today (archipelago visit)

130203b

In the sunrise, on a frosty february morning, even the dreadful suburbs, scattered along the freeway with their highrise buildings from the 1960s, acquire a certain romantic shimmer.

We woke up early today. Went to catch a bus. The sun was rising. Lovely colours, lovely light (I wish I hadn’t been on the bus — I decided I should take very early morning walks more often! I really should).

By noon, I began to sense an oncoming headache and mr Dog was exhausted and cold. Perhaps it was not such a bad idea as it first seemed that the last boat home left already at 3, before it had got dark.

The island was its usual self. Ideally, one would spend the autumn, winter and spring in the archipelago — those are far the best seasons. For some peculiar reason, which I cannot fathom, most people have decided that summer is it. It’s not.

There was snow still, on most of the island, and it was cold. But on the southern slopes and rocks, where our house is, not much snow remained. And the sun was warm, and you could feel spring was preparing its arrival. 130203d 130203a130203c 130203e(Photos from the island.)

walking

130122

I keep walking. After some kind of recent fall-out between me and myself, I’ve kept thinking — no, not exactly thinking, to be honest, it’s more of an intuitive understanding (which might be wrong) — that if I keep walking, at least I keep myself upright, at least I keep the momentum, I don’t fall. Now I’ve walked so much, these last weeks, that even mr Dog has tired of me. That’s quite bad, you know. To him, there’s never been such a thing as ‘too much walking’. To make matters worse, it’s dreadfully cold. It’s fun and nice — and I love how the cold makes it easy to breathe — but after almost two months of this, even I begin to long for spring.

saturday

Stockholm on a saturday before christmas.

Hare krishna, a cult which also, oddly, have their center in Järna — but on the other side of the railway. Järna is a small village. You can imagine, I’m sure. Anyway, hare krishna, unlike anthroposophists, try in a more overt manner to attract the attention of shoppers in the city; they try with ‘music’, odd clothes and a placard that says, well, predictably enough, ‘hare krishna’. As far as I could tell, the operation was largely unsuccessful.

121222b(See larger version on flickr.)

The ordinary shoppers were, however, as ghostlike as the chanting cult members.

121222g(On flickr.)

Some more pictures:

121222e

121222c

121222d

121222h

121222f

121222a

 

21th december

121221b

going to the local park as a child, I was intrigued by this scruffy old graveyard. Situated in a corner of a park, on the street where I lived, it was enclosed by an iron fence adorned with stars, and all the old, mossy grave stones bore inscriptions in a weird foreign language. It’s a jewish burial-place, used between 1787 and 1857. (An older picture.) I was intrigued; probably more intrigued than by the swings and the children’s toys in the park. But you don’t talk about graves, do you? You don’t mention the dead. The park was an interesting place. Not only the graveyard, but on one side a fire station, on an other the police (and the jail). On yet another side, the fourth, was the shelter — where you were supposed to go, when the war came. It was important to know, thought my grandfather and grandmother, to whom war was a reality. They taught me everything I needed to know, and most of it has never come to use. But that is the charm of quaint knowledge.

121221dNow to the underground train station close-by: well, I always used to think this thing dangling from the ceiling was the real corpse of a bat:

121221a

121221eI don’t know why I thought so; it’s too big to be a bat. Even a child ought to know that. Having finally abandoned my embarrassing childhood hypothesis, I am now convinced these are the scorched wings of an archangel. Which one of them? I don’t know. Do you?

121221f

(That’s some 1970s metro art.)

Ps. Today is the solstice. See my old posts! After all, it happens every year, and there’s only so much to say about it, even for a talkative soul like Rudi. To celebrate, there will be champagne in the kiosk, and the gnomes will sing. Unlike fairies and elves, they love the dark season. The predicted apocalypse seems to have failed to create the drama one might expect from any decent and major cataclysm, but if the elementals get drunk enough, I’m sure there will drama to satisfy any apocalyptic thrill-seeker. Everyone who’s not so inclined is welcome to help themself to a second (or third, or fourth, or…) serving of comforting ice-cream. Happy solstice!

unimportant fragment

121214

(Unimportant and uninspired snapshot from this afternoon, walking down the street — see how low the sun is; it sets at 2.45 pm now, and there’s barely time to get out before it’s already dark.)

I don’t have much time, and I beg forgiveness. (I’ll look closer at comments as soon as I can.) Have a glass of champagne, or perhaps some ice-cream. Wake Rudi up, talk about old times (but please don’t mention eurythmy).

I got to thinking about that topic again, photography. I don’t know that much about it, theoretically speaking. Which is funny, because that’s usually what I strive for: knowing. I don’t do things, I try to know them first; first seeking theoretical knowledge, and usually not getting much further. Or that’s my self-perception, anyway. With two exceptions: photography and writing. The drives that make me pursue these activities must be different. Somehow. So I don’t have the theoretical knowledge that would enable me to sort things out; I know practically nothing about the ideas that have been discussed in the context of photography.

But I do feel that the ‘art’ part of it might be, for example, to entice a half-hidden reality to emerge and become visible. And what it all is about, in the end, is light. More than toying with a machine, we’re playing with light or — actually — we’re acknowledging how light plays with us. It is about observing light’s playfulness with the entire world; and it is to attempt to see not only how light plays with the world and everything in it, but with our minds. I know it’s trite, but even physical reality means it has to be this way, and this ‘art’ is no different from any other visual art in that sense.

