The Selfish Idealist

The Selfish Idealist


When you do things for yourself, do you have to be destructive towards the world? Life can be made fairly good both for you and for the rest of us.

Maybe you'll not only help out, but even give everybody a good laugh from time to time.

3:40 AM, June.

I am playing Mozart's music

MusicPosted by Erik Gøthesen 09 Jul, 2019 11:38
I think that competitions in music are principally bullshit, but of course, there is a lot of good music going on...

Another interesting thing is that these guys & girls seem to be giving us more personal versions, not only the most correct Mozart (which can be an interesting thing, of course, to check once in a while, by watching competitions ;-)).

I hope this is a new trend, more individual interpretations, it would be nice with a little more freedom at last. And no, I'm not talking about extra notes compared to a standard text, that is another discussion, I think, but of how to play the whole thing. There are many possibilities.

Correctness is only one aspect of the music.

The question of the correct Mozart remains there, not exactly unanswered...but as part of the package, one way of thinking which will also be important. Many things are.

But it is ok that time moves on once in a while, that the main focus shifts, and perhaps gives us a way of dealing with things that also suits our times better.

One could think like that too.

And of course, to tip over the whole discussion you should actually consider the fact that the grand piano wasn't invented when Mozart died in 1791, these concerts were written for the fortepiano, which is a completely different instrument. It is just too tempting to play them on a "modern" instrument because they sound so bloody good on it, but actually, I think you have to see these versions as kind of arrangements for another instrument.

At least this is an interesting view and an interesting way into yet another approach.

In the end, and when showtime draws near, too, all ways of thinking about music go into one another like Chinese boxes, and maybe it is not obvious which one is the outer one, the actual frame for all the others, that exact day.

And again, what goes on live is also unpredictable to a certain extent, or should be, because no one really wants to hear what you did last night, at least I very much enjoy a happening, whatever genre or mode.

That's why we're nervous playing...

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CommentPosted by Erik Gøthesen 07 Jul, 2019 10:26

Well, Don, I think it is definitely nice that you say something about homeless people, and not only people without a home, but how to put it?

People who really suffer, who have trouble coping with everyday life.

In a sense, of course, everyone has trouble, but this is maybe another story.

It is quite right what you say, that many of those who are "at the bottom" of society have mental problems, problems which would probably...well, a little more likely would have been dealt with, if the people who have such problems had been somewhere higher up.

But these problems can't be new, like you say.

They didn't come two years ago or something.

They must have been there all the time.

This problem exists more or less everywhere.

But the US is kind of famous for things like that, also, poor people living on the street, the lack of social welfare.

America is famous for many other things too, friendliness, for instance, but also poverty.

Sorry, this is in a way pub talk, and I must admit I don't know to what extent it is true.

I could find that out.

I read Jacob Holdt's book American Pictures many years ago, which is a photo reportage book, made by a Dane who travelled among poor people in the States, I think sometimes in the 70s.

He travelled with very little money and obviously with a very open mind and a peaceful attitude.

It is a beautiful book, even if it describes a lot of suffering. talk about the impression that such things make on foreigners, maybe, visitors, that it is bad for your country to see those things.

You think marketing.

I mean, this sounds like a remark from the marketing department.

That is nonsense, sorry.

One thing, a country is not a company.

Not your company, either.

A country belongs to you, to your neighbours, the USA would belong to me too if I lived there.

The impression of poverty in the US has already been made on us all, and it must be right to a certain extent.

You can't hide that fact, it's been out in the open as long as I can remember.

Everyone, I think, in the world, has a notion of poverty as an important part of American society, be it more or less right or wrong.

I think I'm fairly right in saying this.

Some see it as a backside of...maybe too much emphasis on free enterprise.

I am aware that charity plays a much bigger role in USA than here in Norway, for instance, when it comes to social issues.

But still.

All health care is not free here in Norway either, but a lot of it is.

You pay like 18$ for going to the doctor, so if you're poor, that is a real problem.

Remember that the salaries are higher here than in your country, and what you get when you get social money, too, must be more.

For staying in a hospital you basically pay nothing, but I think they sometimes charge you for some of the bandages etc which have been used.

I hope that you don't see the problem of poverty just as an aesthetic one.


Poverty stinks sometimes...but what are the reasons?

Anatole France, the French writer, is famously quoted for saying that the law prohibits, both for the poor and the rich, to steal a bread.

I think everyone understands the immediate meaning of that sentence.

It could be a problem for a shop owner.

But it depends.

I know one shop owner who gives something to anyone who asks. Food.

As long as it doesn't grow really big, this is not a problem.

At least he seems to cope with it.

