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The Selfish Idealist

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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.

Interesting titles...from a bookshelf in the used books-shop Cappelens forslag in Bernt Ankers gate, Oslo. I won't try to translate the pun, I think, but it is a fun place to go and to shop.

My music on Spotify

Uncategorised Posted on 08 Sep, 2021 11:56

https://open.spotify.com/track/3m585xUMTLmgz2kY17mToO…

I’m on Spotify!

It feels important to me, I’ve been working alone for a long time, and this is…visibility.

Income? I’ll have to see.



A loudspeaker

Uncategorised Posted on 06 Sep, 2021 22:39

I need to say a little more about Carl-I. Hagen. 

(The hyphen is there in his real name, but he is known as Carl I. Hagen. The I stands for Ivar.)

He is a manipulative type, working wherever he finds it practical, on and off the political stage. I think if you have ears for things like that, you can hear his voice many places, he has been a restless political speaker since the 1980s.

You are not going to spend other people’s money, are you?

One of his slogans.

One of his musical heroes, I think, is Elvis.  

I think Hagen himself must have some kind of musical or stage talent. His voice is of the kind that…if you are present and he is speaking, almost no matter what he says, and no matter what your political views normally are, when he is finished, you think, hm, that was not stupid…and then, after a few minutes, if you come back to yourself and remember that you used to have your own opinions, it’s maybe possible to sort out what’s what.

He also has a magnificent ability, when he speaks, to balance on the edge between truth and lies. 

Insinuation is also a speciality, also in writing. I remember reading an article about the climate changes (which he does not believe is a true story), and one ended up thinking that SV, one of the left-wing parties which opposes him politically, that they were in some way dishonest or trying to control the discussion.

I think he is such a person himself.

He is also a strategist, I believe, thinking years ahead.

He is the son of the manager of Nesoddbåtene, the boats running between Oslo and Nesodden in the inner Oslo fjord basin. (Erna Solberg’s father, by the way, had a similar job in Bergen). He grew up in Røa, just outside the city of Oslo, still within the municipality of Oslo.

He wanted to become an engineer, but he didn’t manage to get into his university of choice in England, and he turned to marketing and business instead, studying in Newcastle. His CV looks for me like one of a person who is gifted and clever and quick to skip one thing or the other if possible to do things quickly.

Anti-communism is important to him.

He aired his opposition against single mums in a discussion many years ago, claiming that they have come into their situation because of their own choices in life and should not have support from the state. In the Norwegian system there has been some economical support for single mothers.

One of his main ideas seems to be that business life should have more credit, more status, and this point sums up much of all he has said the last 40 years. This point has led to lot of practical consequences other than an effect on status – many things, but this is one of his general attitudes.

I believe he had at some point the idea of camps for asylum seekers “if needed” or said something to that effect. One is now a fact, with barbed wire and closed doors, lying at Trandum, about 50 km north of Oslo.

Politically, I would say, he sees problems, but is often part of the creation of the problem, or he has often no real solution to them, I think.

You read for yourself, other things, and listen, and make up your own opinion, but Norwegian politics today can not be understood without knowing who he is or knowing something about him.



Norway’s secret dictator

Uncategorised Posted on 29 Aug, 2021 15:12

I an regularly kind of shocked when I speak to foreigners who have moved here and have lived here for many years and who know little about Norwegian politics, for instance the name and significance of Carl I. Hagen, former chairman of the Progress Party, Fremskrittspartiet.

He has been talking constantly for about 40 years, since the 80s at least – and in Oslo, especially, normal thinking has been more and more difficult under the pressure of his party’s uncompromising ways of thinking and talking. It has been a bully regime by a group who abuses tolerance in favour of their own political goals, and their methods are neverending stubbornness, no real listening to opponents, a presence of steel on the outside, although the inside is probably sometimes unsure and insecure, sometimes ignorant and not giving a shit about certain things because they are unimportant in their world.

The movement is in many ways a private one, not a world of thought based on science or a real view on society, but more limited to one’s own family, house, neighbourhood.

And an obsession with money, anxiety that poverty will break us. When others talk about oil and carbon dioxide, they talk about the money that it has given us, not the other troubles we give the world because of the drilling and export.

