Here is a story called "Moonman". A fictional journey through mental breakdown and disintegration. About a dreamer in the city of Gothenburg. Its under construction so to speak. Enjoy. /Anders
Waking up. A greyish light. Sunday. Nobody cares. Union street. Modern or post modern times.
Question marks seem to rain down from the sky; What have you done with your life? why this tragedy and loneliness?
On the internal projector there is a version of myself running desperately down the street.Why?
its a rage against emptiness itself, against lovelessness. And there's hatred , for Lily, for the rigid careerism and for alienation... aggressiveness turns inwardly – there's no-one here in the room except me, myself and my fantasy figures - to accuse myself seems more objective this moment, good work. I see another image, a dysmorphic young wolf who has been ostracised. Is that the image of my destiny?
Fragments of memory; Paula's story about that backpacker who never wanted to settle down. He became a nomad, he became an outsider. Eventually he travelled to Tibet and was never heard from again. Did he commit suicide? did he die on the mountain? on some level I kind of identified myself with him. It made me blush. We were undoubtedly related - at least that was what I felt when Paula told me his story. But all I uttered was "what a loser". I can see him clearly before me; the anguish of returning home to boring Sweden when all the money is gone just to slave on a deadening day-job for six months in order to stack up the cash for a new trip. And in the meantime live on noodles and meet all the stable health-, food and excercise fanatic middle-class swedes with all their careers, children, mortgage loans, clubs and dinners and God knows what while he himself was like a degraded misfit, a lost cause, constantly adrift with no plans and no goals, an extraterrestrial being just visiting. Maybe in the midst of all that, he thought to himself, why not disappear in the mountains and see what happens?
I live inside the feeling of being persecuted; afflicted by a compulsion to become somebody, an eagerness to show off trophies and conquests. What kind of poison of greed and shallowness is roaring in the soul? My inside is a corrupted state. How did it become that way? Have I confused outer pressure with my own will, is that the simple nature of this conspiracy?
A newspaper tumbled in the wind down the street. An old chestnut tree stood outside the cemetery. Dark envy-green leaves. And I thought also of what I could not see; the root system; a hidden existence under sane asphalt. Masks, mud, "multnad", middle age remnants, metamorphosis. And mom. Rest in peace. Shrew.
Life is slow and taken for granted, like the asphalt and the institutions. I have to change something.
The summer night came. Alone in the room. A butterfly flares around in blue darkness. From time to time it stops like a strange prehistoric sign on the wall - a triangle with rounded corners and a chic, colorful pattern in the middle. After a long time tripping with an umbrella I manage to roll out the butterfly through the window. It flickers toward the street lights and the leaves and disappears.
I fall asleep and dream of a big tree whose leaves are made of yellow post-it papers. I show the tree to an old man in white hair. The old man smiles in recognition and then points to a large forest of similar trees. We walk for a while in the big forest of trees with green, yellow and red post-it papers. We come to a large meadow where a magnificent tree spread out its branches
"southward, what luck's meadow!"
The man takes a piece of paper out of the tree's foliage and reads aloud ..."step out of this shadow ...."
It is now several months since Gina broke up with me. I'm still crushed. Amazed at my own reactions. I am thinking of leaving the country.
She said at the beginning "You're the only good thing going on in my life right now," (and now I have reached the same sort of ghastly emptiness that makes people speak in that way). I remember when we lay in the grass in the park. It was at the end of the summer as now ... the cloudy gray-blue sky above us and the sunlight hit a slip in the clouds. Someone had lost his helium balloon and we saw the single red entity rising upward though the airspace.
I know this route. Playing all kinds of games in order to create distance to the occurred. In the dream I sit and cry at a black lake in the woods and the image appears of a creepy dog with glass splits in his fur.
Life is both slow and frenetic; employed by a fire; It's as if Gina while saying "I want to break up" also placed a glowing grain inside my chest.
I resigned from work and planned to travel to the Faroe Islands. It was not that smart.
Some reviewers said about me that "the most important thing to him, that is to escape himself".
lA psychiatrist with a high forehead named Jon Grimberg wrote down his thoughts about me in his notebook;
"Self-contempt blooms ... from an initial dissolution of self-esteem with a perception of inferiority as a core. Or after ineffectual fruitless megalomania. In short, the patient has a disturbed self-esteem. But what are the components of self-esteem? Both a liberal and a conservative?.... that maybe sound to easy, but is it gardening of oneself mentally- and respect for oneself,, and also attending to the truth, no matter how painful? "
The fountain at the Iron square is like an octagonal crow airport, almost anyway.
I met Gina for a coffee at the Cigar Cafe. It was the first time we saw each other since our split.
"Where to fixate the eyes?". A short nervous ride in a crowded tram and I was there, ten minutes too early. The café owner, Thuram, doesn't like me, I can't break the "social code" around here. Maybe my recent misfortune makes me even more repellent.
Gina ounces of pills, freedom and flashy entrepreneurship. I'm wearing black and smoke. Gina tells me she's going to move; something about Stockholm. The late August sun shines strongly in the blue but it does not heat well.
After almost twenty minutes Gina says "I have to get going ..." She is lost forever. We hug and say goodbye. I am a factory working hard to produce just the right amount of breezy indifference, but I know that my pale stare reveals me and that I will cry when I get home.
Gina walks over the lunchtime square. She moves her hips. I think of Switzerland and neutrality - Imagine if I could be forever neutral ... a sexless observing neutrum, then everything would be good, free from desires. Mister Switzerland. She used to call me that. We walked up a lush stairway which leads up to the gray buildings on Upper Fogelberg street. What did I answer her, maybe, I'm a middle child ... just like you by the way.
Gina disappears in the crowd. She's among the hopes of humans. Looking for the privilege. Her swaying movements continue in me like a fiery aftermath. The sum of despair never seems to reach its limit. I have to kill the desire for her. That's my job now.
I got up straight away and left the cafe. When I got home, I tried to put myself over my emotional life and think about it as if it were a math problem. Yes, just like grandfather who had the hobby of solving clever equations on Sundays.
"An incorrect amount can be corrected ... just by going back until you discover the error and starting from there you start adding again"
I wake up at night. Sweaty sheets shaped like mountain chains by the worried being. I dreamed of a morning in a world dependent on the constellation of the twins. It's world news when the constellation collapses; for some reason, the twin stars in the night sky can not be seen anymore. The newspaper headlines outside the store read; "Castor and Pollux have finally fallen apart." And cyclists lurk between the dewy houses. Tall poisonous plants grow in the windows.
I got up, put my clothes on and walked down to Seven Eleven to buy some cigarettes. I find out it is Friday night and people are out to enjoy themselves. They all seem so far apart.
At Pustervik I drink beer and pick on a girl in the bar. If only I could get a little fuck. But I'm not successful. I can hear someone singing "Baby has got the bends and do I have any real friends?"
Self-loathing seem to be increasing for every day that goes by. And in the bar, the whole universe seems to avoid me; Even the peanuts seem contradictory.
Jon Grimberg writes in his notebook; "Was Hannes dependent on Gina for his sense of self-esteem, like a cling-up/climber that depends on a host tree to get nutrition?"
The beard grows and I'm still wearing black and smoke. Relatives and friends have begun asking questions; "Whats going on with you?" "won't you get a job? " "What are you doing with your life?". Some ideas about doing the right thing and being useful to others cause my cheeks to blush at these quizzes but I try to keep the personal utilitarianism at bay (as if I tried to shovel a few liters of darkness). However I can not resist the thoughts of Gina, they are pouring down like rain. Since she moved, she has been living as the "highest" inside my head. Every thought takes the trip past her.
I have set up a formula; I = hellish, she = angelic. I sit at the kitchen table and look into the gray. The leaves have begun to turn yellow on the trees. A tram is whizzing metallic somewhere far away. Life seems to be happening elsewhere. I remember a woman I once worked with whose husband had died, and the only thing she talked about was that she wanted to be lobotomized, she wanted to forget her love. No, lobotomy is nothing for me. There must be another resort. Speaking of lobotomy and memory, Paula just got a job as a research assistant at the psychology department. She was to help out in a project investigating the effects of alcohol on episodic memory. Interviews and transcription. I set up a new formula; I = unemployed, Paula = employed. What happens to us little people when technology is so advanced that much of production and service becomes automated and we're all out of jobs? Are we gonna live on welfare or will there be such a thing as universal basic income? (which at least would kill the shame of being unemployed) .
I went for a walk. I've got a penchant for streets that nobody walks on, I'm drawn to deserted places and I like to listen to monotonous and mangling kraut music.
At Little square I sat on a bench and watched the statue of Jonas Alströmer. Thanks for bringing the potato here man. The statue depicts a man on the move, a man with a mission, who had something wise to do. I wish I could be like that. I'm thinking intensively for a minute, trying to find my life project, which will make me happy and new. But I'm disturbed in the concentration by the clatter of the jackdaws.
"You do not want to be who you are, you want to be the one you wish to be."
A magazine from SJ is on the bench. On the front there is a portrait of a smiling successful person. I immediately leave the newspaper. Thinking of burning it. The song Atlantic City is playing in the brain's jukebox "Down here it's just winners and losers and don't get caught on the wrong side of that line" . Yes, but it's too late now.
