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    "...the whitest, frothiest, blossomest blossom"

    The Guardian is publishing a series of the greatest interviews. Lots of big names: Adolf Hitler, Malcolm X, Marilyn Monroe. I always get antsy when people start saying things like "the best X in the history of the galaxy...EVAH!". Because canons, I think, should be inherently personal and interpersonal, and should not be defined by institutions. The Guardian list, however, is just too interesting to throw the post-colonial book after. And I was blissfully surprised to find the most wonderful interview I have ever seen in my entire life on the list:

    It's an interview Melvyn Bragg did with television playwright Dennis Potter, author of the Singing Detective, among other things. Potter knew during the interview that he had less than three months to live, having been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer (he has named the tumor "Rupert" after Rupert Murdoch). His hands stunted by the arthritis he has suffered from for most of his life, Potter drinks liquid morphine and champagne throughout the interview while discoursing with great lucidity, erudition, depth and passion on all sorts of topics, some personal and existential, others political. The parts where the pain gets too heavy are in the interview as well, and the friendly small-talk paints a vividly human picture of Potter.

    Below my window in Ross, when I'm working in Ross, for example, there at this season, the blossom is out in full now, there in the west early. It's a plum tree, it looks like apple blossom but it's white, and looking at it, instead of saying "Oh that's nice blossom" ... last week looking at it through the window when I'm writing, I see it is the whitest, frothiest, blossomest blossom that there ever could be, and I can see it. Things are both more trivial than they ever were, and more important than they ever were, and the difference between the trivial and the important doesn't seem to matter. But the nowness of everything is absolutely wondrous, and if people could see that, you know. There's no way of telling you; you have to experience it, but the glory of it, if you like, the comfort of it, the reassurance ... not that I'm interested in reassuring people - bugger that. The fact is, if you see the present tense, boy do you see it! And boy can you celebrate it.
    I think it is quite possibly the single most moving thing I have ever seen on television. There's something wonderful about a man with such great hopes for television as a medium making this interview one of his last acts.

    I've only caught it live twice, never seen it in its full length. There's a DVD available somewhere, I think. Some selected video edits at the Guardian.

    (Somebody please put this on YouTube.)

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    Litteraturhuset er live. Jeg var der på Vinduet-fest for et par dager siden. Det var flott! Stort og lyst og akkurat sånn vi har lyst til at litteraturen skal ha det. Festen var forsåvidt hyggelig, men med rik anledning for kjendisparanoia.

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    Øybø på Blå

    Enda en siste-liten-påminnelse: Mattis Øybø gjester Litteratur på Blå i kveld for å snakke om sin nye roman Ingen er alene. Eskil Vogt (som nettopp vant Aamot-prisen igår) og Susanne Christensen deltar i samtalen.

    Jeg har lest boken og den friker meg ut. Handlingen foregår stort sett et steinkast fra leiligheten min, og det er så mange synkronisistiske (?) detaljer i den at jeg ikke vet hvor jeg skal begynne en gang. Verst var det da jeg satt i vinduskarmen på leiligheten min og leste hvordan hovedpersonen kommer gående opp på Bislett, opp gaten nedenfor min gate, så opp i min gate, og så RETT FORBI HUSET MITT (cue mann i rett alder som går forbi utenfor), hvorpå det avsløres at kjæresten til hovedpersonen jobber på skolen rett over gaten fra meg.

    Og så heter en sentral karakter Peter Larsson og er filmforsker. Min far heter Peter Larsen og er filmforsker.

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    Stephen Fry seems to have started a blog. Only one (immensely long, iPhone-related) post so far, but this goes straight to the feedreader.

    Seen QI? Go to Youtube and look around for QI Fry or some such search string. You won't be sorry.


    DFW & no more paper

    David Foster Wallace keeps popping up in blogs and magazines I read these days.

    First, there's a new sort-of essay online here. It's the introduction to a volume of American essays he has edited (or as he puts it, Deciderized) for Houghton Mifflin.

    He also has a huge essay online over here I should read soon.

    So I went looking in the Wikipedia article, and hey, look, there's the title essay to his latest collection of essays. I swear: who even bothers with paper these days?

    Og for de norskspråklige: Preben Jordal gir en introduksjon til DFWs essayistikk i siste Vagant. Jordal har også oversatt novellesamlingen Oblivion av ham. Special Bonus: Han klarer å presse inn et stikk til bloggere i artikkelen.

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    Litt seint å si fra

    ...men jeg skal altså være ordstyrer ikveld på Litteratur på Blå. Arne Lygre og Maria Tryti Vennerød samtaler om samtidsdramatikk. Blå klokken 19. Kom kom kom & ta med alle vennene dine!

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    You Do the Math

    Since it's been 6 years since the WTC attacks, I thought I'd repost this thing I wrote back then. I'd have redone the math, but honestly, it hasn't changed at all. At this point it's just a simple matter of attrition and addition. Multiplication, really.

    5 years

    5 years.
    1825 days.
    That's 5 long, long years.
    On the other hand, Bush only has 861 days left in office.
    861 days, 8 hours and 6 minutes.
    And 52 seconds (but who's counting).