Ketil Solvik-Olsen is right now posting short messages to this effect, like you do as you please, MDG (the green party) – I prefer employment, not unemployment.

Carl-Ivar Hagen, which is his full name, has said many times that the whole story of human-made climate change is a hoax.

His party was in government together with the conservatives under PM Erna Solberg, later also the Liberals (Venstre, usually also an environment-minded party) and the Christian Democrats (KrF).

An impossible coalition in many ways, the FrP so badly schooled, it seems, in the first negotiations when the first Solberg government was to be formed, they asked for all political solutions to be either 100% FrP or 100% Høyre (Conservatives) – meaning, in my head, they don’t really know how to create a political compromise.

I believe it is common thinking among those who dismiss the climate problems as nonsense, that it is created to make money, to give an income to those involved.

This may seem like an insult and nothing else to people who do normal scientific research for a living, but an insult and something meant as a statement of truth or political belief is difficult to distinguish when the words come from people who were not used to being in any world of political power, whether it be a formal position in a city council, a job in a ministry, or just belonging to a group of people who are basically used to being heard when they raise their voice. Almost all debate has an element of fight in it, but it is not the same situation to be part of meaningful discussions from time to time, and never being heard or in contact with power in any form, or not having the feeling of being heard whether you possibly could have done something to fix it or not.

Another general problem of politics today is meddling with sectors you don’t know very much about, and the right-wing is as full of it as any other part of the political rainbow. Carl I. Hagen, as many other professional politicians, has had little normal employment in his lifetime. We are historically more used to the politician type of a worker or farmer becoming politician and retaining a connection to his or her background.

Today we all live economically and in terms of lifestyle more similar than we used to, but we should also be on guard against new ways of exploiting our labour.


Also, when it comes to politics-at-a-distance, many seem to be participating in it, both the large group of retired people whose work experience is becoming obsolete, and all professionals who sometimes seem to believe that all their professional norms and habits are or should be valid in all other fields. Professional, full-time politicians give us a similar problem, and if all this wasn’t enough, the whole wave of ignorance, discussions about fake news and very different concepts of reality is breaking up a situation which used to be too stable, now becoming too unstable.

Internet and Facebook plays a huge role in it, and also when you consider the amount of travelling and migration, every conceivable group of people can meet and often do meet, and the result can often be confusing.

The revolution of education also plays a part in the development, and it is a shitty thing to say, because no teacher wants to deny anyone any part of knowledge, but it takes more than power and a little knowledge to run a country soundly.

We can’t deny people access to media or power in general, but it is for sure a difficult situation for people of real knowledge to meet different combinations of ignorance and power, outside or inside the old system.

There has always been a degree of ignorance everywhere, but in what situation and to what extent we can live with it is a question for debate. The other opposite can also be a dangerous option, in combination with too much carefulness, like in the handling of COVID-19, with less competent politicians than we were used to, or people with less real connection to science, and a powerful health sector which takes over so much of the business needed, actually the politics, that I keep wondering about their realism.

Carl I. Hagen has not been saying much about the last subject, but a lot about money during the years. What he really wants is to make way for private enterprise and dismantle the «welfare society», and his politics is in many ways, as those of his party (he built it up, to a large extent) – a world of very much private views, not based on an overview of society, but in many cases made to fulfil private needs and based on ideas from the family rather than from sociology books. He has a sister who used to be a professor of history at the University of Oslo, but himself appears to be an anti-intellectual in many ways.
The Conservatives has been influenced really much by his voice in public and his presence on and off the political stage. It is perhaps a question whether Erna Solberg has managed to defend her party against the simplistic thinking of her far right collaborators. She suffers from dyslexia and is at the same time also a rough politician when it comes to the use of power, and I don’t know what goes on backstage.

Defending yourself against the charismatic, actor-like personality of a guy like Carl-I. Hagen is at any rate a tough job.



Interesting and beautiful story about betrayal

Uncategorised Posted on 04 Aug, 2021 11:40

“Sevil”, Azerbaijani film of an opera by composer Fikret Amirov, based on a play by playwright Jafar Jabbarly, both Azerbaijanis.

