Creating in public (& update)

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Early art for my current projects.

5th MARCH 2019 — Around the turn of the year I got very busy rearranging my life. To my regret, this meant completely putting this blog off to one side. I suddenly got more productive than ever. As a result, several of my creative projects are approaching completion.

This spring I’ll publish my first book and my first sets of sheet music. I’m also getting close to finishing my first symphony, and I’m working on a comic strip and already creating the materials for further books after the one I’ll soon publish. There’s more, but these are the main projects right now that I’m working full speed on.

At noon this Wednesday, 6th of March, I’ll also step onto the stage for the first time in my life since school. I will be drawing and animating things for about an hour with my iPad hooked up to the screen on the stage of a bar called Stúdentakjallarinn (The Student Cellar) on the campus of the University of Iceland here in Reykjavík.

This is essentially performance art in the form of creating in public, as it’s not a presentation. I’ll just draw and animate, and visitors to the bar may observe or ignore according to their inclination. We want to see what the reaction is to this experiment. I was inspired for this idea by the late great Harlan Ellison, who used to occasionally write in public.

I feel really good to be so productive — more so than ever before in my life — and it feels wonderful to set on this road of more active engagement out in the world in connection with art. But I may not be able to continue this blog in the form I originally envisioned. I regret that.

The work I am producing now is the work I had been heading for all along in my life. I feel grateful to have gotten to this point. That would not have happened without all the support I have had over the years from many goodhearted people.

My heartfelt thanks to everyone who has encouraged and supported me through the good times and bad. Now to make some art.

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The person I am not & the person I am

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At my grandma’s many years ago: a happy moment in the kind of full life I would choose.

JANUARY 13th 2019 — No one chooses loneliness. Some people do choose being alone, but that’s completely different. In that case the person prefers being by himself or herself.

Loneliness is the pain of having lost or having never had the things in life that make for human happiness and sense of meaning. And knowing through regular interaction with others that you matter and that it matters to them whether you are alive or dead.

If someone’s reaction to this would be to say that you first need to be happy all by yourself, then I have to say that that person can never have experienced actual loneliness, or has forgotten what it was like, and most likely in fact enjoys a life full of meaningful human contact. It’s easy to say that kind of thing when not experiencing the thing itself. Happiness can’t start coming out of nothing.

Happiness flows from meaningful human moments, not from this particularly cruel and coldhearted self-help mantra, which involves blaming the lonely for their loneliness. No one can know the enormous private efforts a person may have made, day after day and year after year, to change their life, and still being as far away from happiness as ever.

I was looking at my past photos on Facebook and it really hurts to see how obviously many of them are the result of a very lonely guy just trying to make it from day to day, hoping and making every effort possible for something better. There aren’t many photos of other people or of me in happy moments.

Looking at many of that haphazard, desolate collection of photos — of course not including the ones from times when things were briefly different, moments for which I was happy and grateful with all my heart — feels like looking at a broken life. It’s not how life should be. Not at all. I don’t know if anyone knows how that hurts. I didn’t choose to come from a family that got broken by some things that happened when I was very young.

But what hurts at least as much as this thought itself is that very possibly many people think I have chosen this, that this is just who I am. That I am an unhappy and depressing person who remains that way by choice. Nothing could be further from the truth and I feel the sting of tears when I think that people I care about may think this of me. I did not choose this. I know what a full, good life would involve, and I wish for nothing else as much as I wish for that:

A life full of human warmth, of family life, of seeing friends, of fun and laughter, of constant activity, of raising children, going to the cinema, family dinners, trips to summer houses and beaches, rowing on the lake, concerts and plays, music and good food, creating together, cuddling up under a blanket with a special someone while watching something nice, going to sleep holding that person and feeling in so doing the greatest happiness and gratitude that it is possible to experience, knowing she and your healthy family are safe and warm and tomorrow will be a beautiful new day with many more happy moments.

That’s who I am, that’s what I would choose in a heartbeat, and that’s what I wish for. Not how things have been most of my life.

I am only sad when there is reason for sadness. Absolutely not a moment longer. I smile and laugh very easily and with a fullness of heart when there is reason to. I very easily experience great joy and gratitude and happiness when there is reason to feel those. The way my life has been for too long — except for those very special, radiant times when I was happy again — is not at all who I am.

These things will apply to everyone I will ever meet

Vision

From two or three years ago.

OCTOBER 14th 2018 — Never let anyone compromise your principles.

You are the one who would pay the price of living with that, perhaps for the rest of your life. It’s not worth it, whatever the situation.

And there are people who will appreciate and perhaps even love you precisely for refusing to lie or say false things.

I have decided to do what I can to live up to that ideal of never saying anything to anyone that could not stand as the last thing I said to them, should I rejoin eternity soon after that.

I will never play a single game with another person’s heart. It’s not what we’re here for.

