Taking it all in, passionately.

There were fourteen minutes of perfect afternoon light today, and I managed to write 1629 characters in that space. Those minutes functioned as an entrance into a neighboring village in my mind, the place where my work ethic exists, and where I’m automatically strapped into my seat, fingers on the keyboard, working until the words again leave me alone and looking, wondering what happened.

I glanced up thrice during the excavation, as much to get a breath of air as to see the light turn my white walls a faint, peachy orange. The world rarely works in its most magical ways. It’s as if it saves those moments, letting them out with higher intensity when it finally strikes, trying to steal the attention of its inhabitants, as if to say: Look at me, I am the World, I have made you, and you shall acknowledge my powers with the eyes I gave you.

It was only those fourteen minutes, but they were angelical, and compared to the rest of this day’s bleak presentation, they stood out and filled my soul with a deep serene–just as they filled out my white page with fresh sentences, fresh ideas.

I’m always searching for that exclusive room where inspiration and a desire to work meet up. I don’t have as easy an access to it as I feel a lot of people have. I’m not naturally passionate about things that involve doing, creating. I’m passionate about taking things in. Listening to music, watching movies, enjoying the sight of you as you smile back at me for who knows what reason you might have to smile back at me from across the bed and across the world.

I’m passionate about you. I think you know that. I’m passionate about daydreaming. I just need to be able to turn my daydreams into something I can use creatively. I’m passionate about becoming passionate. And I think it all depends on finding the right thing to be passionate about, the right angle. And then applying myself.

Words come to me so easily here, while they have been so hard for me to find all day long in all other contexts. But I’ve written a strong page for my thesis. And I’ve created a new logo for my small-time publishing company. And I’ve learned six new Japanese letters, getting my total up to 24! One day I’ll be able to decipher a Japanese street sign. Watch me moonwalk away boasting.

The fourteen minutes have long passed. It’s some uninspiring grey version of blue on the sky now, the sun on its way down in hiding, leaving my walls a cold dark shadowed shade of their daylight white. Time to light the last of the winter’s candles and get back to work. Weekend starts tomorrow. Let’s see what that has in store.


Valentine’s Day.

I know you think I’m stupid
for always telling you I love you
at the worst times

like this morning
when your heart was hurting
after we’d pulled so hard on its strings

you had started to unravel
down to a naked tear
spelling confusion on your cheek

leaving a wet trail of all that was wrong
with distances and futures
and uncertainties

looking like a lost child in a haunted forest
and I’m here, all lost for words
except I love you

I find a place I started from.

The thing about growing older is that we have a shared experience with our self. Each year I round the Sun I move an inch closer to knowing who I am; knowing how my mind and body work.

For years this knowing myself seems an integral part of being alive. I don’t recall having existential questions when I was in kindergarten, nor in the first years of elementary school. Everything I was back then seemed tight-knitted to everything I did. I was my actions, so to speak.

But during adolescence, part of the “I” gets split from the rest: the actions no longer seem as perfectly synchronized with who I envision myself as. Whereas I would lie in my bed and be an astronaut when I was a kid, I could no longer fathom the action in the same way as I left childhood. It was too obvious to me that my imagination was not action in the same sense that the real world considered events worthy of that description.

That marks the time when we begin to form who we are, based on how we react to the realisations of our loss of childhood. My primary reaction to most things has always been to draw back into myself, to hide away from the realisations, to procrastinate the answers. The less I knew, the more potential, was what I believed.

Nowadays I can feel the procrastinator in me in every sense of life. It’s a demon, but it’s also a saint. A saint when I manage to treat it right; to turn it benign. In the worst circumstances, it can be a downright paralyzing kind of procrastination, rendering me unable to perform even simple tasks such as getting out of bed. On days like those, where I find no answers, I end up huddled with a cup of cocoa, a movie I’ve seen a hundred times, and texting days worth of texts in 24 hours. The most painful in hindsight is that these are the days I ruin most for myself. The days where I cannot get myself to do anything are at the same time the days where I stay awake far into the night.

Whether that’s a sign of hunting for ideas, inspiration, or just plain stupidity, I don’t know. But I’m partial to the latter. It’s ignorance, mostly, I think. Leading me astray on days that were already sunk deep in the ocean from the get-go.