    2973 people died in the September 11th attacks (oh, and the 19 hijackers, but who is counting them? And incidentally, why aren't we counting them?).

    2973. That's a lot of people dead for no reason.

    Every single one of those one thousand eight hundred and twentyfive days since those 2973 people, roughly 30.000 children died from easily preventable causes.

    Jeepers, if we were counting, that would be 53 million children. Put it another way: think about that really big class you were in when you were a kid? 30 kids, far too many for the overworked teacher. You're dead. You are all dead, and a thousand other classrooms like the one you were in. Every day for five years.

    On the day that those 2973 people died, roughly 30.000 children died from easily preventable causes. That number of children also died the day before and the day after. That's like 60 crammed-full jumbo jets crashing every day.

    Somewhere between 62.000 and 180.000 people have died thus far in the war "on" terror, according to the Independent. That's at least 33 people every day = roughly 1/1.000th of the WTC disaster, or roughly 1/10.000th of the children who died that day.

    The thing we spend the most money on around the world is weapons that enable us to kill other people. We spend $950 billion on this. The US alone spends $441.6 billion on this.

    If you take what the US spends every single year on being able to kill other people, and had put it into food distribution, sustainable development, clothes and medicine for those 53 million children (they mostly die from things like diarrhoea, pneumonia, measles and malaria), you could have saved every last one of those children about 200 times over, and still have money left to put them through school for five to eight years.

    Also, 2.9 million people died from AIDS last year. Somebody should really be looking into that.

    We like to focus on big, dramatic dangers, and because of that, we're less focused on actual problems that are actually killing us. Unlike September 11th, life is mostly not like Hollywood movies. Statistics are realer than anything to the people doing the dying, and there are 30.000 good reasons every day to stop being idiots.

    I have a suggestion. It's a really simple and easy suggestion. My suggestion is based on the fact that a) I consider myself as being strongly opposed to human beings, both children and adults dying unnecessarily. b) I think that we are vastly overestimating our need for killing each other.

    1) Maybe we can all get together on the children not dying, and the not killing each other unnecessarily?

    2) Then we could funnel some if not all of the money and work skills used for the military into non-military work around the world.

    3) Maybe we could all get together on the not occupying other countries and killing people there.

    4) Points 1, 2 and 3 would lead to other people maybe feeling less inclined to coming over to our place and killing people over here, or having their cousins who already live here not killing people over here. It might even lead to people over there killing each other less, and people over here killing each other less.

    5) It would also lead to less dying in general from easily preventable cause, like hunger, AIDS, malaria, diahrroea, pneumonia, infections, terrorism and laser-guided smart bombs.

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    Hardcore galgenhumor hos Mariann i Englegården. Legg merke til hvordan Y-en i Youtube liksom lager et splittet - altså ironisk - utropstegn over punktumene til programlederen i tekstingen.

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    Best of Bok

    Og så minner vi om kveldens arrangement fra Litteratur på Blå:

    Best of Bok, 11. september kl 19: I vår ble det gjort flere forsøk på å bestemme Norges beste bøker gjennom tidene, blant andre fra Litteraturfestivalen på Lillehammer og fra Erik Bjerck Hagen i samarbeid med Petter Aaslestad. Men kan man egentlig bestemme hva som er best? Og holder forsøkene mål? Panel: Janike Kampevold Larsen (juryleder på Lillehammer), Petter Aaslestad (medredaktør Den norske litterære kanon 1900-1960), Espen Stueland (forfatter og kritiker), Terje Holtet Larsen (forfatter og kritiker). (Ansvarlig: Kristian Meisingset)

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    Jeg har kommet frem til at årets katastrofevalg ikke var et resultat av dårlige politikere eller dårlig valgkamp. Problemet er folket. Vi trenger nye folk. Dem vi har er onde og dumme.

    Motto for tiden som kommer: OPP IGJEN.

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    Idag er det 1 år siden drapet på Obiora. Internett glemmer ikke.

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    Oh, and this Crooked Timber essay on the netroots looks interesting, but I don't have time to read it now.

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    Og forresten så har Audiatur åpnet bokhandelen. Jeg oversatte Audiaturs presentasjonstekst om Øyvind Rimbereid fra svensk. I bunnen av den er det en lenke til dette fine diktet av ham. Jeg er ganske sikker på at det er nytt.

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    Som oppfølging til gårsdagens møte på Litteratur på Blåtm om politisk litteratur* kan jeg jo lenke til denne debatten om emnet i Sandkassen.

    * oppsummering: utrolig mange folk, fint, engasjert publikum, heftig debatt, høye forventninger til neste omgang.


    Ikke glem å gå på Litteratur på Blå ikveld! Intervju med Izzet Celasin! Debatt med Bendik Wold, Kjetil Strømme, Cathrine Krøger og Irene Engelstad!

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    Okay, I'm finally going to start changing the long-overdue design of the blog. Step one: new blogs in the sidebar! It's been a while. Also, old blogs that have been on hiatus have been mercilessly purged. It's not cause I don't love you, people.

    We expect the new design to be up and running in as little as ten months.

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