Thursday, July 19, 2012
Friday, May 25, 2012
Thursday, July 7, 2011
To see a world in a grain of sand, And a heaven in a wild flower, Hold infinity in the palm of your hand, And eternity in an hour. A robin redbreast in a cage Puts all heaven in a rage. A dove-house fill'd with doves and pigeons Shudders hell thro' all its regions. A dog starv'd at his master's gate Predicts the ruin of the state. A horse misused upon the road Calls to heaven for human blood. Each outcry of the hunted hare A fibre from the brain does tear. A skylark wounded in the wing, A cherubim does cease to sing. The game-cock clipt and arm'd for fight Does the rising sun affright. Every wolf's and lion's howl Raises from hell a human soul. The wild deer, wand'ring here and there, Keeps the human soul from care. The lamb misus'd breeds public strife, And yet forgives the butcher's knife. The bat that flits at close of eve Has left the brain that won't believe. The owl that calls upon the night Speaks the unbeliever's fright. He who shall hurt the little wren Shall never be belov'd by men. He who the ox to wrath has mov'd Shall never be by woman lov'd. The wanton boy that kills the fly Shall feel the spider's enmity. He who torments the chafer's sprite Weaves a bower in endless night. The caterpillar on the leaf Repeats to thee thy mother's grief. Kill not the moth nor butterfly, For the last judgement draweth nigh. He who shall train the horse to war Shall never pass the polar bar. The beggar's dog and widow's cat, Feed them and thou wilt grow fat. The gnat that sings his summer's song Poison gets from slander's tongue. The poison of the snake and newt Is the sweat of envy's foot. The poison of the honey bee Is the artist's jealousy. The prince's robes and beggar's rags Are toadstools on the miser's bags. A truth that's told with bad intent Beats all the lies you can invent. It is right it should be so; Man was made for joy and woe; And when this we rightly know, Thro' the world we safely go. Joy and woe are woven fine, A clothing for the soul divine. Under every grief and pine Runs a joy with silken twine. The babe is more than swaddling bands; Every farmer understands. Every tear from every eye Becomes a babe in eternity; This is caught by females bright, And return'd to its own delight. The bleat, the bark, bellow, and roar, Are waves that beat on heaven's shore. The babe that weeps the rod beneath Writes revenge in realms of death. The beggar's rags, fluttering in air, Does to rags the heavens tear. The soldier, arm'd with sword and gun, Palsied strikes the summer's sun. The poor man's farthing is worth more Than all the gold on Afric's shore. One mite wrung from the lab'rer's hands Shall buy and sell the miser's lands; Or, if protected from on high, Does that whole nation sell and buy. He who mocks the infant's faith Shall be mock'd in age and death. He who shall teach the child to doubt The rotting grave shall ne'er get out. He who respects the infant's faith Triumphs over hell and death. The child's toys and the old man's reasons Are the fruits of the two seasons. The questioner, who sits so sly, Shall never know how to reply. He who replies to words of doubt Doth put the light of knowledge out. The strongest poison ever known Came from Caesar's laurel crown. Nought can deform the human race Like to the armour's iron brace. When gold and gems adorn the plow, To peaceful arts shall envy bow. A riddle, or the cricket's cry, Is to doubt a fit reply. The emmet's inch and eagle's mile Make lame philosophy to smile. He who doubts from what he sees Will ne'er believe, do what you please. If the sun and moon should doubt, They'd immediately go out. To be in a passion you good may do, But no good if a passion is in you. The whore and gambler, by the state Licensed, build that nation's fate. The harlot's cry from street to street Shall weave old England's winding-sheet. The winner's shout, the loser's curse, Dance before dead England's hearse. Every night and every morn Some to misery are born, Every morn and every night Some are born to sweet delight. Some are born to sweet delight, Some are born to endless night. We are led to believe a lie When we see not thro' the eye, Which was born in a night to perish in a night, When the soul slept in beams of light. God appears, and God is light, To those poor souls who dwell in night; But does a human form display To those who dwell in realms of day.
Friday, November 26, 2010
Dear Dr. Zachausson,
In a trekking trip in the forest of Kolmarden I came across a very curious manuscript that begs your attention. I haven’t disclosed this to anyone else and in attaching this artifact; I seek your advice to whether this document is credible and if it begs any physiological interpretation or statutory actions. I am so thoroughly perplexed by this discovery that I think this manuscript might actually require, as bizarre as it may sound, a preternatural explanation. Please note that the last entry is clearly not of the writer’s hand and is mysteriously enough, not signed off.