When I fall asleep in the evening, I dream I'm a miniature man inside a bottle gliding on the bay in the moonlight's radius. On the other side, glitters of light are visible. The gated community is sleeping. The satellite dishes on the roofs pose for the starry sky. Further on, a small guest house is sighted. Are they renovating? The house is stripped to a stony ground with a skeleton of wooden beams on top of it. Low cellotones vibrate in the air.
Some nights are long journeys into the feeling of uselessness. Some nights I get up to masturbate and afterwards I sit and stare out the window. Watch the flickering street lights and contemplate the crystalline enigma of the ceremonial religious animal. The blind spot of the soul is playing tricks on me. Maybe I feel this resentment and bitterness because I can't get anywhere in the hierarchical system? A low status being with an urge to dominate ? or am I only the result of an unfulfilled greed? Megalomaniac all over. I check facebook - everyone is doing incredibly well. Examine the Twitter feed - everyone is either rightous, witty and/or indignated/outraged. Social media doing what it does best; cultivating mob mentality and generating outrage. I am a prisoner of generalization and simplification. Just like you my handsome friend.
When I wake up in the morning, I have a stomach ache and my head is like a buzzing beehive with voices from all sorts of enemies. I hear Peter Höök say, "You will never be as successful as your father." Nothing good or uplifting inside that brain at the moment.
I remember a party where I tried to charm Gina, it was long before we got together, and the attempt failed miserably and was crowned by the subsequent commentary of Peter .."Game over Kiddo". I can hear the comment repeatedly "Game Over Kiddo". He got me there. I'm trying to remember a good feeling, a hot streaming breeze ... the extravagant experience on that first flight on my own, and the wonderful banality when you get the extra play on flipper ...the perfect golf shot...whatever. I try to medicate myself with the memory from all those little events . But it does not work. I'm probably depressed. The brain circuitry wanders every dark trail it can find.
I get up. Still haunted by Peter Höök's ill-minded spirit. Fucking schoolyard marauder.
Breakfast takes two hours. At least. A magpie is rustling among the leafy networks outside the window. The sound of annoyed rasping mussels. Like the irritated throat clearing of the schoolmaster in middle school when you had not done your homework.
After breakfast, I try to counterattack against the inner slanderous voices. I make a list
People I despise in alphabetical order;
Andersson, Mattis - Narcissistic bully-type, sucking up and kicking down, these qualities make him an exemplary sadistic middle management executive. He can say the right things at the right moments but if you look close enough you'll discover the soulless coldness under the veil ... I want to operate a container of helium in his lungs so that he never again be taken seriously
Aaron - Roughly trimmed talkative type and ardent capitalist who always teased me at work, made fun of my words ... a classic antagonist ... wish him an chainsaw-awakening every morning for the rest of his life
Höök, Peter - Do not know anyone who will enjoy my defeat more than him. Should have a permanent companion with bleating voice.
Pause. To jot down hatred on paper seem pointless. It does not help me transcend the pain, I just become more like them. The emptiness of space. A buzzing fridge. I still feel as low as before. "Game Over Kiddo".
Thursday is a diabolical node of memory in my consciousness. She/he/it broke up on a Thursday and scenes from this nightmarish day of origin are being replayed over and over. I noticed in the doorway that her face had changed, as if it was wandering through the steel bath of indifference. The eyes were alpine and more blue than before and it was as though the eyes were the place where I was pushed out of her dreams. And everything was planned to the last detail. The clothes that I had at her place was properly folded in a brown paper bag. Toothbrush, razors and magazines lay on top. Even the week-old orange Gerbera plant was in in the bag. I was to be eliminated. The vertigo-like symptoms are what I remember he most. The memory of the dialogue is more fragmented. There were claptrap phrases and clichés "it's not you ... it's me." "I don't think we should hear from each other for a while". "You'll be better off with someone who can help you fulfill your potential" . Then echoing steps down the stairs and out into the fresh air. I could feel the universe expanding and the tears running down the cheek. I took a wobbling bicycle ride home with the brown paper bag dangling under the handlebar.
I walk the cobblestone of Postgatan in the darkness. It was here, about 150 years ago or so, that people walked to ships that would take them to America. The Wilson line to the land of opportunity. I can fantasize about the poor drone who remained on the dock, who saw others who dared while he remained. "The West is the best .... give in, and we'll do the rest".
The movement of the continental plates causes the North American continent to slide farther away, a constant move is taking place. I make a new formula, even if it's ridiculous; Gina = America, I = Europe afflicted with crop failure. "She's outside where the companies dream and the money goes round and I'm still here, tragic as the son of a superman".
I wander on the quay towards the twilight sky. There are white fringes on some of the river's waves. Rough yellow light shines among the cranes at the shipyard on the other side. I keep telling myself that the resignation is just ridiculous and that I will find geist again. "Get rhythm when you get the blues".
How can my brain assign such importance to her? Is it because I have a tendency to torment myself?
If the soul is made up of a color spectrum, it is as if a combination of colors - (some crucial coefficient in the psychological matrix) - associated with vitality and lust for life have disappeared - they seem to have gone away with her. How is that possible?
I dream of a little man who frenetically drills in the urge for color or something that can be called a life force. But nothing happens. The fury only intensifies.
When I get home I put on a terry bathrobe. One of the few pieces that I feel genuine in. As if the very fabric gave me cred. Hesitate a long time on mixing a drink but decide instead on making coffee.
At the kitchen table I start drawing the flow chart of my life on a large paper . It must be possible to see where it has gone to hell, where the original offense occurred, where it all turned pear shaped?
Some things have had to happen earlier in life that foretold this crisis. I created a timeline and small images of events that I think may have had an impact. I fall asleep.
In the dream that follows I have intercourse with Gina on the kitchen floor. A yellow light is filtered through the veiled curtains. We quit in the middle of the act and she says "this doesn't work anymore, you have to get up". As I wake up I notice that the hand painted a keyhole on the paper while I was sleeping. A new formula is made up; keyhole + comment "you have to get up" = The end of victim mentality. I pour a cup of coffee sweeps and I see it clear as glass, I have to stop being a victim! ... I have to take responsibility for my suffering. Easier said than done she said.
For a few hours I had the assertiveness, and sorrow and anguish didn't clog the nervous system.
I cleaned the apartment, threw out the trash and went for some groceries. The setting sun looked almost hopeful in my eyes.
The Faroe Islands is an archipilago cast out into the North Atlantic like a couple of oblique lines that runs from southeast to the northwest. There are no trees according to the travel guide and it is the foggiest place in Europe. The Greenlanders have many words for snow, the Faroe Islanders probably have more for fog. The weather is capricious and changes quickly and it often causes people to dispose of the word Kanska (maybe); "Maybe we can get together today, it depends on the weather." It is "maybe-country".
I sit under the awning at the cafe Cigar and read in the guidebook and dream away. But the money is running out and I can't afford to go there anyway. And soon I have to look around for a new job. Waitress maybe? Here at Cafe Cigar? But Robert hates me, he thinks I am to artsy-fartsy. A pretentious bastard.
Suddenly, I see Peter Höök. He leads a bicycle across the square. It would be great if I became invisible now.
- well well well ....Hannes! Peter exclaims
I try to hide the guidebook.
Peter laughs a little bit more and scan the surroundings with a hawkish gaze.
- yes ... and here you are ... do you have lunch break ?
I try to look relaxed.
- Yes you could say that
- gö-ött ... what are you doing nowadays?
Peter measures me with his eyes again.
- ehh, I don't have any job or so right now .... I resigned...gonna try to find something new
I try to speak as low and as composed as possible, but I feel transformed from the peaceful rumorous daydreamer to a tense little boy who is under the microscope of an evil stranger.
- so, you are unemployed? Peter says loudly. Some extra emphasis when he pronounce the condemnation that is unemployment. It's as if Peter really said "so, you're worthless" so everyone in the cafe can hear it.
I blush severely. A red color on my face and some remnant of it seems to remain for the rest of the day; Taint! The redness of shame.
During the conversation that follows, in which Peter, fortunately, doesn't ask about Gina, I think of mountain top fog and that I would like to travel really far away. The Faroe Islands and its green-hilly mountains seems more inviting than ever. The great escape.
Just before we part ways, Peter, my best fiend, asks, suprisingly, if I want to tag along on a afterwork session this Friday (or "Av-ee" as he says). My will; his will that fronts me. Seas between. Send a postcard from the land of compromise.
- sounds nice , maybe... thanks for the invitation...I'll consider it...
- yes .. speak to you later...
- see ya
- Take care!
It seems contradictory to go to After work when you're out of work. There should be something called "Before work" where unemployed customers meet and try to relieve each other's social stigma.
When I lie on the couch later in the day, the feeling of worthlessness has painted me on the inside. "Forget this cruel world where I belong. I'll just sit and wait and sing my song". Outside the window the leaves of the chestnut tree trembles in the wind. The sun is sparkling through the glimpses in the leafage.
Sleep arrives. Rendez vous at the stranger zoo. In the dream, I walk barefoot on the asphalt. I'm going to a forest grove and follow a path down to a beach. Wading over to an island. The water is shimmering light green and the bottom is a mosaic of seashells and rocks. Suddenly a part of the bottom loosens and walks away. It's a crab that runs away laterally, like quick fingers over a guitar's fretboard. The crab has a shield of small eyes that mirrors around. I come across to the island on the other side and enter the dark forest. The pathway leads to a clear-cut where a boy sits and cries.