On other days, and pleasantly more often the last years, I’ve instead managed to perform the saintlike version of procrastination. Just as boredom is not always bad, procrastination is not always to be frowned upon, not always an evil spirit taking possession of the industrious mind. These procrastinating days are filled with substantial talk with my closest family and friends, and is guided by the reading of literature I have stored up, ready to offer me advice on various subjects and inspire me to get back on the task.

Currently I’m reading Draft No. 4 by John McPhee, taking it slowly, one chapter at a time. McPhee is one of my all-time greats. An extremely well-known name in non-fiction circles, he is less distributed in Denmark, and I consider myself lucky to have happened upon him. In Draft No. 4 he offers advice on writing, and though I’ve read most of the pieces already published on The New Yorker‘s website, it’s such a pleasure to hold the book in my hands, turn the pages, let the words sink in without rushing them.

There is so much of the advice in there that I can use. His chapter on structure alone would be enough to warrant my purchasing of the book, giving me new ideas on how to structure any of my own writings, from the fiction to the non-fiction, to the thesis. Even in genres with great differences there’s still an opening to play with the structure. Even in something as set-in-stone as a thesis, there’s the opportunity to use creative structure as a vehicle to create progression.

In this way I’m using my procrastination tendencies for good instead of evil. Taking time to learn from the best, to try to always better myself, learn new ways and new shades of this skill that I’ve always envisioned myself as possessing. The older I’m getting, the more acutely aware I am that writing is a skill that is never perfected. And so I shouldn’t be disheartened by reading greats like John McPhee, Ursula K. Le Guin, Henry Miller, for whom every word on the page seems so effortless and graceful.

As much as everyone is gifted with different levels of raw talent, the best only ever become the best by working hard at their craft, perfecting a skill that can’t be perfected. I often have trouble getting even thoughts going, running the same two or three words over in my head numerous times before finally getting on with it, or moving on altogether. I ascribe that to a counter-productive sense of perfectionism, but it might be something else. I’m no expert in thought processes, and still only a young student of my own. But I’m getting tips on how to move on anytime I read an inspired piece of writing.

That’s the only true drawback about my newfound way of dealing with procrastination: I immediately get drawn so far into the pieces I’m reading, that I imagine myself doing that kind of writing, getting new dreams (sometimes reinvigorating old dreams) that I can see myself pursuing, when there’s still this last big chunk of accomplishment in front of me.

Reading pieces of David Foster Wallace’s writings on tennis, in the collection String Theory, I find myself longing back to the days when what I wanted more than anything was to be a sports writer or commentator. I can still easily see myself in that role. My love of sports is as strong as ever, always enjoying the competitive aspects, the narratives that show up when you look for them, the intense struggle against failure, often more so than a battle to win. Sports to me is the most tragic of all arenas, and yet the most beautiful. It’s where humankind tests itself against itself; sets clear rules and boundaries; wins or loses, devastatingly, but not fatally.

I’ve strayed far off the paths I once set out to walk on. Some of that was down to evolution, refining my ideas of myself, becoming more enlightened in a clouded world. But a lot of it happened because of neglect toward my younger self. Forgetting the dreams and ideals about what constitutes good in this life.

Getting older and learning more about oneself is also about re-learning things about oneself. I don’t know what I’ll make of this in half a year when my life as a university student is at its end. But I feel positive in knowing that I’m regaining my sense of wonder, finding more subjects interesting now than ever before.

I feel that the older I get, and the more I know of the world, the more I still want to know.

Something about a moon.

Opening my eyes to another day of grey. Grey houses. Grey trees. Grey skies. Grey everything here on the Blue Planet. Even with the ease of access, never having to drag around our oxygen tanks, I’m starting to wonder if coming here was the right choice for us. Or, coming back here, I should say, even though our history here seems so far away, as if it’s something I’ve read in a book rather than something I’ve lived through myself. Part of my imagination rather than memory.

My memory is full of our old home, our frosty spectacle of a do-or-die scenario, where we lived to our fullest each day and sat on the ground in the evenings, looking up at the ringed giant, dwarfing the Sun with its massive appearance right in front of our staring, earthling eyes. The sky on Enceladus was always clear as the first true winter’s day used to be on Earth. Back before it all happened. There was ice below us, sky above us. Universe above us.

