måndag, december 25, 2006

Winter child

(Lyrics to an unfinished work for voices)


Winter Child

Dah, dah, dah
Muse, muse, music
Liss, liss, listen
Win, win, winter

Darkness, light
In the beginning

Let there be light

Midwinter, midwife, virgin
Chilly winter night

Bells ringing

Star is shining
all night long

Angels singing
Gloria, gloria, gloria

Logos, the Word, a child
In the beginning

A Winter child
in the world was born

from Word to World

Christ is born tonight
from eternity into time


(copyright: Maria Ljungdahl (Sweden) 2006)

lördag, december 23, 2006

New poem




CHRISTMAS MOMENTS


There is a moment every year
on the night before Christmas Eve -
after I have written and sent the last message
to the distant, the remembered, not present,
and the last Christmas cards have arrived.
I have finished the rounds,
to give and collect the presents.

There is a moment of emptiness, then -
as I look at the mess in the kitchen,
after I have sent that most heartfelt greeting
out in the cold, to faraway homes -
when I have no more reason to post anything online,
and I close the door for all except the close family
until the holy day has passed,
and I allow myself to wonder:
how are they? has anything changed?
will they remember me?

where, and when, and why -
and who - have we been, these few days?


If I happen to make it in time -
the time for candles and carols, for food and gifts -
this is how it will be on Christmas Eve:

There will be a clean table in the kitchen,
with a clean, mangled linen cloth,
red, blue, white or natural in colour,
and on the blue sideboard -
clad in bright red cotton print
with tiny flowers, fir and pear trees,
partridges, deer and holly,
I have put the holiday plates and bowls,
the gaudy, gold-rimmed Santa set of china.

The living-room is guarded by a glimmering fake fir,
which is guarded by a black and lively cat,
whom I have to watch,
so he won't climb and fell the fir tree,
or try to bite the lights -
or pick a fight with all the lovely garlands!

In many windows are electric Advent lights,
but in the garden, I think nothing here will shine at all.
Of course the neighbours have those garden chains
with tiny lamps in every bush and tree,
and welcome many relatives and friends
with flaming fire and guiding torches in the snow.
I think my visitors will be very few this year...


So maybe I will have a few spare moments;
a minute, or an hour - maybe two,
when I will think of you, and wonder -
without the stress and noise
from some conflicting modes of celebration,
without confusion, and quite sane
but with some little sadness left
from such uncertainty and weakness that I sense -
well, hear my thoughts:
what do you want? what do you need?
what did you hope for,
and what did you get this year?



To write these things down gave me guilty feelings.
Why count just what one gets? Why ask about it?
Is this in fact my own sad point of view: what can I gain?

Surely we are told, that Christmas means to give?
Should I then preach unselfishness to you instead,
as if you are like a little selfish child
who takes the right to love and property for granted
and does not see what others need?

Is it more appropriate to ask:
what did you do for others, now, this very year?
did you give out in abundance; offered freely?
did you give them anything at all -
the poor, the hungry, prisoners, and patients?

No! As I trust you, and your love for others,
I must never ask if you have done enough.
Yes! Sure. You give. You give for nothing.
And so do I. We do. It is called love.


Love is not a business with a binding contract,
not a competition with fair rules,
and not a fun game with one single winner.

Love is not an art, or an abstraction -
it is just the best that we can do!

Merry Christmas - to all of you!


4 December 2006.
Maria Ljungdahl.

fredag, december 15, 2006

Paintings (länkar till Marias målningar)

I have decided to put links to all my finished paintings and other pictures (and a couple of quilts) in the same message, so they will be easier to find again.

Här finns länkar till alla de sidor där mina färdiga (eller nästan färdiga) målningar och andra bilder (och några lapptäcken) presenteras.

My Way (Motiv från Eckerö)
Arbetsrum (studio)
Work-in-progress (styrman)
Quilt (lapptäcke)
Tango: Orfeus & Ofelia
Portrait (Motiv från ytterskärgården)

måndag, november 27, 2006

My Way, or, The Red Road



Oil painting, MaLj 2006.

torsdag, november 02, 2006

Arbetsrum



When I am not reading the newspaper, other music blogs, music discussions or web pages I have looked up to understand something, while listening to Beethoven's Ninth or some songs by Steely Dan or a cd with Anne Sofie von Otter, I am sometimes writing arrangements of Christmas music, looking at music composed by my friends, or reading a page or two of serious fiction or theory, but when I am not doing this - or watching the snow that fell yesterday - I have these paintings to work on. The Red Road is almost finished now. The abstract maritime landscape with the beams of light is just a sketch to a larger painting I will make some day. The simplified little copy of Enguerrand Charonton's The Coronation of Mary (original from 1454) is what it is - a naive exercise. Here is a detail of the original:

torsdag, oktober 26, 2006

Rilke translations: autumn poem 2


Herbsttag


Herr, es ist Zeit. Der Sommer war sehr groß.
Leg deinen Schatten auf die Sonnenuhren,
und auf den Fluren lass die Winde los.

Befiehl den letzten Früchten, voll zu sein;
gib ihnen noch zwei südlichere Tage,
dränge sie zur Vollendung hin, und jage
die letzte Süße in den schweren Wein.

Wer jetzt kein Haus hat, baut sich keines mehr.
Wer jetzt allein ist, wird es lange bleiben,
wird wachen, lesen, lange Briefe schreiben
und wird in den Alleen hin und her
unruhig wandern, wenn die Blätter treiben.

---

Autumn Day

Lord: now is the day. Great were the summer hours.
Let all your shadows veil the sundial flowers,
and on the fields let all the winds blow free.

Command these last fruits to be full and ripe;
just grant the juice two days more on the south side.
To push the wine's perfection you will hurry
the last sweet taste into the heavy grapes.

Those who are homeless will not build a house now.
Those who are lonely will not find a partner,
will sleepless wait, will read, write lengthy letters
and aimless walk the avenues and alleys,
impatient, restless, as the drifting leaves there.

----

Höstdag

Gud: nu är tid. Vår sommar räckte långt.
Låt dina skuggor skymma solurstiden,
och över bördig jord släpp stormen lös.

Befall de sista frukterna att mogna;
men ge dem ett par dagar till i solen,
en uppmaning att fulländas, du hetsar
så fram den sista sötmans tunga vin.

Är någon hemlös, skall han så förbli.
Är han allena, kommer det att vara.
Han vakar, läser, skriver brev på brev
och vankar i alléerna bland löven
så oroligt och planlöst som de far.

---
German original texts: Rainer Maria Rilke
Swedish and English interpretations: MaLj 2006

--
updated 12 November 2009: I just found the site http://www.textetc.com/workshop/wt-rilke-1.html with discussions of several versions in English.