A lightning conductor is sitting on rooftops to protect a building from the harmful effect of the flash. The flash is led down through a wire and spread out into the ground. A similar device, firmly invisible, should protect a person's soul from mockery and insults. If every human being is like a house, my lightning rod on the roof has failed passing on mocking lightning out into the ground. Every derisive lightning has been uploaded within me and turned into hate and spiteful lust for revenge. I'm ready to explode.
On Wednesday I walk along Third long street. I stroll past what used to be a police station, old apartment buildings, a chestnut tree and a patisserie with a red and white neon sign. The road ends in a bike/walk path lined with rowan trees.
The leaves of the rowans are under the weight of ripe berries. Two opposing yellow brick buildings seem to squeeze the way - I'm standing there in between. Between Scylla and Charybdis. Smash against the hard rocks of safety or drown in the whirlpool of extreme freedom? Make a choice. The Liberal component upgrades the conservative component, but the conservative is protecting the liberal component. I'm under pressure from two different perceptions; "One gets to hate" is up against "one should not hate". How are you doing? We need each other but I'm not there yet. I feel such hatred.
The red color of shame has been reinstated, now manifested like a big stamp over the throat. I turn the other way around and walk up Warmland street and sit at one of the cafes in the intersection below the church of Oscar Fredrik.
The daylight is dull. The sun shines like a foggy dot behind blue-gray veils of clouds.
Order a cup of tea. Borrow a pen from the waiter and go and sit in the shadows. Paint little devils, demons and dead men on a napkin.
I soon finished the tea and headed home. Suicidal thoughts flashed inside.
There was no wind. Fog in the air. Did not see any sky. Somewhere in the distance hollow laughter could be heard. The windows on the other side of the street look like sleepy gray eyes.
In Jon Grimberg's notebook there are several thinkers' thoughts about artistry:
"To the extent that I managed to translate emotions into images, an inner calm came and entered the stage", "The purpose of art is to make the individual free, it does so by awakening, using and developing the individual's ability to keep the material world at a distance of objectivity."
I have begun to feel uncomfortable in the apartment. The couch and the red armchair have become like tumors and they remind too much of myself, or at least about an era that's over. I want to move on. Some phone calls and hours later. Removal men from Gold Moor in dark green sweaters come and pick up the furniture to drive to the dump. I'm going with them. It feels kind of productive. I get a free tip card as an individual but the companies have to pay. Tellus; an extraordinary waste station. Just sit back and watch the clash between ecology and economy. But you have to sit on the floor.
In the truck I talk to Tobias, one of the movers. He says he likes his job because "you get to go around and meet new people", "I can not sit in an office all day." The roaming Life of a mover. Sounds nice.
I don't want to return to the stale office landscape. And all those moronic telephone calls; a mockery of the intelligence. As creative as a stone reading from a list.
At the dump in Högsbo people in bright orange overalls move around and help customers loosen their garbage into the proper container. In the grey air over the containers large well-fed gulls circle around.
Perhaps more noisy, joyful and prosperous here than in the city. They're in their essence, in their correct element, keenly interested. "Interest" , inter and esse, Latin language, to be in the midst, be between, be involved in, encircle. What are my interests?
After the sofa and the armchair have been throwed into the container marked "combustible," I get a lift with the movers to Markland street. It's in their direction. "Thank you". Then I take tram number 8 towards the center. "What is my interest?". A pushed pendulum swings back. Imagine if I had the guts of the gulls and circled as jauntily as them around my key interest. But what's there in the middle? maybe just a hollow room with a spiteful comedian dancing round a pole . And even if I find what I like there's always the money issue ... damn the money! what if I can not afford to do what I like best. A speaker voice on the tram declairs "next ... Crossroad!". I take the next and get off at Berzelli street.
The fog has lifted over the city. Some clouds have yellow splashes from the sun. Leaves are whirling around in pirouettes on the sidewalk below Lorensberg Theatre. "What is my interest?". Nothing is revealed. I stop at a window to an art gallery. Should I try to paint more?. The wind is a bit chilly. What if I'm just a tragic figure who'll never find out what he or she should do. Yes, think about it. But We're all tragic in a way.
I go to the library. Browsing through some books in the art department. In an illustrated biography on Yves Klein, poet of the void , I wade through single-colored images; superpinkred, moss green and eternity deep blue. It turns out that Yves Klein first was very interested in Judo and then became very interested in color. I was first very interested in Gina Söder, football and drinking beer with the lads ... but what now? I flip eagerly through the pages of the book as if a burst in the heart told me that I've possibly found a distant soul mate who can inspire. I also feel the great emptiness ... maybe I can do something with it.
Back home in the apartment I sit on the floor where the sofa stood before. I want to paint something.
But what? To paint emptiness itself is like trying to paint that metallic beeping sound of a heart machine-monitor that buzzes when a patient's heart has stopped beating. It seems too difficult. The only thing I can think of painting is a seagull flying over a dump.
From Jon Grimberg's notebook;
"The Austrian Viktor had a concept he called the Sunday neurosis. With that he meant that kind of depression which afflicts people who become aware of the lack of content in their lives when the rush of the busy week is over and the void within themselves becomes manifest. It is the moment when a human being get sight of the treadmill he is caught in and does not like what he sees". For me the universe has transformed into a Sunday afternoon.
I walk down Gibraltar street . Far away in the background, beyond the brick of Hvitfeltskas school buildings, I sight the Vasa Church tower as a green pen tip against blue-gray cloud banks. What happened to faith? Is it in the grip of religious people giving it a poor reputation? and who only use it for social control, consciously or unconsciously?. Ideologies and religions. I'm not really a believer but I can't deny the supernatural possibility altogether, that would be way too arrogant. Is it true that everybody has a belief system or an ideology and that it would be impossible to act in the world without it ? You might say you're a nonbeliever but your actions makes the opposite claim. In any case, there are vicious hardliners in every camp. Infected with Ideology locked-in syndrome. Caught in a feedback loop in their echo chamber. But what do I know I'm just pidgeonholing again. Remember she used to say that there isn't a proper box for every phenomena. But she was super fast when it came to point to the fact that someone was a white male and as such inherently privileged. "You don't get to complain". Now there's a proper box you can't get out of. Maybe there's a thing called Identity neurosis? - a game they play on the far left and the far right and where individuals are downtrodden and subdued, based on their group identity, to serve a collective madness. Nothing new really. I would like to ask now how my logic and my conclusions are undermined by my membership of a certain statistical group ? - why can't I just be an individual with whims and interests and not an agent for an evil power structure? . Is Post modernism the dominating religion in Sweden. High priests dying in the webs that they spin.
Earlier today, during a mini episode of depression, I wrote a postcard to the Swedish Academy:
I have questions about dignity. I feel that I live an undignified life.
In your word list, the explanation says "rise to high dignity, positions etc". This is unsatisfactory to me. I seek to find a more exhaustive explanation, a psychological semantic network, you could say, to this word. For example , what does it mean to live a dignified life? Can you answer this or do you have any tips about other sources where I can find answers to these questions?
Grateful for help. Answer to. Hannes@zerogravity.com
Best Regards Hannes Tallby ".
Of course I felt super-ridiculous after posting it. I tried to walk it off. Crisis then walk. Patterns of behaviour. Everyday I return to the same shipwreck in my mind and I cannot solve the puzzle there. Can't upgrade the unconscious. Unable to patch the correct link to catharsis. Wrong code, lost keys... and some sinister magnetism of the soul is working against me. The void laughs in my face. And my friends seem to subtly avoid me. I don't blame them really.
After awhile I sit at a bus stop on Teacher street. Coffee mug in hand. The Sundays - Here's where the story ends. Yes but what happens next. Mica once picked me up here at this adress. The car was his church in a way and he almost always drove it on sundays. The freedom of travelling to your choice of locale in an enclosed metal entity and being the one behind the steering Wheel. God, Guns and gasoline.
"Hello" he said. I entered the vehicle and we drove away.
"Do you remember when we went to Stockholm to look at Sweden - Paraguay and we stayed at that shady motel in Solna?"
"Yeah that was fun, Linda was with us... and we listened to Page Hello Hallå Månbasen .... Who was the one who decided the match? .... was it Andreas Andersson?"
"Yes..... awesome times ..."
We went out to Hisingen. Mica called it devil's island. A peculiar silence occured. It was as if we had exhausted our shared bank account of nostalgic anecdotes. I sat and felt the smell of flame retardants. Remember I wanted to get off. Nothing in here moving really. And I can almost never socialize with others for more than fifteen minutes at a time. Brain overload kicks in. He quietly drove. One hand on the wheel and one around the coffee mug. Sometimes he gazed out over the docks,, the cranes and the towering buildings. Squinted eyes in smooth daylight. We came to Eriksberg. The clouds were ridged like fluffy blinds in blue and gray. Then passing through dark tunnels. Near the City Golf we stopped. People stood on the terraces, with varying degrees of seriousness and concentration on their faces, and hit golf balls out over a green field. It swished and popped. "We should hit some balls " Mica said as he was watching one of the golfers. I said sure. We hired some clubs and bought a bucket filled with balls and went up to the terrace . We started to swing those clubs. I tried to make a golf ball land in a big net basket a hundred meters away. From idea to realization. From idea to basket. "Plop!".
