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    Braggeprisen i sokkprosa

    Min far og Sigrid Lien er nominert til Brageprisen i sakprosa for Norsk fotohistorie! Gratulerer!

    (Men: Minus i margen til Brageprisen for ikke å sjekke stavemåten på navnet til deres prisvinnere før de annonserte. Han heter da så vidt jeg vet Peter Larsen, ikke Petter Larsen.)

    Her er et kunstnerisk og alvorlig bilde av min far:

    Og ikke nok med det: Ikke mindre enn to bøker Ragnfrid har vært redaktør på er nominert! De er:

    Happy av Linn T. Sunne (Samlaget) og Jakten på den virkelige Jesus av Per Bjarne Ravnå (Mangschou). De er nominert i hhv. barne- og ungdomsbøker og sakprosa for barn.

    For noen glupe og dyktige folk vi har i familien!

    Her er et teit bilde av Ragnfrid:

    Now that you mention it


    My dad got nominated for the Brage award, Norway's most prestigious literary award, for his book on the history of photography in Norway.

    Here is a goofy picture of my dad:

    Family reunion 2

    Also: no less than two books Ragnfrid was the editor of got nominated!

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    All of this would be funny if it weren’t so serious.


    Zen and the art of finding lost objects

    Zen and the art of being twenty minutes late

    Today, R found my camera kicking around at the bottom of a backpack I never use anymore. It's been missing since mid-August. It's strange, because there are some things which I just don't lose, ever, and there was this crazy period in mid-to-late August this year where I in short order lost my keys, my camera and lost (but recovered) my cell phone.

    The herd III

    It feels good, seeing the world in that way again. Here's a set from a trip to the Museum of Natural History in Bergen. I shot it this summer and it's just been sitting in the camera ever since.

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    Last bit of faith in humanity: gone.


    the finest minds of our time at work educating the public

    As I've said earlier, I've been reading George Monbiot's book Heat. It's a wonderful, informative, no-nonsense book, telling us in no uncertain terms that we have to change the way we live, and that many of the changes are going to be unpleasant and uncomfortable. On the plus side, less people will die from starvation and we might actually still have a functional ecosystem in 100 years. It's not a feel-good message, but it is what we need to hear and what we need to act on.

    But even so, it's no wonder the climate-change message isn't getting through when you see the unbearable daftness with which it is handled in the mass media. Look at this YouTube clip of him debating the Heathrow camp with Labour MP Khalid Mahmood. At the end the interviewer says - I swear, this is a direct transcription:
    Q: The government's chief scientific officer said that there is no bigger problem than climate change. Presumably you would think the terror threat is as big?

    Mahmood: The terror threat is as big, but it's more immediate.
    At which point the IPCC all showed up and the following scene took place:
    IPCC: Are you crazy? As big? As big my ass.

    (they thrash Mahmood and the interviewer with the IPCC report and the Nobel Medal for not knowing what they are talking about. Cries of "less people die of terrorism than all this other stuff, already to start with!", "we're talking global starvation, to begin with!", "and what's all this about a 'discussion' on climate change, there is no discussion on climate change!" and other expletives and insults.)
    One wonders first how they sleep at night, second, exactly how ravaged the world would have to be in order for the press to start taking their moral responsibility to inform the public seriously. I'm starting to think more and more of the terrorism threat as a media phenomenon than actual violence. This isn't to say that terrorism isn't dangerous or real. Just that the figure terrorism has come to represent in public discourse as an absolute opposition to our civilisation is wildly disproportionate to its threat. The amount of resources and manpower being spent talking about and thinking about terrorism obscures the real problems killing people around the globe.

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    In [his role as member of the Ulster Defence Association] he became embroiled in a number of the violent feuds which have convulsed the UDA in recent years. Regarded as a moderate in UDA terms, he found himself on the opposite side of the argument to more extreme figures such as Johnny "Mad Dog" Adair. On one occasion, Duddy's home was attacked with a pipe bomb, while on another shots were fired into it. While he was uninjured, his pet chihuahua, Bambi, was hit by gunfire and died.
    Sammy Duddy: Belfast paramilitary and drag artist. Born Belfast 1945; twice married; died Belfast 17 October 2007.

    Not a joke.

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    Min milt står i Brann

    I samsvar med det apokalyptiske temaet som har regjert denne uken, så er jeg litt usikker på om hva som er et sikrere tegn på endetiden: At Brann faktisk vinner gullet i år, eller at jeg faktisk bryr meg. Det tok dem kanskje kun 44 år, men prøv en gang å høre den apokalyptiske stemningen i denne sangen (som jeg tror Doddo skrev):
    En dag skal det skje
    At min bror begynner å spise kjøtt
    Han er nemlig vegetarianer
    Og er mest glad i blomkål
    Epler, pærer, avocado,
    Soyabønner og bananer.