Rilke translations: autumn poem 1


Herbst


Die Blätter fallen, fallen wie von weit,
als welkten in den Himmeln ferne Gärten;
sie fallen mit verneinender Gebärde.

Und in den Nächten fällt die schwere Erde
aus allen Sternen in die Einsamkeit.

Wir alle fallen. Diese Hand da fällt.
Und sieh dir andre an: es ist in allen.

Und doch ist Einer, welcher dieses Fallen
unendlich sanft in seinen Händen hält.

---

Fall

The foliage falling drops as from afar,
as if some heavenly garden drops its foliage;
is falling slowly, with denying gestures.

And nightly hours falls the lonely Gaia
her heavy body drops down from the stars.

We are all falling. See, this hand will drop.
And watch the other one: this is in all things.

But still there is someone, who can hold the falling
and in his tender hands the fall will stop.

---

Höst

Nu löven singlar, singlar som från skyn,
likt himmelska planteringar förvissnar;
de faller med förnekande små gester.

Och under natten faller tunga jorden
ur stjärnehimlen i sin ensamhet.

Vi alla faller. Så faller denna hand.
Och se den andra här: det gäller alla.

Och ändå finns det en, som allt i detta fallet
oändligt ömt i sina händer bär.

---
German original texts: Rainer Maria Rilke
Swedish and English interpretations: MaLj 2006

söndag, oktober 22, 2006

Science and Human Values

"The discoveries of science, the works of art are explorations - more, are explosions, of a certain hidden likeness. The discoverer or the artist presents in them two aspects of nature and fuses them into one. This is the act of creation, in which an original thought is born, and it is the same act in original science and original art. But it is not therefore the monopoly of the man who wrote the poem or who made the discovery. On the contrary, I believe this view of the creative act to be right because it alone gives a meaning to the act of appreciation. The poem or the discovery exists in two moments of vision: the moment of appreciation as much as that of creation; for the appreciator must see the movement, wake to the echo which was started in the creation of the work."
- Jacob Bronowski (1958)

fredag, oktober 20, 2006

Abstraction

"Most people shy at the very word "abstraction." It suggests to them the incomprehensible, misleading, difficult, the great intellectual void of empty words. But as a matter of fact, abstract thinking is the quickest and most powerful kind of thinking, as even an elementary study of symbolic logic tends to show. The reason people are afraid of abstraction is simply that they do not know how to handle it. They have not learned to make correct abstractions, and therefore become lost among the empty forms, or worse yet, among the mere words for such forms, which they call "empty words" with an air of disgust. It is not the fault of abstraction that few people can really think abstractly, any more than it is the fault of mathematics that not many people are good mathematicians."
- Susanne K Langer: An introduction to symbolic logic, Third edition. Chapter I: The study of forms, p 34. Dover, New York 1967.

lördag, oktober 14, 2006

End of summer 2006


Groucho is here seen arriving at "her" (his?) winter season home: the parking lot called the Twig Meadow, near the little horse stable at the outskirts of the village.

fredag, september 29, 2006

Findings

En alltid aktuell diskussion, tyvärr. (How can we save the wordless knowledge found in music, how can we save the values in centuries of mature artistic reflection -- complex, rich, responsible expressions of human life, ideas and political history -- from being drowned in a culture and society that prefers songs speaking of immature, unreflected, irresponsible feelings? Commercial music is a cult, practised already in music discussions in kindergarten groups -- while art music is seen as uncool.)

-------------------------------

My blog friend Tim Posgate has posted a cute
music video for one of his songs.

torsdag, september 14, 2006

I just couldn’t forget that filthy old wreck, Marilyn



In the summer 2002, we were on the lookout for a replacement for Carolina, the narrow, well-sailing "RJ-85" sailboat we had bought while we lived on the West coast (our third or fourth boat, was this). One of the stepsons wanted to take over Carolina, if we were thinking of getting something bigger and more comfortable for our vacations. For some reason I believed that a more reliable (with inboard engine) and spacious boat would be the only thing I needed to be happy for the rest of my life, and if I didn't get it, my life would never be what it should have been, given my interests and background! The first possible craft we decided to look at was a "Schelinkryssare" (a 35 ft cruiser designed by Oscar Schelin) from 1971. She was called Marilyn, and for sale through a yacht broker in Stockholm.

I hopped on board, and looked with disgust at the far from ship-shape mess on deck, and all the things that were broken, misplaced, filthy, rusty or dented. Ropes left on deck everywhere, the sails attached to wires in the mast that were not running straight and free for hoisting, the wood on the cockpit benches was rotten, and the steering-wheel was dysfunctional. The cabin smelled unpleasant, there was green-ish water under the worn but nicely varnished floor, the propane stove with its old bent pipes and fittings made me look for the emergency exit and pray that none of the other prospective buyers would light a cigarette when on the ship, the bunks and the cabinets needed repair, the hull isolation was filthy and ugly, the electric system needed immediate replacement, there were signs of water-leakage through the top door, et cetera. Much work. Not worth the fairly high price. However, the sails seemed to be both new and okay (even if the rig looked ridiculous), the 27 hp diesel engine reliable and quite new (but a high-risk: fixed on just three of four mounts, all rusty), and the hull seemed strong and well built. And the poor wreck had a soul... So I was quite taken, and couldn't leave her until I had walked the deck two rounds more, trying to notice all the faults!

In my fantasies, I could see, hear, and feel what it would be like to own a boat with a personality like that, and appreciate the possibilities and advantages of this model. I also imagined my grandchildren in the future would say, "When we were small and sailing with Grandma on Marilyn"... I wanted so much to be someone possessing an old plastic 35 ft sailboat with an old-fashioned, beautiful light grey hull, a blue line and a nice name, so I could not think of much else, or sleep, but had to get up in the middle of the night and look at myself in the bathroom mirror and weep hysterically! We looked at other Schelin:s, at several different other models, and weighed price against what needed fixing. Sometimes we were tempted to buy one of the practical, clean, nifty, good-enough, plain but well-equipped and reasonably priced boats we found. But we never could agree on which one.

The summer months went by. I took a navigation course in the autumn, to have a systematic brush-up of the stuff I almost already knew, and to get a navigation certificate. I returned to visit Marilyn, every time I was in town! When she was sold, I went there to say goodbye to the ship, and talk to the yacht broker. I asked what price they finally had agreed on, and if there had been anything reported from the hull inspector. There was no special discount, as there had been no evidence of any severe faults. The buyer was a carpenter from Denmark, who had remarked, "Good for me to have some work to do, or else I will drink too much beer!"