Don't know what this memory of Mica -in an automobile going to the driving range - is supposed to mean. Perhaps there isn't a meaning to it, just the daily whims of the brain. Check mate little brother. Chances are the meaning is that I'm not supposed to find a meaning. Would that be considered nihilistic?
Well no, even if I say that there isn't a meaning to life there might still be great value to it.
It was almost dark when I got home. I shivered in the chilly wind outside the house gate. I also quivered from a sense of meaninglessness that I could not get rid of. It is a curse to think about the meaning of life. If I lived in a country subject to the conditions of misery instead of being, as in Sweden, subject to the conditions of boredom, the thought of the meaning of life would never have occurred ..or would it? .. striving for basic necessities had not given me any time to ponder. To strive against misery ... maybe I should help others in need, work at the Red Cross or something. But I feel uneasy as I think of being absorbed and ruled by an organization .... No I would like to have my own little business in some way ... but how is that going to happen? I don't really have any talents I could monetize. The money. Damn. Another train of thoughts that crash into the money issue.
In the dark apartment the TV set is flickering, projecting a cold blue light against the wall where the sofa stood. Some program about genetic engineering. Turn off. Darkness settles like a blanket thrown over the floor.
Remember a hotel room paid with money inherited from grandfather. New York, in march 2000. He turned in his grave. The year before the twins fell. And just after I dropped out of university. End of an era. I had a compact disc walkman as a constant companion. There was something different in the air. A sense of blue-eyed wonder. What did I do? Coffee shops and diners. Walking around buying postcards. I was only 19 so I couldnt get beer in the pubs- couldn't neutralize my perpetual shyness so I mostly stayed in the hotel rooms. Reading, jerking off and listening to music. I am one of those who can say I have masturbated on all the major hotel chains in America. When I phoned home, yes phone booths were still common, I told them I visited the museums and played chess with Stanley Kubrick in Central park ( mom had no idea who he was)
Morning light flowed through the blinds. Just awakening and in the drunk passage between dream and reality,a question about the people who first met in a record store in Athens, Georgia, in 1980, what did they sing about? The song The Great Beyond' bubbled somsewhere outside in the corridor . I got up and looked out the window. Saw a strip of magnificent blue sky above and in between the buildings. And powdery white strokes of condensation from morning airplanes. "I am looking for answers from the great beyond". It became the soundtrack on the shy boy's backpacking tour around the World. Burning that inheritance on extended adolescence. But I found no answers only more questions and nothingness.
What is it ... to be aggressively set towards nothingness? Some twelve years since that essential discovery I still feel a terrible antipathy towards the empty, why can't I just accept it and relish in its perplexing weirdness It's as if the empty is a way of life I despise. How can I be mad at emptiness, which is nothing.? The brain says no and the blood and the viscera says yes, there must be something.
The sky was the bluest I have ever seen and it seemed like I laid eyes on it for the first time and it sang of a wild flora of possibilities, and something beyond the blue seemed to shout on me ... to fall ... to fall into the nameless ... "the nameless".
Emptiness is the unconditional cavity, in a mind that suddenly does not aim for comprehension ... thoughts just spin around the void like flies around a pond in the summer ... they can not be attributed to anything more than their own whimsical movements ... .in quintessential triviality.
The butterfly is fluttering in my mind. But there's another kind of emptiness - the one when futility shows up ...like a flower blossomed out of the assertion ... the empty stands near the stupid ....Am I just stupid? ... Do I move foolishly in circles around a crack in my own essence ? Also there is a light blue version of emptiness, like the glossy sky ... it allows the lack of understanding, it is a bitter jewel. What more can be said about emptiness ; a sense of vacuity that is still saying something.
Grimberg once asked "Is it you or the world that you perceive as empty?." . Maybe I should just go to bed. Is emptiness the disinterest that settles as a film over the eyes and that is preventing me from entering into a relationship with the outside world?
Buzz from the kitchen fan. No room service available on Union street. I'll have to take some sleeping pills now. I can't calm down. My mind is not right. I'm a gibberish machine.
Emptiness fills me . Proof that I have been drained. On/off what? Love, value and meaning, what more? I have wandered around in a gluttony of experience, wasting the inheritance from grandfather .. yet I am empty. In the dream I sink . First through water then through clouds. Plunge down from heaven. At first I was a diver and then I was a skydiver. Far down I see the ruins ... And how I wish that someone will meet me when I land or embrace me in the fall.
A boxer dog sits outside the doorway to Fox Café. Hazel brown eyes squinting in the sun. The stoic registry; nothing new under the sun, yet content. People and leafs pass by along Vasa street avenue. The wind is strong and flags and haircuts wave and flutter. When will I see the stock market listing for the left behind?. Mumbo Jumbo mind but you don't have to make sense, rationality isnt everything. What is the worst? to worship Reason or a God? . I'm walking in the wind's direction, along a column of trees, next to the rollin' leaves. Dear co-drivers. Bear with me. Inquisitiveness and confusion have increased and coincided with wild autumn circulation.
There is something about Vasa street. As if when I walk in the direction towards the School of Economics I inhaled not only refreshing cool air but also ions from the economists' hunger for money and profit. They pray to Mammon. No wonder. I am uncertain whether I despise these efforts or if the contempt is a symptom of a deeper vein of envy that the less fortunate can direct toward the wealthy. "Do you care for the poor or are you just focused on hating the rich?." Good question Borewell.
The night set the tone for the day. I woke up shaken a few hours too early. I dreamt of a prison built of shopping carts, storefronts and abandoned plate. People were ruled by huge corporations who drained their souls and their bank accounts. I was trying to escape from something but was shot. Heard murmuring voices. Friends were missing. Saw dead women and children. Almost no vegetation; just sheet metal, shopping carts and shop windows.
We're many who are crossing Haga park in the blustery wind. Like spiders. We're all tiny spiders on the world wide web. Under the watchful eye of big brother. Or the giants Google, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft. All that information in streams of code stored in a data center in Horndal outside Avesta. In the majority of cases a female spider kills and eats a male spider before, during, or after copulation. Classic fear. I hear Gina's voice after a boring party "Hannes, stop being a damn namedropper ...it's so lame and tiresome ...and stop quoting....think for yourself". Memory distorted and shaped by the here and now. Be here now. In some sense she has killed me. A walking dead spider. Its quiet company.
The sun shines sharply through a breach in the clouds above the Course- and Newspaper library. Inside people sit and read books. Two women and a man, all in Converse shoes and Wayfarer Raybans, stand and contemplate the Raoul Wallenberg Memorial. I go and sit on a bench.
A view of a park somewhere in Jante's country. Polite and silent in a hypocritical miracle of humility. Jante and the consensus Dragon will ostracize anyone who speak up against the ruling narrative. You will be blacklisted and deemed social pariah in no-time if you challenge the holy cows of the public discourse. To disagree is, in itself, enough to be categorized as politically and morally suspect. I bet people would label me as a right-wing extremist simply for thinking this. Better not tell anyone. Censorship runs deep. The real contrarian is a rare bird. Just like the genius. Who dare's to be one in this milieu?
The phone rang. It was Paula.
- Come down to the Cigar and have cup of coffee
- ahh maybe later I have to walk around for a while and clear my head
- I can clear it for you
- alright speak to you later gloomy
Any attempt from another person to actually meet is likely to be postponed to the future. There's something that causes me to push people away, as if they could worsen my condition. But what is my condition? Suicidal-envious-bitter ?. Plus stomach-pain. The Messenger of Allah asked Asma Bint Umais Radi Allaho Anha, How do you deal with constipation? She said, by using Shubrum.
Perhaps I should be more nuanced. What are Jante's upsides ? cooperation, team-spirit? parliamentary trade-offs and compromise, equality, sort of,... not everybody gets to win Eurovision but everyone gets free health care, right? . I'm way out of line. My days are littered with perhaps and maybes. Fair enough.
The restlessness is like thousand little itchy ants in the flesh and it's the motor that keeps me walking these streets. What am I going to do? After a turn up the heights I stand and hesitate outside the liquor store on the Landala square. Car bodies glitter in the sun. A street musician is playing accordion. Music from dreams inspired by the Army of the Twelve Monkeys. A bottle of wine? No, it's too cliché. The contempt for the cliche was something that we shared, me and her. At least that's what I think. But what did it mean? Cliche, a worn stiffened expression.. language dying in its failure to reproduce the experience. A cliche, she saw me like that in the end, as a stiff dead figure. And that's how I view myself now. It's no suprise she left. Bloodless anemic man. I try to shake the thoughts off by moving on. The wandering impulse, both enemy and friend.
I trek past Wawrinsky's place and down the slopes past the dirt-yellow hospital area, down the cycle track, across a bridge, and into the Castle forest. The last couple of days I've found myself thinking more and more about painting as a potential road to resurrection. A spiritual gamechanger and a mood-stabiliser. Transform and transcend. But I've not been able to figure out what I want to paint. I just have that image in my mind of a seagull gliding over a garbage dump. Yves Klein even found his own custom color that he patented; International Klein Blue. He seemed a lot more outgoing and extroverted than me. Lucky bastard. I can't even buy a hot dog without blushing. Neurotiscism - everywhere I go. Mutate now. Jon Grimberg wrote in his notebook; "Once you climb the dominance hierarchy neuroticism will decrease". Screw his hierarchy. He makes it sound so easy. There's too much focus on the vertical life; to advance upwards, to climb to the top, go get that promotion, defeat the others and win!...my nervous system is hardwired to Time and Becoming.
