These past weeks I have been moving la Chouette out of the country. I’m still in Scandinavia, it’s still winter. And the best way to move, is by boat.
I have always had a love for the sea and I was a bit worried that building and living in a house on wheels would make me too land-bound. But using ferries to get across borders has so far been surprisingly easy. Of course, I can’t live in the house during transit. But I can park it near the ocean when I reach my destination.
During moving and living more actively on the road I have also discovered quite a few repairs and adjustments I need to make. So now I’ll try to find somewhere slightly secluded, preferably near the sea, where i can work on my house, preparing it for further adventures.
I also notice more than before the dual pull of comfort and push of the road. Having found somewhere I’m comfy I find myself both longing to move on after a short while, felling that I’m done with that place for now, and a desire to stay inside my newfound comfortsone. Having the possibility to leave and live somewhere else on very short notice has brought this internal conflict into the light. I suppose the friction of these kind of conflicts are what keeps life truly interesting. Never do I wish to be without any doubt. I think. Possibly.
According to Simone De Beauvoir, Human freedom can be expressed only in concrete projects, not in the abstract. Freedom “requires the realization of concrete ends, of particular projects’. She does, however, presume that the shaping of those projects are practically pure and free from influence.
During 2017, I made my dreams pretty concrete. And in doing so I became aware of the constant attacks on freedom and will by seemingly harmless but utterly irrelevant questions. Like ‘Can you make money out of that?’,’Does the roof still have a leak?’,’Is it safe?’ etc.
In posing a question, you demand an answer, and you create a structure in the brain of the person you pose the question to by making them create sides and choose one. And the answer will always result in a verdict, which will result in an emotional response, further deepening the structure.
A question will always represent a certain measure of success. And your answer determine the degree of this. And in relating an action or a life according to certain lines of judgement, you nudge those dreams that are questioned in the direction of the themes represented in the question. People usually never as each other ‘Are you happy?'(without the wildly passive-aggressive underlying statement ‘as long as it makes you happy) or ‘Is this what you wanted to say?’ or ‘Do you feel free?’
The kind of freedom that matters the most to me is freedom of movement. To get up and leave, to listen to my senses and have the room to act on what they tell me, to rest when I wish and to run when I want, not necessarily to strange and exotic places, but simply to move like my body needs and wants, and not have my motions decided or limited by laws, morals or architecture.
So for the new year, I will rid myself further of the rigid measurements of the dreams we are presented and I will continue to make the world a larger and stranger place. I will dream between the lines.
It has been pretty much exactly a year since I seriously started on the drawings and purchases for my house and on the way I have made a few new discoveries about myself and the place I currently reside.
I have not had any allergies, flu or colds since I started living in my house on wheels. I had thought that not having a long hot shower every day would worsen my problems with constant throat infections, but quite the contrary. I have so far been a lot healthier than when I lived in conventional houses with modern conveniences. I think it has a lot to do with building materials and indoor climate.
I have slept well, undisturbed by the constant hum of electricity that conventional houses are plagued with.
My wagon is perhaps the first house I have lived in, and I have lived quite a few different places, where I haven’t had the need to seek refuge from the walls in a screen or other form of vista-reducing device.
I was worried that my chronic fatigue syndrome brought on by a parasite in the tap water in Bergen some years ago would make it impossible to live a lifestyle that requires more activity, and while it did slow down the building, I have had a lot more energy lately.
I have worried far too much about everything, from weight to prices to accidents and the weather. A lot of this I think has to do with the importance of being a ‘smart consumer’ here in Norway, something that sneaks into your brain from constant washing by social media and commercialisation of the public space and which is impossible to combine with doing something really different.
There are laws and regulations about everything here that you hardly notice before you start to move beyond the borders of everyday life. The rewards for following these are non-existent and the repercussions ridiculously high. One of the results of this is that it is de facto illegal to be poor here, since following all the laws and regulations requires spending a lot of money or spending your entire life in a squalid flat watching tv and eating plastic.
There is a lot of hostility towards gypsies here. No-one will say so because being racist is against the dogma of the global, superhappy consumer, but the amount of seething, underlying hatred you meet as a traveler is staggering. Of course, most people think it quaint and amusing that I have built a little ‘dolls house’ until they realize that this is my proper residence and not just a folly. Then they either still think it interesting and perhaps a bit scary or they glaze over in a sort of primate grin before mounting some sort of poorly disguised verbal attack. We’re still only on the verbal stage though.
It is easy to say that you shouldn’t care about what people say, but what your surroundings think of you can make a huge difference in how easy or difficult your life will be. Also, you get really anxious from being watched constantly by people who are waiting for you to trip up.
Summa summarum, living in a house on wheels has been wonderful for my personal health and well-being, absolute disaster for my personal economy and social standing. I will, of course, do everything possible to continue my lifestyle. I will, possibly, be coming to a small town near you soon.
I do love christmas. Always have. But in recent years it has taken on a deeper meaning than simply my love for food, alcohol and a glam-rock fascination for everything that glitters.