    En dag skal det skje
    Det som skjedde det året
    Da min mor fikk en gutt
    Da John F. Kennedy ble skutt
    Da det var lykkelige dager
    Og ”jeg vil ha en blå ballong” var en slager.

    En dag skal det skje
    at Rosenborg rykker ned
    at Palestina og Israel slutter fred
    at Bush blir klok
    at Raymond Kvisvik leser en bok
    på flere hundre sider

    En dag skal det skje
    At han der oppe gjør retur
    At all sykdom får en kur
    At alle kan spise seg mett
    At alle bergensere får rett
    Og bridge blir hipt og kult og fett
    Er det rart at dommedagskultuser slår rot?

    Og dessuten: Massive skogbranner i Sør-California. Coincidence?

    Program for Litteratur på Blå!

    Nå er vi nesten ferdig med resten av høstens program. Det er meg som er programleder i morgen, i et intervju med Mette Karlsvik om hennes fantastiske andrebok Flytårn. Resten av programmet er tilgjengelig på hjemmesiden vår.

    Mette Karlsvik, 23. oktober kl 19: Samtale med Mette Karlsvik. Karlsvik vant Tarjei Vesaas' debutantpris i 2005 for Vindauga i matsalen vender mot fjorden (2005). Nå kommer hun med den flotte andreboka “Flytårn” der hun liksom i førsteboka leker med fiksjon og fakta. Hun kommer til Litteratur på Blå for å samtale om sitt forfatterskap og kunsten å få fly til å lande.
    Andre ting på programmet: Marstein, Ørstavik, Sæterbakken & mye mer! Løp og kjøp!

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    And after the four horsemen of the Apocalypse, now for some really important news: it turns out that Albus Dumbledore is gay. And I don't mean cheerful.

    The funny thing is, this actually occured to me in the last book. It struck me that the relationship Dumbledore had to Grindelwald was actually a pretty sneaky depiction of a youthful crush. I guess that a boarding school that big would have to have some homosexuality in it.

    And just think: fanfic writers the world over are working themselves into a lather as we speak. It's christmas morning for them.

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    sideshows in the theatre of human suffering

    Since Gore and the IPCC won the Nobel award, there's this discussion I keep having with people who think the prize should have gone to actual peace activists rather than these enviromental people. What does climate change have to do with war, people ask. Why not award the prize to someone who is actually in the trenches trying to stabilise global relations?

    My answer has been that war is merely a symptom of something else. It is the thing that happens when a lot of other things stop working. For instance, some things that make war much more likely and much harder to stop are resource scarcity, lack of a public sphere, poor infrastructure, poverty, lack of education, illness, etc. Generally, the more democratic and affluent a country is, the less likely it is to go to war. (Obviously, I'm well aware of some historical and current exceptions here, I'm just saying statistically speaking.) There's a reason the four horsemen of the apocalypse are named war, famine, pestilence and death. These things ride together, and work together. They aggravate each other, and on the flipside, reducing one frequently lessens the others as well. This is why the Nobel Peace Prize has been given to people like Norman Borlaug Never heard of him? He's often credited with having saved at least a billion lives. What did he do? He invented a new kind of wheat, that's what he did.

    But in case this apocalyptical description doesn't win you over, try listening to the first couple of minutes of this interview with George Monbiot. (Part II, III, IV)

    Also, I warmly recommend his book Heat. I can only echo the back cover blurp: "I defy you to read this book and not feel motivated to change."


    im in ur wasteland, vorgoning ur poem

    When you think about it, it was really only a matter of time before someone made a LOL-cat version of T.S. Eliots The Waste Land.

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    Islamophobofascism Awareness Week

    Have you heard the bullshit coming out of Martin Amis?
    There’s a definite urge — don’t you have it? — to say, ‘The Muslim community will have to suffer until it gets its house in order,’ ” Amis said. “What sort of suffering? Not letting them travel. Deportation — further down the road. Curtailing of freedoms. Strip-searching people who look like they’re from the Middle East or from Pakistan.… Discriminatory stuff, until it hurts the whole community and they start getting tough with their children. They hate us for letting our children have sex and take drugs – well, they’ve got to stop their children killing people. It’s a huge dereliction on their part. I suppose they justify it on the grounds that they have suffered from state terrorism in the past, but I don’t think that’s wholly irrational. It’s their own past they’re pissed off about; their great decline. It’s also masculinity, isn’t it?”
    All this, of course, because it is Islamophobofascism awareness week. Also: Terry Eagleton responds.

