May 31, 2011
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at the funfair
There are two kinds of people in this world; those who will give up everything to follow their dreams and those who won’t. The former run a greater risk of becoming happy.
I was having dinner with a friend of mine the other night and we got to talking about the whole adventure versus security thing. Just like me he’s one of those people who won’t settle for what’s safe and comfortable, but who wants to explore the great beyond. Or to put it differently, we both have a tendency to get bored if things start getting predictable. But we both made the observation that this doesn’t seem to be something that applies to everyone, far from it, so we got to talking about why that was. Why are some people willing to settle?
It’s often claimed that happiness is the main pursuit in this thing called life. That happiness is what we all strive for. And even though I do think there’s quite a lot of truth in that claim, I’m not so sure it’s an all in approach for most people. We want happiness, but we’ll settle for convenience. As long as it’s safe and comfortable we’re fine. My friend referred to this as entering cruise control. A lot of people do this when they are in their thirties. The relationship is established, the career is on track and the kids are on the way. Everything in life is pretty much on track so they just go into cruise control. A state of maintaining that status quo. Convenience.
But maintaining the status quo, is that living? What about curiosity? It may have killed the cat, but I’m not all that convinced that applies to humans. Without curiosity we would probably still be, well, apes. Fire, the wheel, agriculture, machines, electricity, the internet, we didn’t just stumble upon all these things while maintaining that status quo. Read more of this post
February 1, 2011
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There’s about 8 of us. A motley crew of unemployed academics shuffled together in a room to participate in a course on how to successfully apply for jobs. We are here to find the way out of unemployment and get our lives back on track as it were. Today we will be taught how to get through the job interview.
“So why did you study philosophy?” she asks me.
“Because I thought it was interesting.” Not the most elaborate answer, I know, but it’s the short version of the truth.
She smiles a condoning smile: “Yes, that’s the way it is when you’re young and don’t know about the labour market.”
And for a second I feel stupid. Clueless. Because in a way this career consultant woman is right, studying philosophy is not a very smart career move. But then logic and reason return and I realize that what she just said is actually a perfect testimony to everything that’s wrong with our famous western civilization. It’s all about making yourself attractive on the job market. To get ahead of the competition. Adapt to what the almighty Market wants. The greed game. Consumerism. All bottled up in that one remark. Studying philosophy, yes the follies of youth… Read more of this post
January 26, 2011
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Today has been one of those days when everything sort of almost works but not quite. Not one of those days that seem to be dedicated to in-depth explorations of the deepest dimensions of Murphy’s Law, just one of those days when everything, and I do mean everything, turns into a hassle. No matter what you do it ends up being more time-consuming, more stressful and not at all as easy as you anticipated. Things don’t go really wrong, but they don’t really go right either. Like a light version of Murphy’s Law. Read more of this post
January 20, 2011
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I’m at that point in my life when people expect you to have a plan, or actually that you had a plan and that you’re pretty much there now, at the goal or at least closing in on it. As in done with your education and a few steps on in your career. And that you’ve started the obligatory family. Well, I’m done with my education but I don’t have a degree, I have just abandoned my second so-called career and I’m divorced. So I pretty much fail on all points. And yet, I don’t feel like a failure. I actually feel fine. Of course there are things I want to change in my life, there always is, but over all I’m confident that I’m indeed on the right track. To some people that statement is pretty much a declaration of my insanity, but I’m fine with that too. I accept that they have a different understanding of life than I do. I actually do have goals, but mine are a bit more vague. They don’t include a well payed job, a house, two cars, two kids and a flat screen TV. None of those things interest me. None. Not even the well payed job. I actually don’t want to be rich. Of course I don’t want to be poor, being poor sucks and I’ve had plenty of experience in that area, but all I really want is to have enough money to not have to worry about having a roof over my head and food on the table. That’s it. A place to stay and food for the day. No cars, no TV and no kids. I have been informed that this is not a socially acceptable approach to society. More than once. People often look at me with a twinge of pity in their eyes when I say this. Kind of like the way you look at the village idiot. “That poor fool.” Read more of this post
January 11, 2011
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A new year. It always takes some time getting used to. For me at least. For the first few weeks I always write the wrong year on things. Which isn’t that big a deal, but it does function like a reminder that something has changed. And somehow it also makes it feel like something else should have changed, something besides the mere date. A new year, a new beginning. But on the other hand that makes no sense since the change is artificial. We have just all agreed that a new year has begun. According to our calendar this is now a new year. So has anything actually changed? In repercussive ways sure. New laws, new regulations, new taxation periods, new billing periods etc, but do all of these changes have an influence on the bigger metaphysical picture? No idea.
