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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.

View of Ringsaker, near Lillehammer.

A symbol of the Scandinavian model

Comment Posted on 28 Jul, 2020 13:30

This is actually pretty spectacular.

I am not really in love with this type of architecture, but the building was partly a cooperation between Pablo Picasso and Carl Nesjar. The Norwegian government, right now consisting of Conservatives, Liberals and Christian democrats, is cutting the art from…the building, and intend to mount it in a massive construction which is meant to contain more or less the whole government administration in one not very big square.

The argument everywhere these days, here in Oslo, seems to be security, which I find strange in a city where cultural differences seem to find its way mostly to peace and friendship. In everyday life where I live, in the middle of the East End, coexistence is the right description of the situation. There is from time to time problems with some young people, but the feeling for me is that most people want to cooperate, we are not even close to huge conflicts, and there is more than enough public money to solve whatever problems that may occur, if that is what it takes.

I feel that building massive structures to protect us against terrorism is an irrelevant thing to do. Gathering all public offices in one…bunker…I can’t see the point in this either.

This text from the Guardian sums it up a little.

A new aquaintance

Tourist at home Posted on 23 Jul, 2020 17:13

Another Norwegian artist rediscovered…at least by me, but I believe also pretty unfamiliar for “normal” art lovers, if not the experts.

Hans Dahl, painter, not related to the more famous Johan Christian Dahl. Hans was born and raised in Granvin, Hardanger, Johan Christian was from Bergen.

Hans Dahl was born in 1849, died in 1937, while his more famous counterpart lived from 1788 to 1857.

Hans Dahl was born and raised in Hardanger, Granvin, studied in Düsseldorf, Germany, also like a lot of Norwegian painters of this period.

His father was a captain in the army, and the son also completed an education as an officer.

(Dahl is a very common surname in Norway, meaning simply valley, the h probably being a remnant of Danish spelling.) 

A close friend of the German emperor, Hans was also very sympathetic with German culture and art, as, I believe, many in Norway at the time. 

He was also writing a lot, and among other things published a book which must be characterized as chauvinistic in favour of German culture, talking also about the danger of the Slavs. («People of the North, wake up!» is the title of this book.) 

The way of seeing the landscape and Dahl’s world of ideas is probably much influenced by Germany, but we should be able today to sort out the dirt from the cinnamon, as we say here, and even if some of his writings, of which I have seen only a trifle, is difficult to accept, we should be able to enjoy the paintings. The same kind of discussions has of course been going on about Knut Hamsun, and we still read his books and enjoy them, even if we know that he did and said things during the war which were unacceptable to us. 

Hans Dahl was not considered important among influential Norwegian critics, which I should today consider a mistake, and in the debate about art and culture, stupidly enough, even back then, there was a conflict which in name was for and against the élite

Dahl sided with the anti-élitists, which also today seems irrelevant to me if we consider only the art. 

What to me looks like embryo-nazi views must be noted and considered today, but we cannot totally exclude the art of this painter and others because of this. 

The style of Hans Dahl is of course national romantic, the landscapes spectacular and with almost photographic qualities.  The women were probably commented too, in the press back then, the whole project was seen as an idolising view of both nature and people, which I also find strange today.  Sunshine and fun is also part of life, and darkness and depression does not have to be considered unimportant because of this.

This is a statement…

Many of the faces and situations in the pictures give me a lot of new thoughts about everyday life in Norway way back. 

In a way the landscapes remind me of normal postcards from my childhood, from the 60s and 70s, and this may lead you to think that German aesthetic thinking may have been present here for quite a while after the war.

This is only an idea in my head which is not documented, but maybe worth considering.

The quality of these paintings is still fantastic in my mind.

The first one down below has the same motive as one of the most famous Norwegian paintings, Brudeferden i Hardanger, Bridal Procession on the Hardangerfjord, painted by Adolph Tidemand and Hans Gude in 1848, and this also shows that there are of course a lot of variants of the subjects in our national «icons», and that the talk which you can hear from and among Norwegians that we have «so little art» being «such a small country» – is nonsense.

