More dreams

I dreamed a lot this morning, even though I did not sleep that long, and woke up tired. As a compensation I am going to grab the dreams, or what is still left of them.

In the first dream, we were at a work conference, like I was in real life two weeks ago now. But in my dream, staying overnight was optional. In the end I stayed there (bus connections to Møll are terrible). I slept in the room of a female coworker, either that or we just pretended that I did – I don’t remember that part. My boss was scandalized, thinking that we must have had sex. I found that amusing, and so presumably did my female friend, since she went along with the joke.

Much of the second dream is lost. I mostly remember dreaming that one of my brothers was recently divorced, and we talked about this in some detail. He seemed resigned to it already. I hope and pray that it be just a dream. In this age, divorce is so common as to be almost a social custom, and there is little a man can do to prevent it. Now that the great religions of the world have been perverted into lawlessness, there is nothing holding people back from “trading up” spouses much like you get a new house. It is certainly common here in Scandinavia, and it is usually the woman who does it, just like in my dream. Another reason why this is a good age to be single, for those who can.

On two vaguely related notes, the last dream took place in an alternate world where demon-humans lived as a minority among other humans. In the night they were strong and dangerous, and the real humans stayed indoors behind magical protections. But in daylight, the demons were weak and were ill-treated whenever they showed their face. They looked like very ugly humans, deformed and with discolored skin. They did threaten us, however: They were looking forward to a time soon to come, where “that which held back” would be removed, the Dark One would be free, and they would all become as strong as their king in Jerusalem. Then our feeble protections would not keep them from feeding on us at will.

To forestall the end of the human world, some of my friends were active in conservative political activism, for lack of a better word. It was taken for granted – at least by the conservatives – that giving power to liberals was to hasten the rule of the demons. (I am sure many conservatives agree to this even in real life!) I would on occasion help my good friend at the office of the conservatives. The dream ended during just such an occasion. I was affixing labels to envelopes. A teenage girl was hovering around me, trying desperately to be of help even though I did not need it. When someone commented on it, she became rather red. The glue on the labels was of bad quality and they would not stay on. I mentioned I should go home and get my glue stick (these things really existed in the age before electronic communication. In real life I found a dried husk of a glue stick in my office supplies some weeks ago.) My friend told me that the economy of the organization was so bad, they could not afford to pay me for the time it took for me to drive home and fetch it. I switched to English (in order for fewer people to hear it) and told him that I had never taken a cent for my work there – it was all volunteering on my behalf and always would be. This amazed those who understood what I saw.  Conservatives doing something for free seems to have been more alien in their world than in mine.  I hope.

And with that, I woke up.  Now, work.

A dash of hyperlexia?

While hyperlexia is overwhelmingly more common in boys, here is a fictional depiction of a girl from a Japanese animated movie. Her friend is tied up with a garland of flags, and rather than freeing her, this girl is compulsively identifying the nationality of the flags. OK, that is more “autism spectrum” in general, I guess. 

When I was still young, I half-joked that I must have the opposite of dyslexia. Today I know that there is indeed such an opposite. It is called “hyperlexia”, reasonably enough. And it is not considered a good thing.

If you look up hyperlexia on the Net, you will find it described as a rather debilitating disease. Sure, the kids learn to read while they are 2-3 years old, but they don’t understand what they read, and they spend their time performing rituals instead of asking questions or playing with other kids.

I am sure this is right – for some kids.  The ones that are “reported”, so to speak. If your child just learns to read early, and does well in school, has no disturbing tics and generally does not rock the boat, nobody will ever diagnose it in any way. So the reported cases are probably misleading. Not that they are not true, but they represent only those who lack the ability to adjust to the system, and so badly that they and their relatives can’t cover it.

Of course, that is what the name implies. Hyperlexia means “over-reading” or “too much reading”. Well, roughly. Let us not get into lexical detail. But in medical use, “hyper” is not a good thing. I guess there is a reason why Superboy is not called Hyperboy…

As it happens, I seem to only have a mild form of the same syndrome. I am not sure when I learned to read, but it may not have been until the age of 5. I started school at the age of 6, so I know it was well before that, because when I started school, I could read books and newspaper (and did so for pleasure). I could also write on a typewriter, and my spelling and grammar was – from what I am told – more like what other kids have when they finish compulsory schooling, rather than begin it. The content, however, was the utter drivel you would expect of a small boy, or worse. I was certainly not mature for my age.