I remember holding your glove-clad hands in mine, seeing our breathing turn to foggy clouds of condensation each time we exhaled into the air between us. Your deep brown eyes such a foreign color on the white planet, as if you took the two most beautiful pieces of the Earth with you on our mission into the great unknown. I remember how easy it was to carry you around. Put me on your back, you’d say, and in Enceladus’ near-nonexistent gravity, I’d simply toss you on my back and feel you cling on to me, giving us both heat throughout the days as we went exploring, making a home of our new home.

Looking up I can’t see our old new home. Looking up I can’t even see this planet’s moon. I can’t even see the Sun, save for a slightly lighter patch of grey in the East revealing the whereabouts of our gigantic life-giving ball of fire. I wonder what kind of society could have developed under these conditions, under a starless sky. I wonder who would have dared to dream. I wonder who would even have dreamt up the notion of dreaming. Would there have been Explorers? Would there have been gods for mankind under a grey sky?

My hand stroking your hair, black as the nights on Enceladus, only lighted by the specks of starlight I see whenever I look at you sleeping beside me. My eyes’ gaze lowering to your stomach, to that bump forming on you, predicting our future with every new kick. We had the discussion, the pros and cons, of growing up here or back home. Of valuing the open landscapes, the night sky above, or valuing the gravity here, ensuring that his bones will grow strong and durable, his muscles forming like ours.

We never factored in how things might have changed here while we were gone on our own adventure, seeking pastures new as the Earth had nothing left to show us. We didn’t count on escaping the War. We never expected the War to finally, horribly live up to its promises of doom and blood, of broken countries, broken lands. We most certainly never expected the sky to be broken too.

It was visible as soon as we neared the Blue Planet in our shuttle. It looked nothing like when we looked out the window upon leaving, seeing only oceans back then, almost sad to leave the safe fresh water supplies behind. Fresh water is a thing of the past, as least as far as we have searched. We have worked our way through the bottled remnants of water in the supermarkets. The small village we’ve found is starting to break up, leaders turning on each other, families looking with spite across the camp, envying those who have yet to develop a cough, assuming others to be thieves.

It was the most elemental part of all this, how much time we’d spend traveling. How much farther ahead in the Earth’s history we’d be when we got here. I’m holding your naked hand as you wake up, opening your eyes to the same realisation as I had. You look up at me, telling me my eyes are the only glimpses of the galaxy you’ve had since coming here. And I know. I know.

We hid our shuttle as soon as we landed. Its insides only large enough for three people and the most necessary luggage. We knew immediately how valuable a shuttle like ours would be. The opportunity to get away from here. Anyone would be tempted to take it. Anyone would be a fool not to. So we hid it and never spoke of it in the village. Call us selfish, we have lives to live. And we knew we’d want a way out in the future. We just never expected to catch the future so soon.

Holding your hand in my left palm, I write in yours with the digits of my right hand. E N C. You start smiling that smile I’ve known forever, since before our souls found each other in the stream of life. E L A. You wait patiently, allowing my cheesy behavior even on this greyest of days. D U S. I kiss your palm, putting the key to the ignition in it and closing your hand tight.

Let’s drive back home.

Beginning to start anew.

Reading through old posts is a great way of not starting a new one. And a great way of not starting anything new, for that matter.

Hello, I have returned. From a very short hiatus (of slightly more than a week) that has felt like a year. Thankfully, I can actually deploy my wonderful sense of humor here, since, oh, you guessed it, my last post was in 2017. I’m time traveling, I’m space jumping, I’m… stuck.

I find it hard to start, is what I’m trying to say. But naturally finding it hard to figure out a way to start my post about my shortcomings in the starting-department. I should have started (at least more thoroughly than I have) on my thesis project by now. I keep reading and thinking, but I’m not really doing much else but that. Plus half the things I’m reading have absolutely no relation to the thing I should be working on.

I should be applying myself to the intense fight for recognition in society, churning out a thesis paper that will have insights into how the current state is; have ideas on how communal projects can help give citizens a feeling of being recognized as people (when the state (i.e. the state’s elected politicians) talk about the citizens (or, more precisely: certain groups of citizens) in a less-than-ideal way (read: downright hateful)).

