Posts in Category: The power of literature

Magda Szabó – Az ajtó

Tre dage. Så kort tid tog det mig at sluge 262 sider af ungarske Magda Szabós semi-autobiografiske og helt igennem fantastiske roman i et sommerhus på Vestsjælland.


Var det for ti år siden, ville det ikke have overrasket mig, men i dag, hvor mine dage konstant bliver afbrudt af: “Mamma, mamma, du skal komme her!” eller “Mamma, mamma, hvor er du?” eller ‘øh, shit, hvor er Fittibolli? Er han taget ALENE NED PÅ STRANDEN! LØØØØØØØØØØØØØB!!!’ (And the most distracted mom award goes to…). Eller hvad med den klassiske klokken-barnet-sover-endelig-skraber ZZZZZZZZzzzzZZZZ…?

Så er tre dage en guldmedalje i litteraturolympiaden.

Az ajtó, eller The Door – for lad os bare cut the bullshit! Jeg har ikke læst den på ungarsk, så jeg kravler lige ned fra min piedestal – er så meget en læsning værd. Og den sætter alt på spidsen allerede fra indgangskapitlet:

I seldom dream. When I do, I wake with a start, bathed in sweat. Then I lie back, waiting for my frantic heart to slow, and reflect on the overwhelming power of night’s spell. As a child and young woman, I had no dreams, either good or bad, but in old age I am confronted repeatedly with horrors from my past, all the more dismaying because compressed and compacted, and more terrible than anything I have lived through. […] Once, just once in my life, not in the cerebral anaemia of sleep but in reality, a door did stand before me. That door opened. It was opened by someone who defended her solitude and impotent misery so fiercely that she would have kept that door shut through a flaming roof crackled over her head. I alone had the power to make her open that lock. In turning the key she put more trust in me than she ever did in God, and in that fateful moment I believed I was godlike – all-wise, judicious, benevolent and rational. We were both wrong: she who put her faith in me, and I who thought too well of myself. […] The fact that I was trying to save her rather than destroy her changes nothing.

Romanen fortælles ud fra en ung kvindelig forfatters* synsvinkel, hvis karriere pludselig får fart på efter lang tids politisk eksklusion, og hendes forhold til husholdersken Emerence, som allernådigst har taget forfatteren og hendes mand under opsyn og vejledning udi livet. Og hvor fortælleren er hovedaksen hvorfra alle fortællinger udspringer, så er hun ikke den mest interessante karakter i romanen. Hendes handlinger, fortællinger og indblik er sekundær til Emerence. Denne husholderske har en stålsat karakter, formet af hårde vilkår og ikke uden sympatiske træk omend den strikse og til tider lidt overdrevne træn-dine-omgivelser-som-en-modvillig-hund teknikker frustrerer både mig som læser, men sandelig også forfatteren, som i sin unge alder og naive sind forsøger alle slags indfaldsvinkler at få Emerence til at kunne lide sig.

Emerence, som allerede er oppe i årene, da vi først hører om hende, er en hård arbejder, en no-bullshit kvinde, der ikke engang har en seng, for hvis hun skal lægge sig ned, så bliver hun ‘svimmel’. Alle i nabolaget respekterer hende og flere frygter hende i en vis grad: “Emerence was a caretaker, someone with a bit of authority; […] if she didn’t warm up to us, no amount of money would induce her to accept the job.” Da fortælleren (forfatteren) leder efter hjælp, er det ikke Emerence som bliver interviewet til stillingen. Snarere er det Emerence, som vælger at tage forfatteren og hendes mand under sin vinge, og det sker i en slags formel optagelsesceremoni både for at understrege at hun ikke påtager sig arbejde for hvem som helst og det handler i høj grad om hvem der har magten i forholdet.

Emerence regerer over sit kongerige med lige dele udskamning og næstekærlighed. Der er en måde at gøre det på og det er Emerences måde.Til de syge kommer hun med suppe og sidder hos dødeligt syge uanset stand. De slette – dem hun anser for at være slette – revser hun med hårde ord og fryser dem ude indtil de kommer krybende tilbage.

