Exploring the great indoors

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they’re mistletoe

I’m following a few groups online dedicated to various ways of forming a life beyond the ready-made one. It’s hardly a single thread that doesn’t in some way post the question ‘yes, but is it authentic?’

For everyone taking a step to the side of society, you’ll come across the question of authenticity. An expectation that your goal is and should be to be completely self-reliant and exist in a sort of feral snow globe.

For me, reducing the presence of modern housing facilities, like washing machines, coffee machines and basically most types of machines, is a choice of comfort and beauty, not driven primarily by a desire for a life seen as authentic or free.

The western idea of ‘free’ has come to mean detached and closed off, yet few people really feel at great liberty when they’re all alone and isolated. Quite the contrary.

It’s easy when lifting your gaze from the treadmill to get the idea that you should go off into the wild, that is, go outside our house, and aim to become one with whatever ecosystem you find yourself in. But the wild can be further away than you’d think. Not everything green is living, functioning nature.

As I drive and live and form different patterns of everyday life, sometimes completely outside modern facilities, sometimes on the outskirts of them, the borders of human habitation come into view. And the idea of the authentic emerges as something a part of, not apart from, modern society.

In groups of people longing away from cities, away from an oppressive society, there is a story, one of many, but a prominent one, about the free individual as someone who sleeps under the stars and own nothing, no possessions, no obligations, no attachments. But this form of living requires a large habitat where you have the means to find what you need, and this kind of nature is inaccessible to most as it’s regulated or built on, overpopulated,  poisoned or eradicated by industry. Most people who are homeless are far from free, and have no access to alternative ecosystems beyond the urban one, that relies greatly on houses to shelter humans from the ugliness, dangers and diseases caused by urbanization.

While I do wish for a greater insight into what I actually need and how to find it, it’s interaction I seek, not the idea of independence. Dependence is to me a reduced means of interaction, and freedom an expanded interaction with your surroundings. But to urbanized humans, they link interaction to communication with what they see as sentient, not co-existing with physical, living creatures.

I think for a lot of people it’s this interaction with a world beyond the one defined and fenced off that is meant by ‘real’. There is very little language to explain why, very few stories. But it’s the amount of possibilities, the greater network of creatures interacting, that increases freedom and approximates the idea of ‘real’.

Also, most animals will have some form of nest, den, sett, or form of living quarters. They don’t just sleep where they stand. If healthy, they will spend great parts of the day keeping themselves and their dwelling clean, beautiful and comfortable. If ill, they will ignore their grooming or in some cases, overdo it, washing away all their fur if stressed.

A house need not be any more unnatural than an ant hill, but the lengths humans have gone to in order to simultaneously expand and remove themselves from their habitat is absurd. And disruptive to anything living, including humans themselves.

In western society the house has become something like a religious matter. It is seen as a micro cosmos in itself. In many cases, as a reflection or expression of the dweller, their innermost self, their soul.

I like having beautiful and meaningful things to look at. I want my house to be a wunderkammer, a place for magic and dreams.  It’s also a physical place to sleep warm and soft, to read without having the wind carry my books away, to cook without being invaded by over eager insects. I don’t however, want to be trapped, or have other things trapped in it.

The house, the dwelling, is only one small part of the whole habitat. The whole habitat of any creature will include the space to find food, find company, having an array of plants, predators, bacteria, the ecosystem, if you will. All the things the body interacts with.

I will explore the vast, strange world of the habitat in my next post.

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a slightly more permanent glimpse of the strange

ps. I made it beyond the London vortex, with help from my counter part, which is the only way to cross a maelstrom.

Frankenstein and his plastic fantastic monster

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.

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example of things with very different timeline, some more vapid than others

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.

 

Meet my monsters

With Halloween just around the corner, I thought it time to introduce you to the many little monsters of La Chouette, The owls, of course, are excactly what they seem

IMG_20181017_163206186Inside, in the kitchen, the morning coffee is watched over by my favourite Gorgon, Medusa. A whole line of her in fact, so she won’t get lonely or overpowered by some brat on a winged horse.