Also: this thesis period is supposed to teach me how to reach out to people and organizations, so I will one day be able to get a job. Yeah… “dream big.”

So far I’m in the business of waiting for the moment to strike; that spur of imagination, the muse that comes at night and waters my thoughts so they’ll grow to beautiful flowers in the morning, ready for me to pluck and put on paper.

I have of course known for years now that that doesn’t happen. But one is a romantic. And a fool.

Late disclaimer: this post is of course merely meant for myself as a way to try to sort my thoughts, empty my head as they say. If you’re not interested in following my path to self-destruction, you are welcome to jump ship anytime you’d like.

The winter season is strong these days. I hear New York has been rendered dysfunctional in its masses of snow. Not quite as bad in Denmark. Just cold. Cold, cold, cold. The kind of cold that makes your forehead look bad. My skin dries out so quickly in the winter. Add to that the fact that I’m yet to fully accept that my skin is not so all-enduring as it was when I was seven years old. I ought to give my face a deep cleanse at least four to five days a week. I ought to apply ointment to see me through the winter without my skin cracking up like sand in a drought. Heck, I even have ointment. I’ve purchased it. I possess ointment. I just elect not to use it. Or, not elect. It’s not a super conscious choice (though, really, have many of my actions are super conscious?).

Routines. I think I might be afraid of committing myself to such super self-care because I’d need to make it a routine, and that means that I’d have to start a routine. And we’ve already scratched the surface on that whole starting-thing.

Is it a fear of changes? Honestly, at this point, I don’t know. I’m looking for my identity left and right, top and bottom. I’m soul-searching, but pretty sure I sold my soul a long time ago. Last I heard, it was in Tangier, wondering how even Africa managed to be cold in January.

I like it when things start for me. When someone else starts a project and I can tag along. That’s probably part of the reason why I’m realizing that being a book editor is my likeliest occupation. As a book editor I get to tag along and help finish a project that someone else has started. I get to be part of the creative process, I get to feel that the final product is, in a way, mine. All that plus it removes the element of starting.

Oh, you’d say, but you’d still have to start your work! Yes, but for me it’s much easier to start working on something that needs comments and improvements than to start working on a blank page, a clean slate. It’s infinitely much easier for me to finish something that is half-done, than get half-done with something that has yet to come into existence.

Back to the thesis: now, if I could only get someone to do all the networking stuff for my thesis project, and write like… the first 20 pages? That’d be neat. I have no problem churning out the rest from there. I just need a start, a little jump, a kick.

Being the owner of this blog, and having just read through some old posts, it is of course not lost on me, that I have used this place as a starting engine for projects and papers. Getting my thoughts fixed, removing all the dirt that occupies my mind on a daily basis. Deleting the last twenty-million youtube videos currently playing in my memory (that’s an exaggeration, of course. I’m much more of a vimeo kinda guy). It dawned on me today that I spend ridiculous amounts of time reading small news items that have nothing to do with my own life. Watching videos that I know beforehand will not benefit me in any way. Looking through apps that won’t ever bring me any life-altering information, which I otherwise seem to expect from them, considering the amount of time I use on them. I’m not saying I’m going to go offline, but I will have to cut down dramatically. For my own good. I need to learn to only use apps when I’m using them. Not to just look through them for some instant kick, some responsible-free information.

Axel Honneth is my main man for my thesis project. The one on recognition. I can’t wait to get deeper into his theories. To understand it all better. To feel like I apply myself.

Through the days my head is not filled with philosophy. And that’s both reassuring and scary to me. Reassuring because it means I’m not crazy. I have not developed into some guy who can only talk about the things he works with. But scary because it also means that I’m not doing enough yet. Or maybe I’m not sufficiently interested these days. My mind is constantly thinking of all the other things I’m reading.

It has been such a great winter of new books for me. Started in December with Michael Chabon’s newest novel, Moonglow. As always with Chabon, he has become my hero during the reading of his book. His style is one of my favorite things in the world. He gets the pages flowing for me, like I don’t even have to turn them myself. The words just fall so naturally, one after the other, and yet surprising, yet so extremely funny in the middle of the intense, dramatic story he’s telling. Chabon gives me such a good laugh, while stealing my tears and filling my mind with bubbling thoughts on anything from human kindness to astrophysics to the size of cats.