After the navigation course was completed, the instructor offered an opportunity for a practical exam, consisting of navigation exercises and manoeuvre training onboard his motorboat -- in his hometown, an hour south of Stockholm. I signed up, but got extremely anxious about the entire event. It was to take place on a weekday in November or early December, so the prospect of being at sea at that time of year was unpleasant, and the idea of travelling alone, that far away and early in the morning, made me feel completely at a loss. I contacted another woman from the course, and she offered to help me out with a hike from the University, if I could make it to the Statoil filling station there on my own, and meet her at 7 AM. Thankfully, I got ill, so I had a reason to cancel it without feeling like a fool.

Just before Christmas, my husband heard from a colleague in Finland that there was perhaps an interesting boat for sale in Turku. A widow with an "H-35" from 1981 (a 35 ft cruiser, a well-sailing quite modern boat by a Finnish yacht designer) was thinking of selling it. We got a report from a first inspection on site. "Nice boat, but the 'skitigaste' (=filthiest) thing I have ever seen", said our friend. Negotiations with the widow started, held in a mix of Swedish, English, German and Finnish, to be understood. Husband and son went to Turku with a passenger ferry, to have a look. Enthusiastic (or - the son - rather indifferent, disillusioned and tired of all the previous arguments) they called me and asked if I could agree on taking this fantastic chance to get a boat with great possibilities, at a bargain price!

"Okay; of course..." (What could I say?)

At Christmas 2002, I was writing on my first and only work for orchestra, Winter into Spring, or Töväder (Thawing Weather), something I was really serious about. Hubby was thinking, talking and dreaming about how to transfer Euro money for the boat payment, how to fix a boat transport and how to start the boat renovation.

A Friday evening in January 2003, we got on a small car ferry from Frihamnen in Stockholm. It was a beautiful night, with a full white moon shining over dark islands, dark water, snow and ice. Chunks of ice in the shipping channel were hammering on the ferry hull, all the hours we went through the vast archipelagos on both sides of the Aland Sea. I could hardly sleep, mostly because I was so fascinated by the landscape outside, and the other unfamiliar sensations. We arrived in the grey morning, and got our car off the ferry in Turku, drove through the town and out to the sleepy suburb where the boatyard was situated.

"And here she is - our new boat."
"Uh-hu. Nice."

(That? The ugly, wet, sad thing with a snow drift on top? Did I borrow a fortune from mother, only to spend it all on this practical joke? My God - what a bargain! My life is over now, absolutely over. This is The End.)

I climbed the ladder, which a kind owner of a neighbour boat had helped us with, and silently started to inspect my new ship, beginning with clearing the deck from as much ice and snow as possible. There was solid ice in the engine room, too. And water in the cabin, dripping everywhere, through leaks in the roof, from the melting snow and ice on deck. A lot of woodwork was in bad condition from this neglect to cover the boat properly for winter. The radio and the VHF telephone were dripping, also. There was an ugly old propane stove, with bent pipes and suspect fittings. Et cetera. And not even a trace of a soul. This boat was dead. Gone. Beyond rescue. Just a piece of indestructible fibreglass.

The seller arrived. She was a tiny and elegant woman, in fur coat and small boots, but she jumped onboard like a cat or athlete, without using the ladder. She laughed happily at everything we said, and smiled at the Swedish-speaking gentleman who functioned as her driver, interpreter and technical expertise. When she understood that we had actually bought the boat, liked and wanted it, and had the intention to move it to Sweden the same afternoon, she was so happy so she had to demonstrate her ability to stand on her head, there, in the snow! From other sources, and from evidence in the boat, we learned that this Moomin character (and her late husband) had maybe been fond of the more pleasant aspects of boating. For example, beer. During the renovation, we found that it was not possible - in any one of the 35 ft of this ship - to be out of reach of a beer bottle opener. There were a dozen of them, mounted with great care, in the most imaginative places. The maintenance of and care about the rest of the equipment, on the other hand...

onsdag, september 13, 2006

Hype and hope

I am Swedish. I live in Sweden. This country has not been involved in any wars after the year 1809. I think this could be an explanation for our naive belief in peaceful solutions to conflicts. If a majority of the people in a nation has no personal experience of war periods, for many generations, the tendency to think of conflicts in terms of military actions gradually disappears.

We're nationalistic, as most other people, but seldom express our national pride in aggressive terms of dreams about military or economical domination (but this was a reality in this region, some centuries ago).

Yet, politicians and other prominent Swedes have sometimes acted in a manner that has given us a reputation of "putting their nose into every single thing on this planet". This is because we have (delusional) dreams about domination on the field of ideas! We are proud of the Swedes who work and have worked for the UN, and of the other politicians and diplomats who have tried to solve conflicts and secure peace in countries far from our little corner of the world.

Another aspect of Swedish national culture, is a tendency to avoid showing strong emotions in public. This means we are (or were - this is changing) not likely to think it is or feels 'natural' to express grief, love or hate in public places - even less in organized official ceremonies. You can wonder if this is a result of a stoic ideal, an underdeveloped sense of dignity, a general and common shyness, or a cultural consensus to value only practical and sensible actions.

But, as I said, this is changing. When Prime minister Olof Palme was murdered on a street in Stockholm in 1986 (most likely by a certain drunk criminal who shot the wrong person and afterwards forgot what he had done), people cried openly, and laid flowers on the spot where he had died, and continues to do so today.

When the ferry "Estonia" sank in the Baltic sea in a storm 1994, 852 people died, many of them Swedes. The tragedy has been difficult to forget for those who were affected by it, so much time and money has been spent on monuments, commemoration ceremonies and investigations.

When 63 young people (most of them children to immigrants) died in a disco fire in Gothenburg 1998, the sidewalk outside the building looked like a worship place for several weeks, with flowers, candles, cards and things - and always people, together or alone.

When Foreign minister Anna Lindh was attacked and stabbed on September 10th 2003 by a mentally ill person following her in a department store in Stockholm, and she died the next morning, the reaction from people was strong. Again, flowers on the street, and people crying. In spite of her being a pragmatic politician, she was viewed as a saint, our good hope for the future, now lost. I think what happened here was similar to the British (and world-wide) reaction when Princess Diana died.

Still, I am not sure if these public expressions of grief (and anger) are a good thing. If it is our hope and innocence we are grieving for, maybe this is a necessary process. But, if it is organized or spontaneous mass hysteria, or hype, I think the world would be a better place without it.