The erotic side of some of the pictures may very likely have been a problem in the 18- and early 1900s, in a country where petty morality used to be a cradle gift for most of us, or at least something we had to relate to. To call it erotic is maybe also saying a lot about us…

Dahl is known for having both treated and paid his models very decently, according to an online cultural dictionary.


Comment Posted on 04 Jul, 2020 18:06

Writing a blog and hoping someone will pay for reading it is a little like playing or singing on the street. 

I would really love it if you could spare a dime or two.

Teaching as a road to respect

Comment Posted on 29 Jun, 2020 01:04

The thing with respect…I don’t think you can really demand respect from other people. It will create problems, at least tension, contempt, aggression.

First you have to give respect, then hope for it to come back to you, and if it doesn’t…well, I don’t have every kind of experience, but for me, this started when I worked as a teacher, like ten-fifteen years ago.

Not easy, but I loved to teach teenagers, partly because I hardly ever left this age myself in some ways, and I can pretty easily live with the fact that many of them say things you don’t always want to hear, that they have protest in them etc. 

It’s pretty normal.

But of course, as a teacher, you have a subject to teach, and to do that you need some peace and calm in class, and to achieve this you have to have respect, preferrably in a good way, meaning both ways, between teacher and students.

To get there myself I had to yell quite a lot, but I was not really very angry, for several reasons. I could understand them pretty well, I liked playing as well and doing things my own way, and when you’re 17 that need is pretty strong.

As a teacher I didn’t care that much, privately, whether they chose to not care about schoolwork, I just wanted to give them English because I love English, and to give them self respect because I think everybody is entitled to it, to have the possibility to achieve personal integrity, and a teacher is in a position to help them on this road to independence and in the end, of course, hopefully give them the ability to respect others…if they were not there already.  

I was curious about how they lived, what views and opinions they had on different political and generally human issues, they being part of the next generation and also future health workers (and joiners, those were the two groups of professions I taught). I love health people, they are mostly kind and competent and I also really enjoyed having them as colleagues, many of the teachers were of course educated as nurses.

I had a lot of discussions in class about health issues or just political issues, as far as we could manage we spoke English, although sometimes we had to go on in Norwegian, which I allowed for a certain time.

But when I yelled at them it was more for practical reasons than because of deep anger, and because I didn’t know of any other means then to get a class to behave and do what I told them. 

You can say that this meant a little lack of personality or experience, that one should do that part in some other way…

Every teacher has to deal with the problem of order in class – in his or her own way.

Anyway, at a point the yelling stopped, I didn’t have to any more, I had gotten where I wanted to be, quiet when it needed to be quiet, actually respect both ways, they worked when they should and discipline was not an issue anymore, not more than I could handle with more modest means than yelling. 

If something happened I felt I had been through the repertoire, so to speak, I knew what to say to them in a softer voice. We respected one another, and to get the work done was easier.

And on the way to this point, it was necessary to be both soft and strict.

But the whole thing was easier because I liked them, also as teenagers, I respected them from the start. But I had to keep that respect on the way, which was not always easy.

Then I left the profession, partly because I fixed that discipline thing, and partly for other reasons.

This has probably not much to do with the situation of blacks in the USA or elsewhere, it just illustrates that you often need to be fairly sure of yourself to really speak to others. And to keep that self respect even when people provoke you.

Not easy, but possible.

A real feeling of integrity and respect – in this particular situation.

Towards yourself and towards others.

It can be made in a process like this.

The history of blacks in the States, and a number of other places…

The start is wildly different from the whites.

I mean, serously, slavery.

To own another person, another human being.

It is in itself a crime.

It must make the relationship between people…rotten. Even if you’re a nice slave owner, in say 1815 or something…it is an outrage in itself. 


To get your formal freedom from this situation must be huge, if you were a slave back them.

But it doesn’t take away the feeling of being in another man’s custody. Or what?

And the feelings of the slave…-owner…hm.

Takes ages to change these things even if society really goes for it. You inherit a lot of attitudes and habits from parents and grandparents, things go in generations.

And if society doesn’t do too much, or not enough, about the…abyss, maybe, even, which exists or existed between people who have owned other people…well, it will take even more time to be able to act fairly reasonable.