A beautiful film, although I am not sure about how far the direct relevance of the story goes into today’s Norway.

I think you have to go pretty far back in history to find partying like this in the upper class here in contrast to poverty like this in the working class, and the character of the husband is also to me not very clearly portrayed, he is mean and that’s that, in a way, seen with my eyes, you don’t quite understand actually why he leaves Sevil. An Azerbaijani or another insider may see other things, more than me.

There are perhaps other scenes or characters too that may appear unrealistic or not so clearly drawn, to some eyes here, but this may also be due to different expressions in different culture, mimics, etc. 

Maybe this is in some ways also an old film, I don’t know, but the underlying fact of poverty is to me what gives the conflict much of its grave character. 

Cruel and stupid as it may seem, this is a fact almost unconceivable in its entirety if you grew up in affluence, like myself and many of my age (57) and downwards, here in Norway. 

Many, but still, not all, maybe not even the majority here, I am not sure.

Poverty still exists, even here, and it looks different today because culture, the way of life, has changed since the times depicted in this film. 

You think that a guy in T-shirt and sneakers, like yourself, someone who looks like you – also lives like you, but that may not be the case.

The experience of poverty exists here too, also among younger people, but it is hidden from public life, you meet the stories in private conversations. I guess stigma is one reason, the feeling of status in life and society is still very much connected with money in Norway, at least in Oslo and the south of Norway in general. 

Although the level of income in general is high, there are exceptions, and many figures, as I say, may hide real life and its content and problems.

Older people may have experienced poverty in their childhood, but today, for many or some of them, I am not sure, it’s often that what is left is the feeling of it and not the reality. 

Public rules and laws, however, of all kinds, are changing in Norway under Erna Solberg, and has been since she became prime minister, and this may put people in a difficult economic position again despite our country’s general wealth. The state, public administration, is used right now to save money, also at the cost of people’s wellbeing. To what extent this is happening is not always easy to understand or see, because the system and the thinking is changing in unfamiliar ways.

If you have seen or understood just a small bit of real poverty, the abyss of lacking food to feed your family and your children, you may have a notion of why a conflict or a story like “Sevil” is as serious as it is actually presented in the film and the opera. and probably in the theatrical play by Jafar Jabbarly, which forms the basis of the two others.

Poverty still exists in modern Norway, but the reasons for it today is more things like illness, physical or mental, or addiction and other problems, and also cultural conflicts coming out in politics – more than society’s total lack of money, but as I say, some old social patterns I believe are sometimes hidden behind a facade of normality, and I don’t know how much of this there is.

We have a social security system, but mentality in society has become harsh again in different ways, and makes things difficult in new and maybe also very old ways.

The point about cultural conflicts – is in my opinion an important one, but has not made its way quite clearly into public debate in Norway. The country is the richest in the world right now, I think, when it comes to money, and a huge bulk of it is actually in the possession of the state.

The play which forms the basis of this story was written in 1928, the opera in 1953, and the film is from 1970.

“Sevil” was written partly to contribute to women’s liberation and to make women discard their veils, seen as a remnant of old times’ tradition. Wikipedia says that the play was rather crass, and all later stagings a little less so.

I don’t understand Azeri, the language spoken or sung here, so I have to rely on my friends and Wikipedia etc for understanding this. A short synopsis: 

Sevil and Balash is a poor couple from the countryside who lives in Baku. Balash achieves a certain position in society and looks down on his wife because of her humble background. He wants to party and live with Dilber, a young singer.

At a point in the story a big party in Balash’s mansion is interrupted by Sevil, and as a revenge, I guess, or for some other reason, he throws his whole family out of the house.

Dilber, the singer, cheats Balash and steals his money, and Balash, in desperation, tries to shoot Sevil, but without killing her.

Sevil joins the revolutionary forces in some way, manages to get to Moscow to study and throws away her veil. In the end she is reunited with her daughter.

I am not an expert on Azerbaijan although I have Azerbaijani friends, but apparently the country has a long history of strong women, also in society. It is possible for a woman to be educated even as a Muslim mullah, a priest, and this tradition, according to Wikipedia, goes centuries back. 