* * *

I will never be one of those people making others feel there is something they need to change about themselves in order to be good enough. In order for me to like them.

Don’t listen to those people. That is a road that will never end.

You will never get lasting validation from them, and even if you did, it would be for all the wrong, manipulative reasons, and would be taken away the next time that person felt peevish — or the smallness of their own heart.

If I or others like you and your company just the way you are, you are already more than good enough, and wonderful.

This life is too precious and fleeting and fragile for anything more closed-minded than this.

Index: September 2018

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“Gold Dust” from 2015.

This is the monthly index for September 2018. Posts for the month in chronological order:

Welcome — Opening and introductory post with general thoughts about Iceland and life.

What do you do? — A moment of reflection and a thought on creativity.

Let’s read THE GRAMOPHONE in Iceland: No. 1 — April 1923 — First post in this series, with musical selections and a little random music theory.

Bradbury country — Of Ray Bradbury, childhood, art, and Iceland.

Dream — An unsettling dream from the night before.

Sunset — A beautiful dusk.

Let’s read THE GRAMOPHONE in Iceland: No. 2 — June 1923 — Continuing the series, with more musical picks and a little about the harpsichord.

Pitch shifting, rhythms, & a figure — What I was doing that day related to music, including a bit about my personal catalogue of rhythms, a notebook bought in Paris, and then also a little about our game SERENA.

“…a long, long time.” — Remembering a storyline in the science fiction series BABYLON 5.

1st day of school — My first day at the university, with photos.

The Settlement Exhibition, Reykjavík — A visit there, and a bit about the extinct flightless bird, the great auk.

The great auk and Fire Island — More about the great auk, with photos from a guest photographer.

Let’s watch THE RAY BRADBURY THEATER in Iceland: 1.01: “Marionettes, Inc.” — First entry in this series, which I am particularly happy with. A lot of work went into this, with plenty of screen captures. Mister Bradbury and this series deserve it.

Let’s read THE GRAMOPHONE in Iceland: No. 3 — August 1923 — Some amusing quotes, and one less amusing one, from this issue, plus early music on the harpsichord.

Let’s listen to Bob Dylan in Iceland: 1959 — Starting a chronological listen of all his released music, with Spotify playlists per year.

Transposing — An amusing consequence of doing so much music recently.

My interest in music — A wish or a future plan.

Chopin & Leisure Suit Larry — A whimsy: sheet music of a Chopin piece as it appears in a classic adventure game.


The master index can be found here.

Master index

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From 2015.

This is the master index to all posts on this blog. It will be updated at the end of each month. It is in reverse chronological order — newest posts first.

I also want to take this opportunity to mention that with each of the continuing “Let’s…” series, links to all previous entries in the series in question can be found at the end of each entry.

I made my first post for this blog on September 8th 2018, which I later realized was the 52nd anniversary of the premiere of the original STAR TREK. And lucky seven: 5 plus 2.

Statistics so far: 18 entries in 20 categories, a total of 6,418 words, not including this master index.

Here are all posts on a single page.

Master index

Chopin & Leisure Suit Larry — A whimsy: sheet music of a Chopin piece as it appears in a classic adventure game.

My interest in music — A wish or a future plan.

Transposing — An amusing consequence of doing so much music recently.

Let’s listen to Bob Dylan in Iceland: 1959 — Starting a chronological listen of all his released music, with Spotify playlists per year.

Let’s read THE GRAMOPHONE in Iceland: No. 3 — August 1923 — Some amusing quotes, and one less amusing one, from this issue, plus early music on the harpsichord.

Let’s watch THE RAY BRADBURY THEATER in Iceland: 1.01: “Marionettes, Inc.” — First entry in this series, which I am particularly happy with. A lot of work went into this, with plenty of screen captures. Mister Bradbury and this series deserve it.

The great auk and Fire Island — More about the great auk, with photos from a guest photographer.

The Settlement Exhibition, Reykjavík — A visit there, and a bit about the extinct flightless bird, the great auk.

1st day of school — My first day at the university, with photos.

“…a long, long time.” — Remembering a storyline in the science fiction series BABYLON 5.

Pitch shifting, rhythms, & a figure — What I was doing that day related to music, including a bit about my personal catalogue of rhythms, a notebook bought in Paris, and then also a little about our game SERENA.

Let’s read THE GRAMOPHONE in Iceland: No. 2 — June 1923 — Continuing the series, with more musical picks and a little about the harpsichord.

Sunset — A beautiful dusk.

Dream — An unsettling dream from the night before.

Bradbury country — Of Ray Bradbury, childhood, art, and Iceland.

Let’s read THE GRAMOPHONE in Iceland: No. 1 — April 1923 — First post in this series, with musical selections and a little random music theory.

What do you do? — A moment of reflection and a thought on creativity.

Welcome — Opening and introductory post with general thoughts about Iceland and life.