In the cases when the tragedies are not natural disasters or accidents, but acts of violence from individuals or states, why should we pay the events - and the criminals - so much attention? They - their actions - do not deserve to be remembered with so serious ceremonies, do they? The victims deserve it, yes, but why - if life, peace and loving your neighbours as yourselves is what matters to you - make a point of remembering the last moments of the victims and how they died?

onsdag, augusti 23, 2006

Wasting Space and Time for the sake of Music

After observing things for months, and thinking it doesn't really look like the sort of ideal place to promote music on, I decided to give the MySpace Music pages a try. So now I have a space and an assorted bunch of so called "friends" -- a mix of personal friends, musicians I have heard or heard about before, and some complete strangers.

onsdag, augusti 16, 2006

Happiness is a pair of red shoes at a funeral

Har läst många av Karin Thunbergs krönikor och intervjuer i Svenska Dagbladet, och funderat över hur hon ser på sin roll som journalist och sig själv. Inte bara hon förresten, det finns idag många som skildrar verkligheten och debatterar dagsfrågor och livet genom att berätta om sina personliga erfarenheter. Så har hon tydligen kommit ut med en bok nu, som är ännu mera om henne själv. I en intervju härom dagen avslöjas att hon egentligen inte ville avslöja att hon haft cancer två gånger, men att det till slut var det som gjorde boken hon planerade att skriva meningsfull. Det kan inte bara handla om lycka.

fredag, augusti 04, 2006

Web Log

Today (or yesterday) I have looked at these web pages:

--------------

Att lära sig lyssna på Bartok, och andra tankar om kultur, av Stefan Johansson.

---------------

Composer Jane Gardner.

-----------

Music publishing at SibeliusMusic.

---------

An article about will power, self-discipline, and "moral muscles".

------

"No matter how often the commercial cart is put before the horse of art, the noble steed is never going to water-ski."

"Monotony, like pain, is endurable in short doses. Stretched over two CDs lasting two and a half hours, it arouses dangerous emotions in those who last the course – an irresistible urge to strangle the ‘concept developers’, having first held the heads of each and every one of the composers under water until they promise to write nothing but atonal sonatas and musical sudokus for the rest of their ingratiating lives."

(from the latest Lebrecht article.

----------

some pages with info about the movie "Tara Road":
http://www.cinefacts.de/kino/db/filmdetails.php?id=22453&ab=101
http://www.critic.de/index.pl?aktion=kritik&id=392
http://imdb.com/title/tt0429153/usercomments
-------------

torsdag, augusti 03, 2006

Music for peace? War questions musical meaning?



[From a recent list discussion about music, war and peace. The anonymous writer of the quoted passage -- that is, I can't remember the name of the list member who posted it, and I don't think it was relevant to mention even if I knew it -- was just one among many who posted their thoughts and supplied facts about experiences from "peace missions" with music making among people in countries and regions suffering from wars and conflicts:]
Though not an expert in this area, I wish to add that one of the things that war does to students and scholars of music is that it questions the relevance, meaning, and limitations of their/our practice.
I'm sorry to be harsh, but perspectives -- and experiences -- like these are painfully common: why does it take a war to get us to "question the relevance, meaning, and limitations of their/our practice"? If we don't know what we're doing, what its relevance is, what it means to our societies, to our fellow human beings -- if we cannot address these crucial questions in the luxurious calm of peace, it will be far too late in wartime. It is what we must do, and not await catastrophe as a stimulus.

MW Morse

(listen to this mp3 -- a demo version of Undiminished Hope, an original tune by MWM, now arranged for jazz quintet.)

söndag, juli 30, 2006

A Flat, Tired Blues



Here is a short new little blues tune.


(painting signed "L Wiberg, 1986", if I read it correct!)

lördag, juli 08, 2006

For a friend, or two.


"The soul unto itself
Is an imperial friend, --
Or the most agonizing spy
An enemy could send.

Secure against its own,
No treason it can fear;
Itself its sovereign, of itself
The soul should stand in awe."
[Emily Dickinson]

fredag, juli 07, 2006

Climates

The notion that the Gulf Stream is responsible for keeping Europe anomalously warm turns out to be a myth, writes Richard Seager, of Columbia University Earth Institute, in an article (based on a study he and colleagues published in 2002) in American Scientist:
"What we found in these tests was that, south of northern Norway, the difference in winter temperature across the North Atlantic was always the same, whether or not we let the ocean move heat around. This result would suggest that oceanic heat transport does not matter at all to the difference between the winter climates of western Europe and eastern North America! We concluded that the temperature difference must, as we had speculated before, be caused by other processes, most likely the seasonal absorption and release of heat by the ocean and the moderating effect this process has on maritime climates downwind.

Our revised view of things did not, however, mean that heat transport in the ocean does not influence climate. The ocean indeed absorbs more heat from the Sun near the equator than it loses back to the atmosphere (primarily by evaporation). And oceanic currents indeed move the excess heat poleward before releasing it to the atmosphere in the middle latitudes. Consequently, removal of the oceanic heat transport globally in our modeling exercise warmed the equator and cooled everywhere else. The climates produced by the models deprived of oceanic heat transport were colder in the subpolar North Atlantic by as much as 8 degrees in some places. The cooling over land areas was more modest, typically less than 3 degrees. These temperature changes, large as they are, are not terribly dramatic compared with the much larger temperature contrast across the North Atlantic Ocean.

Why doesn't the ocean exert a greater influence on North Atlantic climate? According to scientists' best estimates, the ocean and atmosphere move about an equal amount of heat in the deep tropics. But at mid-latitudes, the atmosphere carries several times more heat. Thus, if one considers the region north of, say, 35 degrees North, the atmosphere is much more effective than the ocean in warming winter climates. Also, the winter release of the heat absorbed during the summer is several times greater than the amount of heat that the ocean transports from low to high latitudes in a year. Hence it is the combined effect of atmospheric heat transport and seasonal heat storage and release that keep the winters outside the tropics warmer than they otherwise would be—by several tens of degrees.

Although these numbers are instructive, they are not directly relevant to understanding the warming of Europe. For that, one needs to consider some details of geography. The Gulf Stream and associated current systems in the North Atlantic focus heat (and lose it to the atmosphere) in two clearly defined areas. One is immediately to the east of the United States, where the warm Gulf Stream flows north after leaving the Gulf of Mexico and rounding the tip of Florida. During winter, the prevailing winds blow frigid, dry air off the North American continent and across the Gulf Stream. Because of the large difference in moisture and temperature content between air and sea, the heat lost from the ocean through evaporation and direct heat transfer is immense—a few hundred watts per square meter. Much of this heat is picked up by storms in the atmosphere and carried over the eastern United States and Canada, effectively mitigating what would otherwise be a cold continental climate.