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    "These days what I do is say that 2+2=4"

    Paul Krugman is a brilliant economist and writer. His columns in the NY Times are must-reads: always informative, educational and merciless. He is one of those rare pundits who also happens to be (gasp!) well-informed. His last column is on Gore and the Nobel peace prize.

    “We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals,” said F.D.R. “We know now that it is bad economics.” These words apply perfectly to climate change. It’s in the interest of most people (and especially their descendants) that somebody do something to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, but each individual would like that somebody to be somebody else. Leave it up to the free market, and in a few generations Florida will be underwater.

    The solution to such conflicts between self-interest and the common good is to provide individuals with an incentive to do the right thing. In this case, people have to be given a reason to cut back on greenhouse gas emissions, either by requiring that they pay a tax on emissions or by requiring that they buy emission permits, which has pretty much the same effects as an emissions tax. We know that such policies work: the U.S. “cap and trade” system of emission permits on sulfur dioxide has been highly successful at reducing acid rain.
    Which is not exactly news, but the more well-informed, rhetorically skilled people say this, the better.

    Many economists mention Krugman as a possible winner for the Nobel Prize in economics himself, incidentally.

    Anyway, I think I might have mentioned that he also has a wonderful blog where he shares little bits and pieces of interesting information which lead into his columns, or in which he answers questions that arise after his columns have been published. A sort of way of continuing the debate in the backstage area.

    Also, there's this video interview of Krugman. At one point he says that he worries about the state of democracy in the US: "What I worry about is that we'll keep the forms, but the reality will just erode. Like the Roman senate kept meeting for a long time after the country had become, in effect, a monarchy." He also talks about how there is no longer non-political truth. He says that most of what he does these days is saying that 2+2 = 4 and getting called an extreme leftist for saying so. Special bonus in the interview: he reveals that he is a science-fiction fan and that a fascination for Isaac Asimov's Foundation series led him into economics.

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    this just in: sign no longer arbitrary. Saussure spinning in grave major source of carbon emissions

    I just learned via Crooked Timber that back in the 90s, the Republican "environmental" "plan" (basically repealing the Clean Air Act and delaying changes in emission standards) was headed up by two senators. Their names are - wait for it -

    Delay (R-TX) and Doolittle (R-CA).

    As one commentator on Crooked Timber puts it "I think it casts serious doubt on Saussure’s principle of the ‘arbitrariness of the sign’."

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    in which yr. correspondent digs the Nobel people

    Al Gore! Excellent. I think when we think back to the tipping point of the whole climate change thing in popular opinion, more than we would like to think is going to come down to Al Gore and the movie.

    But really, the Alanis-Morisette-ironic thing about Gore winning is the fact that he's actually winning it in quantum physics. As much as his work to stop climate change, Gore is winning the Nobel prize for that more peaceful, safer, happier parallell universe in which he not only won the 2000 elections but actually got to take office. The universe in which he was president on September 11th 2001, in which he didn’t invade Iraq, didn’t make his entire term about throwing out civil liberties, about making the world unsafe and unstable, about scorched-earth capitalism and ruining international relations and widening the gap between poor people and rich people and mostly not giving a damn.

    I think I would have liked to live in that universe. No doubt some version of me does. Lucky bastard.

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    in which me & Doris Lessing catch a play

    Nine years, ten months + change ago, I was on a class trip to London. Ostensibly a trip to experience the glowing, happening centre of Imperial European culture - theatre in particular - it ended up being for all intents and purposes a party/socialising/sightseeing-trip. We had just started the IB a few months earlier, and didn't really know each other that well yet, so we ended up mostly getting drunk alot, going shopping and seeing sights and trying to get to know each other. Seeing the British Museum through a haze of near-hallucinatory hangover was a bizarre and unforgettable experience. The Rosetta Stone, for me = angst, weltschmertz, nausea.

    One night between parties we finally went out to catch Ibsen's An Enemy of the People with Ian McKellan (whom you know probably as Gandalf or Magneto). The play was great, as far as I recall, but I was tired and not quite firing on all cylinders. During intermission, I was roaming around in the lobby outside the Laurence Olivier Hall or whatever it was called. As I was heading back from the bar with a soda, I passed a sweet-looking old lady with her hair rolled up in a bun. My English teacher Margaret pointed her out to me and in the sort-of-blasé, but very tense way one whispers "that's the queen" or "that's the prime minister", she whispered "that's Doris Lessing".