Emerence er ikke en kend-din-plads type. Hun harcelerer over Gud, som ingen plads har i hendes hjerte og gør det til stor frustration for den troende forfatter, som begynder at tage lange omveje til kirke for at undgå Emerences kritiske øje og dertilhørende verbal udskamning. Den unge forfatter er gentagne gange åbenbart frustreret af denne person, som udvikler sig i flere spor til en striks mor, ven, hjælper og et moralsk kompas, hvor livet former sig gennem årtier af litterær modgang, personlige forhold og succes i karrieren. Det er klart at de to – omend de begge er kommet fra samme egn – opholder sig i forskellige verdener og hvor de to mødes, sker der sammenstød, misforståelser, og i sidste ende uoprettelig skade.

Det afgørende fokuspunkt i historien – døren – og det stykke information indgangskapitlet lægger op til og pirker ved vores nysgerrighed, er Emerences meget bestemte afvisning af alle mennesker, som forsøger at komme ind på livet af hende. Den eneste, som har fået lov at komme inden om døren til det allerhelligste – hendes lejlighed – er den gamle militærmand i den gade, hvor al fortælling udspiller sig. Og dette kun én enkelt gang for langt tid siden, fordi myndighederne er nødsaget til at undersøge en række mistænkelige dødsfald blandt en nabos transportduer – en strid, der strækker sig langt ind i bogen med insinuationer, som yderligere grumser al “viden” om Emerence. For én ting står lysende klart – mennesker får ikke Emerences kærlighed i form af søde ord og tilkendegivelser. Men dyr, det er en anden sag. Emerence kaster al sin kærlighed på en lille udstødt hund, som hun påtvinger forfatteren og hendes mand, kun for derefter at gøre det meget klart for dyret, at Emerence er dens relle hersker i den lille flok. Igen til stor frustration for forfatteren, som ikke kan få hunden at adlyde – hunden, hverken hun eller manden ville have – hvis Emerence har sagt andet. Det er komisk, tragisk og enerverende på en og samme tid. Men når det er sagt, så er det svært ikke at se, at Emerence nærer stor kærlighed for forfatteren. Udsagnet, she grows on you, er meget passende her. Forfatteren misforstår – forståeligt nok – konstant Emerences forsøg på at gøre godt, og det gør det også så pinefuldt at læse. For de cirkler om hinanden, viser stor omsorg for hinanden og deres omgivelser, men fordi de er så forskellige, så rammer de lige så ofte ved siden af. Alt imens forfatterens og Emernces forhold udvikler sig, får vi også små indblik i Ungarns politiske landskab og ikke mindst litteraturens position i et svært polariseret miljø. Og her ser vi endnu et eksempel på Emerences studse hengivenhed. Da det litterære parnas skyr forfatteren og hendes litterære udtryk, sørger Emerence for at alle i gaden ved, at de skal stille op for forfatteren og vise deres støtte. Til trods for at hun ikke er en belæst person – den slags intetsigende fritidsaktivitet har hun ikke tid til – og at hun ingen respekt har for en person, hvis arbejde ikke handler om fysisk udfoldelse, så gør hun det meget klart, at hun er forfatterens største forsvarer. Hun er som en løvinde, der beskytter sit kuld, og hun gør det med stor ihærdighed.

Magda Szabó – og i forlængelse af hende oversætteren Len Rix – skriver sublimt og indlevende. Jeg havde så svært ved at rive mig fra bogen og fandt mange undskyldninger for at snige mig væk fra solbadningen ved Jammerland bugten bare for at læse et par sider eller bare et par sætninger. Jeg måtte høre mere, læse mere, forstå mere af denne forbindelse forfatteren havde til Emerence, vide mere om Emerence, som alle andre, der cirklede omkring den gamle dame, ville jeg også snage i hendes mest intime helligdom bag den skide dør, hun aldrig åbnede for nogen på nær én.

