gas, which has to imply that this is newer knowledge than from 1987. In the online version of Britannica it is mentioned along with the others.

greenhouse effect, heating of the Earth due to the presence of the atmosphere, named in analogy to a similar effect produced by the glass panes of a greenhouse. Most of the shortwave and visible radiation from the Sun that is not scattered back to space by the atmosphere is transmitted through the atmosphere to the surface of the Earth, very little being absorbed by the atmosphere. This transmitted energy is absorbed at the surface, thus heating the surface.

Part of this absorbed energy is reradiated to the atmosphere as longwave infrared radiation. The atmosphere is not completely transparent to this longwave radiation, however, because it contains carbon dioxide and water vapour, which absorb a considerable portion of it before partially reradiating it back to the surface. Thus, although a large portion of shortwave solar radiation is transmitted through the atmosphere to the ground, a large portion of the reradiated longwave radiation is trapped by the atmosphere and does not escape directly back into space. This causes the Earth and atmosphere to warm up to a higher temperature than would otherwise be the case. In the greenhouse analogy, the glass windows admit the solar radiation but partly trap the infrared radiation reradiated from within and return part of it back into the greenhouse; this and the blockage of convection cause the temperature in a greenhouse to rise to a higher level than that of free air outside.

It has been suggested that long-term climatic changes will result as the greenhouse effect is intensified because of the rise in carbon dioxide consentration brought about by combustion of fossile fuels (e.g., coal, oil, and natural gas). Some U.S. investigators predict that significant alterations in climate patterns will become apparent by the turn of the century. They estimate that global average temperatures could rise as much as 5° C (9° F) before the year 2100. Temperature increases in the polar regions could be as much as three times larger, which would cause the polar ice caps to melt at a rapid rate and result in appreciably higher coastal waters. The rise in global temperature would also produce extremes of drought and rainfall, which would disrupt food production.”

Published in 1987.



Give respect to art, but take away the pedestal

Uncategorised Posted on 25 May, 2022 03:01

In a way, no, in many ways, I feel it is a very good thing that more people learn more about music and the arts, and one may hope that even the clichés can function as protection against attacks on art.

But old music and art, and old artists and musicians, composers, both have a tendency to become guilded, put in a frame which does not quite fit any life or any art, and many times it especially does not fit an artist’s life to be seen as perfect.

Today being gay is more and more seen as a variant which does not provoke anyone, but in Tchaikowsky’s time this was definitely not the case.

Brahms never married, and according to a biography I read, he went to prostitutes all his life. As I recall this text, he must have treated them well, because they sometimes asked him for money when they met him on the street.

In every life there are beautiful things and rotten or stupid ones, and I don’t want to judge, but to say that life is dark and light.

How this affects art and music remains to be found out in each case, also by performers or creators of exhibitions, but this kind of perspective on the artists’ lives adds to the perspective of what they made, in one way or another. Making art is, I think, for an artist, regularly or often what saves them from going completely down, and depending on what would have dragged them down, of course it may or must come out in their work, somehow, and should be incorporated into interpretations or comments, whenever it is relevant.

Of course, in the case of Zappa and other artists and musicians of his time, the art speaks for itself, and I am very happy that he and others had the courage to do what they did. That doesn’t mean everybody has to do the same or that this is the most important thing at any time or in any place, but sometimes the need for freedom is there, and something has to happen.

Everyone alive has the right to privacy…I could add, to a certain extent. In the age of Facebook, all kinds of real and not very real information spread very fast, and there is also a need to behave, which of course sometimes goes against the need to challenge power, status, etc., but more in politics than in arts, I would say.

The need to calm down public opinion from time to time also seems important.



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