Where else does the Gulf Stream deposit its heat? After departing the American coast, the Gulf Stream heads northeast and turns into what is called the North Atlantic Drift and, farther downstream, the Norwegian Current. After spawning many Atlantic storms, it loses most of the remainder of its heat in the Nordic seas. There the heat can effectively be moved eastward by the prevailing winds to warm northwest Europe. Thus the transport of heat taking place in the North Atlantic warms both sides of the ocean and by roughly the same amount, a few degrees. This leaves the much larger, 15-to-20-degree difference in winter temperatures to be explained by other processes."
This afternoon, we have over +30 (C) here in Stockholm, and reports of tropical night temperatures (over +20) also in other parts of Sweden last night.

söndag, juli 02, 2006

Landscapes

Kyle Gann in PostClassic has a long post about American art and music, American Romanticism: Music vs. Painting, with a discussion of what was new and specifically American in the Hudson River School of painters, and then in comparison how little original their contemporaries among composers were:
"Their music is a pale imitation of the European aesthetic of their day. In vain one listens to their symphonies, tone poems, piano pieces, and string quartets, for a new feeling for melody, a new sense of form, a departure from Europe. They were timid. Their emphasis was not on a bold new beginning, but on a sense of correctness, a balance learned rather than created, and a desire to impress. At their very best - as in, say, Chadwick's string quartets - one finds an energetic smoothness, but even here the music seems to plead, 'Look - I followed all the rules. Isn't that enough?' "

F. E. Church: Morning, Looking East Over the Hudson Valley from the Catskill Mountains

When I told my friend Pat Ross-Ross that I have started to paint in oil, and thought both landscapes and portraits were interesting to try, he mentioned The Group of Seven, and suggested I looked at the works of these famous Canadian painters, to see if my idea of Northern landscapes resonated with theirs. Yes, maybe. And then I read that some of the painters in the Canadian Northern school were inspired by the Scandinavians of a generation before them... If I understood this right.


Tom Thomson: The West Wind

The Nationalmuseum in Stockholm will host an exhibition in the autumn 2006, with works by romantic and early 20th century landscape painters from the Nordic countries. (The exhibition is in Helsinki this summer, starting in Stockholm on 30 September, will be in Oslo in spring 2007, comes to Minneapolis in the summer 2007, and then last stop is in Copenhagen in the autumn 2007)


Edvard Munch: Moonlight

fredag, juni 30, 2006

Chasing foxes

This morning, I watched two small foxes playing in the meadow between the village school and the old feldspar mines. At first I wondered why two cats were running like that -- or was it martens? No, foxes. A beautiful chase, like two waves of red fur flowing over the field, and then rolling on over the road and into the wood.

torsdag, juni 22, 2006

Marie-Louise Maude Ester Fuchs De Geer Bergenstråhle Ekman

Det här är en ny artikel om en av mina idoler - Marie-Louise med de många efternamnen. Det här är en äldre intervju. Jag har verkligen inte följt med i allt hon har gjort - sett alla bilder och installationer, sett alla filmer, läst böcker, sett pjäser, inrett med hennes tyger, eller så. Men jag uppskattar hennes klokt galna syn på konsten, och människorna:
- Jag har förstått först efteråt vad det är jag gör, ja, vad jag har hållit på med hela tiden. Jag är inte konstintresserad alls. Jag försöker förstå tillvaron genom att rycka ut fragment ur den som jag håller på med tills jag känner mig... lugnare, i alla fall med just den lilla skärvan. Men jag har ingen ambition alls att göra konstverk.

- Alla människor får miljoner idéer. Det svåra är att sortera, välja bort och välja rätt. Att göra ett bra val är det som utmärker en god idé. Man kan lära sig att vara uppmärksam på vilka människor eller saker man vill komma nära, och på när varningssignalerna lyser. Hjärnan håller på hela tiden.
[This linked article is a recent interview with one of my idols - the artist, playwright, movie director, and art professor Marie-Louise Maude Ester Fuchs De Geer Bergenstråhle Ekman. And this is an older article from another newspaper.]

tisdag, juni 20, 2006

work in progress



the camera was unsteady, which in fact makes this picture look better than in real life, but both two paintings of the helmsman (-woman) are unfinished, I can't get the eyes right, and the whole thing is lifeless kitsch, but maybe someday..

the landscape seen in the background of the studio interior (the thing with the red road and the puddles) is in its first stages, so the colours aren't right yet, but will be darker with more layers of paint.

torsdag, juni 15, 2006

Claude Ranger

My good friend Terry King has mentioned [on this tribute site] our introduction to Claude Ranger in 1970:
"I was playing jazz violin in Montreal around 1971, when I met Claude along with my friend, bassist Mike Morse. At that time we had never played with a musician of Claude's stature (I'm not sure I've ever played with anyone of his stature since, either)."
We were the house band in a jazz coffee house in Val David called Jazz et Café. Some amazing people trooped through there, including Marius Coulthier, Peter Leitch, a very young Steve Hall, and Brian Barley. Brian amazed us, of course, and told us about Claude's playing and writing. He showed us some of Claude's tunes, and explained some things about Claude's unique and insightful concept of harmony, based on the extensions of a seventh chord.

Terry and I went down to Old Montreal, and heard him with Billie Robinson, Peter Leitch, and Freddie McHugh. Growing up in NJ/NYC, I had already heard many great musicians -- but nothing like this. The energy and creativity never flagged for a second, nor did the utter beauty of sound from the drums.

Shortly afterwards, Terry and I asked Claude to play a set at a college concert. To our amazement he said yes, and even agreed to do a rehearsal. We played in the basement of the McGill student centre. Claude was affable but quiet, setting up with seeming unconcern. The first tune we called was Claude's "Le Pingouin,: which we had learned from a record of Claude, Brian, and bassist Daniel Lessard. The bass line is a simple chromatic pattern in half steps. I started playing it, and after a few measures, Claude started to play. That first few moments was one of the defining moments of my life. He was playing the most complex things I had ever heard from a drummer, yet it fit so beautifully and simply with the bass line he composed.

We finished the rehearsal, and played the concert a few days later, in a kind of ecstatic daze. We finished our set, and had to find the promoter to get our salary. 20 or 30 dollars for all three of us? Something like that; we gave it all to Claude, naturally. In any event, Claude waited backstage. The next act had already started, a loud rock band. When we found Claude, he was sitting with his back to the wall, which shaking from the volume of the rock band--composing music! Thunderstruck, we asked how he could do this, and he said something like "only what you hear inside matters."

Many folks have rightly mentioned Claude's capacity to turn any musical event into something extraordinary and artistic. I remember once going to hear Claude up on St. Hubert someplace, with Terry and Jerry Labelle. The group was just a trio, an amiable but utterly pedestrian organist, singer -- and Claude.

The music was the most banal bar trash of the day. One of the numbers was a merengue. The hook to the commercial merengue beat is four sixteenth-notes on the snare drum at the end of the second bar of the pattern, leading to the downbeat: ducka-ducka-DUM; ducka-ducka-DUM. When the tune started, my friends and I suddenly felt something utterly marvellous, and didn't know immediately what it was. We soon figured it out. Claude was playing all of the standard accents for merengue, but was playing the principle figure on the ride cymbal instead of the snare. The first sixteenth note, he left out altogether. The next was piano-pianissimo, the next pianissimo, and the fourth and last piano, in a slight, incedibly controlled crescendo. The effect was magical, profoundly musical, and danceable, too! Even if someone else had thought of this ingenious variation, it demands virtuoso control of dynamics to pull it off. Who else but Claude could do that?