Speaking of painting and artists. I ran into Paul Littner the other night. A poacher's face under the hat brim. We were waiting under the street lights like two gunmen before a duel. Say something, you first. Once the dearest of friends. We were conspecifics except that I was the one in denial. I became some kind of institutionalized clerk while Paul followed his calling, plunged into art school and was now giving exhibitions far and wide. Making his way through the world with imagination and the color and the shape. His latest outings were a bizarre series of paintings of transsexual tug boats. The press adored him and he was hailed as Gothenburg's Dali or something. I feel disastrously envious. And I felt so fake when I met him, "here I come, the biggest scam in town ... I never bloomed, coz I never dared". We finally exchanged the usual small talk phrases; what do you do and where do you live? The conversation was brief and almost formal as if we quickly wanted move away from each other so as not to run the risk of having ones own sphere of thoughts tainted with the others. We have not been close for years. The quirky humor that glued us together dissolved. No more going around the town and hanging old shoes on the tram lines. No more cheap lager parties and philosophical debates in his kitchen on Vega Street. No more habit of painting his neighbour's door with shaving foam " I Love you Kenneth". I can't explain. When he asked me what I was doing these days I should have replied "I'm carrying a whole continent of melancholy inside that I'm trying to paint". He studied me with an elusive impatient gaze. Probably extremely indifferent. He said oh well take care and disappeared light-footed into the night. Paul and I could sit in that red dimness at Café Java and chat in the evenings. Coffee, snuff and remnants of sandwiches strewn across the table. When the cafe closed we continued out to the bars. Neon glittering on young people with potential. I was a cocky visionary on coffee and liquor but when morning came I put on my shirt and headed listless to the customer support cubicle in the suburbs and started to answer those menial telephone calls. At the coffee break when the others were talking about holidays and wage levels I submerged into thoughts and tried to justify to myself why I did what I did ... "If everybody did what they wanted society would not work, there would be anarchy bla bla bla... I am among the ninety-five percent that has to be sacrificed for the sake of convenience and functionality ... by the way, I'm not even sure of what I want ... so maybe this is the best compromise? ".
I'm strolling through the park area. Past the seal pond. Joggers and cyclists and dog-walkers. False, might as well write the word with ink on the forehead. Why did I never become an artist? Intense unsatisfaction in the heated oven that is the now.
At "Fjällgatan" I take tram number 11. Thinking of Paul. A feeling of little needlesticks all over the body; imagine if it's the malicious joy of Paul registered on the psyche litmus paper. A delayed physical reaction. More likely there is a mechanism, in the blind spot of the soul, that must be addressed.
The tram howls like a distant singing whale and lurch down the Stigberg hill. Sand yellow brick facades stand heated and gleam in the sun. The sky is brilliant blue. How the hell can it be this hot in September?
Get off at the Masthugg square. Walk past the pawnshop and sit on the square. Large brown-black pillars stand between the trees. Grave Architecture. It's my own enviousness that itch in me. Crystal clear brother. Discomfort in my own skin. Bag of bones. I have the desire to be someone grand. It was this desire that sparkled in Paul's presence. Two persons, with the same aspirations, had measured themselves with each other, and I had fallen short. Wait a minute, that this measurement even occurs is a faulty connection of perception. If I envy him, wanting what he has, then I have blurred the boundaries between us and equaled our desires ... but my desire can never be identical to someone else's ... or is that idea just a delusion? ..Fragments of thougts crammed like crowds of people entering the subway. I am calling for philosophical clarity but I feel like an insect on the surface of the lake which can never penetrate into the depths because of the surface tension. What a pity ... am I just an envious jealous bastard?
But what is given in terms of experience? that every human being is at the same time universal and unique? yes that is clear enough ... she is commonplacel due to the fact that there are seven billion others who to varying degrees remind her of herself ... unique because her exact experiences will never happen again. A short burst of weird synapse electricity in the lonely universe. A singular bio-electric pattern. The Hannes of 1910 had been different, perhaps a despot in the future. During a war I had undoubtedly been cannon fodder. It's likely that every epoch rewards a certain type of personality ... who is rewarded today, what characteristics? the uber-extroverted media savvy person? whatever. But the difficulty, the difficulty lies in not placing too much emphasis on any of the approaches ... thus neither being too collective or individualistic, maybe I have been too collective, have I reduced people to a number of sociological phenomena and thus equated our desires and given free reign to envy? There is a collective streak in me that strives for equality. But equality can also legitimize enviousness ... envy is the downside of the equality idea, the other side of the coin. However I'm missing something something,what is it? ... is it the individual mystery? that every individual's psychological universe revolves around what she lacks and what she thinks is missing and the roads that leads her to the missing content must be as many as there are stars. It's important for heaven and earth to unite in the philosophical word... is the truth half way? ... but with the truth so far off what good can it do?. She is looking for her lost word that confound her like a memory, an opiate of the past . "You and your questions". This doesn't make sense.
Further away on a bench a woman, or a man, is reading a newspaper. What a rarity in the city, a being not hunched over a cellphone. Serenity seems polished over the forehead.
Envy is not fair. It's a kind of intoxication of the psychological vision, psychic mobility and movement freezes, it's a dialectical breakdown of sorts and a crime against the flow of life. I look outwardly, but not inwardly. I have to try to see what I have and what I can give and stop comparing myself with others. Even if it sounds too dead and cliched.
I sit here now and think about what I have to offer and the seagull floating in the air over the dump is reappearing on the internal projector.
Last night I dreamed of wild boars. A woman sat in what resembled a lotus position on a five-cornered earthy surface. It was inside a fortress somewhere deep in the forest. And she told me how a hungry wild boar could eat a human in thirty seconds and if it was extra hungry you could see the eaten man translucently mummified in the stool. So it was important to be careful when leaving the fortress and going home through the woods. I shivered in fear and wondered about the meaning when I woke up. Was the boar an incarnation in the dreamworld of someone I met during the day, in reality? some hardliner who, greedy and wallowing in hatred, would attack me viciously if I did not keep my distance?. Or perhaps, in a more contemporary passive-aggressive fashion, would start up a demonising smear campaign against me on the Internet. All day I've been trembling in the aftermath of this dream. Some strange evocative symbolism is haunting me, pulling me in, the heraldry of the soul. What does it mean? And also I was struck by the terrible insight, as I stood and looked in the mirror, that I undeniably resemble the boar. The pig/swine/boar ; I think of it as a symbol of gluttony and ignorance. I fear its power over me, and it's the one that only wants me to escape , that makes me dissolve into fragments.
Later in the afternoon I read on Sleepculture.com that If one encounters a boar in a dream it is likely that you are learning to face your fears. It is an ancient symbol of the hero and the warrior. Elsewhere on the web some interpreter writes that if one sees a boar in a dream it means that you must fearlessly search within to discover new things about yourself and how you view the people in your life. Fear and courage seems to be the key here. A dream of a wild boar also represents assertiveness and confrontation; it's a message to be honest in what we do and have the balls to challenge the problems in our life that seem dreadful and uncomfortable. Time to face the demons and the truth or be "boared" to death I guess. Maybe I could start with saying I'm sorry.
Come to think of Wittgenstein's tour of guilt where he traveled around and apologized to his friends. Yes I'm guilty of swinish behavior. During the tour there was a woman who suddenly interrupted him
- What is this ... do you want to be perfect or what?
The philosopher replied quickly as lightning
- Of course I want to!!
Maybe I don't set the bar as high as him but I see that I have to differentiate between actions and people. Striving for perfection in actions is one thing, but the danger is when one, like the pig, plunges into ones own illusory perfection ... spotless. That's what I've done. I think I've become this shady judgmental figure. Too much unbalanced correspondence between the the brain hemispheres.
The boar; a symbol that bubbled up in myself. The family's arrogant and self-satisfied emblem? Remember Peter Höök's words about us in the Tallby family "you are divas, you are". Always so entitled. For the sake of my soul, I have to withdraw from this identification in order not to succumb to family patriotism. They say that patriotism is the last refuge to which a scoundrel clings. "And For the love of god, stop quoting!".
What is required is self-examination. But that's the hardest thing. Facing a sewage system of radiant shame and guilt, the raging resentment, the envy and the nasty perversions. Ludwig says that it is even more difficult to think about, or try to think truly sincere about ones own life and the lives of others. And the kicker is that it's not exciting to think about such things, but often downright disgusting. And when it's disgusting it's most important.
