onsdag 5. desember 2018

Sixth excerpt from "The Iron Meditation": Becoming something new

Welcome to the sixth, and last, excerpt from chapter 5 of my experimental surrealist sci-fi novel "The Iron Meditation".

The book has not yet been published in English, but you can buy the Norwegian version from here, here and here.

If you want to read an excerpt in Norwegian, you can look at this, this, this and this.

The Iron Meditation Chapter 5.6: Becoming something new

I leave what seemed to be a never-ending hall, and my path narrows between rusty copies of well-known architectural buildings that no longer exist. The profusion of statues end, and are replaced by mere reliefs on the walls. Flakes of rust hang from the ceiling, and cracking sounds come from the floor. Like this, it keeps repeating itself for minutes, maybe a quarter, maybe more. Sometimes, what now seems to be a corridor turns so I no longer have a clear sense of direction. The drumbeats have stopped.

And then I can detect a strange smell in the air. Smoke reaches me and seems to be coming from up front. The corridor widens again and I find myself in a room with high ceiling. In the middle of the room, there is some kind of goblet in silver color, standing on a square table. The smoke is coming from there, and the temperature in this room is hot. I can hear an angry, boiling sound. I approach, nonetheless, until something spills from the goblet. I take a few steps back.

An information sign informs: Goblet made of tungsten, also known as wolfram. Tungsten melts at 3422 degrees celsius and boils at 5555 degrees. Because of its great ability to withstand high temperatures, it can contain boiling iron which only needs 2861 degrees before boiling.

I walk around the table and the goblet towards a door on the other side. On the door, there is yet another information text:

Iron is a stable element and much utilized metal. It can react with other elements and create various alloys. Oxygen causes iron to rust. If iron couldn't be made into many forms like this, this park wouldn't have been possible the way it is today. Every object is iron in some form. At 1538 degrees they will melt again, and become something new.


I open the door. And close it again, in fear. In shock. Time stops. 

My breath shivers until I take it deep. My heart starts skipping beats. And then the tears come. The fear. The insecurity. 

And I look back at the smoking goblet.

This was what I wanted, and yet: What will I say? How will I communicate? On the other side, you see, is a human lady. With white, unruly hair. That's all I had time to see. I scratch my pinky finger with the nail on my thumb. Rapidly. 

OK, I think to myself. 

I open the door again, enter, and let the door close behind me. Standing still, staring at the lady.

Fifth excerpt from "The Iron Meditation": Moist bodies corrode

Welcome to the fifth excerpt from "The Iron Meditation".

"The Iron Meditation" is my experimental surrealist sci-fi book, thus far only published in Norwegian. I decided to share my first draft for the English language version of chapter 5 on my blog.

This will be the fifth of a total of six excerpts. I've taken some time thinking about this one and I've decided not to put out part 5 (of chapter 5) in its entirety since it contains some rather sexually explicit paragraphs. I also decided to turn that up in the English version which is not a direct translation of the Norwegian one.

You can buy the Norwegian version here, here, here or from other sources.

If you want to read excerpts from the Norwegian version of my book, you can take a look at this, this, this or this blog entry.

The Iron Meditation 5.5: Moist bodies corrode (edited)

[Several paragraphs are removed from here. Before the following paragraphs, the main character met a pair of humans, possibly made of iron, possibly real, possibly statues

And then it ends. As I look at them, they corrode. Within seconds their bodies turn rusty, exhanging an even metal shine for a nonreflecting dryness, like sand on a cloudy day. And to sand they turn, falling apart into red and brown powder, covering me in dust, disappearing, leaving me alone. And even colder than before.


Was it even real? The hope of something vanished, but what happened to my thirst? I brush some dust away but it seems to gradually vanish by itself. I don't really know what happened, but at least I want to get moving again.

How is it possible to make something like this? How can this park be the product of one human artist and how can it all be made of iron?

Another information sign: Rust is iron paired with oxygen.

Very well, I hope for water (H2O, that is, I'm certain).

fredag 30. november 2018

Fourth excerpt from "The Iron Meditation": Mirror the world

Welcome to the fourth excerpt from my sci-fi novel, "The Iron Meditation". What I'm putting out on my blog, is chapter 5, titled the same as the novel itself.

While the novel is not published in English yet, you can publish the Norwegian version from here, here or here.

I have also published excerpts in Norwegian: "Naturmeditasjon", "En drage av forurensning", "Det eneste mennesket i verden" and "Trommeslag".

The Iron Meditation Chapter 5.4: Mirror the world

I notice how hard it is to walk - that the preceding office eternity didn't prepare me for even a park. As if I had magical abilities or there were a god listening in, an oldfashioned iron bench appears. 

I do as I'm tempted to, lying down on it to look at a sea with a boat on amidst flying fish beneath a bavang-dhang - that is a high-tech tool with robot properties. It's heart-shaped, anyway, so it's not for everyone, neither are the submarines peeking up from the ocean. And what about the ice berg, ice adrift, polar bears and clouds in the sky? And it's all made of iron. 