Claude always played the complete music, never just a drum part. I had the opportunity to work four nights with Claude in Ottawa, a trio gig with baritone saxophonist Charles Papasoff. It was all standards and jazz tunes, and Claude played with such sensitivity to the music that you actually hear the chord changes, both in his accompaniment and solos. Here was a drummer on the level of the greatest in jazz, a composer and theorist of the same calibre, and a profoundly inspiring bandleader and teacher to several generations of musicians.

I once spent half a year composing a postcard to Claude, in French. The substance was: if I have been able to glimpse a small part of the true glory of music, revered friend, it is thanks to you above all.

MW Morse

Here is a tune inspired by Claude Ranger's musical ideas.

måndag, juni 12, 2006

Kitchen quilt from 2004

This is a quilt I made a couple of years ago, and which I use as a drape between the hall and the combined dining room and kitchen. (Click on the photo to see a larger version). The design is a wild interpretation of a quilt from a book by Kaffe Fassett, and the colours are meant to match the ochre and blue of our kitchen. The technique is blocks made of 3-5 cm wide shreds, sewn around a small square in the centre. Then the slightly uneven blocks were cut after a square paper pattern, and some of them cut diagonally in halves. The quilt was composed with a greyblue/beige striped fabric between the blocks, and small violet squares in the corners. Around it all is a darker blue and violet border. The other side is in bright blue with golden stars.

lördag, juni 10, 2006

Respect 2

(Photo Credit: Nick Galifianakis for The Washington Post)

Just something paradoxical to think about for a moment. It is possible to respect someone, and still not respect most of the things they do and say. Or, is it?

Tango: Orfeus & Ofelia


In October 2005, I made this sketch of a dancing couple, after reading some articles about Argentine tango in an old issue of National Geographic. Later, I have painted the same figures in a picture in a different colour scheme. Now, I think it looks more like a mythological scene. Maybe this is Orpheus, waltzing on the golden road up from the Underworld, with, not a sad and silent Eurydice who is just about to turn back to the dead, but - a sleepwalking Ophelia. Somehow, I also think the woman resembles Diana Krall. Don't know why!


("Tango: Orfeus & Ofelia". Oil painting, ca 33x24 cm. Copyright: MaLj (Sweden) 2006. Click on the image to see a larger version.)

onsdag, maj 24, 2006

Jazz listening on radio

Yesterday I heard a recorded concert from jazz club Fasching in Stockholm. The aired program was from Maria Schneider's visit to Sweden in October 2005. She worked with a Swedish big band, and you can read about the concert at Sveriges Radio's pages about it (and read more about the program here, and if you are lucky with the technology, listen to the program!).

fredag, maj 12, 2006

"Favourite Composer?"

[The following sermon by MWM is a republished posting from a composer forum discussion on the topic "Who is your favorite living composer?"]

Let us, dear brethren & sistren, attend the word at issue. "Favo(u)rite" does not mean "greatest," "most admired," nor even "best." It entails a notably more relaxed and personal commitment than value judgment.

At the least one could say this: ever since the pantheon set up shop, more than a century ago, composers have had to deal with the question of why they bother, put in the pointed, accusatory fashion "why should we listen to you(r music), when we can listen to [fill in the icon of choice] instead?" At the very least, the answer to that has got to be that one thinks fondly of one's own music; "proudly" is a bonus that, it seems, a dwindling number of composers can embrace. Whether that is due to the increasing imposition of bellicose challenges like the one I cited, I couldn't say.

I agree, however, with Taylor Silver's comments (*): in addition to all our other problems, striking some sort of sane balance between arrogance and modesty seems difficult for composers. I feel this is because the core notion of compositional art and craft is obscured. That is not so much due to decadence, to a decline in the standard of excellence, but to a general historical confusion that overwhelms us. Even within a single tradition, there is not just too much too learn, but too many things, too many different kinds of exemplars to absorb and understand.

Too many of the lessons [of the past] offer at least contradictory interpretations, if not indeed contradictory realities. To take a simple example, Mahler & Webern proffer directly contradistinctive lessons on musical economy. Yet it's fair to say that a real understanding of either composer presupposes a keen insight into the other. A professed enemy of Mahler will be a limited, if not piss-poor conductor of Webern. The development section of "Veni, Creator Spiritus" was not only a direct inspiration to Webern's Cantatas, but a case of genuine musical affinity. That affinity is one of the deepest levels of both composers' music, and so indispensable for performers and students of their music. It can take years to appreciate that affinity; without it, though, an admirer and would-be emulator of either composer is virtually certain to catch nothing but mannerisms. Absent the real sympathy of musical understanding, what they will be able to learn is so superficial that nothing but disconnected phrases will result from their effort: in a (dreaded) word, pastiche.

It does seem to me that the vigorous, surly, and bloody-minded defense of mere exercises as real music, and the defiant/triumphant confusion of simulacra with reality, is uncomfortably close to a symptom of decadence. The SibMus world can't be that different from the music world at large. And every week, there will be literally dozens of reviews that read, en clair: "Hey! Like, wow! Here's a staggeringly crude imitation of Mozart/Rachmaninoff/Dvorak that's got as much in common with its original as an coarsely manufactured mannequin does with a person. But: a. I'm easily swayed and fooled, because I haven't spent any time studying the originals -- hey, I'm busy, and I don't love them that much; b. the composer is a personal friend/only a kid/someone I feel sorry for/'sincere'/etc; c. who's to say? it's all just opinion anyway, namsane?"

It's becoming clearer to me that people only invoke such pathetic, relativistic standards because they don't know any better, because they haven't any (or enough) experiences to ground them in anything more solid. And, despite my grave philosophical issues with the term, I will say it, because it belongs here, inescapably: they have not experienced anything more real.

I'm saying that a cultural atmosphere of profound cluelessness is anything but a nurturing one for both the humility and the pride of a committed composer. As I've repeatedly (and shrilly, by now) argued, relativism is no victimless crime. If/when enough people flat out refuse to recognize any difference between some shockingly far-off (and inept) imitation of Mozart, and Mozart -- then the capacity of Mozart's music to teach is, to that extent, compromised, or even at an end. In such circumstances, clearing away the debris and weeds of misunderstanding to a path to Mozart is exponentially harder for everyone, very much including composers. Unless we want to argue that our culture plays no role whatsoever in our learning processes -- and only the most aggressively brainless relativist will step up to the plate on that one -- then we have to accept that the general conditions of our musical understanding present many of the particular obstacles we face as musicians. In the present circumstance, being able to enjoy our own music without delusion or (residual) self-loathing can seem a distant triumph indeed.

