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What was your original face?

Allan Ginsberg

Culture Posted on Thu, February 01, 2007 14:44:06

I´ve just read Bill Morgans biography on Allen Ginsberg: I Celebrate Myself: The Somewhat Private Life of Allen Ginsberg. Morgan wrote Ginsbergs bibliography, and used Ginsbergs notebooks and extensive archives to write this biography. Through the notebooks we get Ginsbergs reactions and feelings, frustrations, sorrows and triumphs. There as a lot of frustration going on, mostly related to sex as he was homosexual with a leaning towards heterosexual men.

He was supportive towards his friends. Both in a good and bad way, Peter Orlovsky seemed to get too much of it, as Ginsberg took over his life. There´s a lot of both sex and drugs in Ginsbergs biography, even some rock´n´roll. But most of all it´s a book on a man that got things done.

In January 1983 Ginsberg, Peter Orlovsky and Steven Taylor came to Oslo. They played a concert at Club 7 on sunday the 30th. I kept the ticket:

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The next day he signed books at the bookstore Tronsmo. So I went with my 2 books and got them signed:Blog Image

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As for the poetry I think he uses too many words. But then I´ve never been too keen on William Blake either …

Han-shan in The journey to the west?

Chinese literature Posted on Mon, January 22, 2007 20:14:48

The illustrations below showing Hsuan-tsang recieving sutras, are taken from an 1614-edition of the 16th century chinese novel The journey to the west (西遊記). In the left panel are two figures that must be Han-shan and Shih-te.

Several years ago I read Arthur Waleys Monkey. I have long
thought about reading a complete translation, and decided to go for Anthony
C. Yu and his 4-volumes from Chicago University Press.

I have only just started on volume 1. There is no Han-shan in the index,
so I will keep my eyes open for a scene like this:

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The picture as shown above is a composite of 2 pictures, taken from pages 236 and 237 in volume 2 of a collection of old book-illustrations.

Vestfold prehistory

Prehistoric Norway Posted on Sun, January 07, 2007 17:15:35

The last few weeks I´ve been reading about archeology in Vestfold-county, starting with a classic title from 1943, Vestfolds oldtidsminner (i.e. Prehistoric relics in Vestfold). Over 752 pages this book lists locatations and finds. Started to read with an intention of making a list of stone-circles and single stones. And that I did, but what made the strongest impression was the richness of burial-mounds that once existed in Vestfold. The editor, Sigurd Grieg, sums it up at about 3300 mounds! (Vestfold is ca two thousand square-kilometers in size (a bit larger in 1943).)

Today, very much has been removed to make room for farming, the sand and stone in the mounds have been used for other purposes, such as fencing, building houses etc. An example is not far away. This photo is from one of the two bronze-age mounds a few hundred meters from our house:

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It´s a bit dark (taken on the afternoon of 1. january 2007). I turned around south and took this photo of our house (the white one in the middle of the picture):

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Christer Tonnings thesis “Gravfelt og landskap i Hedrum : en studie av jernalderplassene i Hedrum, Vestfold”, cites a calculation that of the 900 mounds in Hedrum municipality (now part of Larvik) there were 280 left (estimate made in 1991, cited on page 11). There were 28 large and small burial-sites, today there are 7 left.

The character that make the strongest impact in both these titles is Nicolay Nicolaysen (1817-1911), the first (employed) antiquarian in Norway, a post he held from 1860 till 1899. He has an impressive record in excavating, estimated to 2000 mounds (Tonning p. 20). The most famous being the Gokstad-mound in Sandefjord.

One of Tonnings goals in his thesis is using Nicolaysens excavation-rapports to locate mounds on 3 sites, now with only remains left, in Hedrum.

This gives him opportunity to reflect on how Nicolaysen excavated, with at speed that seems reckless by todays standard, but if he hadn´t digged we probably would have lost much (as the figure for remaining mounds shows).

Of things lost is also the main impression in my mind after reading through Vestfolds oldtidsminner. We must be grateful for what is still here though. And most excitingly that there still appears sites that no-one knew about. Often in connection with roadbuilding: E-18 prosjektet (Vestfold), E-6 prosjektet (Østfold ) and Svinesund (Østfold).