Det er ikke kun dele af Emerences tilgang til andre mennesker, der frustrerer mig, og derved også gør denne fortælling så indlevende. Det er også forfatteren/fortælleren, som er så opsat på at alle skal kunne lide hende. Hun gentager flere gange, at hun er en social og sympatisk person, men af og til krakelerer udsagnet og især sammen med Emerence, som gør det meget klart for forfatteren, at hun ikke er sat på jorden for at behage andre. Forfatteren bliver konfronteret med denne pæne pige i sig, som fluktuerer mellem selvoptaget godhed, manglende indsigt i egne adfærdsmønstre og reel omsorg for Emerence. Og det er også gennem denne linse vi tvinges at se og høre om Emerence. Ikke på noget punkt i historien får vi direkte indblik i Emerences tankemønster. I stedet må vi klare os med forfatterens udlægninger og de gange Emerence ytrer sig – ellere rettere sagt presses op i et hjørne af den kære forfatter – hvorefter hun uddeler sublime verbale smæk, som ikke mangler noget i grandios enetale og som i sig selv er værd en læsning. Men dette er også med til at gøre historien værd at læse – for hvem vil du tro på? Hvordan afkoder du Emerences væremåde og handlinger? Og hvad mener du om forfatteren? Så meget ligger åbent til fortolkning om det var Szabós hensigt eller ej.

Jeg kan ikke sige, at jeg bliver efterladt med fuld forståelse for hverken fortæller eller Emerence eller får en grand finale og happy end. Og som den sande tragedie fortællingen er, er det heller ikke meningen. Men jeg kan sige, at jeg nød at se livet fra Emerences (mærkelige) logik og morale omend det var gennem fortælleren. Jeg følte sympati for fortælleren, som gang på gang misforstår Emerence og gang på gang modtager skældud for derefter at undskylde – uanset om der er tale om reel skyld eller forestilt ud fra Emerences synspunkt – og krybe til korset. Til tider også nyde at arbejderen og kvinden  udviser så stor autoritet i et lettere betændt miljø, hvor man ikke skal træde meget ved siden af før man straffes. Og jeg gik ned ad mindernes gade til mine egne store maternalistiske helte, som virker irettesættende strenge og absolut ikke er sat på jorden for at behage andre, men som til gengæld har et hjerte af guld og hvis løvindekamp har været til gavn for mange naive og søgende sjæle. Omend de – som alle os andre – også snubler fra tid til anden.

Et sidste citat, som symbol på denne jernlady (ikke at forveksle med Thatcher) og den måde forfatteren lægger scenen for os og inviterer os at betragte Emerence og gøre os mange, mange tanker om hvad der gemmer sig bag:

“The old woman worked like a robot. She lifted unliftable furniture without the slightest regard for herself. There was something superhuman, almost alarming, in her physical strenght and her capacity for work, all the more so because in fact she had no need to take so much on. Emerence obviously revelled in her work. She loved it. When she found herself with free time, she had no idea where to begin. Whatever she took on, she did to perfection, moving around the apartment in almost total silence – not because she was over-familiar or snooping; she simply avoided unnecessary conversation. “

* Al omtale af forfatteren herefter skal forstås som karakteren i bogen, ikke Magda Szabó selv.

Google vs. Authors Guild

The verdict is in in the case between the Authors Guild and Google regarding copyright infringement.

In his verdict, judge Denny Chin writes: ‘The sole issue now before the Court is whether Google’s use of the copyrighted works is “fair use” under the copyright laws. For the reasons set forth below, I conclude that it is.’

Fair use is amongst others defined by if the use of the work is commercial or nonprofit, how much of the work is used, and what effect the use will have on the value of the work. Since the terms are so fluent, verdicts are on a case-by-case manner. The verdict has been very fascinating to read, and I recommend anyone interested in the case between the two parties, and copyright infringement in general, to read through the it.

What I am especially interested in, and what I have used some of my researching times delving into, is the concept of fair use in terms of its transformative dogma. Fair use is often used as a defense or strategy when previously published works are appropriated and – to use a much used phrase – made new. In such the appropriation or transformation must show a significant step towards changing the ‘old’ into a ‘new’ – whether it is in expression, meaning or message (read from page 19 onwards in judge Denny Chin’s verdict as how this applies in the case of Google Books).