MW Morse

*) "Its funny how two totally different types of people - one too modest and one too arrogant - can produce equally impressive pieces of music. Think about the differences in the creative process they must have."
Written by Taylor Silver, in a discussion at SibeliusMusic.com

tisdag, maj 09, 2006

Family outing

This Sunday, I was out on a boat trip for the first time this year. The combination of summer weather and spring season -- sunny and quite warm, but with a chill from the sea and wind; an abundance of flowers in the woods and meadows, but sparse foliage on the trees; silence or just bird song, since very few leisure boats were out on the water ways, and with mass tourism as yet concentrated to just a couple of popular islands instead of spread over the whole archipelago -- this all made the day with the family an enjoyable and relaxing experience in our incredibly beautiful archiepelago.

All 12 members of the big family were present. B's four sons, who had given us this outing as a late birthday present to him: the first, with his wife and their daughter (2 years) and their son (8 months); the second, with his fiancée (who is a sailor and Coast Guard officer) - she was our hostess this day, and had planned the whole tour; the third son, with his girlfriend and their son (14 months); and my son, the youngest brother in the clan.

We boarded an island ferry in the morning, and went from landing-place to landing-place through sounds and over fjords for 90 delightful minutes. I was of course standing on deck, so I could see and name all the islands and
feel the wind.






The rest of the day was spent on a nice island, where we walked some kilometres on hot sand roads, had lunch (brunch with herring, herring and herring - and a blueberry pie) at an old hotel, and sat on the beach while the kids played.





Then we got home by a faster ferry (waterjet), which was fun at first, but a bit crowded after 196 silly sunbathers on their way home to Stockholm stepped onboard at the next stop.













[Tack för bilderna!]

onsdag, april 12, 2006

Open sea

Last weekend, the ice disappeared almost completely - there is just a little of it left in the marina and in the inner, narrow creeks east and west of it. The ferries can sail the shorter course again, through the shipping channel near the mainland that was closed during the coldest winter months, so the ships don't have to take the long turn around the eastern part of the fjord any longer. This has been a long winter!

onsdag, april 05, 2006

Exhibition

Since I was unable to attend the opening on Saturday, I visited the art exhibition at the library today instead. My picture of two guys standing on a cliff in the archipelago landscape had good company of a grandfather-and-grandson portrait on the one side, but maybe the picture at the other side was not a good match: a small decorative thing with grapes and grape leaves. Anna's own big pictures - one oil painting in blue colours, one pastel in yellow-orange colours with sketched figures - were of course the best at the exhibition, but many student works were technically skilled realistic pictures, and in some cases also interesting compositions. Too many were just exercises in the teacher's style, for example studies of a dozen stones on a beach, or the non-figurative blue-ish paintings she has done a lot of, and which obviously has inspired some students.

tisdag, mars 21, 2006

The Viol That Casts The Longest Shadow

Memory is hard to catch, for where its shadow falls, often the details and emotions that could make it a really good story are impossible to find again.

Maybe it was like this:

Around 1991-93, in a music school in southern Sweden, I was in a group of students who were rehearsing for a performance in "ensemble class" - an activity where we were supposed to try other instruments and genres than we usually studied as main subjects. In my group were, as I can remember: Jakob the Nervous Trumpeter; Sara the Energetic Singer & Dancer; Hanna the Humorous Clarinetist; Dermot the Cool Irish Organist; Stefan the Smiling Trumpeter; and me - Maria the Motherly Composer & Singer.

We had decided to perform two songs. I remember one of them was "Fever", in a simple arrangement. We were gathered in the room otherwise used for voice lessons. A small classroom with a sturdy electric piano, a cassette deck and microphone, a mirror, some desks and chairs, book cupboards with sheet music, framed posters from musical productions, and, in a corner, a double bass.

Jakob and Stefan decided to alternate as bass players and tenor singers. Sara, Hanna and Dermot took care of the other voice parts, plus assorted percussion instruments. I sat down at the piano and tried to play some chords, with a jazz organ sound and appropriate rhythms.

We worked on it for some time, and with much of the energy spent on the wrong things, since nobody except perhaps Sara had enough self-confidence and ensemble experience to rely on for a concentrated effort, we got tired and decided to take an early coffee break. I left the piano and was about to head for the door, while the others continued to make jokes about our coming performance, and suggested ideas for how to improve it with gestures and other routines. Jakob and Stefan had been competing over who played the bass the best - or in the silliest way, and Jakob still danced around with it, but with his attention more on the discussion than on the instrument.

I can't remember if I saw or understood what Jakob tried to do next. If it was an attempt to treat the double bass as a simple guitar, and just let it rest for a while - leaning it to a chair, or if he thought he could let go of it where it stood, as if gravitation did not exist, I don't think he even knew this himself. Our music school's double bass died an instant and disgraceful death a second later, when it slipped on the floor and crashed into the electric piano.

onsdag, mars 15, 2006

Personal diary style

I will try to write something like a diary style blog today:

Lazy morning. Breakfast. Tea made from cheap Ceylon teabags in the low, small and plain brown Chinese teapot. Milk in the teacup. Soft Fazer rye bread; one with cheese and one with liver pâté. Grapefruit juice. No yoghurt today.

Very few emails. Re-read a couple of letters from yesterday instead. Read the news on the web. Looked through the latest threads on a music forum.

Listened to "Allegresse" by Maria Schneider (the jazz composer, not the actress..). Very nice music - playful and beautiful, and not much of a normal busy big band sound, which I was grateful for (I am not so fond of conventional big band stuff - all the aggressive brass chords, and such things - so I don't like all pieces on other cd's with Maria Schneider Orchestra). I ordered the CD Tuesday night last week, at online order from Artist Share, and got it in the mail on Friday morning. Surprising, as I know it normally takes 6 days for letters to go from New York to Stockholm.

(photo of Maria Schneider by Jimmy Katz)

Tried to play through a collection of ten old piano pieces by Steve Dobrogosz (check the link for info about his appearence on the Stockholm Jazz Festival 2006). Good to practise again, to play the timed sounds, to hear something new, but this isn't really my kind of music - not interesting enough. The pieces were fairly easy to read and understand, but since I haven't heard them before, I couldn't figure out why some things were composed like they were, and how to interpret them (even if there were some ideas - comments and suggestions - printed on the back cover.)

Made some pasta with beans for lunch. I like it, and it is nice to cook something new instead of heating leftovers in the micro.

