Category Archives: Thoughts

Jonathan Franzen on the 19th-Century Writer Behind His Internet Skepticism – Joe Fassler – The Atlantic

Ideen om at vi er nødt til at begrænse brug af alle de muligheder vi har nu til dage, tiltrækker mig meget.
Det er som om det er i vores tidsalder at det er blivet meget aktuelt.
Det gælder for vores energiforbrug, brug af plads og naturens resourcer, de muligheder som videnskab giver os eller som her brug af det sociale internet:

Jonathan Franzen on the 19th-Century Writer Behind His Internet Skepticism – Joe Fassler – The Atlantic

“The groupthink of the Internet and the constant electronic stimulation of the devices start to erode the very notion of an individual who is capable of, say, producing a novel.”
  • Good novels are produced by people who voluntarily isolate themselves, and go deep, and report from the depths on what they find.
  • And so it seems to me that the writer’s responsibility nowadays is very basic: to continue to try to be a person, not merely a member of a crowd.
  • I’m trying to monitor my own soul as carefully as I can and find ways to express what I find there.

Languages Again

As ever I have trouble finding out which language to use when I write, and who knows, even when I think. I have been writing in English the last years, but I try to speak Danish in my normal life (not to mention the other languages that are running around somewhere in my head).
Lately I started writing some more things in Danish, and as I didn’t know where to put these on this English blog, I decided to add a wordpress.com blog in danish to it. Just to keep things gathered in the right places. I’ll just see what happens with it, as I don’t want to force me to use a certain language. When I read a book in Danish or Dutch, my natural reaction is to write about it in its language, and the same happens when I listen to a radio program, a video or whatever.

For now I decided to try not to worry about it, even though I know that as a result of changing languages none of them will perhaps be used in an eloquent way, but I will put my trust in the eventual power of simplicity. I have to.

Think, talk and write.

Following the news and joining debates about the political, social or even financial issues is perhaps beneficial for democracy, but I am not always sure about it. Nowadays in our fast media there is a lot of debate and action going on about thousands of things. Do we need all these fast opinions, or should those important debates take place in a slightly slower pace, with thoughtfull people who have studied the subject for a longer time because they have a genuine interest in the subject?

A lot of the news in the media is created by the media itself. They live from producing news and that’s also what they do, every day. We, the audience, need to be conscious and aware of our world. What is it we need to know, what are our interests and needs? If we know then we can decide what news is for us, and we can adjust our daily intake of it.
There is so much debth in every problem that remains in the dark, that it can make one feel rather hopeless sometimes.
Take for example history. As a young student we would ask the teacher: “What is the use of history, why do we need to learn all this old news?” We probably got an answer that didn’t really satisfy us, as we couldn’t really grasp its meaning.
Now I know. There are so many things that happened before, yes – there is nothing new actually – that it is amazing that we often are unaware of it. We make the same mistakes again and again but we treat them as something unique and new, and we try to find some sort of solution that will work for the moment. But how many times could we have foreseen it? Did we learn from previous occasions?

I had written these thoughts down some days ago, but decided not to publish them as I was unsure about their value. But I just read on Thomas Nyhland’s blog (in swedish) that he stops talking about politics. One of the reasons is that he doesn’t want to be dragged into endless, and in his opinion often not well-thought, political discussions – also because he feels that he already clearly stated his opinion on numerous occasions.
Part of his reasoning might come from the same sort of feeling that I tried to express here. One can write about politics, or one can try to focus on one’s deepest voice inside. In our information-overflow world, where everybody has a voice, these two things can probably not be combined.

I never liked fairy tales

(edit: I found this post from febr. 2008, written just before I started this blog. I might as well publish it here. I’ll write soon about how/why I found it)
H. C. Andersen. Source: Wikipedia

I never liked fairy tales, not even as a child. Yesterday I visited the H. C. Andersen museum in Odense and it didn’t really help me to change my mind. As a boy I liked the set-up of the stories, the athmosphere and questions that arose during the reading. I often was wondering how the story would end and how all problems would be solved. But the solutions that were offered to create an end to the stories were most of the times very unsatisfying. It was as if the writer didn’t know himself and just when it became interesting he or she created a witch or a fairy to do some magic and suddenly solve all unsolved endings. And they live happily ever after and got many children. Boom! End.

I had in mind that H.C. Andersen and the Grimm Brothers used old folk tales and other sources and I got the idea that those original sources might be more interesting than these uninspired endings.