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My sofadragons you have met before, here they are basking in the morning sun.

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Or candle light, same difference. In the corner, you can get a glimpse of the fellow here, Pan himself reciding over the fruit bowl.

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And underneath the library, on the opposite wall, is my drinks cabinet, protected by other happy little forrest creatures.

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So cheers to a happy Hallowween from the house of tiny monsters!

Outer symbol, inner meaning. Wallpaper and existenstial anguish.

For the wallpaper in my living room area I have chosen hand embossed gilt leather. It looks like this.

Dragon 1

Yes, the panels have a dragon on them, yes the dragon has tits.  I have two panels, and the dragons are named Sharon and Maude.

This, I know, is not a usual choise for a ‘tiny’ house, or indeed for any house. A feature this flamboyant is nowadays mainly used by banks, fancy restaurants and other places that wish to seem to embody power, using things to signify status rather than having the thing itself for itself.

I think tactile visuality is important, or ‘having something nice to look at’. But not only in the two-dimensional sense, but in terms of how the light falls and reflects off a surface. For instance, things seen on a screen will never be anything other than looking at a screen no matter what that screen shows. It will be frozen in distance, tactility and lacking in the things not quite seen, but that reflects shadows in the corner of your eye. All these aspects are important for what we think and how, for how we feel and what sides of ourselves we nurture. But there is a difference between surrounding yourself with beauty and using representations of beauty to cover up overall surroundings that can and should be changed, like the colourful posters covering the wasteland in Terry Gilliams increasingly realistic and brilliant movie Brazil.

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Giddyup, Rocinante

Consumerism makes it appear as if anyone can have access to things only dreamt of before, but all you get access to is the symbol of that thing, a pale replica. Consumerism is a direct threat to all things beautiful as it denies anything to have a value in itself, only as a quick fix to feel better or as an instaworthy shot of status. I mean to have this wallpaper for decades, centuries if someone else takes over. It’s something I’m committing to, something I’ll care for.

And I don’t want my wallpaper to cover a wall that is something else. I want the things surrounding me to have as much integrity as possible. The wall is there for the gilt leather, not the other way around. These pieces have to them a touch, scent and visual quality that is filled with itself and does not represent anything else, cannot be confused for anything else. It is not merely a picture of a dragon, it is its own thing. Also, it’s absurdly beautiful. Also, it’s somewhat absurd. I mean, who does this sort of thing? No one. So I will.  I’m not denying the side of me that grew up with Huysmans and longed for ‘The willed exile of the Introverted Decadent’.

Problems finishing things? You’re not alone.

I dont’ think I’ve ever been in a house of any kind that was quite finished. Some might say no house is ever quite finished and that this is a process. Others may think that finally finishing a house will jinx it or bring about the destruction of the entire building, like the case of the Brick Layer of Nidarosdomen. This sculpture, located high on the roof of the Trondheim cathedral, is forever holding the last brick in his hand, ready to place, but never to be so. For it is said that if the Nidarosdome is ever finished, the whole cathedral will instantly crumble and be washed away in the river.

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Any day now.

In terms of thermodynamics, there is something to be said for this theory. Thing will fall apart, they will deteriorate and if something is never finished, then no one can say it can be destroyed. This poetic statement will however not keep away the need for repair or maintenance. Nor will it solve all the little problems that not quite finishing things will bring.

For it’s always the little things, the lining, the last bit of paint on the wall where it is hard to reach, the one nail that sticks out a bit in the corner. Right now, I have about a hundred  (more or less) little things that I could probably live with not finishing, but will cause hundreds of tiny, daily irritations. And in a smaller house, these will be closer to my daily routine, more visible. These things are often encapsulated in people’s lives, like so many shrapnels in a body. You find ways to move around them, you stop seeing them after a while, but they’re still there.

Part of my motivation for building a house was to get a chance to deal with all the little things, since it’s always easier to finish a job yourself than to pick up someone else’s slack. Now I just need to find the motivation to live up to my own wants. Easier said than lived. I suppose not over thinking it might help. Also not one of my strong sides.