There was certainly nothing wrong with my reading comprehension, and if I asked less “why, where and when” than other kids, it would be because I had already read why, where and when in the school books of my three older brothers. I was curious in my own way, but I did much time alone (although I was very vocal when I was together with others).

I did not play well with other children, for sure, but there were a couple reasons for this. One, they were idiots. Two, I was small and weak, having had asthma since I was a toddler. (This was before the current asthma epidemic – I did not have any classmates with asthma until high school, I think. And by then I did not have it anymore.) For the duration of my childhood and the next three decades, I was convince that my physical weakness was the reason why I was constantly bullied. And I was, pretty badly too. I was rather frail even when I started school, but during my first three years in school I lost 3 kg (about 6 pounds, I believe) and did not grow at all. This was in no small amount due to my mental state, I believe. School, which I had looked forward to with the highest expectations, turned out to be a nightmare, an ongoing horror with no end in sight.

Knowing those kids – and kids in general – I still suspect that they would have bullied me mercilessly even if I were a saint, simply because they could, since I was small and weak. However, the truth is that I was weird, arrogant, prone to rages despite my weakness, and reveled in humiliating others. So they would probably have ganged up on me and beaten me up even if I were some kind of child titan, simply because I deserved it. But I had no idea of that back then. I had no self-reflection at all. It was far from me. I would not even pretend humility, even if my health depended on it. No humility. Not even in the face of Armageddon. Never humility.

My asthma receded sometime around the age of 10, although I remained smaller and weaker than my classmates for several more years. In high school I gradually began to catch up, and in high school I was no different from average in size, although I still was weaker than others since I had internalized my fear of ever exerting myself. (Exercise would always cause asthma attacks, and indeed still does, although it takes some serious work now.) I also had no physical confidence and was unsure of what I could or could not do, so I remained weak and somewhat clumsy. As an adult I am actually “anti-clumsy” in that I am less likely to collide with people and objects than the average adult, although I may still slip on the ice or stub my toe once in a blue moon.

I had the extremely good luck to go to high school in a place where people still considered academic prowess more important than physical strength. Today, high schoolers are much like children in these matters, and some places it was already like that. But not there. So I had my glory years. I was more or less respected, despite being a bit weird. For example, I did not notice other people’s body language or even facial expression much of the time, and my own facial expressions were exaggerated or disconnected from what I was saying. I have never really understood the need for facial expressions, I guess. After all, books do fine without them.

I have started to use facial expressions later in life though.

So yeah, a dash of hyperlexia, and a dash of being a spoiled brat probably. But it was certainly worth it. Frankly, there is no way those kids I grew up with could have been as good as the books. In truth, they would probably have been a negative influence on my life. Fairly little offense intended, but I don’t think I could possibly been happy living lives like theirs, even lives like they are living now. I was meant for another world, and the bookshelf was my gateway to it.

I guess another word than “hyperlexia” is needed. Perhaps “eulexia”? Good reading? I’m certainly willing to trade a few years of being chased around and bullied for the ability to read well. Even though I have now realized that I may not have had to make that trade in full, as much as I did. But I would probably not have been able to reflect on myself back then, even if I had read about it. Thank the Light that I did read about it later, though.

More sofa

By popular request (OK, 1 request), a more detailed picture of the sofa. We turned the pillows upside down, and then they had a different pattern. I actually preferred the green pillows, but I care only infinitesimally. I am just using it to sit on, if that.

So far I’ve been sitting near the fire though. This night I think I fired a bit too hard, for there was a vaguely chemical smell, probably from the paint getting hotter than it has been before. Nothing caught fire though and the smell faded eventually.

I was sick all last night (thanks to the soup, no doubt) and slept most of the day, so not much to write about here.  Working on some philosophical stuff again, but no idea whether I will publish it or just keep it for my own use. Iceberg, remember?


The German word “salongfähig” is well known here in Norway, with a meaning vaguely similar to “politically correct”. It literally means something that fits in a salon, a place where cultivated people gather to talk.

