Atmosphere on the third floor.

One of the things I’ve become markedly better at over the years is creating atmospheres for myself to function in. I read an article (an opinion piece, an essay, call it what you want) the other day about how it’s no longer enough for our generation to just sit down and read a book. We have to create a whole atmosphere surrounding it. We need our book, of course. Without the book there is nothing to create an atmosphere for. The atmosphere is for reading. But far from being content with having a good book to read, the succesful reader of today must also make sure there’s the right stimmung, the right environment, to ensure the best possible reading experience.

Without knowing it, I’ve become part of this movement of reading environmentalists, seeing as the front and center of the right environment is the candle. The candle is my go-to prop for creating a comfy atmosphere. I know I’ve gone on and on about candlelights on this blog already, but I do feel a shout out is warranted every now and then.

Even today, after a long, lazy Sunday where I’ve felt mostly flat and drained after a hectic week of moving out of my old apartment and into my new, lighting four little candles along my new big window sill, and watching their reflections in the windows dark with the night from outside, has enlivened me and given me a spur of fresh energy as I sit down on my newly assembled office chair, using said window sill as my new office desk for my computer, typing down words as they come to mind.

Speaking of the new apartment and the window sill, I do believe I have one of the city’s best office spots right here, with my third floor view out over the forests to the left, the city to the right, and the hospital with all its helicopter lights straight ahead from me.

I love being back up high, looking out at the world instead of hiding from it behind my tiny windows. I always felt a little uneasy with my windows in my old apartment. There’s something secretive and private about small windows. As if anyone catching a glimpse through it is seeing right into the core of you. In my new apartment there are large windows all around, and I’m feeling less shy than I recall ever feeling.

It reminds me of my roommate in Copenhagen, who’d often do naked yoga or ballet in our living room, giving the neighbours across the road a direct view of her most intimate body parts. But I guess that’s exactly the difference. It’s not intimate, or at least it doesn’t feel intimate, when people can look straight into your living room just as a matter of fact.

Plus, being up high, I’m the one looking down at all the apartments around me now, whereas I used to be the one on the ground floor, feeling everyone’s eyes on me.

Someday I’ll write an ode to living up high. The view. The freedom. The lack of voyeurs.

I’m truly enjoying moving this time. This time it feels real. This time it feels like a home. I need a sofa. I need some new book shelves. Maybe a new dining table. I need some decoration for my walls. I need my girl to come lie with me. I need my girl.

The days have been moving too fast, and have sent me on too many travels back and forth between here and there and everywhere for me to really fall into a sense of living here yet. I’m looking forward to slowly finding my footing anew. I’m starting an internship tomorrow that’ll hopefully develop into a proper job in a month. I know this post is very fumbling and scattered and all over the place. I apologise. But if you came here for coherence, you should have known better.

I love watching the night fall on the landscape. Lights from miles out reaching my window. Stars, when not hidden behind a thick, warm layer of clouds, flickering in the sky. I’m sipping my chamomile tea, listening to Bon Iver, enjoying life.

I’ve always been good at enjoying life in solitude. Almost as good as I am at being depressed in solitude.

I know it’s a simple question of motivation for me. A simple question of direction. A simple question of decision. Deciding to be happy rather than deciding to feel lost. I haven’t ever been truly lost in this world. I’ve only ever been lost in my head, but that can be mazy enough.

As night falls and the fog settles I can imagine that the trees on the horizon are secretive mountains, only visible when they’re hidden in the lack of light. I miss mountains. I’d love for there to be a mountain here, or a whole mountain range. Just someplace off in the distance. I don’t know if I enjoy mountains when I’m on them. I tend to enjoy what’s away from me.

I enjoy looking at mountains when I’m down on water level. I enjoy looking across an endless ocean when I’m up high on a volcanic mountain. I dream of people far away from me. I dream of lives lived in impossible destinations, the future or the past.

I take solace in the sound of my keyboard as I press down the buttons and write my words. I’ve always enjoyed that sound. I’m not a fan of the sound of typewriters. Only on film. In reality they’re too loud. I’d feel instantly shy writing on a machine that loud. Fearing someone would be able to hear my words through the sounds the machine makes. I’m far more comfortable writing on a computer. It’s faster. It’s more silent. Yet it still gives a great feedback and it still carries a sound with it.