Cases where authors such as Kenneth Goldsmith, who insists he has never ‘written’ any of his books‘, visual artists like Marcel Broodthaers’ graphical rendition of Mallarmé’s Un coup de Dés, replacing all words with black bars, and right over to your everyday fanfictionist using and relocating characters from all universes for a variety of purposes, these are (extreme) cases that highlight how no works are solely in their own, but need to be used, reused and recontexualised over and over and over again – some more calculated than others. It acknowledges that in unoriginality we can also find new – new expressions, thoughts, meanings and point of views, that can open up our awareness of and experience with text, language, symbols, our selves mind and body, etc.

__________________________

The following are quotes from the verdict – a collection of reasons Google Books is deemed fit to fall under the definition of fair use:

“Google Books provides a new and efficient way for readers and researchers to find books. It makes tens of millions of books searchable by words and phrases.”

“Indeed, Google Books has become such an important tool for researchers and librarians that it has been integrated into the educational system — it is taught as part of the information literacy curriculum to students at all levels.”

“Google Books permits humanities scholars to analyze massive amounts of data — the literary record created by a collection of tens of millions of books. Researchers can examine word frequencies, syntactic patterns, and thematic markers to consider how literary style has changed over time.”

Google Books expands access to books. In particular, traditionally underserved populations will benefit as they gain knowledge of and access to far more books.”

“…by helping readers and researchers identify books, Google Books benefits authors and publishers.”

You can read the whole verdict here: Authors Guild vs. Google Inc.

The Road

Ok, so in the end I was not at all into The Time Traveler’s Wife, it slowly started to rub me the wrong way. And about 150 pp. in, there was a scene worthy of 50SoG, and it was so toe cringing that I stopped investing in the narration completely. A bust for me.

So then I started on McCarthy.

theroad

As I was reading this apocalyptic novel The Road, my mind occasionally wandered off to AMC’s TV-series The Walking Dead. From the theme over imagery to language, the similarities were abundant. Although in The Walking Dead the world is overrun with zombies in never-ending waves, and The Road has just moved human life to a postapocalyptic state without the fantastical bonus, they share an underlining fear that goes to the core of the human condition and both serve as takes of just how far our imagination can take us when facing never-before tried situations. How truly horrific the end of days can or could be. What will become of humanity, love thy neighbor, gender equality, the PC-attitude.

The plot in The Road is fairly straight forward and that is not a criticism. The highlight of the novel is not in the plot. The world as a postmodern, social-media frenzied place run on the capitalists’ logic of growth and world diplomacy has ended. No need to embellish the pages with fast-paced action sequences and heroism. The quiet does well in foreboding the dangers up ahead. McCarthy employs a technique of undernarrating the events. We know nothing of why the world is reduced to ash, so we can only imagine. We are not told specifics about either characters, there is no great build-up. One part cynicism, one part filial affection, and a dash of eerie apathy. Add father and son walking on dusty roads surrounded by charred forests, covered in dust and pushing a cart filled with their last possessions and you have yourself a shitty situation. As I am reading it, I actually get a physical reaction and feel my mind starting to work the same way I do when watching scenes of The Walking Dead. A bit nervous of the scenes up ahead, the style does nothing to forewarn me. Even though I am only 50 pages in I am aware that McCarthy would not hesitate to kill off one or both of the main characters right there and then. Come to think of it, I think that would actually be an interesting development for the novel and narrator.

However, I do have my reservations about the genre or, should I say, to some pre-specified components of the genre. Mostly, these types of books/shows etc. seldom have the balls or ingenuity to leave the past or present behind to create something completely other, but instead use already lived or taught experience. It plays with the writer, viewer’s and/or reader’s knowledge of the world, and how we perceive or understand a human response. And so the imagery is very much embedded with the (nostalgic) brutality of traditional historical terror-infested reigns of emperor’s, kings, and dictators that have walked this earth. As such there is no room with the writer for a belief that maybe a couple of thousand – or hundred, hell, even ten – years of growing and change would have any effect on the life after the next big bang. We are predestined to regress into cave mentality and brutal slaughtering as a go-to, know-no-better alternative. It irks me that they continuously choose this easy way out. We already know that a lot of people will die. Some for ideological reasons, some because of their caring instincts which has no place in this setting (mostly women), some because they (mostly men) are rat bastards. And those who live develop into very stereotypical characters and take to extreme hierarchical structures that shut out the last 300 years of Enlightenment critical thought. There is a God, we have failed, are sinners, and survival of the fittest means those who shed evolution and go down to the nitty-gritty – not a single pause to question that which seems too obviously answered with reckless violence.