“April 12th, 10:35 (ante meridiem)
I haven’t kept much account of the length of time that has passed after I have come to reside here in Kolmarden. I am not also aware of the purpose of these chronicles that I have started, nor am I aware of how long I would keep up with this practice. I know, however, that experience begs to be represented. More than manifestation, though, I think my experiences need to be accounted for before they are forgotten. I am fairly certain that this journal won’t be read by anyone else, but I think I need to write this for me to read and to understand the present Kasper in the future. I was given these gifts of experience and I will not waste them.
As a young person, I was much saner. I could think more clearly and I had many lofty dreams. I tended to chase them, like young people do. But my calling wasn’t for cars or fame, it was bizarre. It was never that simple. Coming to think of it now, it might even define much of my beliefs now. I can’t exactly say if I am thankful for it, but I do know that if not for those experiences that it brought I would not be living this life in Kolmarden, alone.
When I was in London and Stockholm, I loved collecting stories from people, about people. Very often, I found myself listening to them about the stories that they had to tell about their past experiences, be it happy or sorrow. Occasionally, I wrote about them in my little book. I don’t know where I put it though. After graduation from the Royal School of Music, I searched for jobs. I met many people and heard many stories. I listened to them, and with each story I started feeling that I had become these people who told them. I could empathize with them so fully that very often I scared myself. I enjoyed it though. I always thought it made me special. Coming to think of it now, I thrived on that feeling of connection. It felt strangely gratifying.
But there was the story of this young woman, which made me look at life differently. I can’t bear to think of her now. I think I will write about this later.
- Kasper Alfven
April 12th, 9:50 (post meridiem)
Coming far away from these people makes me feel that I can’t listen to their stories anymore. However, I can still listen to myself. So, (How I love this!) here goes…
Kasper Alfven left his little cozy house to sit in his porch this morning. It’s chilly, especially when it’s breezy. The coniferous trees around him rustle loudly in the wind and echo from the mountains. Sometimes Kasper thinks that his creaky chair rocks because of the sounds the trees make. He liked the chilly weather quite a bit. He never would have survived the tropics. It was probably why he never traveled there, though he wanted to know who lived there and what they did. And what kind of music they played. What kind of stories they had to tell. No… probably he might not want to listen to their stories, lest one turns out like that of… Odyne…
Anyway, the morning, for the most part was pleasant just like the brambleberry tea that he had grown to like. He brewed it himself from the berries he picked from bushes. There were some flower bushes around his log house.
He started writing a chirpy chord progression and tried to develop it into a tune in the manuscript papers he was holding. It went along the lines of: F major, G major, D major, A major. He scribbled furiously, pausing briefly every minute or so to hum the tune before drawing the musical note on the paper. Then he drew a blank. There wasn’t much else that he could describe in the tune; there wasn’t any more emotion that he could invoke from his creation. He lacked inspiration.
He got out of his chair and walked around his small unkempt garden. It was early spring and the blue woodland anemone wildflowers were the first to bloom. They had large purple petals and a coruscating pattern of stigmas in the middle. Kasper sometimes felt that they would trap his finger and suck him excruciatingly within its enticing core.
He lived in the middle of the Kolmarden. He ruled the forest and the mountains around him. He owned nature to inspire him, to manifest the ultimate beauty into a more tangible form: music. Kasper looked at the gloomy white sky. It was laden with clouds and they blocked the Sun. The forest was slowly turning green in the spring, but somehow, he felt that it was turning into winter.
- Kasper Alfven
April 15th, 2:20 (post meridiem)
He had lived here for over 6 or 7 years in Kolmarden, waiting for his best musical piece. He didn’t quite understand, why else he would stay here, but it felt serenely calming. For the past few months though, things never seemed in place. The thought of Odyne and her experiences haunted him in some sense. He could never complete any work that he had started. He got easily distracted. He saw himself in two minds, in a different perspective, as if he didn’t live in Kolmarden. Speaking of which… why am I in third per…
April 24th, 9:25 (ante meridiem)
I had few friends and my parents, after sending me to college in England, rarely saw me again. They had grown old, had enough wealth to take care of themselves and didn’t have much interest their children, especially me. I didn’t care much about them either. When I left for Kolmarden, I didn’t have to tell anyone that I was leaving, because few would even know that I was gone. Probably Odyne… drats… I can’t stop thinking of her.
May 4th, 11:35 (post meridiem)
I have been feeling so angry and exasperated recently! I feel that nothing is within my control! Kasper’s thoughts aren’t his anymore.
May 29th, 15:30 (post meridiem)
I have nothing against market trips, as long as people don’t talk to me. He doesn’t want to hear your stories, don’t tell Kasper your stories! Just don’t. In and out, I am stocked for another couple of months.
