Culture

What’s not to love?

What’s not to love?

September 1, 2020
/ / /

Two years ago I reclaimed lindy hop dancing into my life. A beginner weekend course (a refresher from the few years I danced lindy hop almost twenty years prior), and then classes for three semesters and social dancing at that. Or… almost three semesters. The spring classes (10 classes constitute a semester) were cut short for obvious reasons (Corona, pandemic, social distancing) after the first three.

Today. The first of the remaining seven classes was held. One and a half hours of dancing. N o t the way it was. But… still. Dancing. The music. The sweat, laughter, struggle and flow. How I love it!

How I hope that we will find ways to make dancing a part of our actively lived culture again. Not to have to be afraid of it. Of being close to others. (Yes, measures were taken. Stay home if symptomatic, of course. No obligatory partner swopping, but if you want to swop, going for smaller groups of 2-3 couples. Wash hands. Sanitize them often. No touching of face. Well. You know the drill…)

Am I crazy for doing it?
Possibly. But I am not sure I’d remain sane n o t doing the things I love doing, not for long…

And here’s a clip of two others who also love it. It’s my favorite lindy clip, all categories.
The ease of these skilled dancers, the fun they have, the lovely music… what’s not to love?

Read More

At Play in the Fields of the Lord (book 9 of 12)

August 17, 2020
/ /
in Tip
/

”Holding his breath, swaying drunkenly beneath a bulb which illumined little more than grime and moisture, Moon stared awhile at the cement wall; it took just such a hopeless international latrine in the early hours of a morning, when a man was weak in the knees, short in the breath, numb in the forehead and rotten in the gut, to make him wonder where he was, how he got there, where he was going; he realized he did not know and never would. He had confronted his same latrine on every continent and not once had it come up with an answer; or rather, it always came up with the same answer, a such and gurgle of unspeakable vileness, a sort of self-satisfied low chuckling: Go to it, man, you’re pissing your life away.”

I bought At Play in the Fields of the Lord by Peter Matthiessen in the mid-nineties, in Bangkok, Thailand, in an Asia Books bookstore. My brother lived in Thailand the last decade of the last century, and books were but one of the things I had a habit of bringing home with me (much rather books than the amoeba I took home a few years later). This book has managed not to get culled in my now-and-then book-culling events, but coming up on 2020 I decided its time was now. Either I read it, or I let the book go. I chose to read it.

”[…]; when his hands were in use, his whole face eased and softened, and a tentative humor would replace his tiresome sense of moral right. With the vanity evaporated, with sweat on his dirty face and his hip-pocket comb forgotten, the face took on a true handsomeness of strength.”

Throughout high school I had a romantic notion of becoming an ethnopharmacologist like Paul Cox, active in the Samoan Islands. I have an inkling that this book spoke to that part of me, even though it’s not about ethnopharmacology per se. Rather, it’s about man. And nature. And what happens when cultures clash, in more ways than one.

”How easily, in the absence of children, the whole experience of life became abstracted, a pattern of words and daydreams. Because the life in Billy was so fresh and immediate, he had served as a reminder of reality.”

Now and again, I read a book, that I don’t know how to rate in Goodreads, upon pressing the I have finished this book”-button, moving it from Currently Reading to Have Read. This is such a book.
Did I like it? No. Not really.
Did I enjoy reading it? Not particularly.
So it warrants a really low rating? Well. No. It doesn’t. Just because it’s not an easy read, and it’s somewhat confusing, incomprehensible at times, it’s not a book that deserves anything less than three stars (on a scale of 1-5, with 5 being the highest rating). Possibly four. Maybe even five, because I honor the complexity of it, the experience, or research that must have gone into the preparations.

There are sentences, passages, that I find extremely beautiful.
Some that are so descriptive, I can feel the green rotting smell of the jungle while reading.
Others that speaks of truth (perhaps even Truth?).

”Our Christian–that is, Western–outlook is rather lugubrious, do you not think? We have persuaded ourselves that abnegation”–and he touched his cassock, not without irony–”and self-sacrifice are superior to joyous self-expression, to the emotions simple being? Now… if we could just take time from our teaching of our poor Indians, we might learn something from them. After all, the Indians come out of Asia, theirs is essentially an Eastern culture; they do not seek for meaning: they are. They are not heavy the way we are, they are light as the air; their being is a mere particle of the universe, like a leaf or wing of dragonfly or wisp of cloud. Unlike ourselves, they are eternal.”

Perhaps it’s one of those books that I am happy to have read, rather than having been happy while reading?


The book I am blogging about is part of the book-reading challenge I’ve set for myself during 2020, to read and blog (more or less) monthly about 12 Swedish and 12 English books, books that I already own.

Read More

Sapiens – A Brief History of Humankind (book 16 of 26)

August 12, 2018
/ /
in Tip
/

“The immense diversity of imagined realities that Sapiens invented, and the resulting diversity of behavior patterns, are the main components of what we call ‘cultures’. Once cultures appeared, they never ceased to change and develop, and these unstoppable alterations are what we call ‘history’.”

Caspian has been on my back for a long time about reading Sapiens A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari. And I’ve been meaning to, for a long time. So when the time came to pick books for the reading challenge of the year, giving one spot to Sapiens was an easy choice. However, I’ve been putting reading it off, until I had plenty of time, so from the beginning I had my mind set for a summer read. However, my summer has gone my in a flash, with all sorts of things booked, so I finally realized I just had to start. So I did. I even gave myself two weeks to read it, as I started it at the same time I read the Swedish book of last week, which was a fairly short read.