On that point the two however differ in strategy: Where TWD is visual in its core, it creates very in-your-face sequences to show the violence up close, TR uses a lot of subtle hints and uses the quiet, eerie mood to convey the dehumanizing development. Both work their way though like a sort of platform game – find food, shelter, medicine, avoid as best possible danger, search and destroy threats if necessary – bonus rounds expected when the heroes find hidden stash or a untampered supply room. I am tempted to be more inclined towards the latter – maybe because there is more of a challenge for my mind. As McCarthy operates on the very minimal when it comes to the build-up I am not bound by so many presets and can ask myself the question: How freely will I let my imagination run, to think up possibilities for the meltdown, the future, the middle, the characters? And in that sense, I can also test my own theories of how, what, and why the characters are what they are. As he only paints a scene of very few days and settings, I can use that little snippet and create a completely different world. It would be very hard to do so in the universe of The Walking Dead as the information of the characters in this sequential narrative form is always changing and layered. All the fan fiction in the world would contest me and prove the possibility of a reader taking control of a narrative such as TWD, but in the sense that there are hardcoded facts that would run counter to this action, TR offers me more of a say without tampering with the ‘truth’ (to be read in a very light manner, mind you!). I don’t have to read/write against the canon, but can create possible otherworlds to run alongside McCarthy.

With regards to the language in The Road I alternated between disappointed and elated. There were a lot of annoying metaphors which threw me off and in some sections the religious emphasis was too much for my taste. But there is no denying that McCarthy has a way with words that relays a certain underlying strange emotional current in the novel that sits longer with the reader. I can’t explain it, but just how annoyed I was at the religious rhetoric, as appreciative am I of the reaction it caused. So for those who contemplate The Road I would recommend reading it and discarding the temporary annoyance this poses. The long-term effects are much more pleasing.

Eyre and Rochester

Jane Eyre: An Autobiography ‘edited by Currer Bell’ (Charlotte Brontë), was published in 1847 and became an immediate success, and is to this day a popular choice around the world amongst readers, whether they fly solo or discuss it in groups.

The story of Jane Eyre is as classic a Bildungsroman as they come: an orphan, placed with an unjust aunt who begrudgingly makes a promise to her husband on his deathbed to keep her safe, is shipped off to a (horrible) charity school to toil and endure a bleak faith in the temperamental English countryside. Very Brontëesque, the weather plays a symbolic role in this constancy of inner and outer rebellion and feelings of injustice across the board. Injustice as to the way you treat an orphan, injustice as to how you educate children, not with pedagogical means but terror and the fear of an avenging God imprinted on their minds. And most of all injustice to women, how their station and role in life is predetermined and how this constantly and thoroughly impairs their independence.
As a young woman, Eyre leaves the school to become a governess for a little French girl at (da-da-da-da) Thornfield Hall, where dark and enigmatic master Rochester sits by the fire challenging this fresh and untainted, yet determined, addition to the house. Eyre becomes more and more infatuated by this Master – not just as you would expect in a romantic fashion, but more importantly as an equal. In the course of the story events and eerie sounds around the house, however, make her question daily life at Thornton Hall, and the peak of events which will send her spiraling in a new direction is just around the corner…

So what does Charlotte do when she does what she does to you and me through Jane?
For one thing there is a constant toying with perspective. The narrator (Jane) every so often directs her speech at you, involves you in the scenes, breaking down the wall between her life as a series of events and your comfortable situation as voyeur. She disarms you by presenting herself as a plain, working woman – let your guard down, no threat here, feel free to read on – but in reality the very fact that she is NOT that, is fascinating and, I think, part of the reason she gets under your skin as a narrator. The reader is not just a spectator, but one who lives through and with the narrators’ situation. She guides you through the story, and you build up a sort of special interconnection between you and her because of this narrative change.
This way, it’s like I, being the reader here, can invest emotions and bond with the experience on another level than the laid-back reader, cruising in and out of the pages. I know it sounds cliché, but examining the emotional/moral/ethical levels of the story, you are there in the moment, and the moment may as well be 2012 as 1847.