    The funny thing: that afternoon, I had gone to a mother-huge chain bookstore in downtown London and bought two books as christmas presents for my parents. One was Future Noir: The Making of Blade Runner for my father the noirist, the other was Walking in the Shade, volume II of Lessing's autobiography, which had just come out that summer. What sucked about all this: I had left the book in my room at the hotel. It would have been too cool to just happen to bump into Doris Lessing while catching a play in London on the very day I bought her book and getting her signature. What are the odds of that? I had never met her before, and suddenly I meet her on the same day I bought a book by her.

    So anyway, the Nobel Prize in Literature 2007? That's Doris Lessing.

    And its about time, too.

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    All that stuff you buy comes from somewhere and is made by someone. A blog post over at Crooked Timber - which you should be reading* - discusses this problem taking this series of photographs from a Chinese sweatshop as its starting point. It nicely connects the dots between Adam Smith's invisible hands and Karl Marx's commodity fetishism, using the metaphor of invisible hands.

    * [Edit: Holy dangling modifier, Batman! I meant the blog, not the blog post. Although you should read the blog post as well.]

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    In Rainbows

    I just bought the new Radiohead album I'm dying to hear it. Here's the opening track. It's all clappy. Not crappy. Clappy

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    Og forresten kan man se gutta boyz snakke om Georg Johannesens plass på Vestlandsrevyen inntil imorgen rundt kl 19.

    Georg Johannesens plass er* det nye navnet på plassen bak Studentsenteret. Det har vært et opprop.

    * Ok - kommer til å bli. Jeg prøver å få en performativ greie på gang.

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    Litlive #50

    ...er ute nå.

    René Jean Jensen konfronteres med sine egne smaksløker i anmeldelsen av Adda Djørups noveller. I Litlive #50 skriver også Linda Östergaard om Mara Lee, Mai Misfeldt om Thomas Boström, og Astrid Fosvold om Izzet Celasin.*

    Dessuten er Litlives kalender oppdatert med oktober måneds litterære livearrangementer i henholdsvis Norge, Sverige og Danmark. Savner du et arrangement i kalenderen? Send en mail til litlive@litlive.dk.

    Med vennlig hilsen Redaksjonen

    Annelie Axén (S), Mariann Enge (N), Martin Glaz Serup (DK), Martin Grüner Larsen (N) og Thomas Nystrøm (DK).

    Øvrige medarbejdere: Webmaster: Bo Ærenlund Sørensen (DK) Design: Judith Nærland (N)

    Skribenter: Peter Borum (DK), Lars Bukdahl (DK), Susanne Christensen (N), Johan Dahlbäck (S), Astrid Fosvold (N), Henning Gärtner (N), Trond Haugen (N), Jenny Högström (S), René Jean Jensen (DK), Kristine Kabel (DK), Martin Larsen (DK) [the other Martin Larsen], Sissel Lie (N), Kari Løvaas (N), Mai Misfeldt (DK), Ulf Karl Olov Nilsson (S), Nils Olsson (S), Lilian Munk Rösing (DK), Eivind Røssaak (N), Nora Simonhjell (N), Espen Stueland (N), Mikkel Bruun Zangenberg (DK) og Linda Östergaard (S).

    Litlive har i 2007 mottatt støtte fra Nordbok.

    * * *

    (asteriskene indikerer at undertegnede tar av seg redaktørhatten og tar på seg litteratur-på-Blå-hatten)


    ...kan jeg i øvrig bemerke at Litteratur på Blås arrangement om politisk litteratur - der første halvdel var et intervju med Celasin og den andre en debatt mellom Krøger, Wold, Strømme og Engelstad - nå er tilgjengelig som podcast på Litteratur på Blå sine hjemmesider. Det samme er også kanondebatten med Stueland og Aaslestad, som dessverre ble hakket tammere pga. force majeure: Det var 50 % frafall i panelets deltakere grunnet sykdom & dødsfall i familien.

    For å høre podcast: klikk deg inn på litteraturpabla.no, klikk podcast i venstremargen og så er du der.

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    Humiliation ⇒ Terrorism ⇒ Al-Qaeda (⇒ George Bush)

    A while back, I linked to a video of Lawrence Wright talking on Al Qaeda. I finally got the time to watch it - home internet I worship at thy fibre-optic'd feet - and it's even better than I thought. Wright is a commanding public speaker, fluently speaking from a rich reserve of first-hand, historical and statistical knowledge to paint a lucid portrait of the islamic radicalism of the previous 50 years. If you want to have a sensible picture of Islamic terrorism, you should take the hour-and-change out of your day it takes to watch this. If nothing else, watch the first 15 minutes or so, in which the most important points pop up. If you have a little more time, watch the 40 minutes of his prepared speech, and quit after the questions (there are too many not-questions-but-comments (to one of which Wright gives only a delightfully dry "I agree"), but Wright gives interesting, well-composed, eloquently improvised answers).