“[…] the average forager had wider, deeper and far mot varied knowledge of her immediate surroundings than most of her modern descendants. Today, most people in industrial societies don’t need to know much about the natural world in order to survive. […] The human collective knows far more today that did the ancient bands. But at the individual level, ancient foragers were the most knowledgeable and skillful people in history.”

Sapiens_Still. With a few days to go, I wasn’t even halfway, so I’ve been cramming it this weekend, let me tell you. Woke up this morning with 70% of the book read; approximately 120 pages to go. Not an impossible feat at all, even though I’ve been busy with work and other things all morning and well into the afternoon.

“How can we distinguish what is biologically determined from what people merely try to justify through biological myths? A good rule of thumb is ‘Biology enables, culture forbids.’ Biology is willing to tolerate a very wide spectrum of possibilities. It’s culture that obliges people to realize some possibilities while forbidding others. […]
Culture tends to argue that it forbids only that which is unnatural. But from a biological perspective, nothing is unnatural. Whatever is possible is by definition also natural.” 

And yes. It’s now done; honest to god, I swear I’m not cheating, blogging about a book I’ve yet to actually finish. I did finish it, and I do recommend you read it. In 466 pages Yuval take me by the hand and walk me through the history of humankind, just as the title promises. Cramming in 70 000 years in 466 pages makes it brief, by default. Yet it’s far from shallow. I wouldn’t say that at all. No. Yuval both summarizes, and provides me with some startling new perspectives on the Cognitive, Agricultural, Scientific and Industrial Revolutions, each in turn.

“We study history not to know the future but to widen our horizons, to understand that our present situation is neither natural nor inevitable, and that we consequently have many more possibilities before us than we imagine. For example, studying how Europeans came to dominate Africa enables us to realize that there is nothing natural or inevitable about the racial hierarchy, and that the world might well be arranged differently.”

Yuval looks to the history of humankind in Sapiens, while his next one, Homo Deus (sitting on the shelf, unread, possibly a part of a similar challenge for next year?) is aimed forward, as far as I’ve understood it. But Sapiens isn’t solely a book that looks in the rearview mirror. He extrapolates, suggests, and fantasizes about what might be – and let me tell you, it might as well be heaven or hell, from what I understand. And the only way “to know”, is for someone to look back, many many years from now, to document the history of what is, as yet, the future.

“Science can explain what exists in the world, how things work, and what might be in the future. By definition, it has no pretensions to knowing what should be in the future. Only religions and ideologies seek to answer such questions.”

Caspian.
I am with you.
We could have a field day talking about this book, so yes, let’s record a pod about it soon, ok?

“[…] we are witnessing the formation of a global empire. Like previous empires, this one, too, enforces peace within its borders. And since its borders cover the entire globe, the World Empire effectively enforces world peace.”


 

The book I am blogging about is part of the book-reading challenge I’ve set for myself during 2018, to read and blog about 26 Swedish and 26 English books, one book every week, books that I already own.

 

Read More

Stewardship, not disruption

April 16, 2017
/ /
in Tip
/

I’ve not followed Brain Pickings a lot, but now and again I stumble upon something coming from that site, and it’s almost always magnificent. Making me wonder, kick-starting my curiosity and often being very inspirational. Then I listened to Maria Popova of Brain Pickings in a conversation with Krista Tippett from On Being.

Guess what happened after I was finished listening? I pressed PLAY once more, and took in the entire episode once more. I believe I’ll listen to it over and over again. Because there’s so much interesting stuff in this podcast, beautiful sentences, phrases, stories about Marias grandparents, and much else. It’s hard to pick out one or two things, because it’s truly an episode worth listening to in full.

But the sentence below, which is a quote by a friend of Marias, really hit home. Perhaps because I’ve been talking about the need for personal stewardship with a friend of mine. How it’s a word, and an activity, that we seem to have forgotten, I believe.

BoldomaticPost_Culture-needs-stewardship-not

Sitting here looking at that quote “Culture needs stewardship, not disruption“, my mind took a leap. To cultivation itself. To the no-dig no-till practice of cultivation put in use by Paul and Elizabeth Kaiser, that I got so enthralled by in the Peak Prosperity podcast. They explained how disruptive it is for soil structure, and hence, for soil-living creatures such as a majority of all wild pollinators, when we dig, till and uproot plants from the ground. They work with nature, rather than against it, and boy, are they rewarded!

There’s more for me to discover here, I can sense it lurking just beneath the surface. So I’ll sit with it, letting it take its time. Sooner or later it will emerge. I won’t try to dig for it, because that would likely just disrupt the process.

Does this quote evoke anything in you?

In 2015 I ran a series on herothecoach.com with Sunday postings of podcasts to my liking. In 2017 I will be re-posting some of those blog posts – and this is one of them, originally posted here – , mixing them up with new podcast recommendations. As I’ve just bid my soul sister Sara farewell on her journey north, I found this a fitting podcast to recommend, as Sara and I have often touched on the concept of Stewardship. Sara was, in fact, the one to bring the term to my attention a few years ago. And yes, the quote still tease me, making me want to discover more!
Read More