During my visit to the museum yesterday I got the impression that H. C. Andersen was a hard working writer that gave almost everything in order to succeed. He tried many things to get his career going and apparently had the plan of producing as much as possible and hoping that something might work some day. This fits with my idea of the writer of the fairy tales being someone who knew how to write a story but who didn’t had much to add.

It is also interesting to make a comparison between all his travels and visits to the upper class of Europe, and an, especially in our days, often advised managment plan of making one’s name known by giving interviews, lectures and making as much noise as possible. His travel activities must have helped him making a career in writing, which might explain part of his fame.

According to the museum there are some reports of H. C. Andersen being unaware of the impression he made during these visits (most striking when visiting Charles Dickens) and probably unjustly combined with the fact that the seemed to be unsuccesful with woman I got the idea that he might have been a hard working man that had his mind set up on succeeding as a writer.
The texts of the exhibition gave the impression that he wasn’t perfectly happy about his private life. It must have been tough for the young H.C. to become anything at all considering his unfortunate background, so his determination must have been vital for him during the main part of his life. One wonders if it didn’t turn into an obsession that ruled his life a little too much to become happy. It is nice that people like his stories but it must have been even more important for him as a person to live a happy life.

The Light

Music: Hank Williams – I saw The Light (1948)

It is hard to think of a truly good reason for us humans being around, if you ask me. There are several reasons possible, but which one you choose is depending whether or not you are religious, positively minded or for example an oblivious sports fan. If you are not one of the lucky ones that can somehow find a reason, chances are that you are wandering around trying hard to find some purpose in life.

Not knowing what it all is for is one of the worst things that can happen to you. When there is no good reason for the existence of any part of the world around you, why would you bother trying anything, or even care about something?

The one thing we do care about is our own person. We are the ones that see, feel and hear the world, and most of us are aware that we have a huge influence upon the interaction between ourselves and our surrounding. This means that the best thing to do in life is to develop ourselves and to be good to us and the people we meet.

This isn’t always easy though, because when, for whatever reason, you meet boundaries that limit your possibility to develop or when you never seem to meet anyone willing to share at least some goodness with you, you might feel like your life is an endless trying to swim up the river with hardly any gain what so ever.

Lucky are those that find their call, their niche, and that find a way to build upon their talents, to open up unexpected possibilities within themselves and their world, to blossom.

If you manage to, let’s say, start a bank in your neighbourhood, and you love your work and things go well, you thrive and will be able to do good to yourself and others.

If not, you struggle and hopefully will try again and again, and one more time. Will you ever see the light?

Religion can serve as such an opener, as it gives, without needing any prequalifications, a sudden goal and aim in life. Here you can be good to others and therewith also to yourself. Your life has meaning, you are saved from trying and trying, no more swimming upstream.

Maybe that is was drives us, whether we become a bank director or a good religious person, we are saved and have a purpose, we are doing well and feel happy.

And who knows, this might include the answer why religion is less attractive in the western world at the moment. We have many opportunities to become bank director, nurse, a world traveler or a splendid partner. We can choose from many possibilities with hardly any financial or material worries.

Wikipedia thoughts

I looked up the word Lucifer on Wikipedia and read a Danish page that explained me that it is the name of a roman god and that it later was used in, for example, the Bibel to describe the planet Venus. In the late middle-ages it became a synonym for the devil.
The link to the Dutch version of that page leads to “Lucifer (Satan)” with no mention of the roman predecessor or a planet. In the overview-page of all articles in Dutch containing Lucifer there were many options (popband, novel, satan etc.) but non about the roman god. There was a one sentence mention (not a page) about Lucifer being “an old Latin name for the planet Venus”.

It irritates me that a general article in Danish about the name Lucifer is linked to a Dutch article about the devil, without mentioning any roman predecessors. This is in my opinion another small sign about the Dutch society still being so entangled in christianty that it misforms history. There are many prechristian traditions, names and stories that were transformed at one point in history to fit into christianity, and I think that it is our duty to at least inform each other that there actually was life before that.

The English Wikipedia page refers briefly to the name being a latin word given to the planet Venus and at the bottom of the page it links to an article about the ancient Greek god Eosphoros. They also mention the use of the name Lucifer or the interpretation of it in other beliefs than Christianity.

I do not know how to make a remark about this on the Dutch Wikipedia pages – I might have to read the Wikipedia introduction first.