However, in Norwegian the word “salong” is also used about a set of living room furniture, and the heart of this is the sofa. (We do not have a word for “couch” in Norwegian, only sofa and divan.  The Arab word “sofa” is used almost interchangeably with the Persian word “divan”, although there seems to be a vague consensus that divans are better suited for napping in and sofas better suited for just sitting.  Sofa seems to be winning and may remain the only word in use. Divan has been retreating internationally as well, from what I read.)

The lack of a proper Germanic word for these things is no doubt due to the fact that our ancestors were quite austere. Some variant of the word “bench” is quite common in Germanic languages. In Norwegian it is called “benk”, but sitting on them is no longer comfortable enough for our skinny rumps.

The other mandatory part of the “salong” is of course a couple matching living room chairs. I believe it has been possible to buy more than two, but in today’s small families that is probably rare.

The third and final component is the low living room table, “salongbord” in Norwegian. It is used to put coffee cups on while drinking coffee in the living room, as Norwegians like to do.  But I bought this set used, and there was no table with it, for reasons unknown. This suits me well, as I don’t drink coffee. I would probably just have covered it with magazines anyway, or even computers.  This time, I intend to have no big computers in the living room, only laptops at most.

Instead, I would like to sit reasonably near the wood stove with a good book. I find that my home office, completely crowded with computers, is not so conductive to reading books, since it puts me in a computer frame of mind just by entering. Wood stove and living room furniture seems a more suitable environment.

Whether that will be enough to lure me away from the computers is another matter.

IKEA has just this week opened a shop outside Kristiansand, and people are swarming the place. As a result of many people buying new furniture, you can get great used furniture cheaply.  Today’s very durable purchase set me back about NOK 1000, or $175, but well over half of this was fuel for my friend’s van. He lives in the province east of this one, but came all the way to pick me up, help me buy the furniture, drive it home and help me carry it. So he certainly deserved it.

In all fairness, it was his idea too.  He is the only person who occasionally visits me anyway, but it was probably not for his own sake. He is used to austerity, as an old-fashioned Christian he spends much of his time in prayer and fasting, not to mention celibacy, and hard work to earn his own money and give to those in need. So he probably does not mind the hard folding chair that was all I had before. But if he thinks I should become a little more “salongfähig” in this regard, I don’t see it as a great loss, even though I personally live more like a porcupine than a human socially speaking.

And at least it let me write a diary entry that humans can actually understand. I hope.

Green winter in October

Today I was reading something interesting on the bus and drove past my stop. But on my way home I saw this, which was to become my new desktop picture.

For the past two decades, the normal weather in winter here on Norway’s south coast has been what we call “green winter”:  Temperature hovering around zero, colder when it is clear but warmer when water comes down, so that it comes as rain (or at most slush) rather than snow.  There is snow occasionally, and once in a while lots of it. But after a few weeks or sometimes just days, it rains away again.

Last winter was not like that at all.  Snowdrifts as tall as me, about 6 feet, near the house. Slightly lower snow drifts blocking the road, and filling up overnight if I shoveled them away.  Icy cold week after week, freezing whatever water pipes were not running.  (The shower in particular seem to have only off and on mode, no trickle.) The winter before was also fairly cold, although not quite that intense.  I suspect this one will be even colder.  Certainly the fall has been the coldest I can remember since I moved to the South Coast more than 30 years ago.

The temperature now in October has been typical of “green winter”, but without snow yet.  Still, clear nights of frost and rainy days the temperature of a fridge. Actually it is not raining much here even now.  Tonight it is cold and clear again.  But it is probably the rainiest part of the year after all.

September was already in full autumn mode.  Normally some of the summer would linger on, or we would get an “Indian summer” a little into the month. Not so this time.  It was chilly from the start, and ended at the border of winter, where we have been ever since.  I’d “blame” the volcanic ash cloud from Iceland, but that would probably be mostly wrong. There was no ash cloud last year, and it was still colder than usual. There is probably some longer weather pattern involved.

I have enough free wood in the shed for a long winter if that is how it is going to be. I doubt I’ll be able to heat my home office with just my computers much longer…

A different picture of the Buddha

Today I wanted to share this leaked picture from the anime The Rebirth of Buddha. The anime is made by Toei Company and Kofuku-no-Kagaku (Science of Happiness / Happy Science), based on the book by Ryuho Okawa.

