Support the living4 August 2018 permalink
A smart person on Twitter pointed out that it’s good to buy art from living artist rather than the dead ones, because they need the money a bit more. Which is a very good point. So here a list of recent acquisitions (all three of which I really love):
Latency8 June 2018 permalink
I arrived home late-ish today. 19:30, after a pretty unsuccessful day at the office. The sun is still out, not particularly warm and low in the sky. Golden. I change into my running gear. Shorts and t-shirt. Lie in the couch for another half our, just wallowing in a renewed distaste about the whole endeavour.
20:00. Still golden. I walk to the sidewalk, turn right, and start trotting. The first minute is the same as my commute. A minute later I turn left, turning it into the weekend shopping routine. At the second intersection I turn left again, turning my back on the routine, and my front towards meandering. The houses on these streets are a lot larger, garages fit for two or more cars, and most people would agree the occupant’s wealth must be ill-gotten to some degree. Most foreigners anyway. Each house still tries to pose as an overgrown garden shed, wooden slats reigning supreme over a kingdom of dormers and balconies. Flat-pack chalets, perhaps. I jog on, happily noting that I haven’t had to downshift into a march yet. The houses shift significantly in size, but the plots they rest on less so. They would be considered small by most countries standard, the distance not entirely out of eye contact range.
Gold turns into brass. Everything becomes slightly desaturated, or at least I’m only becoming it aware of it just now. My neighborhood has always seemed to be a movie set “a generic couple of decades ago”, where only the presence of a smartphone or ludicrously expensive baby buggy could betray the it’s modernity. My neighbors have second hand volvo’s, children’s toys that are faded to colours I remember from my youth, and shoddily maintained yards. None of them have bothered to take the antenna’s off their roof. There’s an obsolete wooden electricity pole still standing. Stockholm sometimes has a very strange old-fashioned esthetic in it’s richness, even way past this neighborhood. The old metro carriages have seating upholstery recycled from the Overlook Hotel.
I reached home tired and out of breath, but less than I was hoping to be. My endurance is absolute garbage, but I still have the experience of having been marginally more fit before. But I’m mostly frustrated that there are plenty of interesting and nice roads going further. About half a year ago we had some pretty rough winter weather, which I adore when I have the time to cope with it. That night had 40cm high snow on all the roads, and the wind was strong enough to blow it vertically straight up your nose. I was coming home late, and when I tried to catch my metro connection there was nothing on the board. The radio announcements were all in Swedish, and I couldn’t be bothered to ask anyone what was being said (how Swedish of me :)). Or maybe I was looking for an excuse. I decided to just walk the 4 km home.
My roommates had been giving me shit about my footwear for the past couple of days, as I’ve been going out with just my sneakers. But I remember doing just the same in Berlin, where the problem was ice rather than snow. The trick in snow seemed to be to lift your feet straight up, as not scrape any snow on top of your show. Straight up, forward, down. The route was pretty straightforward, hugging the metro for most of it’s way. A couple of stretches through residential areas. The streets were totally abandoned, no human in sight, nor cars, nor any visible activity in the houses. And I’m obviously really enjoying this. Well enough equipped to not be uncomfortably cold. Snow a lot more enjoyable than rain. Just a completely white wasteland, ripe for exploration, filled with a multitude of generic pizzeria’s and supermarkets, gas stations and slipways.
When I arrive home I grab myself a beer, and sit my ass down on the couch. Just to reconcile myself with being indoors again, I suppose. One of my roommates walks in, relating his adventure getting here from the closest metro stop. My mind is in two parts about informing him, but decides to hold a trump card the next time he gives me shit about my winter shoes. I keep getting into this kind of shit, and I’m still not entirely sure why. I have a tendency to at least make a token effort to what I commit to, and I often push myself by making a commitment I can’t back out of easily. Moving abroad could be an example of this. Tall tales and a desperate scramble to not completely lose face another. Something I should think about more. Or overthink less.
The snow was great. The sound it makes when compacted when I shift my weight. The general lightness of the night when virtually every surface is covered. How everything seems so alien when everything looks so similar. How I can be the only person alive without being lonely. An astronaut in a city of thousands…
I suck something new and that's awesome31 March 2018 permalink
Last year I picked up sculpting on a whim (putting it very mildly here). I bought about 2 kilos of clay (water-based, what you can imagine playing in as a kid) and some random wire for armature, and then got to work. Pictured the goal in my head. Found some good reference art. Created a skeleton out of wire and started shaping out my figure in clay. All of it without too much preparation or thought.
I didn’t end up with much at all. About two or three 30cm tall statuettes that would be impossible to bake due to the materials used. Cracked all over, as I didn’t take care of them overnight. What I did end up with showed some promise though: good composition, subject, and motion. But there were a lot of mistakes I started noticing while still working on the same piece: looking good only from one angle, “boxy” limbs and heads. Unfixable problems due to the naive way I constructed my armature.
But what amazes me the most is the raw satisfaction and fun I had. I usually write or practice photography, and I have been frustrated with both for different reasons.
Writing has always been about direct personal experience for me, as I can’t seem to tap into the right kind of creativity to write fiction, nor do I have the discipline to create decent think-pieces. Since I need personal experiences, I’m bottlenecked by the ones I have, even more so as I have become pickier about the things I want to write about. So unless I can satisfy myself with writing once a year, or change my lifestyle to o
Photography has become rote. Virtually all the photo’s I publish are the result of recognizing potential in a few pictures out of hundreds, and editing them to a quite simple aesthetic I’ve developed a while ago. Most of it is landscape, and I’ve never really attempted portraiture. Even though they’re very well received, there’s really not that much intent to it.
In both writing and photography, I really should buckle down and deliberately practice outside of my comfort zone. It would be a shame to just keep running in place. On the other hand, I’m really enjoying sculpting. I’ve been doing a lot more of it, and did my homework. And I’m coming to realize that I have a lot less aptitude for it than for the other things I do, apart from perhaps the skills that carry over. But I’m starting to doubt whether it matters. I do want to take it more serious, and finalize some ideas/works that I’ve started. I wish I could follow a course, but I can’t seem to find a suitable one. Time to put in a lot more deliberate practice. Watch this space :)
Up up and away31 January 2018 permalink
I guess today is finally the day. I’ve been wanting to open up about it for a long time, and since I’m virtually anonymous here, I pretty much can say whatever the hell I want. And you probably will be polite about it, and listen. So here goes nothing.
I haven’t admitted this freely to anyone yet, but thinking about gravity often causes an impending sense doom in me. It’s called barophobia and it’s a real thing. I has been weighing heavy on my heart the first day I left the delicious bouyancy of prebirth. Unlike most other barophobes, I do not actually that gravity might increase to the point that I might become spherical. My fear is much stupider. Whenever I’m in a building with a high ceiling, I’m terrified that gravity might reverse direction, accelerating me enough to leave me a wee crimson smudge on an otherwise pristine ceiling.
Like any good phobia worth cultivating, I keep touching it like a loose tooth. I love coming up with several complicated analysis and theories about how it works. Hell, there’s nothing much else to do then theorize when you’re obsessively gazing at the ground. So I present you with my commandments, and I welcome you to my preposterous madness.
Rule nr 1: Location, location, location. A good place to fear death should be worth being remembered over. St Peter’s. The St Hubertus gallery in Brussels. The blue mosque in Istanbul. I have particularly fond memories of dying a million deaths while traversing Grand Central Station in New York. Sometimes I think I should embrace my destiny, and lie on my back on the floor of the Sixteenth Chapel. Arms wide open, waiting till gravity lifts me into God’s transcendental embrace.
Rule nr 2: There is a very real possibility that gravity might not reverse. I’ve only observed it rotating in straight angles, but that’s probably attributable to human buildings tending to be built in orthogonal ways. This fear usually manifests when looking at a tall building from a big distance. For example, the sweet agony of caressing my lover’s face when she lies in my lap, visualizing hurtling across Siena’s picturesque main square before death scrapes my puddle-like self off the tower. Or imagine admiring the Flatiron, the first skyscraper of New York. An office tower where they had to pay the workers double, as everyone was convinced it would fal over in the first week. Meanwhile I’m concerned I might fall into it. Perhaps I can admire it’s fine masonry detailing in my final moments.