Mori Ogai (1862-1922)

Chinese literature Posted on Sat, December 30, 2006 15:02:09

I have just read The historical fiction of Mori Ogai (University of Hawai’i, 1991).
It contains a retelling of the preface to Han-shans poems that were quite good.

Of interest is also the story on T’ang dynasty poetess Yü Hsüan-chi.

Most of the stories in this book takes their motives from japanese history though.

Labyrinths in Norway

Prehistoric Norway Posted on Mon, December 04, 2006 19:25:03

I got some questions (off-page) about the labyrinth in Fröjel. There are a few more on Gotland, among them one in Bunge that we visited in 2004. But instead of writing more on Swedish labyrinths, I decided to find out more on the Norwegian ones. I already knew of one on the small island of Tisler in the Hvaler archipelago, but more on that further down.

The Norsk arkeologisk leksikon, 2006 (title translates as Norwegian Arceological Handbook) says that labyrinths as a symbol is known from petroglyphs (norwegian helleristninger), in churches from the Middle Ages and as stonesettings.

In Norway they are most common in Finnmark, as part of a larger cultural area including Kola and the White Sea in Russia. They are usually situated close to graves and it is assumed that they were used in passage rites.

In southern Norway, several petroglyphs with a labyrinth-motive is found. Labyrinth-stonesettings are found in Sunnmøre, along the Oslofiord and southwards along the Swedish Bohuslän-coast. Labyrinths are sometimes called Trojaborg or truberborg.(All the above is taken from Norsk arkeologisk leksikon page 233.)

On Sunnmøre there’s one stone-labyrinth known as den Julianske borg (the Julian castle) on Vartdalsfjellet (Grøthornet) in Ørsta.

In my local area I only know of one stone-labyrinth. It’s on the (very) small island Tisler, on the east side of the Oslo-fiord. Only parts of it is still there (there’s traces of another close by). It may be as old as 3000 years, but that is guesswork. Tisler is not easily accessible, it is only possible by boat in (preferably) good weather. The labyrinth lies on the north-east part of the island on a small hill called Slottsfjellet (eng. Castle Hill). I have never been to Tisler, even though I have spent many summers on an island not very far away. Morten Kiellands report on the proposed national park in Hvaler and Fredrikstad has a picture of the trojaborg:

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Of the several located in Finnmark (the northernmost county in Norway), I have only been able to find information on four, one on each of the islands Holmengrå and Kjeøya. According to Samitour there are labyrinths at the mouth of the Tana River and one in Magerøysundet as well.

The name truberborg seems to be taken from a (now lost?) labyrinth on Østerøya in Sandefjord. The place is called Truberodden (Truber Head or Point). I had not heard about Truberodden before starting looking into labyrinths, as it is not far from where I live I definitely will take a look soon.

According to the Bergkonst-site Norsk arkeologisk leksikon is wrong when it says that there are petroglyph-labyrints. A petroglyph from Tanum, Sweden (from the link above) has labyrinth-looking motives:

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19 locations for norwegian labyrinths

28 locations on the swedish west coast

Rock carvings in the borderland

Gotland 5 Oct 2006

Gotland Posted on Thu, November 16, 2006 13:59:17

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The weather! On all our days we had everything from rain & thunder to sunshine. This is from a hill outside Katthammarsvik.

We were on our way to Trullhalsar (Anga), an area with about 350 graves and several stone circles (according to the book).

After some messing around on small roads we found it:

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It’s a secluded spot. 2,5 kilometers from the nearest farm in fairly dense woods.

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The first glimpse of a stone circle.

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One of the stone circles.

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A single stone.

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Then we went to Roma kloster, the only tourist attraction that still had a shop open. The cloister ruins were nice, but here’s a picture from down a road there:

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We visited more sites, among them another viking-age settlement, Fjäle ödegård (Ala), that is highly recommended.

Since there are 350 stone ship-settings on Gotland, we have to go again! And I guess we will …

Gotland 4 Oct 2006

Gotland Posted on Thu, November 16, 2006 12:51:26

A few kilometers up the coast from our lodgings were a small group of rauker.Blog Image

On this day there was a fair at Hemse, a fair mix of rubbish and local produce. Lots of people made a welcome change though.

A shop sold paper, books and ammunition (swedish Krut)!

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But, we cannot linger here, there are stones!

First the remains of a viking-age settlement at Vallhagar (Fröjel). 24 remains of houses in an open field. Very nice.