Drumbeat (is a sound).

The bench slightly vibrating, shivering, floating in its coldness, or is it my skin? I'm still half naked as the world is moving and iron waves curl on the surfaces. No one is talking in the wind, I'm just observing. And I'm thinking about the drum. Will I ever actually see it, and can I play it? I'd want to be observant when the sound appears so that I can summon it within my mind and thereby co-create thus imagining myself playing the drum. But I find myself unable to visualize it properly.

Then I zone out of the present and I find myself thinking about strongmen, men with super muscles, and I add that we are not all strongmen despite our technology and knowledge on how to manipulate any gene at will (Crows are weaker than humans, but they've got beaks at least. And I do not.)

I am waiting for the drumbeat.

I repeat the memory of the sound within my head. And I manage to synchronize the memory of the sound within with another actual drumbeat from without. And that is me playing the drum.

And then I run. Passing rhinos, dragons, deers and giant octopuses, statues of famous people, villains, ghost army, straw people. And I'm out of breath. I gasp and feel as weak as those who did not consume weight supporting food. My brain is buzzing, and the taste of iron in my mouth mirror the world. I opt for the floor, lie down, scratching my knees in the process.

I'll attempt to recollect myself. And something else is new: I am terribly thirsty. Drinking water would be the loveliest thing on earth. 

It's too far to the rusty water and it's probably not the healthiest to drink. So I hope for the future to present it to me. That I will find water or that someone will bring it to me. I have my back against the floor and the floor is cold. I want to dress back into the grey cloth I still carry around, but, it's wet and will feel uncomfortable to put on.

mandag 26. november 2018

Third excerpt from "The Iron Meditation": Flower contains flame

Welcome to the third excerpt from my sci-fi novel, "The Iron Meditation".

The excerpts here are taken from one of the most surrealistic chapters of the novel, loaded with symbolism.

While the novel is not published in English yet, the Norwegian version can be bought from here, here or here.

I've also published excerpts in Norwegian. You can read "Naturmeditasjon", "En drage av forurensning", "Det eneste mennesket i verden" and "Trommeslag".

The Iron Meditation Chapter 5.3: Flower contains flame 

I see a giant flame in front of me arising from a flower made of metal. The hall in which it sits, is dimly lit by it, and the organic light from something I believe to be candles. They are like tiny sticks supporting tiny, tiny flames on top. 

And here's an information sign telling me that: 

So-called grey cast iron can appear to be pretty dark and is darker than iron in its pure form. Grey cast iron contains between 2.1 and 4 per cent carbon and 3 per cent silicon with traces of other elements. Iron has been, and remains, the most important metal, economically speaking, in the civilizations within the asteroid belt. Iron is heavy, but can be formed to anything allowed by imagination. 

Curiously, it's written in the human language of this area (our language?) Hestitantly, I walk forwards, but not too far. I could turn back to the water. I haven't seen any other liquid than that which I've been drinking since I came to this prison, and my life from before was forgotten (my memories were taken away?)

Crows have cleaned my body dryly. In the quiet (relative freedom?) I think to myself: I am the only one here (it appears). Maybe I can stay here for a long time? Is there any haste? But what if I don't have much time? What if they come for me and take me back to my room? Are there more amazing things further inside the park or should I take my time to savour everything on my way? 


I return to the rusty water and lay down. I close my eyes and inhale the smell of metal. My legs and feet are invisible under the red-brown surface. When I beat my palms against the water surface, it makes cracking sounds. I repeat, and I do it over and over. This is my drum. 

And here comes my laughter. Hitting the surface is fun. I wonder what it would be like to swim? And then I imagine my head under water and I get scared. But what if I did? Can I trust the surface to be soft when I break through, or will it be as hard as the sound of my hands beating it? 

Nauseous, I get up and out. Maybe I can return here, maybe I can't. 

I did get something. I did check out the water although I didn't dare to try and swim in it. And now I'm walking down the hall and that's new too. As is the flower and the flame. I stop in front of it and I can smell the smoke, and feel how it creates melancholia, like from a memory trying to show itself from a time I can no longer remember. 

I never smelled smoke in my office prison. 

And beyond the flower there are amazing statues of blackened iron. There are horses here. Big horses and small foals. Swans are flying through the air but they are not alive. They are made of iron too, although they move lightly. I can not understand the mechanism allowing them to fly. There is no rope, no thread, no sound of machinery. 

Here are trees and I notice the intricate patterns on their leaves. Here are insects in the air, landing and taking off from leaves and branches. And here are iron books that I cannot read or turn the pages of. I can see spiders, cows and snakes. One snake in particular attracts my attention, because she is a giant. She carries a book between her fangs and I get the idea that she thinks of it as her own, that she protects it from the world outside, from the other snakes and from it all. But also this is just a thought, because she is made of iron, so is her book and the world around. I'm the exception, because all the others here, they don't think. They don't talk and most of them do not even move. 