Anyway, I really like this picture. It is a bit like an icon. (In the classic sense, not the computer sense.) It is the artist’s depiction of the Buddha as he might look if he had been born in the world in our time.

Of course, the Buddha might have been born into one of several different bodies, in different possible places and at slightly different possible times, and still have had essentially the same ministry. The Buddha is not a historical accident, not simply a product of his genes and his upbringing. Of course these provide the flavor and the form, the container if you will. But it is the deliberate choices he makes, driven by his spirit and his destiny, that makes him unfold as a Buddha.

Of course, most of us are not the Buddha, but something similar holds true for us. If we live for many decades, our own choices will more and more shape our lives, and our inheritance less and less, for better or for worse. If you have a strong spirit, your life will be that much less accident and more choice. Or that is what I believe, based on what I have seen.

Do you want to try the thing he is doing in this picture? It may be a bit hard to see because of all the light, but basically here is what you do:  You put your palms together in front of you, firmly but not hard, at a natural angle. Close your eyes, breathe deeply, and calm your mind. Just will it to be calm and quiet, don’t nervously check up on it. Now open your heart and emit a bright, warm light.  Well, at first it will probably be pretty weak, but don’t worry. It’s not like you are aiming to impress anyone. After all, this light is only visible to spiritual sight.

Then, what is the point of it? Well, it is Light. It drives away Darkness. It causes happiness. Anyway, if you don’t want to, nobody is forcing you.

Each of us has in the center of our spiritual heart a connection from Heaven, like plumbing or electric wire. Since you are human, you probably have this whether you know it or not.  Much like you can turn the tap and water comes out with force even if you have not dragged it up from a well yourself and lifted it to great height, or you turn a switch and a light bulb lights up even if you are not running around turning a dynamo yourself. It comes from outside but it only shows up inside, like the light in the light bulb does not come in through the window to be reflected in the bulb, but is still not a product of the bulb itself. Does that make sense?

Another NaNoWriMo idea

Not your average undead warrior: This is how I imagine the awakening of Loki.  (Picture from the entirely unrelated anime HSD Kenichi.)

Instead of words of timeless wisdom, here’s a page of fantasy drivel. It is something I could write for NaNoWriMo, if I am still around and able to write by then.

The setting for this story is Norway sometime around our age. To teenage cousins, a boy and a girl, are contacted by an elf. The elf is not quite what they expected, even apart from being real. Almost real, at least. It can disappear, passes through things, and appear again on the other side. The reason for this, the elf tells them, is that it comes from another dimension: The world of Yggdrasil.

It turns out that the world described in the Norse mythology was actually real, just not in our reality. It is somewhat unclear whether it always existed, or was brought into being by the power of the collective imagination and belief of the Germanic peoples of northern Europe. Anyway, it is in trouble. The gods have left.

It appeared that Loki, the trickster god, had a change of heart eventually. He asked the gods to free him from his chains just once so that he could undo his life’s greatest mistake, his sons Fenrir the Wolf and Jörmungand, the Midgard Serpent, the monster which encircles the world and is fated to kill Thor during Ragnarök, the end of the world. Without its mightiest defender, the gods will not be able to overcome their enemies, led by just Loki, and the world will be destroyed and reborn. So say the sagas. But according to our elf visitor, Loki was freed but put under strong guard as he went to do battle against his own sons. In the ensuing fight, Loki was killed, but not before killing Fenrir and mortally wounding the serpent. A fitting end for the great oath-breaker.

With the greatest enemies of the gods dead, the Aesir and Vanir pressed their advantage, bullying Hel (Loki’s daughter and ruler of the shades of the dead) to give up Baldur, who (according to the gods at least) did not rightly belong there.  Baldur, the god of heroism and purity, went to Muspellheim to negotiate with Surtr, king of the Fire Giants, who was slated to set the world on fire at the end of days.  Impressed with Baldur’s personality and earnestness, Surtr swore by his sword to not destroy the world and to keep the Giants away from Midgard – the world of men – in exchange for the gods also leaving Midgard alone forever.

