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 28, 2011
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I don’t like prejudices. I know have plenty of my own, but I do my best to challenge them. And I am not saying that just because it’s the politically correct thing to say, I actually mean it. Because I really hate prejudices. And the reason is very simple: plenty have been expressed about me. Based on my gender, nationality, hair color, breast size, tattoos, piercings, opinions, lifestyle choices etc, etc ad infinitum. And I hate it. And don’t care that much what people think about me, but never the less I would very much like it if their opinions were based on me and not the things they associate with certain attributes I have. Because that limits my possibilities. Or rather, I don’t get the possibilities I would get if the things people thought about me were actually a true reflection of my person. Essentially it’s all about accuracy. That’s the problem with prejudices, they are seriously lacking in accuracy. And that annoys the hell out of me.
Most people would probably agree, I hope, that prejudices are a bad thing and that you should strive to challenge them. Like I said it’s the politically correct thing to do, but there seems to be an exception from this idea when it comes to the Romani. When it comes to this group of people it all of a sudden seems ok to state complete an utter bullshit that’s based on nothing but ignorant, racist, prejudice. I may be wrong, but I don’t really recall that type of opinions being aired quite that openly just 15 years ago. Sure racism aired it’s ugly face from time to time, but I don’t really recall it being that frequent. Or was I just too blind to notice? I’m really not sure. But I have been discussing this so many times in the past few months that I feel a serious need to put it all into writing. That way I can just refer people to here when the topic comes up again. Yeah, maybe I am lazy, but I am just so sick of having the same conversation over and over again. Sure I will still say “yes, I think you are a fucking racist for thinking that all Romani are thieves”, but at least I can spare myself the remaining hours of trying to explain why I say that. But I will still say “you’re a fucking racist”. Naturally I’m really sick of having to say that all the time too, but at least it’s short and efficient. Read more of this post
January 24, 2011
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I was talking to my dad yesterday and somehow we landed in the topic of things that are wrong with this world. We often do that. This particular time we were dwelling on the topic of equality. He was going on about all the things that were wrong in the world, about gender inequality and how that was still such a major issue globally, and he ended with saying that he was not convinced that it was even possible to reach a state of total equality. I was listening to his rant, feeling a certain sense of pride because my father hasn’t always had these views, ten or so years ago he would never have talked about this, let alone in the kind of fairly nuanced way he was doing now, but that finishing statement made me think. Is it possible to reach a state of total equality?
Equality is of course a term that needs some definition, as is the case with most concepts that are used in a political context. A dictionary will tell you that equality means “the state or quality of being equal”. But in a political context there’s a bit more attached to it than that. Different aspects of equality if you will. The most common being gender, race and social. Essentially it has to do with perspective, what you see as the bigger issue. But does that really make sense? Can you really grade it like that? I am fully aware that this has been discussed at length on various arenas and that there have been countless texts written on the topic, but if equality really means the state or quality of being equal there are a few things we must assume regardless of what perspective we choose. Read more of this post
January 21, 2011
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There’s an episode of Fawlty Towers where this phrase, “don’t mention the war”, gets repeated several times. A group of Germans are staying at the hotel and therefore Basil Fawlty, the hotel owner, who at the time is suffering from a head injury, instructs his staff to, no matter what happens, not mention World War II. I have been thinking about that phrase lately. “Don’t mention the war.” I actually think we should. We should mention the war, World War II. We should mention it a lot. Because we seem to be forgetting it. We seem to be forgetting that all of that happened right here on European soil, that this is where it started, that it was people just like us who were involved, who started it. It happened right here and it wasn’t that long ago, in a time not that different from now. We seem to be forgetting all the atrocities that took place. All the unfathomable acts of human cruelty that were conducted by regular people right here, people just like you and me.
World War II has become a symbol of evil, something we swore we would never repeat. It was a wake up call that lead us to form the United Nations and the European Union. We wanted to manifest our commitment to make sure that something like this could never happen again on European soil. Whether we have been able to completely keep that promise or not is a debatable issue, but at least we have never had a war on that scale since. So we must have learned something. But the question is what. 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 12, 2011
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A while ago I was at a street art fair. With an ambition to not only have a look at the art but to also write something about it I brought along my camera and a note pad. I walked around in the big hall taking pictures and making random notes trying to figure out what the hell I was going to write about all of this. What I was going to do with all of these impressions. Writing something about all of the artists was so obviously impossible, so what then? I kept thinking “what do I want to write about all of this?” And I am still not sure.