I live mostly in Norway, and from October on, it’s dark here. Cold and dark. The sun barely, if at all, rises and the more time you spend outside, either out of doors or out of society, you notice. And in a smaller house, where the walls are thinner both against the cold and against the things that lurk in the shadows of the world, you notice even more. And after the first horror, come to appreciate that there is still a time and space for the darker and stranger things in the world. It is a time for those things that are never given any space the rest of the year, chased away with light and noise, things that are needed and beautiful and necessary. It is a time for secrets, for nature to rest, a time for freezing or starving to death either physically or mentally and while it’s a challenge to secure against the first, it’s even more difficult to secure against the latter, for you rarely see it.
Therefore,we sing happy songs, and light candles, and decorate and make room for the deeper colours, read poetry and light fires and drink. As the line more or less goes; eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow you’re probably dead. It is a sacred time, even for us who are not christians, possibly even more. because while the christian idea is one of the quick fix, the permanent solution, we know that winter will come again next year also, and after that, a new spring.
I would have made things a lot easier for myself if I had been willing to use plastic more, but I’m not. I have talked about this before and today I will elaborate.
It’s easy when faced with the pollution and environmental disaster that plastic is causing to simply dismiss it as an evil thing, but that’s not the reason, not in itself. The problem with plastic is not only that it’s unpleasant to touch, that is has no smell, doesnt reflect or contain the light, and because of that, its invariably garish colours. It is an aesthetical pollution even when not thrown in nature. But the real problem isn’t plastic in itself. The real problem is the dream of the everlasting.
Plastic is a result of our society’s fixation on conservation, but conservation like butterflies are conserved in a jar, dead, hollow shells. It is a result of the christian ide of the eternal kingdom, our idea of heaven is a place where nothing ever changes, even though most of us really would find that to be a hell.
It is deeply imbedded in our culture that creation is good and destruction is evil. And even if we have found ideas from older cultures, and can repeat like parrots that without destruction, there is no creation, we don’t understand it, not emotionally. What is made is not without implication, for every thing that is created, something else isn’t. And I will say this again; matter is not infinite.
The problem with plastic is that it is locked in its form. Even if it is recycled into other things, it can never be anything else than plastic, its basic building blocks are frozen, and those building blocks are made from something. By making more plastic, we drain the world of recourses in more ways than just the process, we kill the would in more ways than just by the suffocation of nature. We drain it.
Myths and literature has always warned of this, the nordic myth of the åsgårdian gods’ attempt to take Balder out of circulation and lock him in eternal existence, narrowly prevented by Loke. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and his attempt of pretty much the same thing as those gods, creating an eternal form, taking matter out of existence. Today, the monstrosity of this is often presented as physical deformity, but the monstrosity of Frankensteins monster is in it being matter out of place, out of existence.
I am, of course, devastated every time I break a treasured mug etc. I do appreciate the beauty of things, living or not. But to appreaciate things is also to leave them alone, to care for things while they exist and also to see what they consist of and that those things one day can be completely different, as you too shall be.
I have been redoing the hatch in my roof lately,resulting in large gaps and a feeling of vulnerability for the elements and the universe in general, curiously in quite a different way than leaving a window open does. This has a bit to do with a window being possible to close of course, but also that I’m increasingly aware of the lines and borders drawn between me and the rest of the world by wood and nails.
My house is not a heavy, dense thing made out of brick and glava and three layers of insulated smartglass wired to an app. When there’s a bit missing, it’s missing, any gap is an opening to the world.
In the western world, and in Norway in particular, we have become accustomed to a house being a microcosmos, a solid barrier between us and everything that might be out there, people, animals, rain, snow or wind. The houses here are regulated with thermostats to such a degree that it’s hardly necessary to open a window at all.
This has also made it possible for us to believe that we are indeed removed from the rest of the world, that we do not live on earth, we live in a house. thinking that what happens outside our walls matters little as long as we can close our door. We have stopped living in the world and started living in houses, and now the world is dying because we have used it all to build ludicrously large houses and spew the waste from the building and our living back out into nature. Humanity need to reconnect with its home. A house is a dwelling, not the world.
That, of course, doesn’t mean it can’t be comfortable, cared for, made beautiful and meaningful. But it’s still a place in the world, not outside it, as people here seem to believe.
Living in a very small house with no running water or other means of quickly disposing of your garbage brings awareness to one thing; humans are bloody disgusting creatures. I mean really. The sheer amount of waste and rubbish and filth and dust created by one (quite small) human is staggering.
I spend now probably two to three hours each day just keeping things clean and that still leaves me with the question of what to do with such things as dishwater. Now you may think that when you live in a large house with plumbing all your waste is brought by fairies to a magical land of loveliness, but all sanitary stations rely on chemicals, creating on the whole more problems than they solve.
I still use the ‘normal’ garbage system with local recycling opportunities for household rubbish, and my toilet remains is neatly disposed of in appropriate compost heaps (the toilet is actually my least problem, sanitarywise, I thought is would be te greatest)
The biggest problem is really the water, the water used for dished and laundry and me. Humans create a great deal of mud. I really believe that the greatest problem is the idea that we are meant to live all our lives indoors, so that even the largest house will be small compared to the amount of space needed to not overtax one space with our treading, our weight, our waste and water. All of this is not a problem when spread over a large area (and, of course, properly dealt with and not just left anywhere) but when clumped together on a small space by too many of us creates nothing but death and suffering, to put it dramatically. Living in a small space has really made me aware of how much space one human being takes up, and how little of that space needs be indoors.