Second excerpt from "The Iron Meditation": Bruises manifesting to imagination

Here follows the second excerpt from "The Iron Meditation". This is taken from the first draft of the English version of the novel, up to now only released in Norwegian. The Norwegian book can be bought for example here, here or here.

The Iron Meditation Chapter 5.2: Bruises manifesting to imagination 

After momentary blindness, a narrow passage appears to me, like a tunnel or a cave. But even if it's narrow, it looks like it has even walls, floor and ceiling. So my legs move rapidly to meet it. After a few steps the floor starts sloping downwards and so does the ceiling, even more than the floor leading to the passage narrowing further and forcing me to my knees, to crawl. No light is guiding me from up front and my body blocks the light behind me. I'm wrapped up in darkness, I feel the cold from all around me, and my body is shaking lightly. I want to get out, yet I don't want to turn back. What would the crows say? And how would I exit? 

I can't remember how I entered the park and although the crows know everything, my body's the only living organism in here that I've seen since entering. Can I continue crawling in a narrow, cold place like this with no light? I imagine holes opening up in the cave top a centimeter above my head, 
and I imagine stalactites falling down from nowhere, 
like knives hidden in invisible pockets within the rock, 
the metal. 
I shudder, and my elbow painfully rubs against the wall upon the small movements of my body. See, even a small movement is enough. A stalactite is overkill. It's enough to get distracted at the wrong time and I'll kill myself by being uncareful. 

However, this was what I wanted, 
something else than my office prison, to be a place where actions matter and there is a choice of action. Returning to the office and what do I get? To be locked up there for months more before seeing anything else than its walls, the food they bring me and what technology simulates? This line of reasoning seems to give birth to yet another thought, slightly comforting but tainted by my disbelief: The artist who created this park, whose name I know to be Ugnis, why would he make a dangerous park? (I know I can think up numerous answers if I take my time). And what use do crows have of danger? (Abstract. But I won't take my time to break down this question). 

I detect a chill wanting to be born, but I stop it in time only to be answered by a drumbeat that's not too friendly. But I find myself crawling again, investigating the floor in front of me, trying to find out if there's anything sharp coming out from it. It's pitch dark and any time now I will injure myself. Well, as long as I'm careful, it won't be too bad. I investigate the walls as I move slowly forwards. And suddenly it all tilts forward and I'm pushed on. I lose my grip and I find myself sliding down the iron slope escaping the cold, falling head first. Picking up speed, and movement fills it all. The sinking feeling inside, like my organs going sore all at once. Darkness surrounds me. They had to kill me in the end! 

I'm gaining speed and I slide faster and faster. I close my eyes but it doesn't take away anything from my fear, so I open them. A bulk hits my right hand, slides along my arm, glides along my torso, scratching me up a little. 

Stripes of blood appear to my imagination and then I feel how it's wet beneath me. There is liquid on the slope! And it doesn't break my fall, it only makes my speed increase. And under the liquid, 
the ground gets yet more uneven. And there is a stinging sensation. And then, 
it slows down. The slide flattens out a little, but it's still wet and I have a taste of iron in my mouth. Then there's a little bit of light, a warm, organic light, with tints of orange, like the light of fire. There is water around me, and it is reddish brown, or is it only reflection? 

Then... I find myself lying still and I am still alive. I rise with my back bent to make room for my head. The ceiling is still a bit low, but I can move forwards with my body almost erect. The water deepens and smells the same as the taste in my mouth and the images of my mind. Like blood. I wade on to reach a giant hall where there is plenty of room beneath the ceiling. And now it's not too cold anymore. 


lørdag 24. november 2018

First excerpt from "The Iron Meditation": Blood loses shine

My sci-fi novel, "The Iron Meditation", deals with themes such as the nature of guilt, marginalization, terrorism, speciesism (that is the discrimination of animals based on their species) and anthropocracy (the view of humans as rulers of the world, basically one of today's ruling ideologies). My novel is only published in Norwegian (e-book) and can be bought for example here, here or here.

Here, I will publish my first English draft of chapter 5, having titled the same as the novel itself: "The Iron Meditation". There will be 5 (or 6) excerpts. This is the first, called "Blood loses shine".

Up till this point, the main character has been held imprisoned by crows, not knowing for what. Finally he is given some variation from his prison room, being taken to the Iron Park.

The Iron Meditation Chapter 5.1: Blood loses shine 

The silver grey surroundings sparkle as I stand within them. Spheres of sharp light hover in the air as the silver grey iron surfaces reflect them back. Surface is upon surface and the walls are curved and broken by all kinds of formations extending out from them. They are like stalactites and stalagmites. Others are like bubbles. Small pyramids rise out of the floor here and there. Other places I find sharp spikes. The sound of a muted drumbeat reach me from somewhere. The sound bounces between the walls, and in front of me the iron park continues as far as I can see. Then another drumbeat reaches my mind. 

I sit down involuntarily and bend over the metal floor. I lay my cheek against it and feel the stone cold against my skin. I sigh while bouncing chills ride down my spine. Then I undress my torso. I throw away the black cloth I've been wearing and place as much as possible of my body against the metal surfarce. The floor is smooth and beautiful. 