I chose my computer based on the keyboard. It’s time I start putting it to good use again after half a year away from academia.

I have a feeling my new window sill might finally be the place for me to write all the things I’ve ever wanted to write. It’s an open place.

I just need my girl.


Big Book of Beings: Introduction

There are different types of people, just as there are different types of stars, different types of cars and different types of milk. Seen from afar, people might look alike. There are two of a lot of things on an average person. Two legs, two arms, two eyes, two nostrils. Two hands, two feet, two ears and two butt cheeks. But we should always be wary of making any kinds of final judgments when looking at things from afar.

The stars, when looked at from afar and without visual aids, have been the center of much speculative speculation as to their origin, their purpose and their very matter. Might they just be holes in a blanket, giving us a glimpse of a flaming ocean beyond the sky? Might they be dragged across the sky, opposite from the sun, by a deity who wishes to cast a daily rhythm upon Earthlings?

After millennia of studying the stars, we have become more knowledgeable about them now to the point where we can tell stars apart from each other based on their subtle differences, and even know of the conditions in which stars form, and the ramifications of a dying star’s final farewell.

The same goes for the study of differences in people, albeit in a faster and more directly personally felt experience. The more time you spend on Earth, the older you get, and the more interactions you have with people, the better you get at telling them apart, and seeing the subtle differences that aren’t necessarily available to the naked eye. The way people differ from each other is not to be found in anatomical mathematics. There you’ll only find similarities in such a striking number as to leave you weathered from exhaustion before you’ve even analysed ten people.

The differences that tell people apart are the inner differences. The personalities. It’s in whether a person enjoys company or solitude. Long walks or a steady seat. A high vantage point or being close to the ground. If you want to study people, you might want to focus on these traits.

Once you’ve understood what kind of person you’re dealing with, you can get into more heavy material. Does this person have a high sense of empathy? Does this person fall in love easily (and with whom/what)? Does this person argue a lot and get into fights?

As you begin your studies, you’ll find people difficult subjects to get to know. They’re known for keeping their inner lives to themselves and having a hard time opening up, especially to a foreigner. But give them time, and give yourself time, and you will start to reap the fruits of your hard work and perseverance.

You’ll understand that, yes, people are very different based on where they come from, what culture they have grown up in and at what age they go under your microscope. And just as importantly, you’ll get a feel for yourself as you start to notice which people you find easier to analyse and which you find more difficult.

That is the truly inspiring part of our work, the insights into ourselves as we continue to get a better grasp at the universe around us. That is, as much as the immense joy of understanding a new species on a higher level each day, what has kept me going in this line of work for more than a quarter century.

It is my hope that this book will spark an interest in you, either as an inspiration for getting into this field of study, as a companion on your already ongoing studies of intergalactic species, or just as a curiosity that will find a room in your palace of memories. Whichever background you carry with you, it is my aim to make this book a welcoming experience and an interesting read that might hopefully stay with you through time and travel.

Change of Location Generation.

The world is full of places to move from.

There’s your childhood home where you’ve been told you grew up, but can’t quite remember in your own memories.

There’s the place you went to when your parents got divorced and you moved into a new house with your mom and sister as the new nuclear family, and dad suddenly a relative more than a parent.

There’s your first apartment that you shared in a drunken heap of youthful nights, exploring the city and the fine line between responsibility and life.

Now another place is being added to the list, as it will continue on end for years to come. We’re the generation of moving. The apartment generation. The change of location generation. We never stay in a place long enough to become it, but just long enough to no longer belong to the place we left before it.

Walking my routes I realise it’s only recently that they’ve become automatic for me, the charm gone, my feet keeping their direction true where once I would digress into a detour of exploration.

This is the smallest area in which I’ve ever lived, and the one that has felt most out of tune with where I want to be.

A place of living always becomes a centrum. It’s from this point outward that everything else reveals itself and is graded as more or less possible. The centrum acts out a silent control over your options of activity in the different ways it hinders you from reaching them, be it by pure distance, toughness of terrain or lack of public transportation.