And this leads me to another interesting aspect, which is the philosophical discussions Eyre and Rochester spend many a page debating, as well as the many layered and complex issues otherwise presented throughout the novel. Unlike your ‘tacky’ romance novels with very little to offer on the contemplative side, Jane Eyre is not merely a story of two people from different standings in life that end up emotionally and passionately attached. For sure there is that too – and descriptions of their emotional connection in spite of their stature reaches toe cringing cheese-levels at times (just remember it’s mid-1800’s literature). But Brontë still manages to interlace this rather corroded theme with sharp socioeconomic critique, the question of human value and equality of the sexes in a 19th century melting pot that might just as well apply to current debates. What does it mean to be a responsible and ethical person, and how do the theoretical high-level terms of intellect and reason stand up when you have to get up from your chaise longue and apply them to daily life choices.

To me Brontë presents us with a type of girl who grows up to be a combination type of heroic-stoic-plain woman, hellbent on questioning these power plays, and notions of justice, meticulously picking her battle grounds and rhetorical weapons, and in just the ‘right’ situations answers them with a kindness that verges on the point of sacrificial behaviour. But she is not without fault, nor is she the self-sacrificer per excellence. Eyre is Rochester’s redemption, but not on his terms as one would expect in the power display that is very evident from the first meeting on. Jane is very much her own, an Individual – not property, or a mere employee. In the character of Jane Eyre we are presented with someone who is very much aware of the injustice towards her, and signs of power plays that complicate the notion of simply ‘getting along’ and respecting your fellow human: be it child, man, woman, peasant, servant, they all face unjust authority plays, lain on them by a system, other people or most challenging of all: one’s self.

Of course, many of the choices and situations throughout the book are irrevocably connected to religion or religious rhetoric/ethics – more precisely the Christian faith – and so issues of self-sacrifice, redemption and belief in a just power higher than that we can experience from any personal and worldly gain are abound. Nonetheless there are what I would deem to be universal humanistic features that go against that pious attitude displayed by for instance St. John, a clergyman with whom she does the epic battle of wills with: can she, a plain governess, really turn down marriage that will be based on duty to God? It comes down to a core element of proto-feminism: the fundamental right to decide one’s faith and worth.

I could highlight many more points, whole sections of dialogue in fact, that tickles my brainstem. It says something about the test of times, when you think of the language which is altmodisch in general, and yet manages to suck in a 21. century reader just as easy as modern-day narratives. And I know that many too have had this experience of immersion I have had with Jane Eyre, in spite of different time periods, and antiquated language, when I mention the book, and another replies ‘aahh, Reader, I married him‘, and smiles in the sort of ‘we-share-the-same-experience’-way.

A circular motion towards memory

A mind and a memory
Did I already read this passage? He used that same sentence before didn’t he? What? Is there a code in this text?
I’ve been reading Bjørn Rasmussen’s ‘Huden er det elastiske hylster der omgiver hele kroppen’ (‘The skin is the elastic holster that enshrouds the entire body’ – although in effect, due to the massive connotation linked to every word, the translation is open-ended) and in its best postmodern fashion it resists me and my desire to immerse myself in its story. Not to say it is a closed off piece of literature, on the contrary, it lays it all out there in rich condensed prose. However, it does what it can to resist me by saying “hey! I’m a text! I’m a text and I’m a person! I am a narrator and a text and a person! Only, there is no I, I is just a figment in a circular motion towards memory!”
And so it goes on, until I let go of my desire to establish a communication with it and just let it tell me its story. ‘Cause we really like that, and especially when we lose it; we like to communicate with texts and talk back, in essence often just to test out our own identity, mirror our own desires and fears. But this work, and others like it, just wants to tell its story, constantly trying to counteract what you think you already know about it, how it’s going to play out, what it wants. How? By saying it, and by borrowing others’ I’s and texts, and by negating your knowledge because it is not a You and even you don’t know You. The text, the I, can only present itself to a you and that’s that. What you do is either constantly trying to figure the It out, or just leave. No harm, no foul.