"Wow!" I exclaim in excitement. I can't remember having felt a cold like this ever. I rub my face toward the floor, like were I a cat. "M" I say. 

If someone was watching me, I could tell them I'm only a human animal who hasn't experienced much the last year. The crows already know. They know it all. 

So away with these thoughts. I roll around and I feel the sensations toward my skin. I can see the goosebumps on it. Small ones. 

Another drumbeat comes from deeper within the iron park. It echoes, and residual sound remains. In the room, and within my head. How big can this park be? What more can I find here? I turn around while still lying on the floor. Now it doesn't feel as cold anymore because of my body that's been on it for I don't know hoe long. I'm done with the floor and rise from it, sharpening my concentration. If I start walking, I must remember that the floor's not even. What if my foot is protruded by an iron spark, a needle, or bruises against unpolished metal? I imagine myself bleeding from protruded feet, how my blood will sparkle dimly and how it will gradually turn cold, congeal and lose its shine.  

I take a few steps, careful not to cause any situation that will make me shed blood. I move my right foot carefully through a passage between two tall iron cones. At first with my foot pointing forwards until I turn it so that I will have a better grip while I let the other foot follow. The drumbeat sounds again as my hand touches a strange iron formation that reminds me of a miniature pine tree. A non-organic pine tree, in any case, in sparkling grey, almost white. When I hold my hand over the tree, my hand takes on its reflection of pure iron. It fades as I move my hand until my entire body turns sparkly from the reflection from a big, blank surface. I imagine it absorbed by my pale, weak body. But I will walk it off as soon as I take a few steps. Then it will return from somewhere else and disappear again. I walk past more iron cones, orbs, spheres, stars and cylinders, and as I reach the brightest place, another drumbeat reaches me. 

tirsdag 30. oktober 2018

Utdrag fra Jernmeditasjonen: Trommeslag

Det er ett år siden jeg lanserte sci-fi-romanen Jernmeditasjonen som e-bok. En god måte å markere det på er ved å legge ut en rekke utdrag. Dette utdraget er hentet fra kapittel 5 med samme tittel som boken, altså "Jernmeditasjonen". Jeg velger å kalle utdraget for "Trommeslag".


Her det fantastiske statuer av nesten helt sort jern. Det er hester her. Store hester, men også føll. Det er svaner som flyr naturtro gjennom luften. De beveger seg lett. Men også disse er av jern. De henger ikke i noe. De bare svever, eller flyr, eller er der på vingene. Her er trær. Høye og prangende, med beskyttende kroner. Bladene er detaljerte, med fine årer. Her er insekter i luften. Her er bøker av jern, som man ikke kan bla i. Her er edderkopper. Her er kuer. Her er slanger. Spesielt en statue der en slange åler seg opp høyt over resten, med en bok i munnen, treffer meg som spesiell. Slangen forsvarer liksom boken mot de andre, mot omverdenen. Men ingen kan snakke, og de fleste beveger seg heller ikke.

Jeg merker det er tungt å gå, at jeg ikke er vant til det. Og ikke før har jeg tenkt tanken, før en gammeldags benk i mørkt jern dukker opp. Jeg legger meg oppå den, og ser utover en havflate med hoppende fisker over, med en båt duvende oppå, med et bavang-dhang så vidt dinglende over. Altså et sånt teknologisk redskap med robotlignende egenskaper. Det er litt hjerteaktig, så det passer neppe for alle. 

Jeg ser ubåter titte opp. U-båter med klesstativ-lignende stråleapparater for tilknabbing av informasjon på toppen. Jeg ser duppende isfjell, flytende isflak med bjørner på, og jeg ser skyer fly over himmelen. Alt i jern, alt i spissfindig spesielle varianter av mørkegrått. Nå kommer selvfølgelig også trommeslaget på nytt. 

Benken under meg duver i sin kulde og fasthet. Jeg er fortsatt naken på overkroppen. Verden beveger seg. Bølgene av jern klirrer seg over flatene. 

Det er ingen stemme i noen vind. 

Jeg ligger her og observerer. Og så begynner jeg å tenke litt på om det hadde vært gøy å slå på den trommen.

Jeg vil være observant og oppmerksom akkurat når trommeslaget kommer, sånn at jeg kan mane det frem i eget hode, og delta i det. Ikke bare ta det inn, men innbille meg at også jeg slår på trommen. Av en eller annen grunn er jeg smertelig klar over at jeg ikke ser meg selv slå på noen tromme. Jeg klarer ikke visualisere det, klarer ikke se det for mitt indre blikk. 

Jeg tenker på sterke menn med supermuskler. Tross genterapier er vi ikke alle like sterke ennå. Og selv nå er kråkene svakere enn oss fysisk. Men så har de nebbene sine da. Og det teller jo ikke så rent lite. Men hvis noen skrapet nebbet sitt mot ru metall, ville jeg bli irritert. Men nå har jeg nesten glemt meg bort. 

Jeg venter på trommeslaget. Jeg holder lyden inni hodet mitt, og gjentar den. Og så treffer jeg. Lyden kommer utenfra idet jeg starter et nytt slag inni meg. 

Så slo jeg litt på tromme likevel.


Vil du lese mer? Jernmeditasjonen kan kjøpes blant annet på Boldbooks:  https://boldbooks.no/bokhandel/jernmeditasjonen/

Du kan også kjøpe den for eksempel på ebok.no eller på Amazon

Utdrag fra Jernmeditasjonen: Det eneste mennesket i verden

Det er ett år siden jeg lanserte min sci-fi-roman "Jernmeditasjonen" som e-bok. Jeg tenkte en fin måte å markere det på var å legge ut en rekke utdrag her på bloggen. Dette er hentet fra kapittel 2, "Prajnas". Jeg velger å kalle utdraget for "Det eneste mennesket i verden":


Hvis jeg er det eneste mennesket igjen, bærer jeg på en måte menneskehetens ry på mine skuldre. Men for den saks skyld; hvilket inntrykk har kråkene av meg eller andre mennesker i det hele tatt? Vi er tross alt historiens tapere. Jeg får tenke på noe, og håpe på at jeg blir trøtt en gang. 

Jeg kan se for meg en ren planet hvor det fortsatt er natur. Altså trær og grønne ting. Hvor det er mange farger. Hvor det er glede. Hvor det er mennesker i forskjellige aldre. Hvor det er snø. Og klart sollys. Og måne. Kanskje flere måner, til og med. Stjerner. Og vann. Blanke vannflater. Hoppende fisk. Krepsdyr på havbunnen. Tang. Sjøgress. Maneter. Korallrev. Og fjell over havet, selvfølgelig. Kjempehøye fjell. Olympus Mons-fjellet på Mars, mye større enn noe fjell på jorden. Det hadde vært fint å se. Jeg husker et bilde jeg så av noen på toppen av det… Det var hunder der også… Eller kanskje det bare var en animasjon. Men fint var det. 

Romskip. Tenk å gå inn i et, slik som pionerene gjorde for flere hundre år siden, med høy risiko for ikke å kunne komme tilbake til jorden. Følelsen av å forlate, kanskje for alltid. Følelsen av å begi seg ut på et dristig eventyr. Reise sin vei. Spenningen i brystet. Håpet om den nye verden. Jernrust og korrodert metall. Og masse bevegelse. Fart. Eller kanskje merket man ikke farten, det har jeg ikke lest noe om. Men i alle fall. 

Mot noe nytt.


Vil du lese mer?

Jernmeditasjonen kan kjøpes hos Boldbooks, her: https://boldbooks.no/bokhandel/jernmeditasjonen/

Eller for eksempel på ebok.no eller Amazon.

Utdrag fra Jernmeditasjonen: En drage av forurensning

Det er ett år siden jeg lanserte sci-fi-romanen "Jernmeditasjonen" som e-bok. Det tenkte jeg markere med å legge ut noen utdrag fra boken. Her er det første. Dette er en liten del av kapittel 11, "Redet", og jeg velger å kalle utdraget for "En drage av forurensning":


Lyset er blodet i en drage av forurensning. Lyset spiller gjennom huden der den er tynn. For lys er likevel ikke helt som blod. Har du forsøkt å holde lys mot fingrene dine? Blir de ikke lysende rosa, kanskje? Har dette noensinne skremt deg? Vi bor i en drage, og lyset kjører gjennom det gigantiske monsteret som bilene i din tid kjører gjennom tunneler. Denne dragen husker jeg fra drømmen jeg hadde i natt. Også husker jeg hvordan den begynte å sprekke. Jeg husker hvordan lyset ble sterkere, hvordan det begynte å dryppe som blod fra sår. Så ble lyset ekstremt intenst og jeg var med ett tilbake til den natten - natten med det sterke lyset. Eksplosjonen. Ødeleggelsen. Jeg våknet og brukte noen sekunder på å oppfatte rommets mørke. Det var ikke uvelkomment, det kan jeg love deg. 

Frokosten min er en gigantisk grønn frukt med prikker på. Den lukter merkelig og smaker tilsvarende. Jeg spiser med en gammeldags skje. Spisingen går langsomt og jeg er utålmodig. Jeg sukker over frukten. Ser stramt på den. Ser ut vinduet på den mørklyse verden. Dragen. Det er en drage, men lyset flyter ikke gjennom den like dramatisk som i drømmen min. Jeg lurer på hvordan det var for folk før. Og for kråkene. Tenk å gå i gatene. Tenk å gå inn på en kafé og bestille noe å drikke. Tenk å se kråkene rote i søppelboksene eller hoppe bort fortauene. Tenk å se klart og ikke gjennom røyk. Tenk å aldri å ha sett lik ligge i gatene. Jeg stirrer på frukten min. Ser ut vinduet igjen. Og sukker nok en gang. 

Var det sant det jeg hadde sagt til Rasjitoja, at det ligger i menneskenaturen å skape slik ødeleggelse? I så fall; er hvert menneske et potensielt monster? Burde jeg ikke da mest av alt ønske å sitte her for meg selv?


Du kan kjøpe Jernmeditasjonen på Boldbooks, hvor du også finner flere utdrag: https://boldbooks.no/bokhandel/jernmeditasjonen/

... eller for eksempel på ebok.no eller Amazon

mandag 29. oktober 2018

Har helgekosen skylda?

Skillet mellom grå hverdag og helgekos

Det diskuteres om BMI-indeksen må endres fordi flertallet av nordmenn nå regnes som overvektige. Kan et flertall ha høyere vekt enn normalen? Er ikke normalen per definisjon flertallet? Nylig ble det også publisert en undersøkelse som viser at Norge er på andreplass i verden over land hvor størst andel av befolkningen drikker alkohol. Jeg tror mange forbinder god mat og alkohol med helgekos og det å ta en pause fra en grå hverdag. Dette skillet mellom grå hverdag og helgekos er temaet for dette innlegget og jeg stiller spørsmål om dette skillet kan være uheldig.

"Det er lov å la seg friste" og "det er lov å kose seg"

Mange av oss kan huske reklamen fra Minde sjokolade om at det er lov å la seg friste. Dette var en veldig effektiv reklame; jeg husker den bedre enn gangetabellen! Noe av grunnen til at den var effektiv var at den spilte på verdier vi allerede kjenner igjen; det er lov å kose seg (litt ekstra!) For mange av oss er dette barnelærdom. Vi får det ikke inn så tidlig som med morsmelka, men vi får det inn med lørdagsgodtet. Helgen skal være spesiell og noe annerledes, og da er det endelig lov å spise godteri (kanskje til og med litt mye). Vi blir fortalt at søtsaker ikke er bra for tennene, og kanskje til og med for helsa forøvrig. Noen av oss overhører kanskje foreldrene våre bekymre seg for vekta også. Vi må allerede som barn forholde oss til et paradoks: Vi skal ha det litt mer hyggelig med noe som er litt mer skadelig.


Virkeligheten er sjelden sort-hvit, og det skader ikke at vi er ærlige rundt dette. Samtidig spør jeg meg om ikke det er noe usunt med våre vanlige forestillinger rundt helgekos og grå hverdag. Ville det ikke vært bedre om vi koset oss med noe som var både sanselig godt og bra for helsa? Og igjen; hvis det var både sanselig godt og bra for helsa, hvorfor skulle vi da måtte begrense det til helgene og spesielle stunder? Kunne ikke vi da gjøre det oftere? Den grå hverdagen er kjip og kjedelig, men sunnere hva kommer til livsstil (og applauderes av den protestantiske arbeidsmoralen) mens helgekosen innebærer nytelse, men også utskeielse og overdrivelse som ofte innebærer noe usunt (usunn mat, alkohol, rus, sukker). Det er altså ikke sort-hvitt. Hverdagen er både bra og dårlig, helga er både bra og dårlig. Men kunne vi ikke heller ha som mål at alt skal være bra?


Den tankens motstykke finnes i ønsket om å ha noen annerledesdager. Dette kommer frem i diskursen om søndagene, helligdager og høytidsdager. Spesielle dager som løftes ut av rutinen, men likevel har et rituelt fastsatt innhold, er ikke spesifikt for Norge, Norden eller Vesten, men er allment menneskelig. Dette peker mot at disse tingene springer ut av et slags underliggende behov eller tjener en, kanskje sosial, nyttefunksjon. Det sagt er markeringen av annerledesdagene ulik fra kultur til kultur og har endret seg gjennom tidene, også i Norge. Det er også individuelle forskjeller når det kommer til hvor viktig man føler disse markeringene er og det er variabel tilslutning til ulike markeringer.

Det er ikke det å ha annerledesdager jeg stiller spørsmål ved, det er innholdet i disse annerledesdagene og hvordan vi forstår skillet mellom annerledesdagene og hverdagene.

Kulturell forestilling

Det som bekymrer meg er forestillingen om at hverdagen skal være kontrollert og produktiv. Vi holder oss selv i tøylene og utøver selvkontroll mens det vi egentlig vil er det vi også mener egentlig ikke er bra for oss selv eller samfunnet. Helga kommer, eller ferien, og det er tid for å drikke mer alkohol, glemme å spise sunt og sette treningssenteret på pause. Gjennom dette handlingsmønsteret bekrefter man en nedvurdering av hverdagen (som utgjør mesteparten av ens tid) og forsterker statusen til det man vet er usunt. Den andre siden av den samme mynten er forestillingen noen har om at sunne ting ikke kan smake godt, av og til eksemplifisert i utsagn som at "tenk at noe så sunt kan smake så godt" (implisitt at det som regel ikke gjør det). Dette er så vanlige holdninger at mange antagelig tenker på dem som objektive sannheter, eller kanskje litt svakere som en subjektiv mening de har gjort seg opp selv, men som bygger på erfaring.