Some attitudes maybe even don’t change, until someone demands that they must change.

If you live in the States you know the country from the inside, from living there. I write this only as a newspaper reader and with some general knowledge of society and humans. And from talking to people.

Of course I talked to my students a lot on the way, but my regime was, many things are your own responsibility.

With teenagers this age (16-17, mainly) I guess this is generally possible. You can deal with them partly as kids, or mostly as grownups. You end up somewhere inbetween those two, I guess.

Of course, pedagogically, it is not as simple as this, because, when you talk to your students or with them, you have to know more or less who they are, where they are heading as far as you can see it, when it comes to what they learn, too, of course, but also you need to see them as persons, to know them a little as you know any person, to see them not only as students.  

They have to know what your demands as a teacher are and what not, and all in all, you have to see to it that your philosophy of teaching actually works, and also it develops along the way because you’re not finished with finding your own attitudes or ways of working when you start teaching.

That may never stop completely.

In the end, they should learn as much English (this was my subject) as they are capable of, and your relationship with them should give the students a sense of independence, and dignity on their part too – on this distance of human relationships this goes without saying for me, I mean, really private relations, living togther, that is for me really difficult. 

In a job, even as personal as this, you still keep a certain distance, which makes things easier than can sometimes be the case in private relations.

Even if some students do their best to annoy you and manages to do that in some situations, at other times they are not like that. 

Some are really difficult to handle for you, but maybe not as difficult for some of your colleagues. The relationship differs, a normal thing anywhere, and even if you don’t let it come out as discriminating behaviour, you can’t help liking people. 

But as a teacher I think it takes very little to like people, it is often enough with a small wink or a smile or a comment, and you’re back in the saddle as basically happy to be working with – people.

If this sounds like idyllisation, I can of course say that I was a teacher only like 4-5 years, I don’t know what it takes to stay a whole or a half lifetime. I have been teaching piano too, after this, but not for years on end.

When you reach summer, everyone ought to be finished with problems and the students get their grades and you have sodas & chocolate with them and a nice talk which may sum up the year in some ways, and everyone, including teachers, are happy that summer vacation is finally there, and you can let go, you gave them what you managed to give them and they received what they could manage to take and you have a stretch of one year if that is how long the courses you teach last, and you go home to your garden if you’re happy enough to have one, or you go to your favourite bar or coffeeshop or maybe park or just home and you sit there for a couple of weeks waiting for your body to feel like it contains your soul and that both actually are able to do anything at all.

You did what you could, and in August, you’ll have the energy to start on another ball.

This is a bit of what it is to teach, if you ever wanted to know, and only some bits of the human side of it. The subject you teach is yet another thing.

And sometimes you meet some of the people you taught later, and this is another happiness which is not measurable in any way other than the feeling of even a lot more than you know, because you never quite know the lives of other people, but the sight of them being kind of happy and kind of competent if you bumped into someone at their work or on the street  and they recognized you and greeted you and said yo or hi or whatever…

I won’t brag more.

I miss teaching, but maybe not the curriculum. Even if the subject is your favourite one, it is basically what makes you run the whole year and makes you crash into summer vacation at the end of the year like a worn-out car, because there is never too much time, rarely enough and most of the time it feels like too little, at least between the lessons. The pressure lasts until the vacation starts.

So this was my way of teaching, a little of it, and the feeling of creating a respectful relationship both ways by giving respect first, being as strict as you have to and not more, and in the end hoping for them to respect you, asking for respect, too, sometimes, but not demanding it by any means of violence, physical or mental.

Good practice for your…backbone, is that proper English? to say the least, for your ability to be soft and not soft at the same time.

Coming up from darkness

Comment Posted on 24 Jun, 2020 02:21

I just pushed «like» on a meme which said ‘People who say «All lives matter» are like people who say «All men are created equal» while owning slaves’.

There is definitely something to it.

But there is a difference for quite a lot of those white people today, I think.

The slave owners were largely rich, I believe, they needed people for their fields etc, and slavery was a cheaper and rotten way out.

All of Trump’s voters can’t be rich, they’re too many, at least what can be seen here is that populism often starts either at the bottom of society or at the bottom of…respect, so to speak.