- Kasper Alfven
June 3rd, 2:30 (ante meridiem)
June 4th, 9:40 (ante meridiem)
I have been averting the topic of Odyne from my mind that I think its time I write about her at length. It might give me some peace. I hope and I pray.
I met her on the 3rd of October (I can’t forget anything about that day) outside Royal Albert Hall. This frail young girl, probably in her late twenties, was standing outside that magnificent landmark in Kensington. She was wearing a faded yellow scarf a pale white dress. I couldn’t tell if it was pale from the fabric or from the dirt, but it seemed pretty. Her eyes were large and blue. She smiled coyly at me and asked me if I had change for a shilling for a bus ride back home. I smiled at her warmly and handed her a few more shillings without counting them. She handed me back the coins and said, “Thank you very much sir. But do you not have any pennies that I could exchange for this shilling?”
After fishing out some pennies from my pocket and accepting her coin, I asked her if she would mind me walking her to the train station. She smiled warmly and said sweetly, “I would love that. These aren’t the safest parts, and you seem like a nice person.”
“Nice to meet you, I am Kasper. I live nearby at Bolton and had some business at the Hall. I have to take the train too.”
“Odyne. It’s a pleasure to meet you too,” she bowed slightly as she kept pace with my stride. I realized that the train station was near, and she looked like a very interesting person and I wanted to listen to her. I walked slowly.
“I am a collector of stories, Miss Odyne. I love listening to people, and you look like a person who might have a fair worth of stories. No?” I asked. She smiled once again and nodded. I never coaxed anyone to tell me about their experiences. If they felt uncomfortable, I would leave. I only wanted their stories. I only wanted to feel.
“Well… I am not a very interesting person. I don’t have such exciting habits for one!” she giggled. Her eyes strayed towards the streets and the shops as she thought of words to describe her. It was a gloomy afternoon and a particularly busy day. There were people with paper bags held clumsily in their hands, men dressed posh in prim hats and dark black pants, and had expensive suitcases, people who got out of large, expensive, chauffeured cars, couples holding hands, unattended children running about, beggars peppered about near restaurants waiting for people to drop small change into their grimy palms, men who looked like crooks, women who looked ugly… I remember these things so clearly.
“Go on Miss Odyne. How about…hmm… tell me something that happened this week that you can’t forget?” I asked her, knowing that I might not meet this woman after I leave her at the train station.
“My brother!” her big eyes lit up and she seemed very excited, “He got an A in his class for Math. I teach him sometimes and he makes me very proud. He tries very hard, that boy. He knows that he means a lot to me, and that he has to study hard.”
“That’s lovely! If you don’t mind, can you walk on my right?” I asked. She didn’t ask why but did so hesitantly. “You have a good brother, is he much younger?”
Before long, the hooligans who usually loiter beside the pizzeria showed up on my left, and Odyne smiled subtly. The train station arrived, and we had had a rather long conversation. I scribbled my address to my office hurriedly on a crumpled bus ticket with a short pencil and asked her to drop by sometime. I could never forget that first meeting with her.
The next day, she arrived at my office beside the Hall a little after lunch, while I was completing a piece. I asked her to take a seat and offered her some tea and biscuits. We spoke for half an hour and I learnt a lot about her and felt myself relating very well with her experiences. Although very poor, she was a strong woman. Orphaned by her parents as a teenager, she tried very hard to bring her brother up. She was well educated and worked at a shop nearby as a sales assistant and used the money to run their small household.
We met regularly every week and spoke for a short while during her lunch break. She had grown to become a very good friend of mine. The more we spoke the more I started to understand how much pain she was going through. I realized that I could only be an empathetic listener and could not change her experience. This was the truth; she was destined to be what she was.
It wasn’t many days later, when one morning, she came to my office, crying. She told me her brother was acting strange and that he might have contracted a brain disease. She spoke softly yet frantically between sobs about how he hurt his head while playing in school and how he started speaking of strange things and mythical objects.
Odyne was never the same again. Day by day, she said, he appeared more and more insane. I didn’t want to visit the boy for I knew that I wouldn’t be able to stand the sight. Her descriptions were enough. I offered her money to treat him. She was hesitant, but even after taking him to a specialist, there appeared no hope for recovery.
There was nothing more that I could do and she knew that. I was an observer, a friend, helpless and frail, trapped in her experience. I was what she was. Then I felt like reading my previous stories about people. I had never understood them fully. These stories always had something more than they told. I went back to my notes of these people, whom I had written about.
The newspaper boy’s stolen bike, the pregnant mother who had pneumonia, the lad who missed his bus for his interview, the beggar with crumpled fingers and toes lost to leprosy, the dying old woman without children, the father with cancer and three young girls, the dog that got locked in the house and died of hunger…
These weren’t stories. They were experiences. They meant so much more. When I walked the street, I looked at people’s faces, I felt their happiness and as intensely, I also felt their sorrow. I cried for days in my apartment. Then I left England. I found my home in Sweden, in Kolmarden.
- Kasper Alfven
June 15th, 2:35 (post meridiem)
I have not been able to get the thought of pain and suffering out of my mind. This cognition, this existence, this being of mine and everyone else’s is a curse. I search for freedom, frenziedly… madly.
- Kasper Alfven
June 17th, 5:55 (post meridiem)
I went up the hill today and found a rock. I found many good tunes there. It keeps me from thinking of other rotten thoughts. But when I stop singing, they return again. Those bloodthirsty zombies wait behind those gnarled trees in the forest. I hear their breath and I smell their foul stench. I feel them.
When the music fades, they creep out and chase me far into the dark. I have been running away from them, but I don’t know how long I can keep them away.
- Kasper Alfven
July 2nd, 3:25 (ante meridiem)
I haven’t been able to sleep well for many days now. Odyne keeps appearing in my dreams when I sleep. When I am awake, I keep thinking of the suffering of all the people I have listened to. The pain, the killing… the blood, it courses like gasoline rainbows floating in urban gutters. I still search for freedom.
- Kasper Alfven
July 15th, 12:20 (post meridiem)
The knife never looked more enticing. I still have some sulfur for the snakes in the attic. Or how about the rope? I could find a cliff I think. When it becomes unbearable, I will have to use something… anything! Take me away. Please! It already is unbearable, excruciating, desperate.
July 29th, 10:35 (ante meridiem)
Madness… It’s the path to freedom. I have found it! This eternally inviting prospect is the only escape from the morbid trap of cognition. Insanity is the trip into the ethereal for the cowards who can’t kill themselves. It’s better than death. It’s very enticing to let go of this sentient self and disappear into the abyss, to separate action from thought, thought from cognition, to just dissolve, to go away... Alas, I can only choose to die. I can’t choose to go mad. Madness has to choose me. It’s the ghost that promises bliss. I wait for its haunt.
- Kasper Alfven
July 29th, 12:20 (post meridiem)
He left, shortly after the previous entry, to his favorite mountain pass nearby. His black top hat low over his head and his grubby, brown trench coat damp from sweat, he walked swiftly towards the pass. The leather bag that hung loosely from his shoulder contained manuscript papers, his journal, a fountain pen and his pitch pipe. They hopped about in that moldy bag resonating a soft rhythmic thump that synced perfectly with his steps up the stony hill. He liked to call it “Hudar Frihet”: the hill that hides freedom. From atop the hill, he could see his house: a small log cabin and his shabby shed for his car. Amidst a vast expanse of green grass, the cabin stuck out prominently.
It was just a small clearing amidst the forest of Kolmarden. Very few people lived in this region straddled by Södermanland and Östergötland. It was quiet and lonesome: a perfect place to brew an obsession, a perfect place to go mad and a perfect place to die.
For about a decade he hadn’t spoken to another person. But he spoke to himself quite often. Today, it was different. He was surprisingly quiet. Yet he kept smiling to himself and looking up at the unusually sunny, blue skies. He trotted downhill; clear of the sight of his cabin, towards the hostile mountains that towered above him. The light breeze was cool over his skin as his leather boots crunched on the stones beneath his feet.
He flipped open his pocket watch before sitting on his favorite rock on the mountain pass. The clock hands were aligned at twelve. The sun shone warmly at his face, as a shadow fell upon the bush behind him. He looked around him, and as soon as his breath whistled to silence, a strong breeze picked up and threw his top hat a few feet away from him. The forest rustled loudly around him. He remained unmoved. His eyes twitched and he clenched his fist.
He smiled widely at the large mountain, baring his yellow teeth before slowly removing a thick old book from his bag. He started writing quickly, like a man possessed. Suddenly he stopped, thought for a while like he was predicting the future. Then wrote more, closed the book and placed it beside him, the pages flipping wildly in the wind.
He removed his manuscript papers from his bag. Musical notes, words, drawings and doodles were scattered across some sheets while others were brown with age. He carefully removed a pitch pipe and put it to his dry lips. He allowed a stream of air through his teeth as the pitch pipe squealed a B flat. He placed a grubby fingernail over the hole in the pitch pipe, as if trapping the sound within it, and slowly lowered it back into his bag.