Rule nr 3: Stick to the sides. Many building have a small slope where the ceiling meets the wall. If I get lucky, that might make me skid onto the ceiling rather than careening into it. I don’t actually believe this, but I do get some comfort out of pretending I believe this.
Rule nr 4, which might explain rule nr 3 to some extent. The angle matters. I’m not afraid of falling into a mountain slope or pyramid. But I am terrified of falling into a cliff or monolith. Generalizing, the more perpendicular and planar a surface, the more it evokes horror. That’s why man-made structures feature so prominently in my fears. Fascist architecture, like Milan’s central station, is especially bad. No surprise there.
Rule nr 5: The sky is actually not terrifying. Even if gravity would reverse, I just slowly asphyxiate while having a killer view. Not scary at all. Hypothetical. Gravity simply doesn’t reverse when you’re outside.
Rule nr 6: The major exception of rule nr 5 is that sometimes the sky turn into a ceiling. Or even most of the times. Starry skies are especially dangerous. Cloudy skies aren’t ceilings though, I can safely look at them. This might seem counter intuitive, but direct experience has proven this to be another fundamental rule.
That's nuts17 January 2018 permalink
I’m living in Sweden now,
and that’s nuts.
I’ve been here for 3 months,
life is good,
work, which was my primary motivator to move, great,
and that’s nuts
Yesterday I walked in the dark
at 4 pm
slipped on the snow and hurt my ass
hoping to assemble my ikea bed
in time to sleep in it
and wake at
at when it’s dark
and that’s nuts
My feelings about all of this fall on two sides. I’m incredibly lucky to have found this job, and, more recently, a good group of people to live with. Stockholm is good place to live according to every metric. There is also some baggage that I didn’t manage to shake off back home, but being in a new place is very conductive to reframing it in my head. On the other hand, typical expat bullshit. Not knowing basic stuff, where to get stuff, what paperwork to do, etc. Loneliness. Which I’m fine with, but it takes time and effort (apparently a lot here) to fix with. More then the times before, I miss my friends and family.
I guess I live in Sweden now?
And that’s pretty nuts
Sapiens10 December 2017 permalink
I read Sapiens by Harari, a book about the evolution of the human race. It has long chapters on how settling and agriculture changed society, and how that change came about for reasons that differ a lot from what you expect. Really well written, novel and interesting. Few things are as satisying as a well written introduction to a whole field of knowlegde you don’t even know the basics of I told some people about it, and several people mentioned both having read it, and loving it to bits. Unfortunately, the book turns a significant turn for the worse. Starting in the industrial section, and very acutely at the introduction of DNA (manipulation), Hariri shows that he has basic errors in his understanding of genetics, and those mistakes form the very shaky foundations of a lot of his predictions about the future of mankind. What vexes me most is, that if I can find mistakes, hiring an expert for some QA would have improved this book massively by either cutting it short, or making the latter chapters relevant. So, buy the book. And read about half of it.
Play it again, Sam22 July 2017 permalink
I’m probaly repeating myself. But, this time, there’s a sliver of a chance I’m repeating myself. As you’ll see, very much in the theme of it :)
The most important thing I’ve learned over the years, is to iterate. Not only when writing creatively, but it’s the one I’ve seen the most dramatic bump in quality. If you’re going to write a thousand words, delete 800 and publish 200. At the very, very least reread your text once. As tempting as the myth of “straight from the heart” sounds, it simply ain’t true. For sure, get it out there. Dump it in .txt. But owe it to yourself to regurgitate, iterate, get it to the state where you’re not sure if any change is for the better. It will be a couple of times before you hit that. That’s the productive part. Try to divorce your reading from your writing. Try to become your own worst audience. But also judge how good your piece is. I really think your ability to write is corralated to your ability to judge your writing. Even if you’re naturally talented, you can benefit from craft. And I’m talking to you, me!
