Stockholm. City of Islands, linked by bridges.
Jet lagged. Got a few hours sleep. Fairly quiet here at Färgfabriken today as things slowly ramp up towards the Saturday opening. Heard a few sounds from the machines — everything seems to be working pretty well. The flute-like tones created by blowing air into the pipes is weirdly animal-like. Both the tone and pitch ramp up as one holds the note-switch down — and then the note gradually decays as the pressure decreases. The lower notes especially sound like soft and breathy human or animal moans. Aahhhoooh.
If a cop is chasing you and you're on a motor scooter you can escape by taking off your helmet. It seems the cops might then run the risk of being accused of causing an accident and resulting injury, so they give up the chase.
There have been a number of holdups of Brinks type trucks here recently. No one is ever hurt — though cars are sometimes blown up or set on fire. And the robbers always get away. Maybe they remove their helmets?
Someone told me that the King (or Konig as he is called here) is dyslexic. He is also reported to often confuse places, people and dates. Poor thing.
I watched a few TV shows as I dozed off. A sports program featuring two men racing on a road up a mountain on what looked like short cross country skis with one wheel in front and one in back. Very silly looking — though everyone seemed quite serious about it.
On a neighboring channel was a constant stream of (free) porn. I was greeted by an image of a grinning Asian woman with cum all over her face. I gather this is to prove the “money shot” was for real — not proof of her partner's bad aim.
Had elk, venison and pickled herring to eat so far here. Lovely rich black bread.
Yesterday morning had some tongue for breakfast — bad idea.
Sweden was once the empire in this region. They ruled over the Baltics, Norway, Denmark — the sea was theirs. It is now a distant memory, history taught in schoolbooks and museums. Now there is pride, but little hubris or arrogance, unlike the current U.S., where there is plenty of both.
In some places empire is a recent memory, and there are tinges of regret, sadness, anger and frustration at its passing. The addictive adrenalin of power lingers on, barely. France and England had empires in fairly recent memory. I remember my parents suggesting I learn French as it was, for their generation anyway, the lingua franca, useful almost everywhere.
One senses in these counties remnants of this former power — institutions, bureaucracies, and cultural assumptions that their way is best. Best not just for them, but for everyone. Sadness at the cruel injustice that this obvious, to them, worldwide need for their culture and expertise cannot be acted on without impunity.
Was a lesson learned at the passing of power? Or is there just suppressed anger at the unfairness of the world? Those currently in power always seem to believe that they are immune to the traps and follies that have waylaid their predecessors. Somehow they believe they are different. Not because they have made a scrupulous study of history, but exactly the opposite, because they are ignorant of it.
Does the high school bully become wise with age and curtailed power?
The machines sound great in the Färgfabriken space — it's very echoey and reverberant, so the sound is quite large. The low motor on the floor (Justin's idea?) is deep and Wagnerian (as one TV news cameraman said.) The flutes — air blown into overhead pipes — gives a weird mixture of tones. Reminiscent of some of the bizarre harmonies and tones in some of Oliver Messien's weirder more cosmic compositions.
This morning on a TV interview I chatted pleasantly with the interviewer about the piece and then they moved on to the subject of…globalization!? An obvious segue, no? I suggested there was no such thing — that it is a euphemism for Americanization.
Writing in Foreign Affairs, that journal of illicit sexual dalliances, Gregory Gause gives the results of his study on the relationship between terrorist acts and forms of government. It has been widely preached (and accepted by most, me included) that democracies produce fewer terrorist acts. Well, Prof. Gause added up the numbers and proved it's just not true. In fact, he sates there is no relationship at all between terrorism and any form or government.
So, the idea we have been sold, that in the absence of WMDs the U.S. is in Iraq to foster democracy, which will in turn foster a less fundamentalist, less terrorist-prone region, is simply not true. (Iraq was never a source of terrorism anyway, that was always a sly bit of fake-out propaganda, too.)
In fact, as we have seen, democracy, or maybe just the “steps” that have been introduced so far, has had a marked destabilizing effect on the nation and region.