This done, and the future secured, the gods decided to leave the dimension and ascend, leaving the lesser races to rule themselves.  On the completion of their ritual, every one of the old gods disappeared, their grand halls empty and gathering dust.

It was all a Nemesis plot.

Loki had prepared a spell of soul exchange, a spell not known by the gods, and had, a heartbeat before his death, changed souls with one of the hindmost of the Einherjar (immortal soldiers) who guarded him.  These inhabitants of Valhall were not part of the ascension, and over time they became bored.  Restless immortal armies are not a good thing, especially when one among them is always spreading rumors, making them dissatisfied with their lot and feeling betrayed and abandoned.  Loki, still under his other name, eventually became their leader, and under his masterful strategies they conquered the other worlds and set up a military dictatorship encompassing almost all of the Nine Worlds of Yggdrasil.  Only then did Loki reveal his true identity, and is now ruling with an iron fist.

Some of the Einherjar serve Loki gladly, enjoying their power to dominate others and take what they want. Others serve him out of fear. There is an underground resistance, and parts of Utgard are nominally free, being old allies of Loki. Vidblainn, the holy refuge of the Light Elves, is still untainted, but none but the purest souls can enter there. Surtr still holds the Sword of Fire, and is the only being Loki still treats with respect.  As Loki plots the invasion of Earth, Surt likewise ponders whether to destroy our world rather than let it fall into Loki’s hands.

This is where our heroes come in. Descendants of the Norse gods through the ancient kings, the bloodlines have diverged and converged innumerable times over the centuries, but by the strange weaving of the Norns (Fates), the old blood has gradually concentrated until in these two it is almost back to its full strength. Frode and Fröydis are, in short, the last heirs of the Aesir and Vanir.

The Elven resistance has cobbled together a spell that lets them travel to Alfheim, home of the Light Elves. From there, it is up to them to travel the Nine Worlds and rally the races as the rightful rulers of the land, to throw off the usurper and make peace with Surtr before it is too late, before Earth along with the worlds of Yggdrasil is thrown into Ragnarök.

Hey, that’s 803 words just describing the basic premise.  Should not be too hard to get to 50 000. And if I should fall short, it would be easy to add some youthful lust … eh, teenage romance.

Actually, this may be my excuse to write a NaNo in my mother tongue, New Norwegian. It is not like people outside Scandinavia know about the Aesir, the Jotnar or Yggdrasil after all.

Paper cutting

Here is one of my best friend… (sometime in the 1990es)

“Kim Larsen is forever” writes the person who has uploaded this YouTube video. That is highly doubtful, but there is a certain amount of time warping inherent in this song. Or perhaps just me.

I was certainly not surprised to hear it again on the bus radio this week.  Not just because it is enshrined as an evergreen here in the Nordic countries, but because the “vocals in my head” have performed it quite a bit recently.

Yes, there is singing inside me most of the time. Have a problem with that? It has been that way for years.  It can be a bit distracting when trying to concentrate on intellectual topics, but usually it is possible to quiet them for a while, although they come back.  Not just the earworm phenomenon (which, incidentally, is not documented in any writing before the age of Edison’s phonograph at the very least, possibly the gramophone.) The vocals in my head are most of the time not related to what I have heard recently, and occasionally related to what I will hear in the near future, as in the example above. Sometimes they are singing songs I have never heard before and will most likely never hear again, unless I record myself playing or singing them, which I stopped doing years ago.

So, the vocals in my head were singing this song, and a bit later I heard it on the radio.  And it made me remember, way back to the early 1980es, around the time when this video clip was originally recorded.

I bought a music cassette (this was before the age of the CD, though it was probably invented). If I remember correctly – I don’t think I wrote about it in my journal – this particular song was the only reason I bought the cassette. I enjoyed it greatly, although I did not agree with it in the least.  There are some songs where the music is good and the lyrics are awful (“Hey Soul Sister” by Train comes to mind) but they lend themselves particularly well to vocals. These should be performed in Simlish, in my opinion.  For you Americans, I suppose Danish does the same thing.  But this song is not actually one of them. The lyrics have power, deep poetry, although they are not true for me.  I knew that even then.