Screw the dailies21 July 2017 permalink
I’m going to pull the plug on the dailies. I’ve been writing sloppily just to try and hit them. The more I’ve churned out some evenings, the more I’ve avoided sitting down and actual doing it in a way I get any satisfaction out of it. In short: kudos to those who can, I couldn’t, I shouldn’t, back to the regular programming.
The best thing is that I can continue, rather then cutting to another post for metric’s sake. Hence, the long form:
It’s been a very… eventful? interesting? couple of months. And I mean interesting in the “may you live in interesting times” way. I’ve taken quite a few thing on the chin. I’ve been confronted with some major demon in the first person, ones I have dealt with in the second person a while back. Being really pissed to have go through that twice when most people get to be blissfully ignorant of.
Getting rejected from job interviews. Not the ones I where I got rejected out of hand, which I usually had coming. Fair enough, don’t care, move on. But about two or three times it really came down to the wire. Where a single person could flip the verdict either way. And, every time, it flipped the wrong way. For which I have strong reasons to believe are arbitrary reasons. It sounds self indulgent, but in each instance I’ve had people in the process reach out to me privately (which is very unorthodox) to tell me how unfair/random my rejection was. And, once again, I could probably take one or two of those on stride. Not all of them.
Last week, it came down to the wire yet again. Once again the anxiety. Refreshing inboxes. Sitting on decisions, kicking it a million ways in search of solutions, chewing over those solutions tens of times. Smooth sailing until a part of the process I didn’t know mattered. Overanalyzing every word of every sentence of every email. A very tense week or two, especially with the previous experiences, wondering if 10 years of experience were arbitrary, or actually amount to a directed progression. As a good friend of mine said: “It’s not always impostor syndrome. Sometimes they’re genuinely terrible”.
The wire. Once again. And, somehow, it worked. There was a hard blocker that threatened to throw everything in jeopardy. I’m not sure yet why, and I’m definitely going to confirm if my hypothesis is right. But they had a demand I couldn’t fulfill in any satisfactory form. In the moment I came up with a solution that I think payed off, a very honest one. I counted on some previous relations, and made with tentative confidence of good will on both sides.
It worked. I have a job offer, and I’m going to take it. It’s professionally very interesting, and my gut feeling is that the atmosphere in the office will be pleasant. I’m moving to a new country (that I’m a bit unsure of). I’ll have to become a lot more advanced on a lot of skills that are either dusty, or even rudimentary. I have been procrastinating a lot of personal development by conveniently classifying the last couple of years as temporary. And that might very well be a bigger challenge than the professional ones.
I really f****ng hope that it doesn’t come down to the wire. So sick and tired of that thing. I’m hoping to to build a sandbox. Someplace where I can experiment, and can fail without feeling it might jeopardize my entire future. I don’t want to feel it can go either way. I really hope I can start building, rather that shoring up what I have. Throwing dice and curing another one. There’s no real reason for me to have a lot of disparate positive things (I have a great group of friends, a lot of positive memories to offset the negatives, a good amount of raw talent for some pursuits). I want to have it all connected, to not have to wonder which way I should, or it will, end up going.
Wish me luck!
Passive knowledge6 July 2017 permalink
Describing a location on a street is a bit weird. Nobody uses address numbers. I barely know my own. We say “Down”, “Up”, “At the end of”, “At the beginning”. Up and down can make sense if a street is not flat, but we still use it when it it isn’t. And end? Both the beginning and the end are pretty much the same thing.
The weird thing is, we usually know what is meant. Down usually means central, or away from where we currently are. Up usually means away, less central. The beginning and end is probably similar, where beginning is the end (!) closest to a central feature.
This sorta breaks down in my town, as we have the train station and the literal center of town as reference points. The avenue running between both is a place where this terminology breaks completely.
The funny thing is, we are never explicitly told this. We just pick it up without thinking about it. Probably like a lot of stuff we don’t even realize. What if we mostly learn subconsciously?
I think about this every day6 July 2017 permalink
At the exact moment you’re reading this, at least a million fucking.
That means at least a thousand are engaged in something nasty.
That means at least one couple….