I vividly remember the day I bought my first Chabon book. I was in my local bookstore, looking through the section of contemporary English-language fiction, letting my eyes follow the spines of books I’d already read, and books I was yet to read. My eyes always linger at On The Road whenever I’m in a bookstore. I always take it out, check the price and put it back in again. It’s a routine ever since I gave away my own well-read copy (after I bought the Original Scroll version of it for my own shelf), and realized that I should probably get a new copy, though only if the price is right, which it is yet to be. As I glanced over the books, my eyes stopped on a fat, yellow spine. I could do nothing but reach for it and pull it out. I had half-noticed a woman, looking very teacher-ish, standing to my right, and before I even got to take a proper look at the book, she said to me, have you read Michael Chabon before? He’s quite difficult, very demanding reading! She was no doubt doubting my age: a young boy looking even younger, I must have seemed nothing more than a kid to her, standing there at twenty years of age. I smiled at her, shook my head “no”. I had never read Chabon before. In fact, I had only heard his name mentioned once, on the radio, at a chance event coming upon a program discussing books whilst driving with my mom. In Denmark there’s not a whole lot of radio programs that discuss books, especially not while the sun is still up. But looking at that wide spine, recognizing that name from the radio, Chabon, I knew I had to have it. It was a funky color. I had a vinyl on the front. Telegraph Avenue would become my introduction to Michael Chabon, whether this lady beside me thought it appropriate or not. I looked down at the book, flipped it over a few times, mesmerized, then said without looking at her, I like difficulty.

To this day I still believe she was in the store to buy the book herself, and was trying to talk me out of buying the last copy right in front of her nose. But I could be wrong.

After Moonglow I needed something quick for the in-between-days in the week of Christmas-New Years. I had been gifted John Green’s new book Turtles All The Way Down at Christmas, and knowing Green’s books to be fast delights, I picked it up. It was nice, quick, philosophical (dangerously so, letting me feel like I was doing philosophy reading this book, pushing back my start on the thesis project), and funny as always. It did lack some of the charm of his earlier books, though. It’s a well-meaning book, and it deals with illness/quirkiness in a better way than his other books do. But there’s something lacking. Some… magic touch that isn’t really there. I find it hard to put into words what it is, and I find it equally difficult to develop a stable attitude to it. I’m not quite sure what I think of it. It’s good, but not great.

Lastly I’ve just spent the best part of a week reading The Long Way To a Small, Angry Planet. Color me amazed! Gosh, I loved every page of this space opera. Becky Chambers has really done something quite outstanding with this little, spacious adventure! I tried to will myself to only read it in the evening before going to bed, but in the end I had to spend most of my time with the book, either in my hands, reading, or in my thoughts as I took a walk, tried to read something else, made breakfast, anything. This book has put itself deep into my heart, and it’s only because I’m finally nearing a deadline for a thesis contract that I haven’t already started on the follow-up, A Closed and Common Orbit, currently sitting on my shelf like a good boy, waiting for me to tell it to come out to play! Not as dense as Chabon, and not the same smoothness of every line that Chabon shows, Chambers still managed to put a truly well-crafted story together. I was smitten by the universe (pun intended), and believing one hundred percent in the multi-species network, and I love how she makes humans the newcomer in the intra-galactic society. While being a tremendously funny story, she manages to make some philosophical and political remarks that are hidden enough to not color the book, but obvious enough that readers will catch on to it and put down the book at moments to think about current life on Earth compared to the life presented in The Long Way..

The last assignment I did (my last assignment ever, before turning loose this thesis beast) was an exploration of sci-fi (literature and movies) as forms of social critique. In my assignment I focused on Fahrenheit 451 and Blade Runner (Final Cut), analysing them separately and comparing the ways they provide social commentary. Sci-fi has been the main road for me the past few years. I still read a lot of other stuff as well, but to me sci-fi has something extremely special, and I think it’s this way of being able to comment on current society without really commenting on current society. In that regard it’s the most daring genre in my eyes. The great writers of it are able to take advantage of the opportunities that arise when you put your society into a new age or a new place, where you can develop settings that at first glance seem bewildering and far out, but gradually shows itself to be extremely close to our own society, opening our eyes for the problematic features of our own systems. That’s a reason why sci-fi is currently my favorite genre. That and space, of course. Space is the place.