Women were given the right to vote in 1919, in the short reign of the independent republic of Azerbaijan, before the Red Army invaded.

(This was not many years after the same thing happened in my own country. The legislation was passed here in bulks, from 1901 to 1913.)

Independent and strong women is also part of my own country’s history, and, of course, patriarchy, as a parallel fact.

In some other important ways too, Azerbaijan seems not so far from my own, today – figures like 78% female teachers, app. 51% female lecturers on university level, 65 % of medical staff being women and 40% of athletes, is probably not that far from the situation in Norway, although I haven’t checked the Norwegian figures for those things. 

Such figures may of course disguise details and habits in the culture itself and the way of living. 

20% business owners in Azerbaijan are women and 29% of civil servants, all according to English Wikipedia, showing, I think, a difference from here, although females obviously participate substantially also in these parts of society. 

It seems that the business world, here in Norway, is an environment where women’s lib still has actuality.

Azerbaijan is a part of the Turkic area, culturally speaking, and the language is very close to Turkish, almost like the Scandinavian languages are connected. From what I have met of people from Turkey etc, my impression is that modernity as we know it, and independence of thought, exists alongside tradition. Women have probably a lot more to say in Norwegian society in general, but education gives everyone a better possibilty of speaking wherever it exists, and I should be careful not to talk to much of things I don’t know very well. in foreign countries in general. We Norwegians have a tendency towards speaking of our own society’s supremacy, which, of course, comes partly from a general feeling of being the underdog.

The Soviet Union had on its programme the liberation of women, and I don’t know how this affected Azerbaijan and its cuture, concretely. The depiction of the poor in the film may to a Western eye seem a little in this vein, idealising, but I don’t know how much this is the case and how much the mimic of another culture is in play. I sometimes see films from other counries which I believe go down well in the country where it is made, but which to me seems somewhat stiff or “artificial” and a little unconvincing –  from the outside. But when you know a culture at least a little from the inside, it is a little easier to understand what is going on also in a film or an opera.

The story in some ways remind me of the American novel Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, not because the concrete stories are very similar, but because of the insistence on innocence, which in the novel goes to the point of – almost – being unrealistic to me.

But it works.

The singing in the opera, especially in the role of Sevil and some of the other women, and the songs in general, are beautiful. The music of Fikret Amirov is dramatic, but I still have to decifer the story-telling content of the “oriental” scales he uses, a little better, they are still a little unfamiliar to me.



Acceptance – and work, of course

Uncategorised Posted on 15 Jul, 2021 02:49

I have an old friend who once said, “trust in God, then God will trust in you”. 

I kind of liked it, although I felt it a little old-fashioned. 

Religion was never an important part of our friendship, we just talked about many things and once about this. 

Today I might think, “as long as you come back to me, I’ll rescue you when you need rescuing.”

God’s voice or my own thought? I don’t know, but it is maybe more in accord with how I live. I believe in doing good, but it’s like food, you can’t be healthy 100%. As long as you’re basically healthy, and work on it when and if you have to, I guess it could be generally ok.



Time to leave

Uncategorised Posted on 07 Jan, 2021 07:14

You know, Don, 

what you’re doing right now is not…sound.

It’s easy to fall into a slight fit of paranoia these days.

Many different people are standing against each other.

There is suddenly contact across lines that are normally kind of closed.

I mean in society.

There is sometimes real conflict, but there is also a lot of misunderstandings, about how the system actually works, about how other people think.

The people that you hate.

The people that you love to mock.

I mean, everyone has an idea of a laughing stock.

The people that mess up everything.

A lot of us talk like that now and then.

And…it may be that some of those words have some truth to them once in a while, but then again, it may also be that they are wrong.

And how true are your words? How wrong?

I think, when I am not too upset…that it depends, you actually have to check each time, in each situation.

You may have suspicions…but you still have to check and argue and discuss with others.

To use violence…not good.

There will be another election.

And another one.

There is still freedom of speech.

I hope so.

You didn’t win that election.

Seriously.

Sorry, mate.

You lost, by the total count also, and the number of electors.