Today everybody is demanding their freedom, which is great, fantastic, but on the way up from different dark places of suppression there may be old problems coming out and creating new trouble on their way from a latent or hidden existence out into the open.

To feel the need to tread others down I believe it is common to have been trodden down yourself. None of this is nice, but a sorry side of society is that it has had its many different ways of suppressing us, people in many different positions and places, meaning it is sometimes not only a matter of personal choice whether you are mean to others or not, or even let some people make politics out of this, there are patterns in society which create feelings of suppression for groups of people. You still have a choice, you can say, but I feel suspicious sometimes the more the talk goes about choice and responsibility, not to mention guilt.

Suppression traditionally had a lot to do with money, and even if poverty is not yet gone from the world, I believe that for many today the physical lack of money is not the most important part of the liberation which is going on. Things in our minds, the feeling of being badly treated, to become annoyed becaused of others’ words and actions, etc. – are more the words on everybody’s lips, and I believe, the thoughts in many people’s minds.

Everybody want to be treated with respect.

All this is fair, I think, to a certain extent, as far as it is possible and reasonable.

A large part of us has enjoyed respect in many connections already, as a normal thing, which is, of course, one reason that they, we, react to the lack of respect coming from different oppressed groups on their way up and into normal participation in society.  

Or rather, sometimes everybody can’t help being mean, I think…but there are, again, patterns in this. 

Every person has good sides too…

Since everybody asks for respect, one of the challenges today is to give everybody room for themselves, culturally and in other ways, without making too much trouble for any others.

The point is also, which many do not understand, that there are and always were many different cultures in every society, also before «the world became as one». Some get really annoyed because some tread on their holy things or actually make some kind of trouble for them which others can also acknowledge, but some don’t understand the fact that their own needs are not necessarily everybody’s needs.

This makes the equation of equality more complicated, it is not as easy as to define one’s own needs in a general way and spread it out on everybody’s bread. You need to consider the differences in culture and find ways to live together with others. 

The cry for individuality is also important, to be treated as an individual personality and not as a member of a group can also be a way out of oppression. It is typical to coin others as a member of a group, and not always in a positive way.

To treat everyone individually is not possible 100% for any state or public body, I think, but this should also not be used as an excuse for establishing racist or discriminating systems in the social system etc.

To treat everyone with respect is of course also a personal thing, meaning – also – it is possible for a violent system to exercise its powers brutally in a polite way, so that people hardly knows about their own suppression because everyone accepts it.

We just have to keep thinking.

With a heart for others, in general, and not too much selfishness, it is of course easier to be friendly, but I believe there are also sometimes specific needs in all our different cultures which may be supplied by other cultures, that both indvivuals and groups may sometimes fit partly and neatly into each other’s lives as a glove on a hand.

It is only to be creative and go look for possibilities of friendship. I don’t believe in using law-making too much for this end, to me that seems like a coarse means of getting where we want. Better to make room for personal exploration and curiosity, with and without the laws.

Talking to each other in earnest and give the talk and the thinking enough time, also seems the only sensible way of solving problems among us. It takes time to understand each others’ real needs and situation. 

Sometimes what is really unacceptable behaviour to you is actually easy to fix for others, it may sometimes be a trifle, provided that you basically respect him or her and don’t start a discussion with mean words. No one likes that.


Comment Posted on 22 Jun, 2020 03:27

So…this went really wrong for you.

I am a little sorry, for you, personally.

I mean, now you are The Dictator.

Does that feel ok??

I’ve not been looking, really, on what you have been doing and saying, for some weeks.

Today I fell into something, a video published in a Norwegian newspaper.

You kinda look like a preacher on the picture.

When the video starts…

The Dictator comes out.

One year in prison for burning the flag?

I would laugh, but if you have the nerve to do it…

I feel sorry for the people who may end in jail because of politics.

That kind of stuff doesn’t belong in a democracy.

It’s the way dictators behave.

Why did you become a politician?

I agree that the world is a crazy place, but I’m not sure I agree that it is as crazy as you say.

Every politician is not corrupt.

Scientists don’t usually lie about their things.