Putting the things in order for tomorrow's painting class. Had to scrape dry and half-dry paint with a sharp knife from the palette I used a month ago. I had imagined that I would continue on the two pictures I am working on, so it was better to leave the paint that was left. Not. A few days is okay, with the water soluble oil paint I use at home, but not weeks in thin layers on the palette. I used the last of a quantity of still soft white to fill an empty space on a sketch I have been dabbling with.

Packed a jeans jacket I got through mail order yesterday again, in a tape-sealed plastic bag, to send it back to the mail order company. The jacket was for my son, but I had miscalculated the size (was some confusing info in the catalogue, with everything presented in French sizes instead of S-M-L or EU standard system), so he needs a bigger one. This one was more in my size, but I don't need a Levi's jacket just now.

Laundry. Sorting things in the dishwasher. Cleaning/dusting some floor boards in the rooms upstairs, and the staircase.

Not a bad day, after all.

MaLj

lördag, mars 11, 2006

How to read the furnace

At one point, I lived in Montreal with several other musicians, above a restaurant. The building was taken over by someone who wanted to raze it, and so took no steps to maintain it. One bitter winter morning, we awoke to discover that the furnace had expired. An inspection revealed plenty of oil in the tank, so we called a repair service. They put us on the list, but said it might take a while, because of the blizzard in progress. So we gathered around the space heater, in our coats, and swapped stories. Ten AM, noon, 2 PM, 4 PM, still no repair person. We called again. They assured us he was on his way, but having a very tough time getting from call to call, because of the snow.

Six PM, 8 PM; 10 PM; midnight; finally, at half past midnight, we realized that he wasn't going to make it, and retired to the bar down the street. The beer was cold, but at least the building was warm, compared to our sub-zero dwelling.

About 1:30, a small, quite unassuming man came in, and walked directly to our table. Without hesitation, he asked if we would like to have our furnace repaired. With groggy shock (and alacrity), we agreed. Trudging back up the street, we asked how he'd found us. He explained that he came to the address, looked at the restaurant and the two stories above it, deducing from there that several people shared the accommodation. When no one answered, and given when the original call came, he concluded we must all have gone somewhere warm. He looked for the nearest open establishment, and came in. He saw that one of my friends still had her coat around her shoulders, and so knew at once which table was ours.

Digesting this rather surprising bit of shrewdness, I conducted the man to the furnace. This meant going directly from the front door through the restaurant and into the basement. He never saw the inside of our dwelling. When I brought him to the furnace, however, he immediately saw the furnace problem, and while fixing it, remarked that the building had been built in 1916, and also that where we lived had been a cathouse. At this, I was finally outright amazed; we had found out from a taxi driver that our address was indeed once a house of ill fame; how on earth had he dsicovered this? Did he know this building?

No, he had never been in the neighbourhood before. In fact, part of what took him so long was that he had to drive 35 miles to get to us. So how had he figured out the precise year of construction? He pointed me to three separate components of the furnace, mentioned the various war-time restrictions and availabilities, and explained that this particular conjunction of three parts could only have been achieved in 1916, and no other year. Alright, I said, but cathouse--how did you ever get that from looking at the furnace? Again he pointed me directly to some components of the furnace, showing me patterns of wear that are consistent only with consistent, higher-than-average temperature usage. Such usage is virtually never found except in houses of prostitution (who keep such temperatures, since their clients are usually naked). Since we were obviously not ladies of the evening, the high-temperature usage was likely not recent--he showed me the worn parts, but I didn't entirely follow what he said--and he had noticed two stories of rooms above a restaurant, he concluded that the place had been a cathouse, but was no longer.

He had concluded his repairs. He refused to take a penny more than the regulation fee for a service call, which was twenty or thirty dollars. When I protested that he had driven for several hours in a blizzard, and now faced an equally long drive home, he simply said that this was his job. I started to protest again, but quickly realized that he meant what he said, and would not accept further payment. He was back at the wheel of his van, about to head out. By now deeply moved as well as amazed, I thanked him profusely for his generosity in helping us, and told him outright that I felt truly fortunate to have met such a wise and compassionate man.

This led to the last and greatest surprise. Far from being flustered by such praise, yet equally far from merely (and vainly) taking it as his due, he answered with what could only sound in cold print like platitudes. I don't even recall exactly what he said; each of does the best they can, something like that. I retain instead an utterly indelible impression of the most exalted wisdom, of a man serenely possessed of an understanding I had never encountered before. He spoke not long, but said this: you are looking, too, and very hard; eventually you'll see what you need to. Again, banal in print, but a moment of the greatest weight in my life. With that, he was gone.

MW Morse

lördag, februari 18, 2006

Listening and thinking

This week I have painted, and I have tried to listen to more music than I usually do, and I have listened to people.

In the painting class there were eight students present this Thursday. Most of them old people that have time to spend a weekday every month in the studio, learning to paint in oil, and then continue the work at home on their pictures in between the lessons. Anna the artist was moving around in the studio: looking at our works; commenting on colour and compositions; showing us the technical tricks of classical painting; and explaining paint chemistry facts of life.

Friday morning I was supposed to work, but when I got to the workplace found that the material I needed for my new project hadn't arrived yet, so I had to spend nearly three hours almost idle, reading catalogues and talking with colleagues.

Friday afternoon I started to participate in a couple of shockingly honest conversations with internet friends. Perhaps I should rethink my policy of avoiding chat symbols ("emoticons")? I am not sure if people really understand what I say, what I mean, and when I am serious but amused (often), serious and concerned (happens), joking (and sometimes using obscure word-play), angry (seldom), hurt (seldom), unfair (happens), mistaken (unavoidable).

Saturday (today) I met a couple of friends I haven't talked to for a long time. There was much to reveal about what has happened since last summer. Their life has been in constant turmoil for months, with unexpected events and things happening to themselves and to the children. The small dramas of my own life seemed lame and not worth mentioning, in comparison with the stories they told. Suddenly it became quite easy to understand the reason for something I already had heard through gossip and had thought outrageously mad - why they were dreaming of escaping from it all, planning to buy a large enough sailboat to live on for the next four or five years, on a slow journey around the globe.

tisdag, januari 10, 2006

Fashionist Nonsense

Went shopping for a new handbag. Knew very little in advance about the fashionist faiblesse for certain designer bags and purses, but the first thing I found (in the first shop) that looked like something I could use - the grey-black bag I went back to buy after I had looked at all possible solutions of the carry-around-things problem in a couple of other stores - turned out to be a look-alike copy of the bag 'everyone' is said to desire most of all these days, according to the fashion journalists - a Mulberry Roxanne. When I found out (through a little googling and a little magazine reading), it was embarrassing. Am I that easily fooled, so I subconsciously remember a picture of a nice bag in an article I obviously read some months ago without paying attention (fashion has never been an interest of mine)? I can't remember having seen anyone in my little corner of the world carry something that resembles this design.