Sometimes it feels like it does. Like it actually does mean something on a more personal level too. And I’m not just thinking about new years resolutions. There is this certain sense of a somewhat clean slate. Like a new beginning of sorts. This could of course be a socially induced feeling, it most likely is, but does that mean that it’s any less real? If I feel like a new year is a new beginning, does that then mean that it actually is? Does my perception determine what becomes my reality? I suppose so. Read more of this post
January 6, 2011
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I have spent the past 5 hours reading. Not leisurely browsing various online articles or skimming through a magazine but reading. Passionately. The kind of reading where you all of a sudden realize that the room is completely dark apart from your reading lamp and that you desperately need to go to the bathroom and haven’t had a cigarette for hours. That kind of reading. As a child I used to do this all the time, but the older I get the less I do it. Time issues I suppose. When you are a kid you have more time to get devoured by books. Or if it’s the other way around, I am not sure. Probably both. I also think there’s an element of sin to it as you get older. Like it would somehow be a waste of time. You are neglecting not only your bodily functions, but also your other tasks and duties when you dive into a book for hours on end. But seriously, so what? Considering all the time that’s wasted on watching TV in this world it seems strange that getting sucked in by a book for a couple of hours should be a bad thing. Reading is almost never a waste of time. I say almost, because I have wasted a number of hours on books in my days. Not many, but there have been times when I have felt like writing to the publisher to demand a warning text on the cover of the book. But mostly it’s not a waste of time.
I’m not sure if this is true for everyone, but in my world there is nothing that can capture me as a book can. Nothing. When I watch movies either my thoughts will start to wander or I will start improving the plot in my mind. I will do this either by just thinking about how the story could get better, or I will really think that the story is better than it actually is and get all excited. That’s when my best friend will usually shake his head and tell me that “no you’re just making the story better again. It’s not that complex”. And he’s always right. It never is that complex. But the reason I’m doing this is because I am bored. Read more of this post
December 30, 2010
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I suppose you’ve all noticed that it was christmas. It’s pretty impossible to avoid. But this year I almost managed. Or rather, it didn’t really occur to me on a conscious level that it was actually christmas. On christmas eve I found myself sitting on the tram and wondering what was up with all these dressed up people and their bags full of stuff and it took me a while to figure out that they were all on their way to some form of christmas celebration. I wasn’t. It’s been over fifteen years since I last celebrated christmas. I never liked christmas, not even as a child, and I don’t believe in jesus, so it was a very easy decision to make. My parents also took it surprisingly well. Which could have had something to do with how passionate I was about my position. Back then I really hated christmas. I still do, but not quite as passionate. I mean I still loathe the consumerism, the cultural imperialism aspects, the superficial happiness and general tackiness of it all, but I’ve become a lot more indifferent to the phenomenon of christmas over the years. What used to be burning hatred has turned into lukewarm despise. It’s like it doesn’t really concern me anymore. Christmas is something that happens to other people, not me.
I suppose this change in attitude is most likely the years of boycotting finally starting to show result. And I guess that’s also why I was actually able to completely forget that it was christmas eve. I just don’t register christmas anymore. Of course I notice the decorations appearing everywhere and the displays in the stores and all that and thus I do realize that christmas in coming up at some point, but that’s it. When people talk about all the shopping they have left I always need a second or two before I compute. “Oh, they are talking about christmas presents!” Because in my world that concept has pretty much stopped existing. Read more of this post
November 7, 2010
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Why do some musicians get worse instead of better? I have stated this as one of the great mysteries in life, and in a way it actually is. At least it’s something that I have spent quite a lot of time thinking about and discussing with my friends. It really puzzles me. How can you have a downward curve in your development as a musician? It just seems bizarre. I mean skills should improve with practice – practice makes perfect, right? Well in some cases, wrong. And why is that?
In a lot of those discussions we have come to the conclusion that it has to do with guts, bravery, staying true to yourself. And I think we’re actually on to something here. If you have a certain amount of success with an album you naturally want to repeat that success with the next album and in some cases musicians then decide to play it safe and just deliver more of the same. But art isn’t really about producing more of the same. Art is about exploration. And when you opt for the same approach the likelihood of creating something interesting drastically diminishes. Art has an evolutionary aspect in that sense, it has to keep developing in order to not grow stale and superfluous. Sticking with the known is rarely a good idea when it comes to art. Read more of this post
October 20, 2010
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I am greedy when it comes to art. Very greedy and very curious. If I like something I always want more. This presents itself in what can only be described as gluttony. I will devour everything the artist has done. Be it paintings, books or songs. I want to take it all in. I am not a collector in the sense that I need to own it all, for me it’s all about the experience. I don’t mind if I only have the music as mp3 or if I borrow the book from a friend or see a painting at a gallery. The important thing is that I do get to experience it somehow. All of it. Particularly when it comes to music and literature, my two biggest passions. There I will get completely obsessive. I will read all the books and listen to all the recordings that exist. I will dig my way through the entire body of work. Passionately. But not blindly. When it comes to art I don’t believe in unconditional love. Even the most talented people will do things that aren’t brilliant. And people develop. Sometimes in a good way, other times in a not so good way. Very few people manage to present a body of work that’s amazing all the way through. There are some, but they are not many. And of those, most are dead. Read more of this post
September 20, 2010
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The truth. It’s a problematic concept but we like to treat it as if it wasn’t. We as a society seem to have this prevailing idea about the one ultimate truth that can be revealed. Almost like a law of nature. The one truth. Like a holy grail, a sacred quest. The real goal of all efforts, be it in science, in law or everyday life, is to find that one single truth. The one answer to everything. The truth. We like to think that we cherish truth in our culture. That once we see the truth we will immediately and almost automatically be able to identify it as such and thus fully embrace it. Like an inherit mechanism in our culture. We like to think we have a very profound love for truth. Do we really? Do we even know what truth is, what we really mean when we talk about truth? I am not so sure. Read more of this post