He hummed a few notes but was quickly frustrated. He picked up a frigid pebble from the ground and tapped it on the large rock he was sitting on. After scratching his head and rubbing his unshaven chin with his wrinkled fingers, he let out a low guttural grunt, almost like that of a dog preparing for a fight. He made a quirky beat with a series of grunts and abruptly stood up. He bent down slowly, his arms at his hips, and put his ear to the large rock. He listened intently and simultaneously his fingers deftly unsheathed his pen.
Very quickly, he filled an entire page with musical notes. He sat again at his perch, humming more notes. His pen furiously scribbled down more and more. Soon, he completed another, and then another. Three ravens, attracted to his humming, flew from the forests and sat by some rocks around him. They cocked their head about curiously as if they enjoyed the music.
At the sight of the birds he stopped humming, put his papers down carefully, stood up, and danced around the rock, loudly singing exactly the notes he had penned down, without as much as a glance at his pieces of paper. He sang, “The voracious night with his porous quill the tooble bums haunt his pins… lalalala… o toobledums save his temple. Save them you little people… nananana…” One foot in the air, he hopped about clumsily, grinning frenziedly and snapping his fingers to a mystic beat. The ravens looked on, unmoved.
Abruptly, he stopped. The song was over. That was all that he had written. He took off his coat, dropped it on the rock beside his open journal, laughed maniacally and disappeared into the forests. A strong gale picked up and his manuscript papers flew away into the crisp evening of the great Kolmarden.
I have taken him to his bliss.”
Saturday, October 23, 2010
It was the time of year when a movie
By Chris Nolan couldn’t last forever.
As expected, my iPod died after an hour,
The Mac chose a grave beside his buddy.
No music, no movie, it was Economy
Class. Boredom caught on like a fever.
The pilot droned as the airplane quivered.
Holding an empty cup, I lifted my wrist to see
The time. I rolled my eyes. This was agony!
It was a frigid winter, but it would be warmer.
I would fight and argue, but hey it’s my brother.
The food would be Indian, not the Fresh Food Café.
I would sleep and sleep thirteen hours a day,
My home: Singapore… sigh, just 27 hours away.
Like little people, these little rats,
They scurry hurriedly on the quads and steps.
These hapless chasers carry estranged smiles.
Their puffy cheeks of paper or of flesh,
Hands stained of ink or of blood, these little people,
Like rats, they lay hidden underground.
They breed, they brood a disease so vile,
In the house of the underground dead. Amongst
Piles of untouched, dead paper and letters, these
Little people, little rats, on tables and chairs,
They feed on each other, deep into the night.
Like the time of kindergarten, these little people,
Are obsessed with A,B,C. These little rats, their bitter
Bile courses like ichor. This black disease of putrid
Plague and dirty alphabets, plusses and minuses
They spread! They spread! Oh please spare me!
To escape, to fly, I seek to their lair.
I seek to these underground shelves of untouched
Corpses. They reek of decay for they died decades ago.
“Let go! You dirty rats!” I scream and I fight.
But their teeth sink and their venom flows.
I kick my legs and try to punch them away,
But the day has come, the day has come.
Like little people, we little rats:
“Where is my 4.0? Oh darn it, drats!”
Tonight, he looks at me, I look at him
On the wooden table, hot and burning
I sit here, clean and blank. And I’m the board,
He’s the chalk. He stretches his back and cracks
His knuckles—now ready. He squints his eye,
There is barely some light to see. He takes
His pen and makes some notes. This thoughtful guy,
He’s prodding me, he’s poking me. I’m numb
To him, or so he thinks. He thinks! He’s good
At that. I’m not for that. For I obey.
He’s scratching, prodding, nibbling. Yes, I see him.
Like painting colors, red or blue or green,
He’s making me with thought. With logic, loops,
Or functions. I’m his art, his masterpiece.
He enters, enters, making codes of me. This dance
Of thought, its elegance in math. The spotlight
Is on, its time to dance. He made me, tests me,
Holds me. Though this dance is not to last.
“You’re full of bugs! Can you please work? Please work!”
Trapped inside your screen, I’m trapped, I’m trapped.
You put me in a straightjacket and left me
Lonely, helpless, numb and dead. I thought
You made me. When you look at me, you look
At you. A mirror you are looking through.
“You’re full of bugs! Can you please work? Please work!”
For it is you who pressed those morbid keys.
I work I work, I still have bugs. And who was
The one who erred? You put the bugs in me!
How’s it fair for you to blame? I’m numb, but
That does not make me as blind as you.
Didn’t you install Windows just for me?