    And really, we should have a sensible picture of terrorism. Not because terrorism is a threat to us* but because it has become the universal symbol of evil which is used to justify political oppression. When we juxtapose the minor but very real threat of Al-Qaeda with the massive, completely insurmountable political and social problems of which the terrorist organisation is merely a symptom, one realises just how completely and utterly the Bush administration has destroyed any hope of ending radical Islam in our lifetime. In unilaterally and single-mindedly pursuing the military "war on terror", they have exacerbated the demographic, sociological and political problems which are causing the problem they are trying to defeat. Like slamming your fist repeatedly into an anthill to stop the ants from biting you. The increasing alienation of immigrant populations in Europe; the continuuing conflict in Israel/Palestine; world poverty (Islam encompasses roughly 1/5th the world's population, but roughly 1/2 the world's poor); the reinvigoration of Al-Qaeda in Iraq and the general sense of cultural humiliation which Wright describes so vivily. These are the real problems.

    But I don't want to make this a rant against Bush. That's an easy strategy. The problem is far more decentralised and far more subtle than that. The basic premise of Wrights speech is that what Al-Qaeda really is, is a manifestation of cultural humiliation and alienation. The overriding sociological factor of islamic extremists is that they are generally young men who feel alienated from the culture they are in. They find other young men who feel the same way, one thing leads to another, and they go blow something up. This happens easily in societies with little or no social life - 15 of the 19 terrorists on 9/11 were Saudis, you will recall - but it can just as well happen in cultures that have social lives that exclude young men of their religion. In short: the backlash, when it happens, will be easy to blame on the terrorists, but a more correct way of putting what is happening is that we are helping to create the problem ourselves. Sowing the wind, as it were.

    And in the end, it is us here in Europe who will be at the receiving end of the backlash. The gap between the native populations and immigrant populations in Western Europe are widening, and recent events like the Muhammed caricatures of Denmark are just flashpoints in the development of a smug cultural identity founded on intolerance and exclusion. The idea that we can stop globalisation is childish and selfish. The idea that we should combat Islam and muslims - Huntingtons clash of civilisations - is a part of the very structures which produce terrorism and extremism.

    Last words of the film: "I don't think the future in Europe looks very attractive." Boy, no.

    * "More people die in car chrashes every day than died on 9/11", to use a common comparison. Other things that kill more people every year than terrorism: WAR. FAMINE. PLAGUE.

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    Serck på Blå

    Peter Serck kommer på Blå i morgen. Han er en av de forfatterne som jevnlig har produsert interessante bøker, men allikevel ikke får så mye oppmerksomhet som han burde ha, sier de som har lest ham. Jeg gleder meg, men må nok sannsynligvis komme litt seint. Tror dette blir et interessant intervju.
    Peter Serck, 2. oktober kl 19:

    Peter Serck debuterte i 1982 og har siden da utgitt en rekke romaner og fortellinger. Serck anses som en viderefører av den eksistensialistisk orienterte modernismetradisjonen. I forbindelse med dobbeltjubileet - han fyller i år 50 år og har vært forfatter i 25 av dem - vil vi sette fokus på et forfatterskap som fortjener oppmerksomhet. (Ansvarlig: Marius Fossøy Mohaugen)
    En slags jubileumsfest, altså!

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    the daily link

    The daily links:

    An interesting blog post/essay on photographic reality.

    The NY Times, incidentally, has made its archives and all of its current articles available for free now. Which is about time.

    Another blogger at the NY Times: Paul Krugman.. Great stuff. This would have gone into the feedreader, if I still had one. But I don't, because my own computer's network card has failed, so I'm using Ragnfrid's mac and can't make myself at home here.

    The Norwegian literary fanzine magazine Vinduet recently celebrated its 60th birthday. In the otherwise good anniversary edition was an article showing photographs of the working desks of Norwegian writers. I didn't really think they were all that interestin but now I see that the Guardian has been doing it a while (or so it seems - the articles aren't dated) and their articles are actually pretty fascinating, so maybe my peripheral eyes are just blinded by the bright lights of the continental, imperial glory of actual European newspapers.

    On another happy note, were finally, finally getting an internet connection tomorrow. So no more buying bad expensive coffee to sit in cafes with WLAN access whenever I have to pay a bill. Hopefully, this also means I will be able to find the time to start blogging more regularly again.

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