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Burial-mound at Vallhagar.

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Grinding grain.

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The photo above is from the ship at Gnisvärd (Tofta). It’s the largest on Gotland, 47 meters long and 7 meters at the widest. The endstones each about 1,3 meters long. The stones are closed in by fir-plantations.

Next we tried to find the burial-area at Krokstäde (Tofta), and that was not easy. The guidebook said:

Från kustvägen leder en spikrak skiftesväg at Ö förbi Tofta hembygdgård. Efter ytterligare 600m går en skiftesväg rakt åt S. Efter ca 300 m korsas denne av en skogsstig. Följar man stigen ytterligare 300 m åt SO kommer man fram til ett stort gravfält.

We found the hembygdsgård but lost our way on a small road that got smaller and smaller. Luckily we were able to turn and get back.

Several failed attemps later, my wife saw a sign inside a bush (its true!) that said Skjutfelt (eng
Shooting-range). On the map there were a shooting-range close to the
site, so we tried that road. This time the road fit the descriptions in
the book.

All the sites we had seen so far, were well kept and orderly. This was not, there was an overgrown parking lot, and unkept signs. The first pointed to a field with some sheep and a young bull! Lots of stones in heaps spread round under the trees. Further in there was another field (this time only sheep). I found this stone:

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According to the guidebook there should have been a stone circle (domarring) and about ten raised stones, one with cups.

Not well looked after, but plenty of atmosphere. I liked it!

Blog ImageWalking the Trojaborg (labyrinth) at Fröjel.

Then we went to Visby and had pancakes at Strykhjörnet Crêperie & Logi.

One more picture, the sun sets behind the ruins of St:Karins church in Visby.

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Gotland 3 Oct. 2006

Gotland Posted on Thu, November 16, 2006 11:20:09

My wife and I drove across Sweden and took the ferry to Gotland. We had booked a room in Frejs magasin
in Ljugarn on the east side of the island. October is low-season in
Gotland, most things outside Visby is closed, which meant that we went to Visby to eat, and also that we had
most of the sights to ourselves!

Not far from Ljugarn is Gålrum (Alskog) a site with a worn,
viking-age picturestone, six stone ship-settings, one large
bronze-age burial-mound and several other stones. The road goes right
through so it’s not hard to find.

Blog ImageThe largest ship-setting in Gårlum, in the background to the left is the picture-stone (to the right of the tree).

We drove a few minutes further south of Gårlum, and found this:

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There was a 1 kilometer walk through the woods to this ship-setting (the largest of about 5?) and past a large burial-mound.

Then we drove to the southernmost part of Gotland, Sundre. We found a scenic road along the east-coast that went to the cliff Hoburgen, the southernmost point. Here’s a picture of the sea and sky taken from under the cliff:

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But we had more stones on the days list!

Here I am inside the stones at Gunnarve (Fröjel), the most famous of ship-settings in Gotland. Its very close to the road and has fine views over the sea.

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The next were the 4-room ship at Rannarve (Klinte). We had some
problems finding it, but it was more that we prefer finding our own way
than looking for signs (my wife would have put it another way), on the way back we found it was well marked.
You had to drive about 1,2 km on a forest-road to find it.

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This was a very impressive site.

Apart from the large ship, there were one small ship and a small stone-circle. Not far away through the wood there was a bronze-age burial-mound.

Blog ImageThe small ship at Rannarve.

Wang Fan-chih

Chinese literature Posted on Wed, November 15, 2006 15:25:29

I’ve written a small article on Wang Fan-chih, or brahmacarin/layman Wang, in Wikipedia.

The second collection of poems attributed to him, has many similarities with the Han-shan-collection. At least 3 poems have identical phrases.

The only full translation is into french, a partial one exist in german and there is none into english that I’m aware of.


Patrik Fitzgerald interview

Music Posted on Wed, November 15, 2006 15:10:20

A revealing interview with Patrik Fitzgerald here: Live out my stars : The Punk Poetics of PATRIK FITZGERALD

What I found fascinating is his thoughts about playing the old hits. I remember being sorry that he only played new material when he played at the art academy in Oslo in the mid-eighties and not “Safetypin stuck in my heart” etc. As time has gone I’ve found that attitude admirable.

He also talks about his live-experiences supporting the Clash etc.