Friday in October. A few nights of frost and tree defoliation accelerates. The leaves dips down to the ground in the cold evening. Like discarded ideas. If only the fanatic could let go of his concepts in a similar undramatic fashion. The leaves of the ash tree have dropped in one go and during the day you could see how a squirrel scampered and crisscrossed between the bare branches. I'm out on the streets wandering about. The paintings I've made so far are mostly rubbish. Just like modern life? I don't even know what modernity means, constant progress and to deny ones past? good riddance. The paintings resemble colorful oil spill. The simple guilt and then shame, everything is a wreck inside my frame...I walk down Engelbrekts street past the Vasa Park's orange and yellow leaf piles. Further down I'll cross Avenyn, the broad mainstreet. Shops, bars, restaurants and night clubs are glittering and pulsating to drumbeats tonight. I'm out of my comfort zone alright. Inside the Cafe Tintin it is packed. I don't go inside. At a shop window to a material store I see brushes, tubes of paint, easels and small wooden dolls. Inside my head I'm being scolded; "you're one of the privileged ... you are white, male, and, I assume, straight ... you have nothing to complain about!" "Oh, so you have to be black, woman and gay in order to complain ? but it seems unreasonable ". As a matter of fact I'm a bisexual without any homosexual experience, does that make me a little bit more qualified as a complainer? Identity politics. Pitting groups against each other. And only the supreme victim gets to speak freely. Where will it end. The university is churning out brilliant bureaucrats who are marinated in gender science. Mind the web they cast out.
Wait. Maybe I'm doing it again. Seeking out an imaginery enemy to whom I will project everything that is damaged within me. Just like Grimberg seem to do with Postmodernism in his inflammatory youtube videos. And it's not even accurate. Wasn't I suppose to gaze internally ? But the culture in which I live is affecting me nonetheless and I have to become aware of it's workings. The streams of tendencies.
I recall another exchange. The discussion broke down when I said that it's not interesting to talk about class. We should talk about individuals. Vanja were a bit more reddish in the face and more biting in the tone:
- It's only the wealthy and the well-off who talk like that! ... You only think of yourself!
Words sharp as razor blades when I think of them now. Perhaps they'are close to the truth. Of course she feels marginalized and discouraged. She is more gay than me. On top of that, she's a woman trying to make a career in the backstabbing world of academia. Sweet angry sister. I can see her, giving lectures at the ethnological department with a decadent scarf around her neck. Every time she formulates an important point she shape the hands like she measured the most important of salt between her fingers. "The Salt of Life". And the rigid structures of the patriarchy.
I go further. Across the avenue. Two black-dressed girls stand and smoke outside Locatelli. Pearls of colored lights hang above them. They seem to talk about a mutual acquaintance. "Oh, he's so dismissive! ". At the bottom of the street there is a strong violet shine against a facade. There is something about this light, the color is saying something in my time of indignation and indifference. Violet, strong purple what does it mean? . The ambivalent colour. Unbinary bliss, I could live inside this, here I can accept cognitive dissonance but first a few pints.
On the quiet Wadmans street I look at the houses. On one of the French balconies there is a silhouette of two bodies standing opposite to each other surrounded by the yellow shine from the window. Finally, I see that there is a bird cage with a rag on top hanging in the window. Irony -the song of a bird that has started to like its cage ?. Are you gonna break your rusty cage?. Outside on Engelbrekt street, traffic is whizzing and I hear the screams and exclamations from the nearby football fields. Players, coaches and bystanders let's you know that the game is on. "Mark him!, do not let him go" . A thought like a claw, Hitler was also, like me, a failed and desperate artist at the beginning of his career. Do I also carry the possibility of becoming a mass murderer?. What does it take to become a fanatic like that? A bitterness over the Treaty of Versailles?. The dehumanized spirit. That guy is too much of a mystery - he is like the archetype of evil now, while Jesus is perhaps to some the good archetype, these are the two limit cases of the psyche. It all keeps adding up. Luckily I'm just a basket case.
Take a cab. Where do we go from here, the words are all coming out weird where are you know when I need you. I don't know if it's nostalgia reshaping and modulating my memory or not but I feel like Gothenburg was once a more magnetic city full of life. Gina's dark allure back then. Institutionalised. Different clinic than me. I have to be so pretty when I meet her. Fuming euphoria no sleep and neglected food intake. Trädgårn, the electronic pulse and the resolute urgency of now. Redbull and Vodka. And what happened to that bar on Magasin street? Upwards and forwards. Fooling around in the bar and Matti Alkberg was singing right in front of us and said in between one of the songs, that one day it is all over. All the people that I didn't get to know. So many things overlooked. Barred by neurosis and time itself. I come home. I stand outside the apartment door. A perplexed space monkey. Letting the days go by. How did I get here? In to the blue again after the money is gone. I go inside and sit by the window. Black cars and blue cars go by down on the street. Backwards and forward. The names and places I know. Alright I cross the same old ground, yeah. Automobile noise.
Faulting, folding, crack, tectonic foliation and magnetic susceptibility. Concepts that occupy his attention. Leo the geologist. I know he's doing fieldwork in chart area 26 J Jokkmokk to investigate the bedrock of Norrbotten. Somewhere in the coniferous forest, he stands in too big pants, the cap tilted backwards and with his eyes meditating over measuring instruments. It was clear from the outset that he would devote his life to the wonders of stones and minerals. When grandmother asked us to send her drawings Leo always sent her pictures of rubies, emeralds and sapphires together with the appropriate information. I remember sending her an underwater view with a big shark and a fleshy human leg bleeding amidst thickets of seaweed and bladderwrack. Remember Leo's neat room, the meticulously labeled stone collection in small wooden shelves on the wall and his snappy irritation which often rose to fury when I crossed the threshold. "Go away!" "You bother me... severely!". I was chaos to his order. I often imagined that I was the one who caused his epilepsy. His brain finally went syntax error when it couldn't make sense of the mean-spirited havoc his little brother thrust upon him.
When I fiddled with the stone collection Leo sometimes went haywire. If he caught me he would bang my head against a wall or, if it was a more mild punishment, he'd turn around the wrists or to drive up my arm behind my back and push my face against the floor. And then I had to take the oath "I am a stupid wanderer who promises to never touch my brother's stones, stamps or tapes ever again... I swear." But the prohibition only made it even more attractive to enter Leo's forbidden domains. In his room was where I secretly discovered Lou Reed and that there was a country called Papua New Guinea. In his haven he colour-coded everything and his collection of tapes was streamlined alphabetically. The rug had an exact position that was not to be displaced. The fish in the aquarium were fed at precise time points. I never found any pornography, I suppose he outsmarted me there. Or perhaps he was asexual. Sometimes I would ambush him and lie in wait with a peashooter and the moment he'd walk by I'd shoot a grain of corn into his body and awake the sleeping beast. The subsequent howling frenzy of Leo was, as long as he did not get hold of me, my intoxication; I totally devoted myself to the destructive euphoria that Leo's outburst endowed me.
It's a hazy day. Light and grey. A bit cooler than yesterday. I walk around the city, it has become a routine now. Here I slide, the baron of idleness. I come from nothingness and I shall return to nothingness, is that how it is?
Sad to think of Leo. It feels like it's too late to reach out him now. We've been fighting too much over the years. Should I call him? What would we say to each other?
Down by the quay seagulls are hovering lazily in the wind, over old boats and rocks . Their message; "It's business as usual in the Sunday republic". A person in a green jacket stands with a casting rod at the pier. Dog sits by his side. I think the name of that dog is Chance. Hoping to find one circumstance, of dignity.
I pass a Mongolian restaurant. Leo and I sat there once. He had that questioning pitying look that finally, after some attempts at conversation, led me to resign myself to silence. Fragments from the dialogue swirl up like bubbles from the bottom.
- I see myself more like a japanese really ... because I share their fear of both emptiness and fullness ... and I certainly share their fascination with the bonsai tree and other miniature worlds
Leo put the fork in the chicken wing and grimaced as if he had heard something extremely discordant. He said slowly
- that sounds like pure nonsense to me ...do you think you can be more specific?
- Well ... it's just about the same as saying that you're equally afraid of both congestion and desolation
- just about the same? ..... but do you have to be japanese to feel that way?
- Ah ... I don't know .... It just sounded kind a cool and strange ....
- yes, that was strange
To change the schedule, to uneconomically and spontaneously circumvent a plan is for Leo to swear inside his church. And perhaps that's the reason why we never will find each other. I will always be an impossible scatterbrain in Leos eyes. Or am I the one being too categorical now?
Narrow Tailor street. An artist weaves and unweaves his own image. A cat on the steps. Mr Cat, He who only know his side of the case, knows little of that. Pretentious bastard. Lynx Lynx. If you meet a Lynx cat in a dream the message is that you have to evaluate and share your secrets in order to learn something new about yourself. If the lynx in your dream is black, it means you need to approach a situation with objectivity. When I masturbate I often think of voluminous women. Very few know, and very few would care if I do.
Back to Leo. I have condemned him in my mind many times... He's an empathy-weak technocrat bla bla... he will never see the value in anything I undertake. I'm the parasite of this town.
Approaching Nordstan. The gray in the sky has begun to darken. The murmuring and buzzing symphony of the city increase in strength. Sirens, gulls, tires against the streets, bus engines idling at the stops, trams creaking in their tracks, an exclamation! and scattered quakes from formations of jackdaws over roofs and towers. The statue of Gustav Adolf stand green and admonishing on the square.
I stand at a borderline, which I have to pass. Leo. Have I focused on the differences rather than the similarities ? His almost fanatical pursuit of objectivity is perhaps not so remote to me after all. Just think of all the strange little formulas I made since the breakup with G. I seek firmness, a bright spot of explanation to hold on to when everything around is split and scattered like a deck of cards in the wind. Gina, friends, work ... lost platforms that only concealed the black depths below.