There may be tricks and rotten things in politics, but the technical side of this election does not look like one of them to me.

And basically, it is not right to say that the whole system sucks.

Parts of it, certainly.

But not the whole thing.

So…couldn’t you just…pack it in?

There are rules in democracy which at a given point simply stops you from doing things, whether you are right or not.

Because otherwise the system would break down.

This is such a point.

You did some good things, be happy with that.

And you messed up other things.

I think the only way to get out of this…kind of properly right now, if possible, is to tell us all what you actually wanted to do as a president, and to what extent you feel you have done it.

And then leave.

Also because…I don’t always get it.

I disagree with you in many things, and I think you’re sometimes outright wrong, for instance when it comes to the climate thing, and racism. In total, I’m not sure where you wanted your country to go, but I also don’t follow every issue or every topic in politics.  “Make America great again”…that doesn’t mean much to me. In my opinion, seen from Europe – America, the USA, has always had too much faith in themselves, and my suspicion is, the reason is that in some way, I don’t know which, the reason is that you have too little belief in yourself.

Politically, that is where it comes out.

Privately – I’m not talking about that.

But actually, it seemed you managed to do something about that, internationally.

If this is true, it is not bad.

Seriously.

There was no war against Iran, and I think you didn’t start any wars elsewhere?

Well, it is kind of spectacular.

This is how it should be, I mean…peace, but how it should be is certainly not always how things are.

Maybe the US has shown a great side of itself after all.

But what is going on right now…

You did some things.

But you lost the election.

It is time to leave.

The name of this game is democracy.

It is also about letting go of power simply because the people, the majority, in a normal election, tells you to do so, within the system that the people has made to handle power. 

Even if the system is not perfect, no system is, it seems to have worked normally.

This is what has happened to you, I think, right now.

You should ask forgiveness for some things, actually quite a few at this point.

Politics. It’s not only about power, you know.

The last weeks, months, of your…work has been in the beginning ridiculous, then disastrous.

Time to call it a day.



A short comment on Norway’s social system

Uncategorised Posted on 27 Oct, 2020 14:24

I talked to a friend the other day, an immigrant, of whom I know quite a few. We spoke of growing up, in my country and his, and I told him that when I moved out of my parents’ home at 18, after a while had no more money and phoned my mother and asked whether she could give me some. She laughed and said «sorry, from now on you’re on your own».
And that was it. I managed to do so, found a job and never got anything from my parents until I became ill.
My friend looked a little pale when hearing this, but didn’t say anything.

I went on talking about pocket money when I was younger and other stuff, but suddenly my friend said: But couldn’t you get anything from the government?

I was pretty surprised, he seemed to think that you could get money for nothing. At least that was what I thought.

If this was what he thought, it is a misunderstanding. Sometimes the surprise of an answer makes me lose focus.
Basically, the social benefits here seem generous and in many ways they are, but there are certainly limits and a huge bureaucracy involved, and today’s politics make things sometimes very difficult both when you actually want to cheat and when you are actually ill or in need. Also racist, it seems – sometimes the rules are made this way. It also depends who you meet in the system, more than it used to be. But you get money when you are sick or unemployed, basically, normally if you have a job already, that is, and you don’t get money for nothing, to put it that way.





Music by Fikret Amirov

Uncategorised Posted on 14 Oct, 2020 04:14

The classical music of Azerbaijan, of which I have heard only a few pieces, is very interesting to me as a European and a Norwegian, not only because of its natural, sometimes gypsy-like beauty and the obvious connection to folk music. Living in the country of Edvard Grieg I am of course well aquainted with this mix.

I also somehow feel that the music solves problems in a romantic idiom on a higher level of emotional tension than I am used to, which makes it…useful sounds stupid, but necessary to me, because normally these problems, themes, issues, would probably be treated and presented in another musical form, another genre.

Amirov is one of the greats of Azerbaijan. He lived from 1922 to 1984, which makes this music a little out of pace with what we normally conceive as the romantic period. This is maybe the reason for what I said above, the interesting treatment of themes I would suspect belonged in a different context.

I know the soloist a little, she lives and works here in Norway.



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