I threw away the cassette after I had a visit by some severely underage friends. Yes, they were kids, and deeply religious kids, and were shocked to find this cassette at my place. If they had been as innocent as they thought, they would not have recognized it. And if they had been as innocent as I, they would not have minded.  But they were innocent in the way kids are, which is different from the innocence you acquire after you have lost your illusions of innocence. And so, for their sake, I threw away one of my favorite songs, although my heart was not in it.

The next time I remember this song is when I got my last kiss, in the mid 1980es. A coworker asked me (insistently)  to join a number of other coworkers for a party at her place. I was set to decline, but a fellow economic conservative whom I liked a good deal was also going, and I did not want to leave her alone among liberals. So I went, albeit with a certain fear in my heart. It was while we danced to this song, the homeowner and I among others, not the conservative – it was while we danced to this song that I got my last kiss, and quite a surprise it was too.

‘So that is why the song made such an impression of me’, I thought back then. ‘Because of what would happen tonight.’ Nothing more happened that night, actually, except that I was attacked at the bus station on my way home and moderately beat up by a random drunk neurotypical.


“Papirsklip” does not mean paper clip, as most Scandinavians would probably translate it. It does not even mean paper cut, as in the ones you get in your fingers when you cut them on sharp paper edges. I have had a lot of those. Rather it means cutting out pieces of paper with scissors, in this case silhouettes.

“When now my world seems cold and desolate
I find comfort in my dearest treasure*
cutting motifs with dreams and scissors
paper silhouettes of the finest sort.”

(*: Min kæreste skat – the vocals in my head habitually pronounce it “min kærestes kat”, meaning I find comfort in my fiancee’s cat. You’d think they don’t take this entirely seriously… Of course, my dearest treasure is very unlike his.)

“Here is one of my father and my mother,
they who gave me to this earth:
Loving kisses and a scent of jasmine,
always sunshine and  ‘my sweetest’*.

(*: term of endearment, roughly like “honey”, I believe, when addressing your child or someone you love very much. Neurotypicals are said to use these, and kisses, spontaneously.)

“Life is long, happiness is short:
Blessed is the one who dares give it away.”

(WTH, Kim Larsen? Even in 1983 I knew that the life is short, but happiness lasts forever. Otherwise, who would dare give away anything, much less their life? Correspondingly, the vocals in my head are transposing the two: Lykken er lang, livet er kort.)

“Here is one of my best friend:
Countless cuts, again and again.
A never finished or completed motif:
Black silhouette of the woman in my life.

Life is long, happiness is short:
Blessed is the one who dares give it away.

Domine et sanctus*…
Domine et sanctus…”

(Latin for “Lord and Holy” [Ghost?], presumably the beginning of a prayer, which would be a hint well taken at this point.)

The rest of the song repeats earlier elements.


Listening to this song repeatedly, I am filled with a subtle sadness. I feel that it describes all too well the life of a large number of people, who live in the upper reaches of the fourth dimension (that is to say, time.) They are capable of realizing that happiness exists, but though it is prized, they cannot hold on to it. Because they don’t have the key to the fifth dimension, self-reflection, they can for the most part of their “long” life only experience happiness by mind-traveling to a happier past or a hoped-for future. Happiness is not a basic building block  of their ongoing life. And yet they persevere. That is admirable, in its own way.


Dreaming about pregnancies again. It’s been a while.

Yesterday morning, while sleeping at the hotel, I had a memorable dream. I dreamed that somehow the rumor had spread that I was going steady with a nurse. The story grew over time, so that after a suitable time we were supposedly not only living together but also had a baby. This amused me, and I did nothing to kill the rumors, if that is even possible. But evidently even this was not enough…

One day I saw a young woman outside a house, painting or something while wearing pajamas. She was quite young, probably less than 20. At least she looked that way, being too skinny to be attractive to me. But another guy was pestering her, a local of that world whom I vaguely knew, who was drunk again. She was standing on something so that her middle was nearly even with his eyes and I saw that he was unable to resist. As he reached out to touch her, I snapped a picture with my mobile phone. She barked at him and shooed him away, and he also became aware of me taking the picture (which was the point) so he was shamed and left her. Instead he followed me, arguing that I was hardly in a position to criticize other people when I myself had made a younger woman pregnant while I had a fiancee and a baby at home. I was like WTF, and he went into some detail so I understood who he was talking about. It would have been amusing except probably not for her. Rumors had it the younger girl would be having an abortion, so of course her lack of a baby or even a visible pregnancy would actually just verify the story for them.