Passing over Queen Square. Four blue flags with motifs of yellow lions tremble in the wind above a cluster of parked bikes. Entering the central station. The commuters are in serious motion. An old bell above the wood panel shows twenty to five. The Lioness. Mother. I grew up in a matriarchy, I can't complain about that. Served you well spoiled bat/brat. Me and Leo strolled here the last time we met. His train was delayed and we were killing time. Leo stopped and looked at the maps high up on the wall in the waiting hall. Bohusbanan, Roslagsbanan... He broke the seal of silence.
- Maps, they are good ... because they are objective
- Oh, really?
Standing on the platform asphalt. Trains come and go across the switchyard. They disappear in a clutter of wires, pipes and lights. I give every leaving train a name. There goes Gina, Leo, Paul and there goes Sheragim. Who I really am to them I will never know, And I cannot grasp the fleeting evolving substance of their personalities; their obsessions and their particular flaws. I just have my onesided version, a view that is filtered through my narcissism. I hear their mumbling voices , like auditive stamps on an inner mass of sound; "Hannes, when will you stop talking shit?" "Do you do what you really want to...?" "Checkmate little brother ". And, sailing from adolescence, the groaning words of a confirmation priest "and here we have another man ... lost in the wanderings of the intellect ". Throw a coin down the well of memory and see the fading shimmer ..." and there we have one more man ... lost to religious superstition". No later undoing will undo the first undoing. I still love you redhead. You are not an essence, you are your memories plus more, in essence. But memory is horse-trading with imagination. It's time to leave mr Balderdash.
In the evening gray-violet clouds roam across the sky, some glowing on the fringes in a memory of the sunset.
On the Melancholy continent there are no butterflies, at least no day butterflies, as they require a lot of sunlight to survive. No, the only flying inhabitants over this dreary landscape are the crows, the jackdaws and the vultures - and these have here the ability of speech and have an unprecedented memory; they use every word a person ever uttered and throw it back at him/her/it in the most scornful of ways, which in itself is the reason why people here are so terribly quiet. One could say that the crows & co represent the continent's temperament and political ideology that seem to strip the words of their healing potential and instead, through an unknown diabolical doctrine, convert them to tormentors. If the birds do not succeed in destroying the healing power of words, they are instead made to ash by combustion in huge blast furnaces. The main words are put into combustion units where they first are being scaled off and humiliated and then inverted to their opposite meaning... so love becomes hate and so on and so on ... then they are cooked to produce energy for the coterie in power on the Melancholy continent.
Somewhere far out, among burned farmland in a gray haze , there's a train stopped under the curved "T" of an electric pole .Two men are outside the rust red figure of the locomotive in an eternal dispute about the direction of travel. They both serve the financial elite but they just don't know about it. The railroad is falling apart just like the rest of the infrastructure but the population's raging discontent is directed elsewhere towards an abstract other. And if even if they could speak up it would be really hard now when the words have been defused and transformed.
On the melancholy continent Shame and Guilt holds you down like some menacing supernatural force of gravity. You feel naked, destroyed and humiliated and Time is dragging you slowly back'n forth through a hall where scenery from your failures and fears are repeatedly projected onto the walls.
The Lie thrives as a plant (The Plant of Deceit) here and secrete a musty stuffy odor and a bland black gas-like material that prevents sunlight from reaching the ground.
On the only radio station, which is in cahoots with Blast Furnace Holdings, they only play the HD Symphony Orchestra (Hopelessness and Discouragement Symphony Orchestra). Their sounds are created to corrupt the thinking capacity and to weaken the words and the butterflies. Authorities and experts around the world are asking What is the solution for the Melancholy continent?. According to some ancient sources The Melancholy continent was once the continent of the sun and words and butterflies where flying free and living rather prosperously. The question is how to dispel the darkness, the scornful vultures and the total domination of Blast Furnace Holdings?
The outside world is speechless and bewildered facing the problem ...
"We can not just let them die over there". Aid consignments of "love" and "truth", in combination and individually, have so far only had very little impact on the deadlock. Foreign negotiators involved in the matter are now wondering if it is a change of strategies that must be achieved; "Is it time to play hardball now ? our more pragmatic and diplomatic negotiations seem to have stranded"
On the wall, just above where the couch was, I nailed a piece of hardboard and covered it with cloth. I'm trying to paint the continent. Leo has, in his way, inspired me to start mapping the melancholy continent.
Everything has to be there; vultures, crows, the locomotive, the two quarreling men and in the distance the smoking chimneys of Blast Furnace Holdings and last but not least the Plant of Deceit. Sometimes I disappear in some focused yet meditative activity sometimes it just feels silly.
One evening after two days of eager work I stand emaciated and hungry and look at the coloured jumble that now adorns the wall. Cars rush past outside the window. It's cold and draughty on the day of Insipid men. What a horrible painting. I roll up in a fetal position on the bed.
During the night, the fetal position becomes a capsule submerged in an azure sea. Streaks of light like diagonal spears cut down through the surface. Someone similar to Gina swims farther and farther away. The capsule floats up on a beach and I get out. A black dog delivers a paper on the promenade of a city that looks like Nice in southern France. There is a message written in ink on the front. "In the dusty city ... the ongoing counterfeiting of the heart ...".
I'm lying on the floor listening to the Coltrane disc you sent me a few years ago. All idiotic ideas and fragments and taunts are dissolved in jazz incantation; the unnecessary, that has clinged to me, dissolved like an effervescent tablet in a glass of jazz after another day of wandering about - thank you for installing this opportunity. I do not know if you've heard what happened to Gina, but we broke up and I've been trying to remove myself from the crime scene and the terrible radiation that now encircles Gothenburg, this Chernobyl of love. At first I thought of going to the Faroe Islands, but the economy has been tough, so now I plan to immerse myself in painting.
You may have heard from Gavin Dowe that I resigned from work. I remember you asking me, "why don't you do what you want to do ?" and you probably knew how much I really hated my job. I'm like the rest of us, I dare not say what's really on my mind. But now I have come up with the answer to that question, I simply have not dared to break the circle until now ... I also did not have a clear vision of what to do ... until now! .. I'm letting the colors speak again!
The things you said are coming back to me now. "You're just envious if you don't do what you really want to". Perhaps that's not entirely true but it serves as a starting point for me.
I have to "kiss my fate", find my path and stop envying Paul Littner because he, and not me, has become Gothenburg's Dali in contact with the underworld. Here a crime has occured ... the role model and the hero has been reduced to the envied object because I could not stand the critical comparison between us-it will not happen again! Maybe this oscillation between role model and envied object happens all the time and especially if you are friends. I think that I often envied you when I instead should have been taking notes and be learning from you.. (this may sound flattering and false, but this is how I see it now). Possibly the key to the split with Gina is connected to the previous thoughts; she distanced herself from the person I had become ... one solidified cliche of envy and resentment, a motionless and stunted office rat inside a psychological cage of inhibitions ... and seen in this light I really should thank her, she gave me a chance for renewal and revolt ... (I would have called and thanked her but there are limits to the pathetic maneuvers)
The last thing I can write is that I'm not too distressed, the most stressful thing is the financial drain on the money from grandfather - I can see him turning in his grave and cursing me from the kingdom of Death.
So, until the next time, thank you for inspiring me,
Now I'll try to paint myself into freedom!
Best regards Hannes
(sorry for the psychological mumbo jumbo :)) "
Drip drop drip drop. Water droplets slowly slide down the windowpane. A dead fly lies bent inwardly on the disc next to an empty blue tube of paint. The sky is gray like industrial smoke and the lights of the quarter begins to light up in the afternoon's descent towards evening. A woman in an oilskin coat strives in the wind with a red umbrella. Along the asphalt water flows into the wells. "Lenny Bruce was not afraid". A dog barking, abandoned and needy, in humid airspace. His or her sound mingled in the whirlpool of engines and the sleepy beat of the rain. Outside a restaurant the flashing warning lights from a poorly parked old Volvo. On Faktum's editorial page a writer has written that Gothenburgs information policy should be transparent and cooperative but that the reality is different. Taxi driver underscores his mustache and speak with the passenger of the horrors of the war in Iraq and that almost nobody talks about death in Sweden, not in cafes anyway. In a classroom at Schillerska there is a teacher who says... ".... and with great difficulty, the philosopher must, in his system thinking and criticism, seek to avoid the allure of utopia ..... but Heidegger couldn't avoid this ...I think it has to do with him being excessively sexual but that there is just my personal opinion". Why is my neck so stiff ? it must be that I sat for a long time in front of the computer. Or is it because I have censored myself too long. Never speaking my mind. I have unconsciously trained my psyche to take endless detours.... into the not so quinetessential trivialities. Or I could be wrong. What should I eat tonight. I have to stop ordering take-away Bibimbaps.
Flickering silent TV-screen. Droning song "Night falls on Hoboken" sounding from loudspeaker.