So that's one way of dealing with poverty, illness, economic problems.

He is a Muslim, by the way.

Don't judge people on the bottom too hard, either.

As you say, some of them have problems that would maybe be dealt a normal world, when it exists. I mean, pretty often, mental problems of some kind.

Some have so much trouble it is sometimes difficult for them know, behave.

If someone squeezes you real hard, and you can't get away from scream, don't you?

In one way or another, you usually do that.

Sometimes what is needed for people is also, well, one friendly word, everybody knows that, I think.

Or maybe several words, even over time, delivered with a little compassion and maybe even some knowledge about problems.

I mean, everyone has problems.

If someone helps you in this way, it may give you a new start in coping, finding yourself again, being someone, not one.

To be ignored.

But getting back on track takes time, of course.

If you feel you have never been really on track it probably takes even more time.

You don't have to follow everyone to the end of the world, unless this is your job, if you're only a neighbour or a passer-by, but a little of the way.

Yeah, well, this is some people's work too.

But a word or a dime is also something.

I need to be in my own world too, but I feel sorry for people sometimes, people I see on the street.

In a neighbourhood, on a street, treat everyone like they're one of us, to the extent that is...natural, and to the extent that you can manage. be treated...normal.


To be a reasonable way.

To have a certain amount of privacy on the street is, I think, a right we have. But to be social is also a possibility, for those who want to.

The days that you manage to do such things. When you have the energy to say something or give something to a beggar.

If you were treated badly yourself, by someone, on some point...sometimes, the people you make friends with...sort of makes up for what happened to you.

They may not know, but it may still happen.

A sunny side of life, when it happens.

I hope that when you talk about filth, you mean concrete filth on the street, not people.

No man or woman is filth.

Everyone is capable of producing...filth. Making trouble.

Sometimes you make trouble for yourself. You turn it inwards instead of outwards.


Difficult thing.


I guess I'm saying too much.

None of these things are easy to cope with.

But if you start realising that they are difficult, you have maybe started to solve them.

By ignoring problems...they often grow.

And of course, as a politician, you have loads of other possibilities.

Private solutions are important, as I said, public ones also necessary.

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CommentPosted by Erik Gøthesen 22 Jun, 2019 10:58

Hi Donald.

You remember I told you I thought you had a point when you said something about the "former regime" or something...who fucked it up in the Middle East?

That was before the election.

You know that now, you're the one who is fucking it up?

I think you could destroy a country.


Think about that.

That is what you are going into right now.


A country...

How many inhabitants?

You check that out.

You need to study.

You're not quite competent, you know.

Rather not be rash.

Listen to...I don't know.

Someone else.

Go to the library.

Be soft too.

Not stupid.

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Make love, not war

CommentPosted by Erik Gøthesen 24 May, 2019 03:22

Hi there, Don.

Are you making war?

This time, real war?

And...why are you doing it?

You have a lot of military bases.

The US have a lot of military bases.

Around the world.

How come you have a lot of military bases all around the world?

In other countries?

I don't particularly believe in the military as a positive political force.

It should be the last resort - to defend yourself.

To defend your own land.

I don't think one people has the right to defend their or anyone's principles with...weapons, if things happen in other countries.

I don't think that's in any charter, really.


You think...I mean, you believe you are the leader of the free world?

I think I have to laugh.

Freedom...big word.

Means a lot of things.

Freedom to start a business, yeah, and to run it.

How to run it...

Freedom from...bombs.

You have freedom from bombs, don't you?

Me too - so far.

So how come the Iranians...are you going to bomb them?

Are you?

They say it's a beautiful country.

Despite the mullahs.

Do you actually believe that you can free them from their...own mullahs?

Do you believe in a country's right to rule themselves?

To free themselves from whatever bother them, in their own way?

Do you?

What are all those bases for? They don't defend your territory.

They're not there, not even close.

You said something wise before the election.

Not much, really, sorry, but I don't really think so. Not that much.

But you said that the other guys had fucked it up in the Middle East, or something like that.

That was true, I think you were right about that.

Who are advising you these days?

Many are against you for other reasons. I guess there are not that many people to talk to, in your position.

I have some Iranian friends, some aquaintances.

Do you?

Do you think it would be reason know, to avoid war?

I know people from all over the world, or to make myself brag not too much, at least (I think) from all continents. Maybe except Greenland, if that is a continent.

I am not sure that they all love me as their brother, I am only human, isn't that what one usually says? but still...there are a least I wouldn't like them to go.

In any sense of the word.

They have some friends, too. Relatives. Family. I don't love family, sorry, I don't, but I generally like people.

