in my head
searching for a view
through a window in the rooms
facing the side
where the sun goes down
as if beauty
or the hope of a next day
beholds an answer
I landed with my face down
In a cold reality
of dead weeds and earth
when I looked up
just in front of me
I saw a gray flower
when is the right time to bloom
I saw the whole sky
and far in the distance
it was beautiful
I always lean towards one side
when I visit you
it’s not always towards you
I have been reading around 800 of my old poems by now. A lot of them make no sense to me without the picture that it belongs to. The one I chose for today is from Day 1576.
Two flowers behind
the window in front of them
while rain and sun play
This one I personally like, even without the picture and meaning. The knowledge that what you like at the moment of creation might be disliked a few moments, hours, day’s, weeks or months later is…sobering. With my writing I have little pretensions, I can’t really judge it so this makes it easier to accept that I might dislike it the next day. I still have a lot to learn and as soon as the money allows it I will hire some online teacher that can give me some pointers.
With my picture taking it is similar, the difference is that I don’t dislike my old pictures, they are just out of fashion. What I mean with that is that I go thru phases, I have periods that I like saturated colors, and other times more muted or black and white. This changes all the time and I always love the faze I am in.
With photography I also don’t mind what others might think of it, with my poetry I would mind. But like photography, poetry is also subjective. There are some rules in photography, but a good photographer can brake those rules and still make it look good. I guess that’s also possible in poetry, but I am still in a phase that I enjoy the process, smile about my own ingenuity, and don’t understand what I was righting about three weeks later.
In the pictures below you can see that i like to get close to the things that are interesting, and hardly ever get seen.
I live in Trondheim, a normal city in the middle of Norway. If you look at the map you will see that it is only 600km from the polar circle, around the same height as Fairbanks in the middle of Alaska. We have more of a sea climate here so it is not as cold as in Fairbanks, today it was -13. The thing that is strange here, something I am used to, but also not. It is the lack of sunlight. The first ten years in Norway I lived above the polar circle , and there you have some light between 10:00 and 13:00, but we didn’t see the sun for almost two moths. Here in Trondheim we have more daylight, but because I am at work during the day I can only see the sun in the weekends. I think there is a reason why people that live in the North are more mellow, specially compared with the more vibrant people that live closer to the equator. This is just a long way of telling you that today, at the end of the week, I am pretty tired and monotone.
Today I am not gonna write about one of my old poems. When I have little inspiration I will pick one of the books from Friedrich Nietzsche and pick a random aphorism and let my brain chew on that for a while. You can see that I have a separate tab on my blog about Nietzsche. He is not the only philosopher I like to read, but he is the one that spoke to me the most. People sometimes ask me what I like about him, and I have to admit that I have a hard time explaining it, specially when the person that ask me knows only little about philosophy. The problem is that there are no philosophers that stand alone and isolated in history. Every thinker, scientist or inventor stands on the shoulders of his or her predecessors. Nietzsche is one of the first philosophers who also was a psychologist, he is really good in dissecting the mind and pointing at the reasons why we do the things we do. But giving this as a reason is only half the story because attached to Nietzsche are all these predecessors and the people that came after him. Nietzsche is the spill in my world of philosophy, and the spill is important but so is the rest around it.
There are a lot of things we know better now, then before. I rather go to the doctor now then 2000 years ago, the same goes for traveling or just living in a house. All these things have improved over the years. What Nietzsche, off course, talks about, are the so called thinkers and moralizers. If you just pickup a book about the history of philosophy, you will soon realize that the Greek, 2500 years ago, already where walking in the direction we are still going. Around that time there where also other places around the world where people started to think about, and explain the world. Because I am born in the so called west, I recognize more in what the ancient Greek where writing back then then I do with what the thinkers from India or China wrote for instance. You can read text from Greek philosophers that are so modern, that a lot of people today would have problems agreeing with it, because it is to progressive.
We live in modern times but the barbarians are still among us, some are even rulers.
In 2016 I came back from a visit to my parents in law in America. My girlfriend is African American* so we were extra exited by what’s going to happen, specially if T…p would win. When we came back at the end of September we anxiously waited till the election where over. It was off course a big disappointment. The good thing is that I started this blog. I already had an other place where I posted my daily pictures and now I wanted a blog again to vent on. I made a whole series of photoshopped pictures of the situation in America and wrote about it. Now it is almost over, I wanted to wait with it but after what happened last night I might as well post it now. I re-upload most of the pictures I made in 2016, and I will tell something about it. I was hoping back then that the readers would understand the pictures, including all the details, but that didn’t happen.