The climate crisis is real. It comes from wealth, basically, I think that is fair to say.

You think you can buy everything because you have money.

That’s what it looks like.

This is a corrupted view.

Do you consider yourself a mean person?

Many say so.

Remember that there is usually a difference between who you are in private and in public.

At least where I live, this is normally the case, even if not everyone understands it.

What about conscience?

As long as you’re on your way up, you’re part of a system that someone else rules, at least partly.

If there is such a position as one leader of the business world, say in New York or in the States…I don’t know what powers such a person, or persons may have. I’m not talking formal position or positions, just simply real power, who sort of rules the game.

But you’re not in the business world anymore. That is what many politicians these days don’t understand. They go on thinking like businessmen and only that, even if society is a lot more.

I don’t know who your friends are.

But you’ve probably been sitting together, discussing politics, like many men do, and women. I do too.

And now you think you can do whatever you want to do.

Think about that – am I right, or not?

That’s only a small part of your task.

A whole party used to have a position as a representative of a group. That’s in a way selfishness. As long as the poverty were…bigger than today, it was seen as fair to fight for the rights of the many poor, even if it is in a way selfish.

Poverty still exists, sometimes for other reasons than a hundred years ago.

Today the wealth, totally, is bigger than any time on earth, and it seems…just seems to me that your corner of society, big business, is…taking just a little more of the money than you are entitled to.

We can discuss what standards should apply to this, you just think about it.

I am not in favour of totally free enterprise in the sense that whatever business should be allowed to do anything, but I am not a real socialist either, I believe in a mix in which we can discuss how to deal with those things.

The state, all kinds of public offices and organisations, down to schools and similar things, the whole public system, is not made for making money.

It is made for giving services to the people, even the rich.

USA is not exactly known for this. I know there are charities and that the systems, that socity is not directly comparable.

But still.

Everything is no longer completely free here either, so if you live on the street or almost, you may have problems with paying the doctor. But I believe it is still way cheaper than in your country.

We still work.

Black people…they simply want respect.

Don’t you want respect?

So give it first.

That is the only way.

If you believe in your country’s many famous words about freedom…I don’t think there is any other way to real freedom in a relationship between people, two people or how many more you like to think about, than to start the relationship with giving respect some way or another.

Then you can hope to get something back.

The relationship between blacks and whites in your country, and quite a few other countries, started with…slavery.

Real slavery, not just being the slave of system, as the saying goes, and which can be shit.

No, no…

I own you.

You can maybe imagine what attitudes a thing like that creates in the heads of both the slave and the…owner.

I mean…

Do we need to talk about this?

It should be obvious.

Things go in generations, right?

So how many generations beore the descentant of the slave feels free?

How many before the descendant of the…owner feels…equal?

How many systems, in the heads and in real life, have to be changed before people are not only created equal, but treated…fairly equal?

This…is politics, going on right now.

Not business.

So you just consider this.

You put yourself in this position, more or less.

Can you fix the job?

Your work, your lack of work, what you say and don’t say lands more or less on everybody’s lap, in the world.

If this tickles your ego and not makes you feel full of awe, I’d say you’re not where you should be.

In life.

In the world.

Think about it.

You had a few good points, but not really a good plan.

Or am I wrong?

Live music

Music Posted on 21 Jun, 2020 19:42

The Korean pianist Yeol Eum Son has also on YouTube a concert recording of Mozart’s piano concerto nr 21, in which you could say a little of the same thing happens as here: She starts off almost perfect, and you think that she is too well-behaved, too tidy, you start saying sentences in your head like ‘there are possibilities in Mozart too’ for taking off, not only correct playing…and then suddenly something ignites and you don’t know what is happening anymore, which is of course where I want to be on any concert.

The sound of Rachmaninoff…it is also maybe a little unusual for my ear not to have the feeling all the time of a huge Russian choir, maybe male, in the ear, the Russian cliché which I think everybody loves. This piano sound gives a little the feeling of ivory instead of ebony, maybe, and the orchestra follows suit in their way, I think, I mean soundwise. It or the conductor has a really nice, elegant idea of the music, a little in the tenor vein, I think, which is fine. A little problem to follow the soloist some places, perhaps …it goes fast when it starts moving, she is running like a troika or more horses, forward, when the run starts. But the conductor and the orchestra manages to keep the idea of a neatly thought elegance, they give us or the leader small snaps with the whip which give us some unexpected glances of the landscape on our way through it.