…okay, so, I’ve gone beyond 2,000 words with this post. And I’ve successfully used up all my evening on it, rendering it impossible for me to start working on my thesis contract now. Promise to myself: I’ll get up early tomorrow to work on it there before having a meeting concerning it later in the day.

Luckily it’s still just early enough for me to steal a few moments listening to my newest obsession. The Blue Nile. Apparently an old Scottish band, who I’ve only just heard of. Been all kinds of lost in their music the last two days. That perfect vibe on the edge of the 80s and 90s where thoughts were meant to linger, words were allowed to be drawn out, the music was permitted to emit feelings while the singer takes a break. Very alike Talk Talk of that period, unafraid of letting the songs surpass the six-minute mark. Oh, this is my chance to come full circle with my very first post on this blog: Sigur Rós was probably the band that ruined me from a young age, getting me to expect bands to take time on songs, give me as a listener time to really feel the song, to fall in love with it. So few bands do this, at least few bands who at the same time make this wonderful kind of pop music that is truly at the heart of The Blue Nile and Talk Talk and The Cure and My Bloody Valentine and all those great bands, even to some degree Sigur Rós.

I had sort of run aground lately, finding it hard to find new music of this caliber when these guys suddenly pop up in a review for a remaster of their 1989 album Hats that, for all I can gather, must have been re-released around 2013. Such a weird thing, seeing a review for that now. But I’m nonetheless grateful to have found them. They’ve eased my transition from reading about space to try to write a down-to-earth thesis.

Working night and day
I try to get ahead
Working night and day
Don’t make no sense
Walk me into town
The ferry will be there
To carry us away into the air

(The Blue Nile: “Over the Hillside”) Okay, maybe this is too ethereal to really put me back down to earth. But I’m not complaining. After all, I’m at my best when my feet are swept off the ground.

Unconceptual love.

We can only express the things we have a language for. Like the light blue color of the sky at noon when the sun is hard on your face, or a mathematical equation that adheres to our logic. We can only talk about the things we have concepts to help us describe. If we don’t have clear concepts, we find it difficult to express our feelings and experiences. We have a hard time explaining our pains. What does a headache feel like? What does a broken ankle feel like? We mostly explain it as… pain. It “hurts”. It might hurt in the front of the head, near the forehead, behind the eyes, or it has a “stinging pain” when we put our foot down on the ground. But we can’t really come closer to a succesful description of our experience.

Likewise it’s hard to describe love. Love is such a catch-all concept. Which effectively renders it a catch-nothing concept. What does it mean if I say “I love you”? There are a thousand ways for a person to love another person. There’s not some checklist. If there were any clear-cut desiderata, it would probably start like caring for the person. Enjoying the person’s company. But even there it seems to come up empty. I can love a person without knowing if I enjoy their company. And I can love a person without being overly caring towards them. I can love a person in so many different ways that the person shouldn’t even be expected to know what I mean when I say “I love you”. My feelings could be a reaction to any given set of qualities I ascribe to that person. Anything that to me makes that person extraordinary.

I mean, how do I put into the meaning of “love” all the things that make the person so very special to me? How do I exclude those notions that I don’t think of? And is it even important that we have a common understanding for it to be working? Are vague concepts maybe perfectly fitting for human interactions? It seems possible to me that we are such vague beings ourselves, without clear definitions of what “I” means and what “life” means, that it would be weird if all of our concepts were perfectly cut, ready to be applied in every situation. There’s something human about the fuzziness of concepts. There’s something relatable about our lack of clarity. Something romantic about remaining a mystery to one another.

Don’t judge a.

Words turning into dust, full pages broken and battered, moving through fingers, hands, lives; a consistency that’s constantly changing, adding new layers, forgetting old passages; the ink smeared and fallen, a war painted face streaked with blood and black; scars misinforming the intentions of the face behind. A most quiet object until it hits hard, landing on the floor of an empty castle; on the bottom of the ocean; on your heavy chest. Yellowed pages tell numerous stories beyond their lines, asking to be read and understood, their meanings to be carried through whatever medium carries meaning these days. Asking to be carried on.