how it works

Writing: shitty first drafts. Butt in chair. Just do it. You own everything that happened to you. You are going to feel like hell if you never write the stuff that is tugging on the sleeves in your heart — your stories, visions, memories, songs: your truth, your version of things, in your voice. That is really all you have to offer us, and it’s why you were born.

– Anne Lamott


an image a day

Where do old ships go when they die?

You know my love for beaches, for long stretches of land disappearing into the sea. For sand and salt water, empty places where the wind blows your mind out.

The undisturbed beach is like paradise, a dream only some of us can experience. Far too many beaches are like hell, places for severe pollution and extremely dangerous work, places where the richest of us leave our scrap:


Workers carry a rope line to fasten a decommissioned ship at the Alang shipyard in the western Indian state of Gujarat
(Amit Dave/Reuters)

So far, 262 large commercial vessels have been sold for breaking this year, including 151 end-of-life ships that were beached in South Asia, most of which ended up in Alang or Mumbai in India (69 ships) and Chittagong in Bangladesh (66 ships). Only 16 end-of-life vessels have been sold to Pakistan so far. All together, the three South Asian countries accounted for 58% of the number of ships dismantled in the first quarter of 2015.

Tankers, cruise liners and other old vessels are crammed onto beaches and stripped down by hundreds of unskilled workers using simple tools such as blowtorches. Chemicals leak into the ocean when the tide comes in.

There is also a human cost: the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai estimates that some 470 workers have died in the past 20 years in accidents in Alang-Sosiya, the world’s largest stretch of ship-breaking beaches, in Gujarat. Some 35,000 mostly migrant and unskilled workers operate there.

Edward Burtynsky: Shipbreaking 38 Chittagong, Bangladesh 2000

Obviously we would not let something like this happen in Europe, but in the poorer parts of Asia – who cares?!


I know the quality of these images are lousy – but I’ll show you what/who I encountered on my walks today anywayIMG_1342In the middle of the pond is a family of ducks, in the background an almost invisible grey heron
A pair of swans fixing their feathers
IMG_1354 Ducks swimming through rushesIMG_1358 3 roe deers grazingIMG_1360

following the river to the sea

SAM_6855SAM_6854 SAM_6825SAM_6824 Ognaelva is a beautiful, but rather small salmon river. In 2013 ca 4300 kg of salmon was caught, with an average weight of 2,2 kg per fish.
SAM_6822 SAM_6810

Fishing is not open until June – anyways I prefer walking by the shore, especially out of season.


This post made me want to take a closer look at Rita Felski’s book Uses of Literature (2008). Felski’s intention is to bridge the gap between literary theory and common-sense beliefs about why we read literature.

Uses of Literature deals with four key elements of the reading experience: recognition, enchantment, knowledge, and shock. These four recall, as she acknowledges, the four “venerable aesthetic categories” of anagnorisis, beauty, mimesis, and the sublime. As I read this text, it is also of great value to the way we experience visual arts.

Since reading Alain de Botton’s Art as Therapy I have become more and more interested in the uses of art. I do not – as de Botton – see art as therapy, but I do believe art has an important function in everyday life, both on an individual an a societal level. But, as Felski notes, it is really not comme il faut to speak of the use of literature – or art.


Jeff Wall, Men Waiting, 2007 © Jeff Wall

In her second chapter – Enchantment – Felski discusse the presumed problems of getting too involved in art, which one easily gets accused of if one wants to discuss the use of art.

For literary critics, she says, keeping one’s distance has been crucial. How can we exercise judgement, how can we critique a text’s ideological entanglements, if we are absorbed by its subliminal and mysteriously enchanting aspects? We would descend to the level of the child transfixed by the television cartoon or by the advertisement for the latest toy, our critical faculties disabled, ourselves deluded. Critics have historically tended to treat enchantment as something to which only “weaker” beings –women, children, gay people – fall victim, not the alert, stout-hearted male critic.

Felski sees things differently, she says:

Modern enchantments are those in which we are immersed but not submerged, bewitched but not beguiled, suspensions of disbelief that do not lose sight of the fictiveness of those fictions that enthrall us. Such enchantments are magical without requiring the intervention of the supernatural, reminders of the persistence of the mysterious, wondrous, and perplexing in a rationalized and at least partly secularized world.

Enchantment matters because one reason that people turn to works of art is to be taken out of themselves, to be pulled into an altered state of consciousness. While much modern thought relegates such hyper-saturations of mood and feeling to the realm of the child-like or the primitive, the accelerating interest in affective states promises a less prejudicial and predetermined perspective. The experience of enchantment is richer and more multi-faceted than literary theory has allowed; it does not have to be tied to a haze of romantic nostalgia or an incipient fascism. Indeed, enchantment may turn out to be an exceptionally fruitful idiom for rethinking the tenets of literary theory. Once we face up to the limits of demystification as a critical method and a theoretical ideal, once we relinquish the modern dogma that our lives should become thoroughly disenchanted, we can truly begin to engage the affective and absorptive, the sensuous and somatic qualities of aesthetic experience.

The sensuous and somatic qualities of aesthetic experience; this is exactly what I’m trying to find an appropriate language for –

schöner gibts nicht

  • This aria, which is also known by its popular name, “Dido’s Lament,” is from the opera Dido and Aeneas by English Baroque composer Henry Purcell (1659-1695), with the libretto by Nahum Tate.

  • Dido and Aeneas is based on the mythological story of Dido, Queen of Carthage and the Trojan prince Aeneas, and her despair at his abandonment. It is based on Book IV of Virgil’s Aeneid.


important ps: