Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Afghan Girl

Just this picture today, Steve McCurry's "Afghan Girl", one of the world's most famous photographs. Portraying a  girl in a refugee camp in Pakistan, the picture is taken in 1984, during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, and made the front cover of National Geographic Magazine in June 1985.
It's an immensely strong photograph, with an amazing use of colors.  It struck me when I first saw it, years ago, and it still sits there as one of my all time favorite photos.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Dinner

I've seen La Cena (=The Dinner) twice, and last time was only a week ago.  Written and directed by Ettore Scola, this Italian (Italian/French actually) 1998 movie is a delightful piece of cinematic art.  You are in a restaurant somewhere in Italy, from just before they open, until the last guests leave for the night.  Along with the camera, we circle around the restaurant, stop at the tables, peek into the kitchen and back again.  We meet Flora, the hostess, and we meet the cook and his staff, the waiters and the owner, Flora's husband who drops by to have a meal.  We get to know the guests, we listen to their conversations, discover their dramas and everyday issues, and the whole thing is seamlessly made so that we just go with the flow, believe in it, in a way that it could have been a documentary.

There is the mother-daughter constellation, the girl with too many lovers, the student and her professor boyfriend, the lonely poet and the party of teenagers.  It's a lovely movie.  The music, the atmosphere, it just feels like Italy, and I want to go there! 
I'll just mention Fanny Ardant as Flora and Marie Gillain as the young student having an affair with her married professor. For more about the cast etc, see here.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Kiss

Auguste Rodin: The Kiss. Photo: Kristine Grav Hardeberg

This very famous sculpture can be seen in the Rodin Museum in Paris. It was made by Auguste Rodin in 1889. It's original title was Francesca da Rimini, as it actually depcits her, the 13th century woman that fell in love with her husband's brother, Paolo Malatesta while reading the book about Lancelot and Guinevere. (The story about Francesca and Paolo is part of Dante's Inferno) Francesca was killed by her husband, who interrupted the kiss...

I love this statue. It feels so real, you almost forget that this is marble, rock. And, I see similarities with Canova's Amor and Psyche. A work of art like this one, you can't just have a glimpse at it, and move on. You have to take your time, look at it, gaze at it, and physically change your point of view several times. While you turn around the statue, you'll rediscover it over and over again.

Auguste Rodin: The Kiss. Photo: Kristine Grav Hardeberg

Auguste Rodin: The Kiss. Photo: Kristine Grav Hardeberg

New Windows

Finally, after almost 10 years in this house, we're getting the three really old windows changed, that is one bathroom and my two youngest kids' rooms. The old windows have been leaking ice-cold air every winter, so I'm really happy that it's being done now.
My 3-year-old has been excited about this all summer, and has asked almost every day, "When do I get my new window? Tomorrow?"
Yesterday they finally started tearing down molding, and this morning the contractor showed up early, getting to work.  Jonatan was thrilled.  Trotting after the contractor, following every step, asking questions, helping him by holding doors open etc.  He was really bummed when he realized he had to leave with Daddy, but the contractor promised him that when he came home this afternoon, everything would be really nice in his room, and he sort of accepted that. I have the feeling he might be our future handyman!

And, by the way, having contractors at my door early in the morning, when I work from home, and sort of planned on lying in, because of a cold I want to fight back,  that is, well, interesting.  It involves a lot of peeking around the corner, seeing if the coast is clear, since I'm not that comfortable showing my pj's and horrible sleep-hair to everybody...

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Hungry Baby

August is World Breastfeeding Month. I thought I should share this story with you, from when my second son was three months old.

"Maternity" by Picasso. (I wrote about it here.)

It was October 1999, and I was at the Boston Logan airport, sitting at the gate waiting for boarding.  My baby was starting to get hungry, but I really wanted to wait until we were aboard, nestled in a window seat.  He was one of these "good babies", which means a baby that hardly ever fusses or cries.  (That expression bugs me, by the way. A baby isn't "good" when he doesn't fuss. He is simply content, happy, with no stomach ache or acute need. And, an unhappy baby isn't "bad" or "evil", is he?)
Anyway, this time my little baby boy actually started to fuss.  No wonder, since he was used to me feeding him whenever he wanted to. Well, I just didn't feel comfortable feeding him here.  On the chairs next to me, on both sides, were important-looking businessmen.  Suit, tie, tapping away on their laptops, and I'm sure I could physically feel their occasional sideways gaze, and their frown, which read "I really hope she doesn't even think about breastfeeding here, next to me!"
My baby continued his fussing, starting to search against my chest, bobbing his head, desperately trying to tell me that he wanted to eat, and I tried to hold him differently, up on my shoulder, but now he starting crying - for real.  I got up, rocked him in my arms, whispering to him "I'm so sorry, but you'll soon get your milk". My eyes hurt, and I had to fight back tears. This was awful.
After a while he was calmer, and I sat down with him. The suit man on my right looked at me in an annoyed way.  This was not fun. This was new mother hell.  Couldn't they just start that boarding!  My baby, who had been drowsing off for a few minutes, suddenly startled awake and started searching again, frantically this time.  Like a little wild animal.  This wasn't him, not the baby I was used to.  And, this wasn't me...
In the end, my instincts won over me not being comfortable around these New England businessmen, so I snapped open the clasp on my shoulder strap, stuck my baby underneath my t-shirt, where he happily, and with a big sigh, started to eat.
My face was all red.  I looked down on my baby, all at the same time making sure no flesh was to be seen.
Somebody cleared his throat, in a somewhat noisy way.  It was Mr. Suit. "Well," he said, and when I shot a glimpse in his direction, I realized he was looking straight at me....
I braced myself.  And, then he said,
"It was about time you fed that hungry baby!"

Monday, August 22, 2011

Vår beste dag (Our very best day)

I love this one.

Come and listen to the morning light
The sun lifts his trompet to his lips
Listen to white butterflies' wings
Today can be our best day!
The path we walked to day is still new
Secret, like our very first dawn
Many things are put in front of us,
And many things have to be done,
Today can be our very best day.

Come and listen to the deep when we row towards morning,
Listen, the meduse is tuning it's strings
Full of promises is the tune in a fish's leap
Tody can be our very best day!
Our fjord is as new and blue and glittering as always
Your gaze is free and your back is straight,
Many things are put in front of us,

And many things have to be done,
Today can be our very best day.

Darling, listen to the Dark when our day is over,
The night is humming over distant hills.
The day has given us many things, small and big,
Maybe much more than we understood.
The moon over front yardw and roofs is as new as always,
But keeps silent about our next Dawn.
Many things are put in front of us,

And many things have to be done,
Tomorrow will be our very best day.

Kom og lytt til lyset når det gryr av dag

Solen løfter sin trompet mot munnen.
Lytt til hvite sommerfuglers vingeslag;
Denne dag kan bli vår beste dag!
Stien som vi gikk i går er like ny,
Hemmelig som ved vårt første morgengry;
Mangt skal vi møte – og mangt skal vi mestre
Dagen i dag – den kan bli vår beste dag.

Kom og lytt til dypet når vi ror mot dag,
Hør, maneten stemmer sine strenger.
Løfterik er tonen i et fiskevak,
Denne dag kan bli vår beste dag!
Fjorden vår er like ny og blå og blank,
Blikket ditt er fritt og ryggen like rank,
Mangt skal vi møte – og mangt skal vi mestre
Dagen i dag – den kan bli vår beste dag.

Kjære lytt til mørket når vår dag er gått,
Natten nynner over fjerne åser.
Mangt har dagen skjenket oss av stort og smått,
Mer, kan hende, enn vi har forstått,
Månen over tun og tak er like ny,
Men tier stille om vårt neste morgengry.
Mangt skal vi møte – og mangt skal vi mestre
Dagen i morgen skal bli vår beste dag.

Eric Bye was a famous and multi-talented artist, singer, author, actor, journalist and TV/radio personality. He was loved by the Norwegian people, who mourned his death in 2004.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Picture of the Day: Folding the Laundry

A picture taken in India, outside the Ganesha temple in Wai, a small town in the Maharashtra-area. I was fascinated by all the women doing the laundry in the river, letting the saris and the quilts dry on the clean steps (nobody walks with shoes on the temple grounds) before helping each other with the folding.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Chess Pawn

You can't go back, you can't step aside. All you can do is continue, little by little,  on the very same path, straight ahead until you hit the wall...  Then there are suddenly unlimited possibilities. But until then, you have to follow your path.
You can go at an angle, only if you chooses to run over somebody, push someone else away. If you don't choose to do that, if you don't want to change path while striking down somone else, well, then you're doomed to continue slowly on the track you started in. Not much prestige. Not much honor. Step by step, you move forward, but there is no recognition, not at all. If you disappear, nobody really cares.
But, if you manage, if you go all the way, then you're suddenly a queen. You can rush back, start all over again, go wherever you want, hit wildly around you, do whatever you want, be on top of the world, while your surroundings quiver with fear – and recognition.  


Kan ikke gå tilbake, kan ikke gå til siden. Må bare fortsette på stien din, rett frem, helt til du treffer veggen... Da blir det med ett ubegrenset med muligheter, men enn så lenge må du fortsette på din egen sti.
Kan også slå på skrå, kan ved å felle andre komme over i et annet spor. 
Men, hvis du ikke ønsker å forandre kurs på bekostning av andre, da er du dømt til å fortsette sakte men sikkert i det sporet du er plassert i. 
 Lite prestisje, lite ære. Du kommer deg framover, etter hvert, men er ikke anerkjent, ikke det minste. Om du blir borte er det knapt merkbart, men klarer du deg, klarer du å leve ditt sjakkbondeliv til du kommer frem, da blir du en dronning. Du kan suse tilbake, begynne på nytt, fyke på skrå og tilbake igjen, gjøre hva du vil, slå vilt rundt deg og ta verden med storm, mens omgivelsene skjelver av frykt - og av anerkjennelse.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Hurting Silence

I haven't posted anything since the awful killings on July 22th.  I simply don't have words for it. That something that terrible should happen in my little country, previously so peaceful.
More than 70 persons were killed.  Many were badly injured.  The whole country is marked by this tragedy.

Three days later I was in Trondheim, my family's town, and I participated in the solidarity walk, we were hundreds of thousands across the country, in every city, every little town, walking in silence, carrying roses and torches.
Just before the walk, there were a few speeches in the town square, and there were artists performing.
In the pouring rain, we stood there, my daugher and I, in the middle of the crowd, listening to the words once written by Nordahl Grieg: "Til Ungdommen" (To the Youth)

Til Ungdommen
av Nordahl Grieg

Kringsatt av fiender,
gå inn i din tid!
Under en blodig storm -
vi deg til strid!

Kanskje du spør i angst,
udekket, åpen:
hva skal jeg kjempe med
hva er mitt våpen?

Her er ditt vern mot vold,
her er ditt sverd:
troen på livet vårt,
menneskets verd.

For all vår fremtids skyld,
søk det og dyrk det,
dø om du må - men:
øk det og styrk det!

Stilt går granatenes
glidende bånd
Stans deres drift mot død
stans dem med ånd!

Krig er forakt for liv.
Fred er å skape.
Kast dine krefter inn:
døden skal tape!

Elsk og berik med drøm
alt stort som var!
Gå mot det ukjente
fravrist det svar.

Ubygde kraftverker,
ukjente stjerner.
Skap dem, med skånet livs
dristige hjerner!

Edelt er mennesket,
jorden er rik!
Finnes her nød og sult
skyldes det svik.

Knus det! I livets navn
skal urett falle.
Solskinn og brød og ånd
eies av alle.

Da synker våpnene
maktesløs ned!
Skaper vi menneskeverd
skaper vi fred.

Den som med høyre arm
bærer en byrde,
dyr og umistelig,
kan ikke myrde.

Dette er løftet vårt
fra bror til bror:
vi vil bli gode mot
menskenes jord.

Vi vil ta vare på
skjønnheten, varmen
som om vi bar et barn
varsomt på armen!

English translation by Joe Gorman (July 28th 2011):

Encircled by enemies,
your time has come!
With blood all around -
prepare to resist.

Anxiously you ask,
defenceless, innocent:
with what shall I fight,
what is my weapon?

Here is your shield,
here is your sword:
faith in our life,
and human dignity.

Our common future:
shape it, define it;
even though the price be death,
you must strengthen mankind!

The weapons of evil
spread silently around us.
Their deathly advances
your spirit must stop!

War despises life,
Peace is its creator.
Give your whole self:
and death loses its sting.

Make greatness and love
grow stronger in your dreams!
So you face the unknown
with quiet understanding.

Great achievements,
distant dreams.
Bring them forth,
through the lives you protect.

Noble is mankind,
bountiful is the earth.
Where there is hunger and suffering,
it is our failing.

In the name of all that is good in life,
injustice must be crushed!
Light, nourishment and free thought
are our common inheritance.

Then the weapons will fall,
sink down, useless!
Create respect for humanity
and we create peace.

He whose right arm
carries a burden,
priceless and precious,
can never murder.

This we promise
from brother to brother:
we will respect
this planet we share.

We will take care of
beauty and warmth
as if bearing an infant
gently in our arms!