*I asked my girlfriend if I could still use these words to describe her…mistake;-)
There is theory, and practice. In theory I probably know more about human behavior then the average person. And that’s not bragging, average just mean that I share a place with 3 to 4 billion people, but modesty is also a vice.
I think that by the time I left my parents house, out of that bubble into a bigger one, that I started to look away from my navel and into the world. Moving from a small village to a big city, and later, joining the Marines. Around that moment I started to see the people around me as characters, characters with there own little traits and colors. Like cars, there are thousands of them, but you can separate them into kinds, brands, worn-out, or brand new. I didn’t just see unique individuals, but also all the similarities. I was intrigued, but either I didn’t know how to ask, or no one had a clue what I was talking about. It felt like I was the only one seeing this, and asking these questions.
I was just interested in how this all, being here, on this rock, works. I just turned eighteen and life lived me for another 5 or 6 years, till one day I walked into a bookstore. It just happened to be that I lived close to a place in Holland, it is called Deventer, and they have, or had, once a year the biggest open air bookmarket in Europe, and because of that there where dozens of book antiquarians located in the city. It was not hard to find a nice bookstore and look around. I remember vividly that I didn’t look at all the so called “self help books” where people offer answers to life’s questions. I had seen enough of the world by then to realize that a lot of people proclaim to have the answers to life’s questions, but how can you have a thousand different answers to that one question? I learned early on that if you read a book about life and you walk away with answers, you have read the wrong book. A good book leaves you with maybe one or two hints to an answer, but many more questions.
Something was not right so I walked past the 5 or 6 bookcases full with these questionable self help books to the one bookcases where I saw two shelves with books about philosophy. I new about philosophy, but I am also a visual person, and the quiet book covers, without bold statements, told me that these books didn’t need to lie to me, to be sold. I still remember one of my first books, it’s a Dutch book wherein several philosophers write about the place where reason goes over into…unreason.
I try not to write more then 500 words every night and I am getting there, but I am still far away from my point… The poem I chose for today was from Day 1226, written in August 2019.
Shadows sometimes stay behind
when you leave
I wanted to write a few words about why I am so busy with this stuff and then give some insights about the poem I wrote. I will keep it short: have you ever left a room full of people, and a few hours, or minutes, later you start to wonder what kind of impression you left behind. Your deceitful mind plays a trick on you, and misremembers the conversations you had, and you wonder if that stain was there all along. That’s the shadow that stay’s behind, and clouds the past.
Have you had this experience: you walk on a flat surface, like a side walk, and you step on something small and hard, like a stone. The moment you feel this hard thing under your foot you buckle in a reflex, like you don’t want to get hurt. In my own experience it is not something that always happen, it happens mainly when you don’t expect to feel anything under your foot. Trough the wonders of the internet I learned that they (I guess some people call it that) call it nociceptive flexion reflex or more formal: withdrawal reflex.
Because I use this experience in a poem, based on a picture where you see a little stone on a wooden floor, you can assume that this nociceptive flexion reflex also happens when we react to a sudden disturbance in our social life, in an otherwise smooth day.
The most recognizable example that I can come up with is is the anger outburst after you’ve been patient for hours or day’s when, for example, someone is asking you for something over and over. You’ve been cool and understandable but suddenly they come around the corner, while you are occupied with something else, and you hear a sound coming out of their mouth and you flip, like you stepped on the little stone.
You probably do not “flip out” willingly, at least that is the excuse you use when the dust has settled again, but you are probably right. The interesting question, following from this example is: what other reactions or thoughts in our daily, social live are triggered by small objects we step on.
The poem that inspired me today is from Day 1145.
There is a small stone
where I step
In a reflex
We all play different roles in our lives. According to Martin Heidegger, a German philosopher from the 20th century, are we “thrown into the world”. What this means is in short that you are born into a past, a past that determined the country, family and the body(genes) you “live” in. What you are, and what you become through your upbringing and education are factors you have little to no control over. Later in life you can “steer the ship” you are in gently. but the current, your past, will take you to where in flows.
The poem I chose for today is from Day 1118.
Some stand in front
alone, brave, by choice?
Or, did the others retreat, wisely?
The first line speaks for itself, we all know those people that don’t hesitate to say the first words or point to a direction for where to go. We all have played that role, some more then others, but even the shyest person one day will lead a group of children across the street, feeling all brave.