Problemet er at vi sosialiseres inn i dette skillet mellom kontrollert og traust hverdag og utskeielse i helgene, og at det verken er en objektiv sannhet eller nødvendigvis en subjektiv erfaring, men en kulturell forestilling. Over tid er det nærliggende at folk vil søke mer og mer mot helgekosen og den vil fylle mer og mer tid. Helga blir lengre, det blir mer fyll på ferie og utskeielsene blir voldsommere, fordi vi har lært at det er dette som er det litt gode. Det er dette som er koselig, selv om vi fortsatt vet at det er usunt. Fornektelse av at det er usunt, er et verktøy for å utvide helgekosen, men vet vi ikke egentlig sannheten?

Brutalitet og undertrykkelse

En annen side av det samme problemet, er hverdagen. Jeg hører noen ganger utsagn som at "jobb ikke skal være gøy", "du trenger ikke like det du gjør" og "fritid er fritid". Det er en del av den samme kulturelle forestillingen, og legger opp til en slags brutalitet. Man skal undertrykke seg selv og finne seg i kjedsomhet og mistrivsel, bygge opp stadig mer frustrasjon. Det er ikke så farlig som det høres ut for helgen kommer og da kan man gjøre som man vil og skeie ut.

Bra på alle fronter

Men trenger det være slik? Bør man ikke gjøre noe man liker også i hverdagen og da heller gjøre noe annerledes som også er bra i helgene? Bør det ikke være bra på alle fronter?

Jeg innser selvfølgelig at man ikke kan like ting på kommando og at det kan være vanskelig å finne ting man liker og det som er bra på alle fronter, men det betyr ikke at det ikke bør være et mål eller at vi bør gi opp før vi i det hele tatt har forsøkt.

Alternativet til at vi sosialiseres inn i forestillingen om en grå hverdag som står imot helgekos, er at vi oppfordres til å finne ut av, hver for oss, 

Hva er det som er bra for meg?

(Selv er jeg vegan, avholds og supersunn. Mange tror jeg utviser stor viljestyrke og at livsstilen min er asketisk, men det er ikke slik jeg oppfatter det. Det er dette som er bra for meg).

mandag 21. mai 2018

Beyond category: Seeing animals as individuals

Beyond category: Seeing animals as individuals 

In my previous entry, "Vegan... for your own good" I claimed that eating meat is not in your own interest as an animal has more to give alive than dead. Killing the animal for food is to sacrifice a unique individual for the sake of inferior food. There is a major possible objection to this, and that is: You do not, normally, meet the animals you eat. They are not in your life whilst alive, but the meat products they are turned into, can be. If meat is unhealthy, it still wouldn't be worth it to exchange your money for something that is damaging to yourself. However, let's go down a different road. Would you be thinking the same way about humans?

Individualism versus collectivism 

Often, nonhuman animals are viewed as categories rather than separate individuals. That is, whilst Angelica the human has properties ascribed to Angelica, the individual, Penny, the horse, has properties ascribed to the horse species. While it would be scandalous for Angelica not to be named, Penny being named is optional. 

Individualism means seeing those you meet as individuals rather than as representatives of their group membership  (often not assigned by themselves but by the human individual who defines). This can encompass individuals of other species as well as humans. A given individual of cat species can matter more to you, yourself, as an individual person, than another given individual belonging to the human species. You might care more for Penny, the horse, than Angelica, the human, or vice versa depending on who enriches your life the most. 

This view, however, is controversial. Many people seem to think you ought automatically to place every single human above every single individual of another species just because of their species membership. This view is collectivistic. Which club you are in matters more than who you really are. This is twice damaging. First of all, it teaches us to automatically view any nonhuman individual as inferior to a human one. This is unfair to the animal who isn't even permitted a true evaluation. Second, it is potentially damaging to the human who buys into the collectivist view. If Penny the horse is good to this human, and Angelica the human is not, he tries to place someone worse above someone better. 

Individualism also entails viewing the judgment of an individual more important than the customs and prejudices of society. That is: The fact that the collectivist view of animals is prevailing in society, should not matter. 

The supremacy of the human species

What is there to say for the view that all humans are more valuable than all nonhumans?

Intelligence is often mentioned. Humans are simply more intelligent. While this seems to be true when speaking of the species as a whole, there are exceptions, and a claim stating that ALL humans are more intelligent than ALL nonhumans would be false. Grown up crows are, as a rule, more intelligent than human infants or grown up humans with certain brain damages. While the grown up crows might be able to make simple tools and communicate between themselves, the human infants and brain damaged, might not. If intelligence were all that mattered, these grown up crows would have higher value and more rights than the humans mentioned. 

Other traits and properties proposed to be of defining value also elude being relevant for all humans and no nonhumans. 

The Egoist Viewpoint 

From the Egoist viewpoint, the value of another individual doesn't depend on what species or group he belongs to, but rather as to what he means to you, yourself, for better or worse.