This movement is the big problem of the concerto, I think, must be, musically too, not only technically. It’s…let me not say too much, but I don’t think I’ve heard it that many times really…fulfilled, blown up like it should be and like it is here.

When it comes to deep Russian voices, I guess this movement especially, is also different, at least big parts of it.

It is probably very difficult to play, that is one thing, and to get the energy come out of it like it is here too must demand a lot, and a lot of thinking. Much more complicated than concerto no 2, goes through a more diverse landscape, which is much more…plain Romantic, if one can say anything like that…I love it too.

Enough abbreviated clichés from my side. No 2 is beautiful, no 3 almost entertainment in the end in a pretty complicated way. Which is not meant as a condescending thing to say, entertainment is a profession in itself which I have tried myself a little, musically, and it is very much present a lot of places in «serious» music, quite often without being noticed by teachers, I think, and music writers, too, perhaps.

She plays in the beginning very well, of course, maybe like she knew what it was all about and could already cope with all those complicated problems from life or the world which are told in the score, and then suddenly it’s like the veil is torn between us and…the things we want to happen, or to know, and ritsch, you feel the music is suddenly alive, whatever that is, awakening, Heaven is close, it’s here, the solution to all those shitty difficulties and troubles, they are going away now, as we sit here and listen, and bloody well deserved and fun, the hall also explodes afterwards.

I sometimes feel a little guilty writing recensions like this because I know all the work that is necessary to make this performance and get all the way up there, and to sit on the side and criticize things which are already very well done…I don’t know. I hope it brings more people, listeners, to understand a little what is going on so they can enjoy it, not better, just enjoy it in their own way.

I always want more friends in the hall and on the pub afterwards, discussing the music and other stuff.

Edited after publishing.

Some simple facts about the Corona virus

Other things Posted on 05 Jun, 2020 01:31

One thing to remember is that a virus is not a living organism.

Some contagious diseases are caused by bacteria, which can often move by themselves and which are of course alive.

A virus is not alive. It can’t move by itself.

The corona virus is simply a piece of RNA packed into a shield of fat, so part of what makes up genes, packed in a type of fat.

You can’t kill it, a molecule is not alive, but you can destroy the fat shield, which is done with soap or alcohol, because both destroys fat. 

Afterwards it is harmless for us.

You may have, chemically speaking again, parts of the stuff still floating around in your palm afterwards, but as long as there is nothing but RNA left of it, nothing happens to us. Without the fat it is not capable of infecting us or harming us.

If you wash your hands with soap and water, in addition to destroying it chemically, of course you rinse most of the stuff off your hands down into the sink. 

Soap works at least as good as alcohol for this, but in shops etc this is of course not practical. Both soap and alcohol work well.

There are also other corona viruses than this one. This is only one type, and a new one. 

They are so called because of the shape – they all look a little similar to a crown (corona in Latin).

Each of them act differently, give us slightly or very different diseases which need different cures. 

Normally, whenever you breathe out, a little moist, small drops of water, follows the breath out into the air.

But if you breathe slowly, not really much comes out.

If you talk, sing etc, there are usually more drops coming out, and of course if you sneeze or cough, a lot more.

There are bigger drops, which normally move faster and not so far, I guess naturally, they are heavier – and there are small ones, which sometimes spread and drift away slowly like a sort of mist. 

But sometimes the small ones go more like in a small «cloud», more collected, and in this case, they also behave more like the bigger drops, and land closer to you, on whatever object is there.

It is not established whether the virus is easiest transferred via the bigger or the smaller drops.

Also, one does not know yet if the direct contagion is the most important way, I mean directly from one person to another, or if the indirect ways, via physical objects, is how it spreads most easily or most often.

Even if the disease may spread to other organs in the body than the lungs etc, covid-19 is basically a respiratory infection. The virus may, rarely, come out via other body fluids etc, but the normal thing is that it comes through mouth and nose.

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