To interpret. A person who disapproves of the meaning of subjective interpretation, referring to a universal truth when regarding experience, runs the risk of embracing ideological dogmatism or blurry history philosophy ... he denies himself as a co-creator in every knowledge process. And also denies his loneliness with his conscience when he confuses the latter with morality, collective norms, fashion or even God. But what is it to follow ones conscience and to make "interpretations"? it is a tightrope between prejudice and perception and if so it is important to highlight ones prejudices and beliefs, and in this light, in parallel, never believe to be clean and free from prejudice. Nothing is clean in itself. Only the dogmatics believe that. The hovering volatile ideal has stiffened inside them. And no-one is allowed to break their mental ice. What is the Fall but the pursuit of a truth and the assurance that you have found it. And then the eagerness to pass it on, to share your fullness. I have to keep the mind vigilant. That is, as far as perception is concerned, as if I did a parallel indian dance - intellectually there has to be two tightrope-walkers walking at the same time and in opposite direction to one another. It is analogous to the poet's verse "one truth comes from outside and another comes from within, and when they meet, you can catch sight of yourself". What happens when this dual direction of the knowledge process is forgotten? I think especially of domains where the natural sciences cross the humanities - such as the increasingly biologically oriented field of psychiatry, where man is more or less reduced to an animal. Drives, desires and neurosubstances. One might imagine that for some people who have an overproduction of, for example, dopamine in the nucleus substantia Nigra, they have fallen for congestion, exaggeration and 'overinterpretation' ... this could be the case with myself ... I have since G's departure become a devoted nicotine user. Nicotine specifically stimulates dopaminergic circuits in nucleus accumbens and might generate an overinterpretation plus a hypersensitivity of external stimuli and can then contribute to thoughts, images and events that may seem strange and alien. And the strange interpretation is then dismissed as sick, pathological, horrible, vulgar, bizarre. How many synonyms for stew are there ? I sound confused. I have to question perception more. And remember Simone Weil calls for love for the truth, the pursuit of humility .... humilitas .... the dual direction of perception must not be forgotten ... just as the pious religious mind can not confuse the light with the powers of darkness.
When I stop painting depression returns with that evil bird in my mind. It's the end of the line. The hand has not been able to transfer the dream to the cloth on the wall. The gap between the vision and the result breaks my spirit. I want to disappear into the paintings and sometimes, for short sleepy moments, I think I'm doing it. But the fall back to reality makes me freeze and shiver to the bone.
It's a tuesday afternoon early October. I sit and smoke under the awning at the cafe cigar. Burned-out after painting a board that I call the Plant of Deceit. It was lousy.
Here I sit. A crass and indifferent westerner. The tip of the cigarette is glowing and blue smoke is meandering calmly away in cool air. Smoke; the transition of matter into spirit. The soul leaving the dead body and becoming a ghost; one who has faded into impalpability through death, through absence, through change of manners. Mother is dead and gone. A phantom in our hearts and minds. I guess it's too late to say the things that you needed to hear me say. Did I ever became what you wanted me to be? And vice-versa. Death by pancreatic cancer, just like Pavarotti. Pancreatic cancer - afflicting people with too much pathos? What happens to the indifferent ones? early onset dementia? . Objection, your Honor, the question calls for speculation!
Dad is on my tail about getting a job. When he's calling everything gets tense. My voice turns insipid and stiff and utter words that are not mine ... it's as if I dissociated from myself during those occasions and silently drifted away in a balloon. Being yourself is not really accepted. I can not in his presence - shame! . He is like a customs officer or tax collector I try to avoid. I remember that year after she died. Silence and long gray hours. Sitting and painting in my room and he came through the door.. an austere face. " Have you found yourself an education yet? ....What are you gonna do with your Life?". I was 21 and twice a college dropout. What is it that makes me hate myself in his presence ... what is he doing?
I dipped a brush in foamy water and looked out the window
- ... you know, you can not just sit here and mess about all day, ...
No answer. The desire to be elsewhere reached a new record level. If I could become a bird.
- ... I have also been twentyone years old and believed I could paint paintings ...
Persist in silence, but the rage ís rising and I want to scream ... old bastard! why can't you leave me alone ?
The pigeons huddle around the little cabin-like building containing Pressbyrån. I smoke. The memory of anger is mixed with the present. A red stamp of redness returns to the throat . What if the old man is right? "We are copies of each other" . But I'm not an esteemed engineer and entreprenuer eager to mold my ideas into business. He is less stubborn these days, and more appealing even. When he phoned me the other day he said that he could hook me up with the right Contacts. Maybe set up an internship. But at the first glance, I knew there was no chance, to come into contact or to find a new compact. Unidentified men. I have to think about it, I said.
Fumbling. I light another cigarette and head off on a hike up Linné street. Yellow leaves lay like stamps along the rain-soaked pavement. Blue buses roar past. The dining area outside the speckled bricks of the Haga cinema looks deserted. Parasols are rolled up. The playful summer cruiser is wrapped and stored ... hard is the autumn's armory. Over copper-red roofs rays of weak sunllight is beaming through the grayness. The windows on the Linnea church tower look like charred eyes, ravaged by fire.
The most Swedish of things is to supress your feelings. Hence the awful silence between us. Everyday phrases and high trust keeps the machinery intact. Feelings are like radioactive waste safely hidden in deep geological repositories. . We can never let them out ... except on fridays and saturdays when we drink ourselves senseless. Speak for yourself god dammit! Repressed llttle boy.
Tears want out. The street shimmers in watered lenses. And here's an impulse to quickly seek out mother's grave. As if someone would be there.
I turn left to Djupleds street. Dizziness and breathlessness. Stop and look back one last time. The church tower stands with charred gaze above yellow leafage and a group of women with baby strollers walk past. Moma issues. I have them. A titman rather than an assman?
The fire is out in me or perhaps I've never had it in the first place, it was just an illusion ... I'm just normal after all. Windy thoughts and cliches. Psychoanalysis... "X must completely submit himself to the mother in order to attain her goodwill and the father had been absent and unable to protect X against the influence of the mother". There's a sickening feeling that I am attached to her, as if I was tied to a sinking ship in the ocean. I have not been able to wriggle myself out of her grip. Caustic grip. Abuse. I only managed to deny the grip by fleeing, constantly escaping without really solving the dilemma. And I jump from one idealized person to the other. But the chains between us meanders like roots and her shadow is still over me. Spoiled anguished narcissist born in the 1980ies. Death by subjugation. Couldn't break free. Lost the keys in Göta river. She was hungry, she required me entirely.
Keep walking. Djupleds street merges into Risås street which is sheltered by the lushness of Skansberget. Alcohol. I have to have alcohol. as soon as possible. Old brick Buildings and a stretch of black balconies lead the way down to Upper Husar street where traffic is roaring. I visit her in the kingdom of Death. I've come to return the prince halo you gave to me ... it has not helped me in any way ... it just made me far too frail and airy fairy ... but thank you for trying to make me feel loved ...... in exchange for the Halo I want the colors you stole away from me ...
At the crossing. Sorrow paints the silence.
"The plant of Deceit" is drying on canvas on a wall in the apartment. I have opened a bottle of wine. Daylight is fading. Through the ventiilation duct I can hear Boswell speak about Samuel Johnson
"the most important thing to him, he said, was to escape himself."
If this seems incomprehensible, it may be because of the wine.
Today I think of fire or lack thereof. The fire has died down in me and a large steamroller has flattened all imperfections, squashed a surface of asphalt over the green frills and sprays - it is the asphalt of the modern consciousness that has flattened me and it does not want to know any limitations (or deviations from the linear), limitation is a word that abuses its intrinsic and bulimic quest to take possesion of everything. But I can still remember the entrance to the forest's restful theater and how the asphalt's gray-black tongue transformed into the gravel, pine cones and stumps of the path.
Did the poison of lameness occur when calculation and numeration polluted spontaneity? Hear the bank adviser's voice, see his ironed salmon red shirt.
- one thing of importance is to ensure a reasonable return on investment. (and Believe in constant growth. Nature is there to serve. )
The fire need not only be associated with spontaneity; it can as easily be linked with bureaucratic zeal and the desire for order, purity and rigor - which finally constructs an image with symmetrical lines of black, white and blood red that we recognize, it resembles a swastika symbol.
In the dream, I found a burned-out fireplace in the forest. A thin gray column of smoke was slowly ascending up in the sky as if it was hoisted home from outer space. In all senses it felt like the game was over. A giant crow on the outskirts gave me a quick watchful eye and then flew away.
Perhaps I could not master the fire given to me. Gina's disappearance is another indicator of that. If the fire symbolizes power, warmth and vitality then I have misused the faith of the godhead and instead been ravaged by the seamy side of it ... depression, destructiveness, sadism ... what more?
I was nine years old and I can easily recall the excitement of the text "Extremely Flammable" which was on the back of the acetone bottle I found in the kitchen cabinet. And then the ideas came to me, sweet and phosphorous, filled me with the devil's crooked smile. A few minutes later the shed in the back was on fire with crackling flames. I see the adults around the burning shed with water hoses and buckets , trying to stop the fire. The fire ran amok that afternoon. Was it a result of my desperate cry for motion and power ?. If I can't create anything then I will aim for destruction. I still get that pyromanic impulse from time to time. I can't explain. All those passive moments are interconnected. Forming a disturbing pattern. I see how I've been sitting still for ages, almost paralyzed. I was like a spiky ornament that the grownups brought to and from family reunions and dinners ... and I hear a comment from G a long time later, "Hannes, you never say anything". And everything seems interlaced in a terrible manner. Gina was just another version of my mom ... the horror!. It was the same ... evertyhing suppressed was building up until the pressure became unbearable. "Are you going to be a silent mussel just like your dad ???" said the mother. Some kind of expression might have saved me. Instead an erratic burst of madness kicks off when the pressure cooker of the self-censored mind explodes.
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