The Settlement Exhibition, Reykjavík

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Landnámssýningin (“The Settlement Exhibition”) in downtown Reykjavík, late August 2018. The flightless bird pictured at bottom right is the great auk. The last known members of this species died in June 1844 on the island of Eldey (“Fire Island”). Cause of death? Strangulation. By Icelandic sailors.

SEPTEMBER 16th 2018 — As part of the course Inngangur að sögu Íslands (“Introduction to the History of Iceland”) by Markús Þ. Þórhallsson, we visited The Settlement Exhibition on the Friday of the first week of classes.

The building was constructed around the remains of a viking longhouse excavated in central Reykjavík in 2001.

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The actual longhouse. It was inhabited from about 930 to 1000, so from very close to the beginning of larger-scale settlement of Iceland. But apparently vikings were not the first to try to establish a foothold in Iceland. It seems Gaelic monks got here first — or if not first, at least before. But if I recall correctly something heard during a lecture, history does not tell us what became of them. They just kind of disappeared off the pages of history once the vikings arrived, though it is not difficult to at least theorize what happened.
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Bilingual signs. Iceland is highly bilingual with English. As more than one Icelander has pointed out to us, it can be difficult to get Icelanders to speak just Icelandic to you, since they can be eager to practice their often already considerable English skills. But it dismays me whenever I hear someone from another country fortunate enough to live here express lack of interest in learning any Icelandic. To me that is disrespectful and closed-minded.
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Ancient stone tools. Stone is also a widely used construction material in Iceland, often employed to impressive effect. The reason is logical: Iceland has little in the way of trees. Once there were more forested areas, but those disappeared when the wood was used up for various purposes. But even then, most likely the wooded areas comprised very low-growing birches. Hence a well-known joke here: What do you do if you get lost in an Icelandic forest? Stand up. No rotten tomatoes, please, we heard it from Icelanders themselves!
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A panoramic display running around the wall, showing the view from this place as it existed in the old days, with animated sections showing some typical activities of the times. No really old thatched cottages survive for the obvious reason that they are naturally biodegradable.
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An interactive table display of the longhouse, with popup menus opened, scrolled through, and closed by hand movements above the surface of the table.

1st day of school

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Veröld (“World”) on the University of Iceland campus. This building — “hús Vigdísar” (“house of Vigdís”) — was founded in honor of Vigdís Finnbogadóttir (“Vigdís, Finnbogi’s daughter”), the first democratically directly elected female president in the world. She was president of Iceland from 1980 to 1996. Whereas my own country of birth, Finland, was the first, in 1906, to give women full political rights, i.e. the right to vote as well as run for office. But Finland got its first female president, Tarja Halonen, only in the year 2000. She left office in 2012.

SEPTEMBER 15th 2018 — My studies in Icelandic as a Second Language at the University of Iceland started with an orientation week in the penultimate week of August 2018. The first day was beautiful and sunny, warm but not too warm.

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Orientation event “The Keys to Success at the University of Iceland”.

I was especially impressed by the warmth radiated by the head of the program, Professor Jón Karl Helgason (“Jón Karl, Helgi’s son”). He spoke softly and with a glint of humor, starting his introductory talk with a photo of his newborn son. He told us this was going to be our competition for the coming year — he expects us to match or exceed the progress of the young one.

This warmth is something I have rarely felt in the presence of Finnish teachers, but in Iceland it is not uncommon. Many Icelanders know how to bring warmth to a whole room, as Jón Karl did. It made the place feel welcoming and supremely safe. Whereas in Finland, in my experience, it is more common for rooms to have a constant low-level tension. It makes a huge difference.

But I don’t mean to put down Finns, who can have fine qualities of their own. And I have been fortunate enough to have studied under several exceptional ones.

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The menu at the student canteen Háma (“Gobble”) on my first day.

During a break I found my way to the canteen, where I ate healthily: vegetable balls in curry pineapple sauce with pasta and salad, with a vitamin drink.

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First meal at my new “home away from home”.

Other orientation week activities included a guided tour of the campus, hotdogs and soda in the open air, and of course a student party at the on-campus Stúdentakjallarinn (“The Student Cellar”) — with free bjór (beer).

As we were told during a later visit to the Settlement Museum, beer has long been important in Iceland. In the old days, no feast would have been possible without it, and feasts were very important community-strengthening events.

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Landsbókasafn Íslands — Háskólabókasafn (“National Library of Iceland — University Library”) is the largest library in Iceland, with over a million items, including valuable manuscripts. So valuable that the library is surrounded by an actual moat. The building took 16 years to finish and opened in 1994.

I headed home in the evening to my apartment in Kópavogur (“Seal Pup Bay”), feeling it had been a good start.

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Aðalbygging (“Main Building”) at night. University of Iceland, late August 2018.

I would soon be moving much closer to the university, however. But that’s a different story.

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A cool jazz trio jammed at Stúdentakjallarinn at the close of the first orientation day.