Tro intet af, hvad jeg fortæller om følelser. Jeg har kun tilnærmelsesvis ansatser mod at føle noget ægte. Så snart dette ægte indtræder, vil det nødvendigvis opløses, fortæl mig om implosion, om atomer. Når man jagter en frø i timevis, når man endelig lukker hænderne omkring den, dør den af chok. Og hvis jeg virkelig får dig en dag. Så vil jeg ikke have dig længere. Så vil jeg have noget andet. Hvad. Fortæl mig om forskellen på want og need, jeg tror ikke på, at der er nogen. Hvad er der så, kapitalismen, fortæl mig om kapitalismen, nej, den menneskelige natur, åh, hør her: Oppe i mit røvhul er der sort som kul, oppe i mit røvhul, ca. 6 cm. oppe, findes et punkt, en erogen zone, der svarer til klitorissen eller pikhovedet. Det er fakta. Når dette punkt berøres, forplanter vibrationerne sig til rygraden, hammeren, stigbøjlen og hør her: Røvhullet er dialektisk, røvhullet er en død mands blomst, død kvindes blomst, røvhullet er en fuga, et tema med variationer; følelser derimod; frøer, mødre, ridelærere og følelser, de er den samme gamle historie, sut mit plot.

(Roughly translated)
Don’t believe anything I say about feelings. Far from it, I only have beginnings of feeling something real. As soon as this real comes around it inevitably dissolves, talk to me about implosion, about atoms. When you chase a frog for hours, when you finally wrap your hands around it, it will die of shock. And if I really get you one day. Then I don’t want you anymore. Then I’ll want something else. What. Talk to me about the difference between want and need, I don’t think there is any. What’s next, capitalism, tell me about capitalism, no, human nature, ah listen: It is pitch-black up my asshole, up my asshole, about 6 cm. up, there is a point, an erogenous zone, comparable to the clitoris or the penis head. That’s a fact. When you touch this point the vibrations transmit to the spine, the malleus, the stirrups and listen: The asshole is dialectical, the asshole is a dead man’s flower, a dead woman’s flower, the asshole is a fugue, a theme with variations; feelings, on the other hand; frogs, mothers, riding instructors and feelings, they are the same old story, suck my plot.

A body
‘Huden…’ presents this figure named Bjørn, this persona who experiences in reality an array of confusing ‘realities’, that of a sexual being, a victim (of himself), an offender, an identity(?), where the language and the narration join in in a mix of stream-of-consciousness, repetitions, fragmented sentences and scattered punctuation to convey a sense of loss and confusion, shifting the mood and POV’s every which way. There is ample reference to the corporeity of existence, the anatomy, bodily functions, and how emotions and sensations affect the body. The body has long held a strange position; it is both the most real and physical we can think of, and at the same time because/in spite of its obvious and common everyday functions it is constantly embellished, observed and scrutinized from a distance or functioning as a satirical/comical input to check our masked appearance. But in a lot of more recent works, the body is incorporated at a very hands-on level – the shit, pee and puke, reactions to external and internal factors that set off a chain effect that, although it is a very felt thing, we take for granted and with it the emotions, the mind that belongs to it. When you eat, you shit, and sometimes it hurts (depending on how much chili you had the day before).  When you cry nonstop for 45 minutes, you get dehydrated and a headache to boot. And the works I am referring to – ‘Huden…’ being an example – don’t necessarily incorporate the body because of fascination of the grotesque or comical input, but because it IS, and when it is, what and how do you do with it? In stead of spending time distancing ourselves from our skin, our blood and teeth, these works spend time incorporate it in the gorges of fiction. A very complex process because both the body and mind seem to constantly resist the being, moving forward and regressing all at the same time.

Of course, I could choose to focus on the massive amount of sexuality, sex (actions and thoughts) and what that means to societal evolution. I could also focus on the character and his relation/resemblance to the Author, is the author dead or very much alive? I could even focus on the symbolic effect of putting pictures, and at that in the dead center of the book, possibly as a form of legitimizing the linkage to reality or precisely to fuck with the whole notion that a photo would legitimize anything as real. All those aspects are fascinating for its own chain of thought. But when it comes down to it I keep coming back to the circular motion of mind and body towards memory and reality.

 

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