Leading a group is often a task you do alone. If you don’t know where you are going you might call yourself brave. If you know where you are going, you just do what is expected of you. You could say that people that follow a leader, specially one that doesn’t know where to go, brave, but also cowards, or loyal.
Is it always a choice to be the leader? If it is in you character to lead, and this urge is stronger then in the other people in the group that is in need of a leader, you might say that it is not a choice. If you compete with others you might actively promote yourself or assume the role without asking, that’s a choice. You don’t choose the trades you need to be a leader, you can choose to lead, but so do people that lack these trades.
It can also happen that, when the question of who’s going to take the lead comes up, the rest of the group slowly retreats in silence, and you, the naïve one, gets the task. You still get all the blame, but without the pride of a choice.
This morning on my way to work my thoughts interrupted my listening to an interesting podcast, I tried to ignore it, but finally gave in. The scenario played in my head that one of my colleges, who I told the other day that I am interested in philosophy, would ask me what philosophy is according to me. There are many ways you can answer this question, but the one that popped up in my head, all fresh, was that I would ask him if he has an opinion about something, and he probably would say yes, and then I would tell him that he should ask himself where that opinion comes from. That’s philosophy in a nutshell, asking questions and especially to yourself and I would also add that there is no end to this questioning besides fatigue. I was, and am quite satisfied with that short answer and can’t wait to use it one day. Also yes, I asked myself if it makes sense, and me writing about it now is part of that questioning.
I tell you this because philosophy can go abstract fast but in the example from above it is something that everybody can do. One of the abstract questions has to do with the poem I wrote for Day 959.
You perceive, observe
the other – object – adverse
it was my intent
How do I know if the other person is not just an object that miraculously mimics a human being or what they call in philosophy the “problem of other minds” or more fancy: solipsism. I am not going into this to deep for now, you can look it up on the web but in short it is the idea that we can not know for sure what’s going on outside our mind or if other people have a mind and think like you. Related to this is the thought experiment the “brain in a vat” wherein a scientist puts your brain in a vat, connects it to a computer and you would not know the difference when you experience the world compared to when you where still in your flesh an blood body. The computer tells you that you listen to music and you experience it like that including the living room you sit in.
But besides these more abstract questions you can also ask yourself if you treat someone else as an object when you interact with them. If I want to pay my groceries I don’t treat the cashier badly when they are just part of the whole “experience”. Imagine your busy and thinking about stuff, you walk to the counter, put your groceries on it, look at the numbers, take your credit card, look at the face hovering somewhere above the counter and quickly see if it has an expression of: you can pay. You pay, say hi with a quick move of your face in the direction of that person and you leave. Think of it, or try it out, can you remember the face of the person that helped you? They have done some great experiments with this where they changed the person with another halfway through the conversation and a lot of people don’t notice it.
Is the person in this example not just an object on your way out? For you it is, in that moment, but it is of course a person and would that person suddenly fall ill in front of you, you would be released of your spell and help. Like you would if the cash register breaks down when you want to pay, and you see the problem.
Sometimes your past, or more specifically the plans from your past, come speeding towards you faster than you go forwards. This can happen suddenly, when you open a dust covered box from the attic, or power on your old Nokia phone from 2002 and look at the call history. Old plans, memories and wishes cling to us, hidden from sight, ready to appear uninvited.
These unwelcome or forgotten parts of your past horizons are often a byproduct of some sort of transformation. Your relation ended in tears which are dried up and forgotten by now, but the breakup made you move and because of that you found a job that changed your life, and horizon.
The pasts that follow you have many facets. And like a diamond they are hardened by the pressure of time, forgetfulness and bias. The different sides of your past memories are also sharply divided, a tragic loss can be cut next to a new hope.
But no matter what, your past made you who you are know, and should be admired like you admire a diamond. Don’t forget that your past might be ugly like a lump of coal, but without that peace of coal and some pressure you will never shine like a…
My inspiration for today came from the poem that belonged to Day 901.
Rime and horizon
facets of transformation
speeding behind you.
I like the word rime. Your past can be frosty and no matter what, you always look forwards to a horizon, even if you go backwards. But rime is also old English for rhyme. I used the facets and diamond analogy above but you might as well use rhyme or poetry as an analogy for your past. In your head your past can be ugly but for your own sake you make it rhyme so you can remember it more fondly.