There was some more, about the pictures on my phone, which were several of friends and family, but the dream began to wind down from here.

I don’t see any deeper meaning, except for this: The girl was wearing blue-striped pajamas very similar to my (in)famous old PJs, which extremely regular readers saw repeatedly when the journal was young. A subtle reminder that with our dreams, not only are we the director, but we also play all the roles.

A soul in a sick body

Living in the world, under the Light.

Thanks to years of journaling, I had at least a theoretical warning. I have noted through the years that I usually get sick the night or at most the day after I return from a trip. Whether it has lasted two days or a week, the symptoms are still the same: Queasiness and loose bowels to border on diarrhea, and a generic feeling of malaise.  I thought for a while that the train ride home had something to do with it, but I had pretty much given up that idea already. So I was not surprised that it happened tonight too, despite traveling with bus and not very far (although further again than to work).

My current theory is that the body is flushing the unusual stuff I have eaten, so it is ready to return to the usual diet now that I have returned home. In this case, two days of cafeteria and hotel food, plus some snacks, but the snacks are actually the most normal part of it.  I doubt either the cafeteria or the hotel would serve anything that would give us food poisoning. Sure, it happens, even in Norway, but it is bad PR so commercial establishments go out of their way to avoid it.

Nor did I eat any meat, although I took a quarter of an egg for lunch today. Over the last few years I have been eating less and less meat, not because my religion specifically forbids it, I just find it distasteful. I feel that dining on the corpses of dead animals is something that should be reserved for dire emergency. If this was a moral standpoint, I wouldn’t be eating milk products either, since modern agriculture does not retire cows in a dignified manner, much less their calves. As I said, I just find meat distasteful, and to a slightly lesser degree fish.

In reality, milk makes up a fairly large part of my diet in various forms. Come to think of it, not eating yogurt at all when I usually eat it at least daily was probably a bad idea. The gut flora would naturally go wild. The strange part is that it did not do it until I came back. Now, this time it was just two days, but I have been away for up to a week in the past (when spending Christmas with my friends) and while I did have some agitation of the bowels, it was very rarely on the scale I experienced once I got home.  Honestly, my best guess is that the deeper parts of my brain recognize that I am home and tell my digestive tract to get rid of the weird stuff so I can go back to a normal diet with a fresh start.

Being mentally prepared, I have felt somewhat less panicky than I usually do during the onset of a sickness.  Still, I am giving some thought to the benefits and malefits of continued life in the body.


Of course, in real life God has a lot of other things to think about too, like how my life or death would impact other people or the carbon dioxide content in the atmosphere and a host of things I cannot even begin to imagine. It is not all about me, except up here in my small deluded head. But that’s where I report from…

And in my head, living for several more decades would be good for my soul even if I continued to play computer games, read blogs and work at a job I am not very good at. Why? Because this life is mostly harmless, and the more harmless decades I can put between me and my childhood and youth of fear, anger and hate, the better.

Much of my time then was filled with a horrifying darkness that is, in essence, a kind of hell. Buddhists seem to call this the “hell of strife”, in which people wander in fear and hate, attacking each other and with each confrontation becoming more certain of the others’ evil, without noticing their own. This was how it was with me.  Even if I had been good, I would probably still have been attacked, but I was not good. Quite the opposite. Sticks and stones may break my bones, but my words hurt other people, and I either did not think about it or enjoyed it immensely, depending on whom. I considered myself a lily among thorns or something. A saint among demons.

I may wish that I had been told the Truth at a much earlier age, but realistically, I would probably not have been ready for it. And meeting it before I was ready, I would probably have become immunized to it, in whole or in part, excusing myself and locking it away as something I had already met and rejected. And so I would have been stuck in the dark, for who knows how long.  But as it was, the Light eventually came to me at a time when I was open enough for it, around the age of 15, in my grandfather’s rocking chair, while reading a small tract by Elias Aslaksen.