I don’t know if I will miss this place or not. I will keep fond memories of things that have happened here. Of love conquered. Of my last student years. But at the same time I’ll be glad it was only for a period, with the place starting to feel suffocating, keeping me tired and uninspired for the longest period of my life.

I hope to start anew in a place where there’s a better view, a smaller radius to traverse in order to reach my desired destinations.

The world is full of places to move from, but also of places to move to. I haven’t found my new spot yet, but I’m sure it’ll come. I’m sure it’ll offer me a better package than what I am getting here.

I’m sure there’s a home on the horizon.

3rd floor.

I remember
long nights sitting by the window
counting drops of rain
running down and out of sight
thinking how
the only part of the world that exists
is the part in the frame

those thirteen streetlights
those seven parked cars
these specks of water

and how it’s the same with people

December status.

There’s a reason why I try to keep this blog more or less secret, or anonymous, or just unnoticed by people who normally notice me, if you will. This white canvas is the place where I feel confident sharing my mind, may it reach ten people or none. Only here do I wish to convey the sensation of waves crashing over me when I lay down in bed and close my eyes. Telling how the inwardly-visual stimuli builds force and breaks into new areas, new categories, and sends a shaking through my shoulders and my legs until I can hardly stand it anymore.

I recall when I was 12-13 years old, my nights would always start with me imagining that I was at sea, sailing on my own great boat, or was it a yacht? Lying there, blue stretching out in any direction I looked. The blue of the ocean. The blue of the sky. I’d lie there, basking in unobstructed sunlight in the middle of the night, and be rocked to sleep by the slow waves in my bed, calmed by the blues around me.

I don’t know much about dreams, and I know even less about sailing. But I’ve lived in a fantasy at least half my life and I’m used to making up rules as I go.

I’m still too conscious about myself. Always going to the meta level of my thoughts. I still see it as a bug, but I’m getting better at handling it. My method is to think about something else, something in my vicinity, something tangible.

There is a bed, and on that bed am I. There is a pillow and a duvet. There are three additional pillows, but they serve a different role than the main pillow. Whereas the main pillow is for nightly comfort, especially for sleeping purposes, the three extra pillows are partly decorative, partly useful in the daytime when I use my bed as a stand-in sofa. The duvet is slowly heating up, being aided by the warmer temperature of my body. Normally, it would be a give and take process, where the duvet and the heating object would end up at a common temperature someplace in the middle of their respective start temperatures. But I’m a furnace. I’m a hearth. I’m fire, baby. I create warmth, and a cold duvet will only be drawn to my temperature as I keep generating heat.

I sat in my bed yesterday and ate brie cheese contemplating life, reading about another’s. It was a story of illness and extremes and normalcy. The world is tied together, and one can never escape the width of life. Even if you live the slowest life, your emotions will drain you fast. Even if you live with a will to die, you’ll wake up tomorrow 99 percent of your life. There’s no escaping the great machinery we’ve been put into. Even if you do escape, you live on as a was. History will document you, people, family will document you. There are footprints in every crystal of snow you ever stepped on. There’s your light on the sky, transmitting outward to a galaxy where they’ll know of you in a thousand years.

This is what I keep coming back to. The human curse. The sartrean dilemma that we’re sentenced to be free. In a society that has begun to value consent, the most basic consent is still unattainable: that of allowing two people to create you. I know this is a line of argument that can come to no result. There’s no asking a person if it wants to be born before that person is alive. But it does press the cynic in me to devalue the sanctity of life. The sanctity of keeping one’s own life alive.

I keep coming back to Sufjan Stevens. I keep finding bits and pieces of myself in his darkest moments. I apply myself. I love and I laugh. But underneath it all, there’s the constant sad realisation, that life is always up to us, and I feel my sense of inspiration decrease each year.

The things that I want, or that I believe that I want, are the opposite of what my family wishes. How can I tell them, that I don’t mind going away for a year or forever. How can I tell them, when they constantly tell me to come back home, even when I’m just half an hour away.

I want to explore, but I’m filled with a lack of curiosity.

I want to travel, but I’m anxious of going out alone.

I want to live, but I’m focused on death.

I want to be free, but my system of liberation has caged me in.

I don’t know anymore. If it’s just winter. If it’s finally the real depression setting in. If it’s the argument we had earlier. I don’t know.

I just know I keep wanting something else. Something more. But I keep hitting a barrier each time I try to step towards it.

I know there’s more than this.

Julia Holter appreciation post.

There are few things in life as haunting as a new release from Julia Holter. Right from the beginning with her first album proper, Tragedy, the central theme of her music has been stimmung. She takes you to a different place, often somewhere you never thought to look, someplace far off that would at first seem outlandish and possibly ridiculous, with strings and voices getting too cosy with each other, only to be ripped up and re-sewn, new patterns always evolving from calm beginnings and a chaotic middle-sections.

She leads you through a world painted by Hieronymus Bosch, at times heavenly, at times dark and desolate and dystopian. Her albums are the sounds of nightmares as well as daydreams, but never letting go of your hand, you always feel safe following Holter’s whim, letting yourself float rather than being dragged through the sonic cities she builds for your ears.

After an uncharactaristically straight-forward album from her, Have You In My Wilderness, she is back and blazing with her latest attempt, Aviary. It opens with a chaotic piece, “Turn The Light On”, which not so much sets the tempo for the rest of the album as it acts as a challenge to whatever idea the listener might have of a new Julia Holter album. It’s the kind of track that manages to shatter expectations by building up new ones, only to open to an album that, through its almost 90 minutes of playing time, never again forces the listener into such submission, but rather rewards those who held through the initial shock. From the climax of that first song onward, it’s one puzzle after the other, slowly revealing the layers of the album, and of Julia Holter.

More than anything, this album feels like seeing Holter in live form, but with a band at least twice the size of her often used trio setup. We’re drawn through ebbs and flows of soundscapes, constantly held on edge and treated to harmonies that can’t help but force a smile on faces from the sunburned to the winterwhites. As when you stand in front of Julia Holter, mostly a controlled force on the stage, you’re never quite sure what to expect from her on Aviary. Not just from song to song, but often from minute to minute, or even just few seconds to few seconds. Even when she challenges your understanding of music, of rhythm, of the way your body moves, she never leaves you restless, on the floor or in your chair, but rather she keeps picking at your mind to draw your attention in to every nook and corner of her own. She doesn’t ever hesitate or play to what she believes you might be looking for. Instead she aims straight for the thing you can only experience through her guidance, and on the back of her constant success in critic’s circles over the past ten years she finds no place she’s not prepared to guide you to.

In that sense she has produced her most daring work since Tragedy, an album that truly takes no idea for granted but seeks to live out all opportunities that present themselves. The magic of Holter is that while following ideas left and right she manages to string them together into a coherent whole and refine them from their sparse elements to become flickering stars on a night sky, perhaps best illustrated on the song “Everyday Is An Emergency”, where a smattering of high-pitched horns verges on the unlistenable, but through subtle rhytm and a decent amount of stubbornness becomes its own therapeutic passage twenty minutes into the album, giving the listener room to breathe and to become intrigued all over again. These horns, that go on for close to four minutes, remind me most clearly of The Knife’s opera-crossover album Tomorrow, In A Year. Another of my favourite albums in a daring place in-between genres, The Knife’s album, clocking in at a similar ~90 minutes, spends large amounts of its time exploring how to create human music out of inherently unhuman sounds such as bird calls. The difference between The Knife and Julia Holter is that where the former attempted to break down the human ear’s expectation of rhythm, the latter is not so much breaking it down as reshaping it.

“How do I know what I think until I say it?” asks Holter on “Les Jeux To You” and it seems this approach is the light that shines through Aviary more than anything. How does she know what a song can become before she makes it? And how does the listener know what music she will enjoy until she hears it all? What expectations will she have until she lets them be met, challenged and reshaped? Julia Holter asks questions of you with her music. All she demands is an open mind and a good listener.

And I for one enjoy having my musical expectations reshaped by Julia Holter over and over again.