Art fairs are difficult. Just like music festivals are difficult. It’s so easy to get overwhelmed by all the impressions. At least for me. It’s at times like that I realize just how difficult it is to stay in the moment, to really process what you are actually experiencing as you are experiencing it. Even though it’s all so amazing and inspiring it just turns into a big blur of awe.
Afterwards I saw a friend of mine:
“So how was it?”
“It was rad!”
Very descriptive, huh? But that’s the problem, I find it hard to say something beyond that. Because it was rad. Obviously there were things that I liked more, pieces that I spent more time with, but as far as an overall impression goes, rad is pretty much all I can come up with. Pitiful, isn’t it?
But the plan was to write about it, so I feel I should honor the commitment I made to myself and try to come up with something more to say about it than ‘rad’. Read more of this post
December 29, 2010
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There are some things that I will just never be able to understand. One of these is homophobia. I really and honestly do not understand it. And I am not talking about the various cultural and psychological reasons that are generally used to explain this phenomena, or abomination if we want to be a bit more precise, I get those. I understand what they are trying to get at when religion is brought into the picture and I understand what the whole threat to established gender identities theory is about. What I don’t understand is why anyone even cares in the first place. Why does it matter? How can it be that important what gender people are attracted to? Why on earth does anyone bother to care about that? Why is that particular preference given such a determining value?
I was reading a blog post by a mother whose son dressed up in a woman’s outfit for halloween and how that caused people to express a concern that he might grow up to be gay. Say what?! Apart from the fact that I really can’t see any issue what so ever with someone being gay, why would dressing up in women’s clothing make someone gay? How the hell would that causality work? It’s just beyond stupid. You don’t become gay, you are gay. Just like you are straight. Or bisexual. And gender identity has very little to do with that. A gay man is no less male than a straight man, just like a lesbian is no less female than a straight woman. Your gender or sexuality is not tied to your level of masculinity or femininity. But this line of reasoning does put focus on the problem of gender identity itself. Why is it so important that a boy sticks to the attributes assigned to his male gender? Why does him dressing up as a girl become such an issue? And why is the immediate fear that he’ll grow up to be gay? Why is the transcending of the gender roles perceived such a big threat even when it’s a 5-year-old boy doing it? Read more of this post
December 27, 2010
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In India you see a lot of people wearing so-called traditional clothes. Colorful saris, salwar kameez, dhoti, lungi and kurta. Especially in the villages, there you see very few women wearing western style clothes. Men yes, but women no. Women wearing jeans is one of the best tell-tale signs that you are in a city. I made a casual observation about this:
“I suppose now we are in a city. You see a lot more women in western clothing here.”
“Yes, but I think it’s a shame when they give up the traditional style. The saris are so much more beautiful.”
I didn’t say anything because I’m not sure I agree. Of course the saris are beautiful, but what do they really represent? Is it really a free choice? And if so, how come you see more women making the choice to stick to the traditional clothes? Not just in India, but all over the world. How come women always seem to be the ones that have to carry the traditions? I also think the traditional women’s clothes in India are beautiful but it’s not really a relevant argument or point in this context. Especially not if you follow the observation through on a more global level. A burqa isn’t beautiful. A burqa is a prison that hinders your movements and deprives you of sensory input. The sensory deprivation isn’t applicable for a sari, but it does hinder your movements. Then again, so does high heels. 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 4, 2010
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“Riot – worthwhile work for everyone.” I have a t-shirt that says that. I bought it because I thought the message made sense. It was back in 2001, just after the riots at the EU summit in the Swedish city Gothenburg had happened, and I was appalled by the reactions from the general public. First there were lots of very violent demonstrations and clashes between the protesters and the police, and then a guy was shot by the police, in Sweden that’s not something that happens every day. In fact, it was pretty much unheard of. But the strange thing was that it was the protests themselves that were questioned, not what the police did. Suddenly the “fight for your right” credo seemed to belong more to the police than to the people. I thought that was scary. And i think that’s why I bought that t-shirt. To make some sort of statement about the right to protest.
So does it help? To protest and challenge the establishment? Is there a point? Yes, I hope so. I hope it helps to raise your voice when you think something is wrong. After all, that is one of the fundamental rights in a democracy, to speak your mind. As citizens we do have a right to protest. And that right should be exercised. Thankfully most of the political establishment realizes and recognizes this. But what strikes me is how few conclusions are drawn from this realization. Read more of this post