This blogpost is based on my article "Veganer for ditt eget beste" on Masterbloggen (in Norwegian). Here, I chose to divide it into two separate articles. The article is based on my master thesis "The Ethical Egoist Case for Dietary Veganism, or the Individual Animal and His Will to Live". 

torsdag 17. mai 2018

Vegan... for your own good

for your own good

Is it a sacrifice to give up on meat and other animal products? Quite the contrary: It is a sacrifice not to be vegan. 

Veganism is on the rise. For what reason? To unselfishly and self-desertingly give up the taste of meat in order to save the world? Or... could it be that going vegan is the rational thing to do? Could it be that this is what would be beneficial to yourself? 

In my master thesis, I argued that embracing a vegan diet is the right thing to do from a standpoint even of ethical egoism. 

The Egoist Viewpoint

In this context, Egoism refers to the ethical view that choosing what is most beneficial to yourself is the correct thing to do. Given a choice between two options, the option beneficial to yourself is the good option, the option less beneficial or most detrimental to yourself is the evil option. 

There are many different versions of ethical egoism. I am primarily inspired by philosophers Max Stirner, Friedrich Nietzsche and Ayn Rand

Now, what is a self-benefitting choice? That is choosing the action(s) that help further your life. That is: the action(s) that make(s) you stronger, increase(s) your options, lengthen(s) and enrichen(s) your life. What weakens you is not self-benefitting. That is: a temporary high that leaves more damage than good in the long run is to be avoided according to this understanding of morality. 

Values worth keeping

The good(s) that enrichens and lengthens your life can be called values. When you collect values, you act in your own self-interest. 

Values are not necessarily material. A value can be a useful trait in yourself or in another person, that is a virtue. Living individuals can also constitute values. For one, they might have valuable traits, that is virtues. Second, for any reason, they might enrichen your life and contribute to your happiness. Individuals who contribute to your happiness constitute values. 

What is valuable is what you seek for. When you get it, you do your best to keep it. And the other way round: To exchange a value for something less valuable or even valueless, is morally incorrect given ethical egoism. An example of this would be to obey your parents in their aspirations for you, say in choosing a carreer, when you have better options that would make you happier. Exchanging a good for a neutral or a bad is a sacrifice and morally wrong.

What is most valuable to you? 

Choosing meat or animal products over a vegan alternative, could constitute a sacrifice. Given that you could choose between a diet based on animal products and a vegan diet, the question will be: What is most valuable to you?

I will take a look at two ways as to how meat eating could constitute a sacrifice: 
* If the individual animal has a value whilst alive, and this value is lost when that individual dies
* If meat or any animal product is less healthy than a vegan alternative

Would you have eaten a dog?

Nonhuman animals matter to us. Many of us have grown up with a companion dog or cat. Let's imagine you had a dog named Zeus. He had certain traits personal to himself and you think of him as an individual. 

If you've known other dogs, you'd probably recognize that they were each different from each other: that every one was unique. Maybe Zeus was especially intelligent? Maybe he was especially energetic? Or perhaps he was a lazy couch potato. 

Zeus was probably also very different from all the human individuals you knew. Zeus was more than "just a dog". He had specific traits and properties that the humans you know do not share. That is: Your dog Zeus was unique. Not only was he irreplaceable by any other dog: neither a human individual could ever fill his place. 

Can you imagine your dog Zeus being mashed up and turned into meatballs? Well. In most parts of the world, it is not common to eat dogs, so this thought experiment might seem odd to you. But what if Zeus wasn't a dog? Say he was a pig. 

Pigs can also be companions to humans. They have unique and individual personalities. Say Zeus the pig was your companion. What would be most valuable to you: Zeus, the companion, or the sausages he could be turned into? 

If you kill an animal to turn her into food, you sacrifice a personality. This is because a personality depends on a living body to sustain it. A corpse is rid of personality and cannot fulfill the functions of the living. 

What about your health?
And then what about the food itself? Let's just agree for the sake of argument that meat is unhealthy and that replacing it with a healthy vegan rich in fresh vegetables, fruit and vegan protein sources such as beans and lentils is an option. Then how could it be in your own interest to keep eating animal products?

A meatless diet can  be healthier than a diet containing meat. The so-called Adventist studies in the US found out that vegans have lower risk of obesity, diabetes type 2, cardiac disease and high blood pressure.

Now, nutrition is way too complex for us to conclude with certainty that a vegan diet is better than a meat based one. However, assuming that meat is less healthy than good vegan options, and assuming that living animals have value, then meat production is a negative value converter, turning value into nonvalue. That is, the living animal individual is turned into unhealthy food. A good is given up for a bad. 

The practice is detrimental. 

This post is based on my article "Veganer for ditt eget beste" found on Masterbloggen. The article is based on my master thesis "The Ethical Egoist Case for Dietary Veganism, or the Individual Animal and His Will to Live". 

The original article, in Norwegian, is longer. I figured it allowed for easier reading to divide the article in two and thus publish the second half as a separate entry.