Like we do, words can also mean something else if they are surrounded by other companions. It is far from polite to say everything you want in someone’s face. I can’t imagine a society, now or in the past, where that would be appropriate. You don’t tell your new boss that he’s a lying peace of… you wait with that till your home, with another companion, or when your quit or know and respect each other. Strangers might curse at each other, but a stranger with who you have to build a relation should not be told the (your) truth when you just met. We all know this truth, or call it “normal behavior”, even if we don’t follow it or have some kind of (mild) sociopathic behavior.
So what we say depends on where and with who we are. If you follow the ideas of Darwin and his evolution theory, you can imagine that a person that constantly tells what he thinks of others will quickly be thrown out of the group, and thus has a hard time procreating. Its a little simple the way I tell it but our social behavior has a link with our success in evolving. Some behaviors are more attractive and beneficial than others. Can you imagine that the strongest male still would mate exclusively with all the females in the group, that behavior died off early in our evolution, though its echo might still be seen in some of us.
With our words and where they are, or how they are interpreted, we have an easier time understanding the rules though there might still be some evolution involved.
In the poem that I chose for today (Day 893) I used a word you can read in different ways and so change the interpretation of the poem.
Remains after fall
a relic of dignity
The picture that accompanied this haiku can probably be guessed. When its fall (autumn is the more formal name for this part of the year) the majestic flower slowly dies and that can make you reminisce about summer. But we can also reminisce about our, or someone else’s fall. Like falling from grace or favor. Your dignity can be bruised after you “fall from your high horse” and many will take delight in that.
Words are funny, I looked up the word fall and there are many ways you can interpret and use this word, maybe the word fall is THE equivalent for the word human.
I have this video game I like to play, its called HOI4 or Hearts of iron 4 for the noobs among you. Its a war simulation game where you spend a lot of time preparing before the action starts. I like this part, preparing, organizing, planning and I always tell myself that if the wars start I keep this meticulous organizing going on. But soon the haze of war takes over and I make some general plans and press the go button, feeling sad by the waste and eager for a result.
The poem I wrote on Day 876 of my project goes about this feeling.
Grey sky surrounding
the wind propels you forwards
leaving you behind.
If you see the picture that belongs to this poem you understand why I wrote it like I did. One of my goals when writing these poems is to also describe the picture, sometimes quite literally.
My take on it now:
Sometimes we can be so focused on a task, day, or part of our life that we feel driven by an external force. We work, we do, we go and when its time, we look back in wonder…what just happened? You where left behind, and the world lived you, til you circle back around and see yourself watching, from behind.
Have a good Sunday (or Monday).
While leaning in my chair, looking at the poem I chose for today I wondered what this is good for. Not all of this, but writing in an abstract way about life, instead of writing about more practical things. I started a book about Wittgenstein and he goes deep and abstract. Talking about the meaning of the word and, and how we use languish. It is interesting, for some people at least, they publish books about him so I guess there is a market. I don’t know why it is useful that people study these subjects, I tell myself that it is like some kind of higher math, useless for our daily lives, but if you drive a car or take a flight somewhere you better thank the people that took the time to understand this hocus-pocus math and use that knowledge when they designed our cars or that airplane. Somewhere in our daily lives Wittgenstein’s ideas benefit us, though we never might know how.
The little poem/haiku I chose today, once again tells about our fruitless quest for meaning and destination. Don’t get me wrong, I think life is great but I can honestly not think of a time in my life that I thought that it led to something. For the longest time I thought that that was normal and the reason for why I am curious. How can you be curious if you already know where you are going? But sometimes I wish I could crawl into someones head that has figured it all out, just to feel what that’s like, it tickles my curiosity.
Holding on to tight
On a narrow path nowhere
protecting a clue.
I see that I had two letters capitalized, with no period at the end of the sentence, and one with but no capitalized letter at the beginning. I guess my dyslexia screwed with me again. That why I, for the longest time now, start with a capitalized word at the beginning of a poem and nothing at the end. Patterns are my glasses, if it comes to writing.
“Holding on to tight” and “protecting a clue” point to the people that see a…point and goal in life and who hold those two like they are something precious. But there anxious tread and secrecy shows that they hold something that is hollow and can break easily, and they don’t want others to see that.
The middle sentence speaks for itself in this context.
And now a quote from Wittgenstein that fits with what I have written today. (and please read about him or his books, quotes are so often out of context)
“Nothing is so difficult as not deceiving oneself.”
“Not how the world is, but that it is, is the mystery.”