Saturday, October 26, 2013

Berry - La Bonheur

Time for another beautiful song from Berry called La Bonheur (Happiness).
If you enjoy it, try listening as well to the song I posted some time ago here.

Monday, April 08, 2013

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

The Map-Makers Colours

Mapped waters are more quiet than the land is,
lending the land their waves' own conformation:
and Norway's hare runs south in agitation,
profiles investigate the sea, where land is.
Are they assigned, or can the countries pick their colours?
- What suits the character or the native waters best.
Topography displays no favourites; North's as near as West.
More delicate than the historian's are the map-makers colours.

'The Map' by Elizabeth Bishop

Mapped waters... can water be mapped... yes, as voids surrounded by land.

Water more quiet than the land is... seas may be wild, much more wild than the land, but ironically, in a mapped sense they are featureless, without topography, and therefore quiet.

Conformation - the sea conforms with the land, its waves break evenly on the coast, and currents navigate the coastline as sailors do. That conformity describes the ying and yang fit of sea to land, the masculine land and feminine sea nestling together.

Norway's hare runs south in agitation - Topography equates to noise, and thus a country such as Norway, mountainous and embayed with fjords, is noisy. More mountainous in the north, it frightens its own hare-like profile into running south...

Profiles investigate the sea - a country with the profile of a hare, or of a dog, a man or a woman. Or perhaps the profile of a face seen in the jagged outline of a cliff.

Can the countries pick their colours - no indeed not. The map is a way of defining the world and the map-maker the person who defines where the boundaries lie. The colours lying within those boundaries have particular meanings defined by the map-maker. The map-maker emerges as a symbol of power.

What suits the character - it's not clear... is it a suggestion? Yes. A whimsical but profound one.

North's as near as West - wherever we go North and West are constant. All places are equivalent in this sense. They have equal currency. This seems an argument against the previous imagery of the map-maker as a powerful arbiter.

More delicate than the historian's are the map-makers colours. - What are the historian's colours? I  think that 'colours' here refers to the flags that indicates nationaility, with a military flavour... Compared to the colours of flags which are brash in their symbolism, the map-makers colours are indeed more delicate. They reflect the precarious and unstable nature of countries and borders as defined by the changing character of those states. In some ways these delicate colours contradict the bold and simple ones of flags, challenging those who stick their flags in a new region of the map, by that means trying to claim it.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Half a sec...

We were gathered around the kitchen table as a family, playing a game called Articulate. The objective of the game is to describe as many words as possible to your team members before the 30 second timer runs out.

The words are printed on cards that you pull from a pack. It's a bit like Trivial Pursuits. The words fall into six categories: object, nature, action, world, person and random, so they are mainly proper nouns.

As my daughter was quite young, we were giving her a few hints to help things along. You will understand the need for this when I tell you that one of the words that came up was: "secretary bird".

At six years old, my daughter probably had little idea of what a secretarial job involved, let alone knowing about secretary birds.

I should have begun with defining this word as 'a flapping animal'. That might have made things simpler. Instead, I began by the secretary part...

"Every boss has one of these..." I said, optimistically.

She looked at me blankly. Seconds passed... She shook her head, time was running out.

I started to hint: "Okay, it's a sec... a sec..."

She looked up brightly. "A second wife?"

Monday, December 31, 2012

Digital Love - A One Woman Show by Rachael Støver

I became a Binärpilot fan a while back. I like this little sketch by Rachael Støver that tells the story of her romance with the Norwegian musician who created Binarpilot. It's an interesting story and very much the product of our time.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

No News...

I walked with my daughters down to the fjord last weekend. It takes about half an hour. We had a fishing rod with us and tried to cross onto the pontoon from which we sometimes try to catch fish, but the ladder had been taken away for some reason. Next to us, sitting on the harbour wall, were two ladies looking out over the unruffled water towards a misty autumn view of rocky mountains and the distant waterside town of Tau. They seemed to be celebrating something, eating sandwiches and drinking a bottle of pink champagne.

I walked with the girls a bit further up the coast to where the shoreline has been built up so that there is less seaweed to tangle the fishing line. Like most of the coast around Stavanger, the rocks at the shore here have been rubbed smooth by glaciation and slip, like the humped backs of whales, into the sea. Beside us, on the railway line that runs along the coast, electric trains zipped past occasionally, grey and sleek.

At the point where the shore becomes suitable for fishing, we met two quite haggard looking men. They were both tall and thin, their faces creased and worn in a way that suggests a life of survival and hard labour. Their bicyles lay on the grass, very rough and weather beaten objects. I greeted them as I passed and they shyly said hello to us. We fished for a little while, casting the lure far out. But as always, we caught nothing. It was getting cold and so we did not stay long.

Passing the men again on our way home, we stopped to watch one of them gutting a fish he had caught. I think it may have been a wrasse, it was quite bright on the belly slightly orange and blue speckled. As he cut it open it made an unpleasant burping noise. In his bucket he had three more. When the other man caught a fish, he took it off the hook and dropped it into my daughter's net. My daughter looked at it, then shook her head. The man laughed and threw it back into the sea. We spoke a little with them. They were Polish, with only broken Norwegian and no English. I thought they were like a pair of boys that had grown old while fishing and playing outdoors on their bicycles together.

We walked back to where my wife was waiting to pick us up in the car. The two ladies were still there, huddled a little more closely in their fur-hooded parkas, the pink champagne nearly finished. The sky was also just beginning to turn pink, and they had not moved, despite the chill in the air.