Oslo is quite international these days. Would you believe that?

I...have had, there have been moments in my life when I've been heading really in the wrong direction. Pretty often I have not had the courage to resist it, the strength to say...hey, I'm getting off the bus, can someone please...

Yeah, yeah, I said not. Too often. I've given myself a lot of shit because of that. Others too.

Sometimes it is about doing, sometimes about not doing.

But I've been trying to train myself to go against my own stream, not always go the easy way, I mean, privately. That's one of my biggest problems. I think, politically, well I'm not a politician, but workwise, I have done a few things. Privately, my private life...I shouldn't talk too loud. It's not that magnificent.

Maybe for you it's the other way round?

I don't know, just a suggestion. I don't know shit about your private life, I'm not that interested, really. I think that people's lives are much more different than most front page stories tell us, differences that could explain a lot...I mean, of the headlines.

I can be stupid and curious too some times, but I feel, I mean, in principle, everyone should be able to have a private life. It's a...right, a..what do you call it? Everyone needs to be private sometimes, completely on their own.

But I wouldn't like to wake up tomorrow and find out that all those that I call friends, even if they are only acquaintances, people I would very much like to have here in this town, hell, they do a lot of cool work here, if they would have to go home to another Syria or Iraq...Christ...Yemen.

To bury, you know, people. To look for them in the ruins. To have to accept the fact that their family house, if they had one, has been shot to pieces.

Their aunt died.

Their brother, shit - let's not even think about that.

Bombed to gravel.

Sounds great, huh?

Bombed to gravel.

That's the dead end of politics. Literally and whatever abstract concept you want to use to think out...what it is.

It is everything that a politician should avoid.

I told you, remember?

The real work is talk, making friends, drinking, eating...even playing music, even if that can sometimes be a little sectarian.

Even better, to go to an unusual party, accept an unusual invitation.

Now we're talking things that I don't always dare to do, but generally I have enjoyed it when I did.

I'm still talking just normal life things, in some neighbourhood. Among some people.

Even to do some stupid things, among people, I mean not in your position, sorry, this is not about "normal" politics.

Stupid things seem to be unavoidable in private relations sometimes. Sometimes even happens often. It's maybe the price you pay to reach someone.

But politics is a profession, sort of.

Right now...seems like you need to turn around, to stop, to change your direction.

Don't be a hero.

Heroes shed blood. Their own, usually, and others.

Be something else.

Quite simply, don,t bomb my friends' friends.

We have seen American bombs before, on film. Many. Some have seen them for real, before they...died.

I don't think many see bombs as part of a fight for freedom right now.

Take yourself in a reasonably firm grip and push yourself in another direction.

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Amazon contribution to nature

CommentPosted by Erik Gøthesen 23 May, 2019 20:05

Why don't amazon and other international Internet shops start working on an option where you can ask for delivery by surface mail instead of air mail?

That would be - for us - an easy way of getting down the CO2 emissions a little from this transport of goods. There would actually be no substantial problems for the customer, unless you are really in a hurry.

I am usually not, getting the things a few weeks earlier or later would usually make no difference.

I haven't checked how big part of the world's CO2 emissions this is, but the business has certainly grown the last 30 years.

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CommentPosted by Erik Gøthesen 05 May, 2019 13:05

An old film about a butler and another servant who fall in love. He feels he can't go through with the relationship, because it would compromise the loyalty to his work and his employer.

I can't remember the details of his thinking, but something like "it wouldn't be proper" or "suitable" must have been one of the lines.

I left the cinema with a feeling of ashes inside. A love story that never happened, because of propriety.

I grew up with a sense of duty that could actually kill you. Today, in 2019, Oslo is full of people who act like they were queens and kings and who seem to believe that they have to do this to fit into the city life. It's difficult for any generation to understand the next one, but I feel there could be a need today for a grain of the ironic distance to official truths I also grew up with.

Too many small things are taken too seriously.

And today, even if you can't throw away all the clothes you were born in, casual or neat, you can at least try to avoid crashing your neighbour with whoever you are.

Be proud enough to be tolerant. usual.

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Irony and nature

Tourist at homePosted by Erik Gøthesen 01 May, 2019 02:32

For those unfamiliar with Norwegian humour, the name of the restaurant Ben Reddik in Grünerløkka refers to one of the characters in an extremely popular film from many years ago, Flåklypa Grand Prix. The film is an emblematic portrait of an important part of Norwegian mentality, with the (anti-) hero Reodor Felgen as its main character.

