Sunday, January 16, 2011

"Today I saw" by Olav H. Hauge

Slightly related to the previous post of leaves and daily life is this poem by Olav H. Hauge; wry, simple and almost short enough to take in at one glance.

Today I saw

Today I saw
two moons,
one new
and one old.
I have a lot of faith in the new moon.
But it's probably just the old.


In the original Norwegian:

I dag såg eg

I dag såg eg
tvo månar,
ein ny
og ein gamal.
Eg har stor tru på nymånen.
Men det er vel den gamle.


The reason I linked this poem with leaves is that one of the collections of translated poems is called Leaf-huts and Snow Houses (translated by Robin Fulton).

Anyway, this poem is, as mentioned, short and simple. But still quite fun and appealing. And to me it feels like the joining of the short, straighforward and tough style of the Nordic sagas, combined with the Japanese or Eastern style of putting as few words to a phenomenon as possible.

Of course, this poem is also called modernist. By the young Norwegian poets at the time (60's and 70's, I guess) this was viewed as one of Hauge's "concretist" poems, part of the most modern poetry in those days. Which again takes us back to the topic of time: Ancient Eastern, Viking age saga or modernist/concretist poem. All can be ascribed to the same few lines.

I suspect the well-read Hauge himself found this, secretly, to be quite amusing.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Leafy living

Well, well. I just had to put this house on my blog. Poetry of all shapes appeals to me. This house, exterior and interior, speaks to me like a wildly inventive, fun and bubbly children's poem. The image I first saw was that of the living room with the leaf shaped windows, and I just felt a whoosh of  joyful childishness. How fun would it be to grow up in a house like this? I do like straight lines and clean surfaces, but oh! do I enjoy the leaf motif - the feeling of it is spreading through my body as I write this; organic and bendy and natural and supple.
Det tok litt tid for Åbo (Turku) kommune å finne en tomt til «Life on a Leaf», men da de omsider fant en tomt, var den perfekt. Huset ligger tett ved Åbos skjærgård, i et naturområde ti minutter med bil fra sentrum.
This kind of enthusiasm tells me that the child I was, enthralled by fairy tales and convinced of the magic of forests and landscapes, still lurks within. The happiness evoked by these images is in direct contact with my young side, that is, me as a child. Which puts everything about the linearity of time and the reliability of chronometers to the test.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Textus, web

It has been a while. It has been turmoil and peace, upheaval and stability. Mostly stability, and moving into new territories closing up to real, live me.

Sounding mysterious? Well, it is difficult to describe the movement of life, especially life that happens to you, the eye of the storm; the feeling of standing still although whirlwinds batter about you.

The introduction of this post reminds me a bit of Dickens' "best of times, worst of times" line. This trope, paradox, is something one has to be human to understand, understandably -- to go beyond the literal meaning of the words. One aspect of literature, be it lyric, narrative or dramatic texts, is that it is created for humans by humans. All very evident, but when you think about it some, this is actually a rather comforting thought. We create some rooms together which are not strictly bent to business or survival or competition or dry communication, we create a common meeting place where "unreal" storylines and other art experiences unfold. Movies, painting, music, sculpture - all created not out of strict necessity, but out of abundance. And these art forms create new rooms, new dimensions to that of being human.

Literature -- texts -- can never be interpreted by machines or programmes the way humans can. It is a kind of web (which is what 'text' literally means; textus from the Latin, for web or woven cloth) holding human colours -- and thereby bringing glimpses of the divine.

Different literary texts are different conduits for thought, realizations, discoveries, mysteries and deep delvings into yourself, through the tracks others have left behind in writing. Is this the most ingenious invention ever? Writing as a technique is one thing, but the development of writing into an artform, now that is something we humans should not  be ashamed of.

Of course, metaphor is at the base of this -- or rather, metaphor in all its variations (allegory, symbolism etc). You don't need texts to specifically address development (spiritual or intellectual alike) in order for it to happen. From what I've already written, this should not be too hard to deduce (or from what everyone already knows), but the simplicity of it is just seductive. You can take this text of Borges as an example. It is practically a parable, precisely a text written in one fashion, saying something else, which you have to be deeply into humanity to understand.

Another thing I find brilliant about literature is that it can bring about experience without you physically having been in a situation from which to learn what you can through reading. It is practically some kind of telepathy, a handing over of information from complete strangers, offering a possibility of learning just about anything you set your mind to. And what you can learn, from just a little poem! an unexpected joining of words, phrases, images! This is equally brilliant, the unknown worlds which can be opened uniquely within you, which again can lead to other works of art, or useful ideas, or in some way better your life or your relationships -- or just open you to something new, which can lead to another paradigm within yourself.

Also, one often has an intuitive understanding, or a hunch, of the direction in which to move.With your net of information, knowledge - or rather knowledge of information - you are your own guide, and should take your own impulses seriously. If you get a strong pull towards a specific author, like for example J. L. Borges (to use him as an example again - he seems to hold that mysterious power of endless possibility in his texts), there might very well be something his words can offer you at that particular time. It has happened to me several times.

Of course, being in such a frame of mind might often mean being open for new experiences in just about every  way ("actual" or read - the same thing, really), but my point here is simply to follow your own ...guts, I guess, or intuition to put it more poetically.  Most often, there is some kind of level of things you seek to understand, more or less consciously, which can be learnt by several means. If you don't follow what might seem like unimportant whims, or the pull you feel towards certain things, you will probably seek to learn that same thing in a different way, through a different medium, another time. One way of looking at this is that your soul is seeking to unfold in all possible ways. The human spectrum is unimaginably comprehensive, unimaginably rich.

"We are stardust, we are golden"? Yes, but also every other hue and quality inbetween. Which is very human, deeply real.