If photography were solely about pushing a button on (‘toying with’) a machine — depending on the kind of camera, it might be that simple, I suppose (though it’s not with mine) — and capturing what we see more or less exactly as happens to look where we happen to be standing — without exercising a sense for or judgment of light, angles, perspective, shapes, and so forth — it would probably be, as far as the end result goes, boring. I suppose this very plain, documentary modus operandi might be a virtue for certain kinds of photography, for example, crime scene photography. But a lot mor often it is about something else, or at least something more. It’s an inner activity as much as any art; what you want is to touch someone, in some way, with what you do. In a similar way to writing, it is highly addictive to manage to do this (and to believe you might pull it off again).

cold, warmth (photos)

photos from today. There’s a walkway under Centralbron (‘central bridge’). It’s a highly unappealing place, it’s ugly and unfriendly, but I found the contrast between the ice and the impression of warmth, coming from the yellowish lights and the brown paving bricks, a little bit interesting.

121207c

121207a

121207bYou spot, floating in the water, some remnants of ‘snow’ from the streets dumped in water. This method of getting rid of snow and ice is woefully ugly when the lake is covered by ice. Right now, much of it disapears, but not all.

steam fog

yesterday was a cold day, biting cold. We walked. Paws, fingers and toes ice cold and stiff.

121203f

121203d

121203a

121203g

121203e

121203b

121203h

121203c

121203iMr Dog would like to have a word with you about that last picture. And as I am too tired (and too dumb, he adds), why not. He pontificates:

Humans. Something is not quite right in their heads, if you ask me. Now, there’s a perfectly fine lamp-post — appropriate for sending and receiving pee-mail, or perhaps for a few moments of meditation on wonderful and interesting scents — but what, I ask, what are the humans doing!? They don’t get it. The higher truths will forever elude them, unless they take up the study of canineosophy. And even then. They are not dogs; they are inferior beings on two legs. No tail. No nose. Hopeless. Gazing unintelligently into the void, they are — and sometimes with a bizarre gadget blocking what ought to their most precious asset, their noses.

‘non serviam’

121130b

The statue is entitled ‘non serviam’, after a poem by the Swedish poet Gunnar Ekelöf. The girl is reading the opening lines of the poem, which is now covered by snow. Eager as I am (of course!) to inspire my non-Swedish readers to read Swedish poetry, I have found an English translation of this poem:

I am a stranger in this land
but this land is no stranger in me!
I am not at home in this land
but this land behaves as if it were at home in me!

My blood can never be diluted
a tumbler-full in my veins!
And always the Jew, the Lapp, the artist in me
will seek his blood-brother: search the scriptures
make a detour around the desert’s sacred stones
in silent respect for something forgotten
sing in the wind: Savage! Nigger! –
butt against and cry to the stones: Jew! Nigger! –
beyond the law and under the law:
trapped in theirs, the whites, and still
– praise be my law – in mine!

So I have become a stranger in this very land
but this land has make itself cozy in me!
I cannot live in this land
but this very land lives like venom in me!

Once, in the short mild
the poor hours’ wild Sweden
there was my land! It was everywhere!
Here, in the long, well-fed hours’
over-furnished Sweden
where everything is closed for draughts… it is cold to me.

Ekelöf used to be, and still is, one of my favourite poets. I suppose he’s unknown to most non-Swedish readers, but if you ever come across any translated collection of his work, I recommend it highly (provided the translations are any good). The poem came from this website, and originally from this collection. There are some decent articles in English, for example this and this. Or this one, which claims that the ‘ greatest of the Swedish modernists, the most secular of mystics, Gunnar Ekelöf is one of the very finest of modern European poets.’

The statue, by Ernst Nordin, is located on Malmskillnadsgatan in central Stockholm; it’s a street known for prostitution. The brutal architecture and the winds that easily rage through these streets make it a rather hostile place. Its central location in the city means it shouldn’t be and feel so eerily desolate but it is and does. And, as a side-note, before the wonderful old Stockholm was torn down and destroyed — to be replaced by this cold, unloveable modern architecture during the 50s and 60s — the first waldorf school was housed in one of the rather shabby old buildings on Malmskillnadsgatan. (It later relocated, eventually ending up in a suburb a few years before I started to attend it.)

(Photo, large versions on flickr.)

walk

it was the first day with snow, but a rather gloomy afternoon nonetheless. It was damp, and darkness fell rapidly and early, as you can tell. Our walk didn’t last more than half an hour to fortyfive minutes. The snow was of the sloshy kind that makes furry dogs uncomfortably wet. (Here’s a mobile phone picture from earlier today, too.)

slussen

most of you probably don’t know about Slussen. (Melanie does. It is difficult to pronounce. Slussen.) It is a run down place in Stockholm, situated between the Baltic sea and lake Mälaren, between Old Town and Södermalm. Slussen has been the topic of public debate for Dog knows how long. Some people want to tear it down, others want to keep it at any cost. It has been neglected for decades, and that the construction still holds together is a small miracle. But it does. It’s not pretty, though. It’s rough. It’s unpleasant.

walk

we took a walk. It was muddy. It was dark. There was, however, an event: a kind of festival of light. There were too many people and we even saw people walk cats on leashes. ‘Odd’, said mr Dog.

We walked from home to this place. It’s an old greenhouse.

We passed all sorts of things (including the cats, as I already told you, but we’re a bit shocked!) on the way.

(I only included the last one so that you’ll know how dreadful the winter in Stockholm can look like before the snow. Slightly outside of the city.)