For years after this, the harvest of those years threw a dark shadow over my life.  Even in my 20es, my dreams were routinely filled with fear and hate and murder. I dreamed about killing innumerable nameless men. And not in any kind of meaningful context, like saving my country or protecting the innocent. It was fear and rage, mostly fear from what I remember. Kill them before they could kill me. With guns, ax, knife, stones, even my bare hands.  Night after night sometimes, certainly it seems very often now that I look back.

Not satisfied with ruling my nights, the darkness sometimes shot into the day, suddenly and unexpectedly. Some small event might trigger it, even just a thought, but sometimes it would just burst into my consciousness for no reason that I can remember: A sudden vision of myself opening fire on bystanders, driving a car into a crowd, stabbing someone over and over, kicking their head against the concrete until it broke.  Thoughts like that, sudden, nightmarish, almost insane.  Then moments later I would catch myself and shudder at the hellish visions.  And I learned to not trust myself, as I had already learned to not trust others.

Things have changed. I still set bullies on fire, in City of Heroes, but I no longer have the same feelings I used to have. Rather, my recent characters of that type are wreathed in a white, purifying soulfire that burns away the darkness in my enemies, or that is how I perceive it. The actual game mechanics have not changed, but my way of seeing it has, and the graphics and play style corresponds to that. I fight not for revenge, but to protect the innocent and purify the guilty.  ^_^

Be that as it may, there may be limits to how long I am going to enjoy even that game, though I know not exactly by now.  But I have noticed that for each passing season, I find it harder to return to Age of Conan, a game that is a masterpiece of lifelike graphics (it was at least for a time the only game with a separate butt size slider, albeit limited in scope). Unfortunately the atmosphere of the game is very dark, and very much like the aforementioned Hell of Strife.

Described in few words, the basic gameplay is the same as in City of Heroes: Defeat enemies, either on your own or preferably together with others. But Age of Conan is, as befits the novels from which it is derived, a dark and treacherous place. One man’s hero is another man’s villain. There is a delight in destruction, blood splattering from severed heads to rain on the inside of your screen, and many of the classes either consorting with demons or gaining strength from acts of destruction, stuff like that.  It is hard to point out each detail, but there is a subtle aura of darkness and treacherous magic that pervades the game world. I find it repellent now. The current me, whose eyes are set on the Realm of Light, find such an atmosphere harder and harder to bear with each passing season.

I read a book last week, after the glowing recommendation of my online friend Alistair Young, a.k.a the Cerebrate. (Unlike me, his official name is not unique in the world. Really, does it cost that much to add a name to become unique? I would happily have done it, but unless one of my relatives does something crazy, there is and will only be one Magnus Itland in the world. And the world is probably quite happy with that.

Be that as it may, the book was a work of fiction, the first in the Dresden Files series of supernatural detective stories. Wizard Private Investigator more exactly.  When Mr Young loves something, I have found that I usually like it, admire it or at the very least respect it. This also came to pass. I did not like the book, but I found it very well written.  The reason why I did not go right ahead and buy the next was this: It was a dark world, with copious amounts of fear and death. Sure, so is real life for some people, especially in countries with war or civil war.  But that is not entertainment. It is not something we immerse ourselves in for our enjoyment.  The book did indeed remind me of Age of Conan, although somewhat less so.

And that is when I realized that I have begun to change further than I did simply by the passing of the years and the fading of the memories. That some kind of anchor for my soul has gone ahead of me, a possible future self perhaps, beckoning to me from the brightness of the Realm of Light, a barely audible song about coming home.

“But I’m not ready yet” to quote Chris de Burgh in his song Living in the World.  (Lyrics and temporary streaming for my friends).  I am pretty sure de Burgh also has his home in the Realm of Light at the least, as can be glimpsed in the sheer wingspan of his soul. But for him, as for me, it is still a question of whether we will return there. And I’m not ready yet. Probably.

I am still shakeable. My light still flickers when my body is darkened by illness. I want it to shine brightly even then, but I know there are still limits to how much I can take.  I want to live in the world with my anchor in the Light. I want to keep reading the saints and sages of the past and present, I want to work, and play, and share, and watch my life grow like a plant until it can bear fruit for those who will survive me. Until my white light can burn more brightly when the lamp that carries it cracks and start breaking up.  But I am fairly sure I am not ready yet.