His title is actually bike repair man (sykkelreparatør), but he is more than that, an inventor type, seemingly modest both in apparition and behaviour, but capable of creating all kinds of fun technical gadgets, like for instance a wooden box for recycling used tobacco smoke, which you strap onto your back. This way you can both save money on tobacco and save your immediate environment from breathing your cigarette smoke.

Reodor looks like a typical Norwegian of my father's generation, and you can still see his type many places here. The nickname Reodor (Felgen) is still a common expression for the ability to fix or invent anything practical, anytime anywhere, which is actually a typical national inventiveness, also in other connections than practical and technical. It must have developed out of geography, fun, and the relative lack of traditional European education.

The northerners even have a saying for it - vi træng ikkje pæng, vi fikser med stræng, (we don't need doe, we fix it with wire).

In the real north (remember that Norway is about 2000 km long) - the improvisation has also gone thoroughly even into the language, and the ability to create words and expressions on the spot has been common there and in other parts too. Probably still is.

Reodor Felgen is the product of Kjell Aukrust's mind, who was an artist and writer and the creator of Flåklypa Times (Flåkypa tidende), the local newspaper of an imaginary place in a valley of Norway, which came in several volumes in the 60's and 70's. It actually contains a lot stranger things tham just local news, and the humour touches upon many different issues from public life.

A felg means the rim of a wheel - and this constructed last name illustrates another side of Norwegian humour - slapstick, practical humour, visuality - these tools or modes are never far away.

Flåklypa as a place name actually exists, but I don't think anyone lives there. I had some motor trouble there many years ago, and accidentally noticed the road sign, not far from Lom.

Aukrust himself came from Alvdal, quite a few hours drive from the actual Flåklypa. Alvdal is partly the inspiration for the fictional Flåklypa.

The author has also given a witty impression of the real Alvdal in Bror min (My Brother) and other autobiographical works. A great humourist and also illustrator of his own books, he has given us a picture of an important part of Norwegian culture. We have after all always been rural to a large extent, despite a normal output also of "European" art, music, etc.

The landscape I grew up in, in Asker, just outside Oslo, is very much recognisable even in those drawings from Alvdal, which is further up the land from my home place. The Eastern hills and slopes resemble each other across a large area.

In the film, one of the sponsors, I believe, of the car race, is sheikh Ali Ben Redik Fy Fazan, who meets our countryside heroes in the tent that he brought with him from his homeland. He also brought with him a beautiful bellydancer, who has just about time to turn the head of Solan, who sees her in a glimpse through the tent opening. Solan is an outgoing and optimistic chap, always willing to take a chance, the complete opposite of his friend Ludvig, whose gloomy slogan is "The Northern winds blow from everywhere".

The film is animated, played with dolls made by Ivo Caprino, who is also famous for animated versions of Norwegian fairy tales and other stories.

Racism was already rife in Norway when the film appeared (1975), but I don't think sheikh Ali or the film contributed substantially to it. "Fy Fazan" is a "foreignised" and euphemistic version of "fy faen", the most common Norwegian swearword, but knowing Aukrust and Caprino and their work you have to think very strangely to interpret the character as racist, rather the opposite. His accent is comic, but all characters are comic, and we see in him, for instance, a guy who is confident enough to give respect to his hosts.

All characters, in the film and the stories, are comic, maybe except Reodor himself, who is actually more of a wise grandfather, the person who "owns" the humour. His personality also resembles Aukrust's, in the film especially, and also in sequels, which have been made in recent years.

The humour of Norway often resonates to a coarse background, not necessarily in a bad way, but it is completely strewn with irony, hints and double meanings, it is often difficult to see through to the last end of it. Which is also often the point, to pull your leg.

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Moving, moving

Digital sanityPosted by Erik Gøthesen 16 Apr, 2019 08:54

I have written a stack of articles about the Internet, and they are all written with a minimum of specialised concepts and special language, because I wanted to see the whole thing from a viewpoint close to the ground. Computers looked straight in the eye, so to speak.

I meet IT people, even people who run their own IT business, who claim that having an overview of the field is not possible.

I am sure that this is wrong, but it is a common problem.

I also know people with a clearer view of what they are doing. They can actually give totally relevant answers to all my questions, and make clear what are the choices in this world and what is necessary, unavoidable.

This knowledge has not spread wide enough, for instance all the way to people working with support and sales. They speak to me pretty often as though I had no concepts, and I suspect them of having none, or too few.

You can at least say, we don't speak the same language.

This actually ought to be fixed right away, and not only in the talk about computer matters, but in the programs themselves.

They should be examined, for instance by language teachers, to establish real communication between the developers and the rest of us, actually between the computer world and the general public, and the settlement should include clearer borders between normal, everyday language or other professional language, and the computer world's lingo, which often climb in or cling to established languages.

The lack of overview is a problem in the general public, and it has been like that for a while. You could say that this is normal anyway...but the computers have created some new confusion.

Giggling from the boys and girls who make the things is a spice of life when strange things with strange names are let loose over the heads of all of us. They are not data viruses, but you could call them mental viruses. Journalism has maybe already made a word for it.

I believe this creates trouble in all kinds of administration and in politics. The situation in media is a thing in itself. Remoteness is an important concept, which does not always originate in the computer world, but can be aggravated by the use of computers. Reality is blurred in new ways.

The screen is by many conceived as a reference for truth, and I believe you must be fairly well grounded already to find out what's right and what's wrong in this way of seeing it.

Confusion hits "the rest of us", people who are not computer insiders, because it is a business in amazingly quick development, and because it has beginner's problems.

I sometimes meet computer people who are rather on the edge. You can feel the vibration of the computer being part of them, and it looks unpleasant. As a teacher I sometimes feel the need to create human presence there and then, to calm down their system or soften the thinking.

The problem with the computer world is also connected to language. Their language - not programming languages, but the words that are used - are actually invading all other languages, not least everyday language, with a small epidemic of professional expressions that are new, and pretty often is destroying or changing mainstream concepts and often also mainstream ways of thinking. Also sometimes there is internal humour which should not be spread...without explanation.

I have been talking about an unconscious "programming" of us all through our use of the machines. I am talking about unconscious NLP-ish things and simply habits, in which we are trained through the use of the machines - and I think I believe that these things easily make you think actionsinstead of thinking concepts. I wonder whether this can make a habit of instrumental thinking, that we see problems only as practical problems and maybe easier confuse situations where you have a choice with those where you have none.

Automatisation of all sorts of...actions... - it is worth considering what it does to us and our ways of thinking.

Simply put I think I believe that the computer world as it appears today favours practical ways of thinking to theorybased ones. This is a coarsely formulated idea, which certainly deserves closer scrutiny, but I think there is something to it. Maybe it is also a question of humanities vs natural science or math.

I have a certain level of knowledge in music and literature, and all my writing about computers is probably also a reaction to what may be of thinking in terms of "natural science", or mathematical ways of thinking, or engineering-ways of thinking. The whole project of making a computer is to create an artificial brain, right? - or an artificial human...and the principles of this world is to a great extent the principles of machines, or of making them. In many ways this isa machine, with no movable parts, but with a lot of the processes resembling movements.

Maybe this one-sided way of thinking is also only a stage in the development of the IT field, parallel to the first cars, and steam engines, where the mechanic parts in the beginning were more or less out in the air.

I am not updated on the field of "humanist IT", there may be interesting things there.

The computer world, the education too, at least produces a new type of engineering consciousness. It may produce other things too...

The engineers themselves have always been a little annoying, for instance in their tendency to think in numbers - important when you build something, not as important when you deal with people.

Human and administrative systems built on too many figures also sound unattractive, in my mind. I don't quite like the idea of society as a machine either. It is part of the picture, I agree, but other metaphors should supplement it. One-sided thinking is maybe not so wise if you are a leader somewhere.

Freedom is after all also an issue worth addressing or considering.

When I write music I am also not in the world of numbers, but many composers are these days, I believe.

What comes out of artistic creativity you don't know, either, until you have finished making something. I guess the way of thinking is not everything either - the experience of the piece of music or whatever you have made - is still the proof of the pudding.

I sometimes dance all night long to the sound of dj-genres, the harder the better, and find Bugge Wesseltoft's electronic playing even more interesting than his acoustic piano playing, which I am also a fan of.

I am not one-sided - no, no...I just want control over my work.

You can turn slightly psychotic from trying out the wrong type of program, unless you think that way already. It is surprising to what extent we can cut concepts into two or more pieces, turn them upside down, mirror them, reinterpret, use them for gymnastics or other movements, but I am not quite sure how useful everything is. I could probably enjoy a little more of the different possibilities than I do today, but hardly all of them. I enjoy entertainment, but not all the time.

It would maybe be nice to have a computer which stopped developing. I think I would like that. It feels like we are past the peak of creativity in many of the updates that continue to invade me, the feeling that there is actually not more to be done, but still the work goes on.

On the Internet there are also many charlatans, sorry to say, they are after your money, basically. For instance there is the habit of asking for monthly pay all the time, a subscription, sometimes for products which I think should be sold to us as a thing.

I prefer anyway a clear head, when I want to think, as far as is possible.

Things that move my world around, the whole time, is...usually annoying, at least when I am working.

Edited after publishing.

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