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Introduction

That the following pieces of writing are named “essays” should be understood in the broadest possible sense of the word. Attempts at organizing my thoughts about various topics that’s one way or another related to art.

I have attempted to select and compile the following pieces several times, and it has taken me years to come up with the final version. It has been difficult for two reasons; 1) Because the scope broadened over time, from a narrow focus on poetry to a much broader scope hinting at art in general, and 2) Because every time I thought I had compiled the final version, I found myself writing new additions afterwards. I hope this will be the final “final version”. More or less.

Mind you, I can only write from my own point of view, and that is the point of view of a writer and an artist. Naturally, that influences my conclusions and my choice of topics. A literary critic would undoubtedly have approached the matter differently, and so too would an academic. I am neither. I very rarely entangle myself in theories – only when necessary to clear things up, as you will see. I prefer writing based on personal experiences I have had during the course of my work, and only expounding upon things that it is important for me to consider and express – as the following pages will show.

So be patient with the over-spilling mind of this artist. And do not search for truth and closure in the following essays – they are merely attempts at organizing my own thoughts about things that concern me and/or are directly related to my career. Consider them inputs to the millennia-old debate of the role and goal of art in itself, and art in society.

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Artistic Identification

A debate has been raging lately about identity in art. Can an artist portray someone from whose ethnic group / gender one doesn’t belong? Is is permissible to even do that? Doesn’t it further stereotypes? Doesn’t it further bias? Isn’t it implicitly sexist or racist to even think one is allowed to do such a thing in the first place?
I’ve had enough of this debate. I propose a whole other distinction. How about we identify as artists first, and everything else second? That way the problem is automatically solved! Or better yet; can’t we just agree that we’re all at least human, flaws and differences aside?
But I guess that’s too simplistic a solution for the vast majority of the human race – which is why they can’t agree on the topic.
I don’t care if a man tries to write a book from a woman’s perspective. If anything, it might teach him something. He might not necessarily get it right – in which case I can laugh it off and pick up another book. No problem. But I also refuse to write from a man’s perspective in a feeble attempt to encourage more men to read me. It doesn’t matter to me if other women do that though – that’s their choice. The main point should be the quality of the book, and the depth and strength of the questions raised by it. Not either the author or the narrators respective genders or races.
I myself prefer writing based on personal experience. But that isn’t to say that there can’t be valid reasons for adopting the perspective of others. To broaden one’s horizon. To attempt understanding. Isn’t it better to at least try, and maybe get it wrong, rather than being too afraid to broach the topic? I think it is.I think art could be a useful tool for promoting understanding – if artists aren’t threatened into only writing about themselves. If one does that, it should reflect an active choice of the artist, and not coercion by society.
I would like to think that we could at some point move past these discussions altogether and focus on the content instead – but the rest of the world never ceases to disappoint me in said regard.

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Writing vs Programming

SInce I wrote my first line of code I have been torn between writing and programming. Torn between the code and the fiction. Felt that if I spent more time on one, the other would suffer. Desperately tried to balance them out, and felt exhausted and confused at the end of the day because I wanted to do both but just didn’t have enough hours in the day.
But in reality, that was a meaningless confusion. Staring myself blind at a distinction that doesn’t really exist, or need to exist.
What I initially failed to realize, is that programming is also very creative. And the process behind writing a program and – say – a poem, is actually very similar.

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The Word “Why”

When hearing that I write poetry, most people immediate degrade it to a “hobby”, or ask whether I have been published, or whether I am studying literature.

Why instead not ask what I write? Why I write? What I get out of writing? Whether writing has enriched my life? Whether I feel that I get something out of writing that no other thing on Earth could give me – money included?

Why not rather ask whether I am writing because I like writing, instead of immediately assuming that I write to be published?

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On My Progress As A Poet

I set myself up to the task of writing this essay in 2013 after spending two days editing my earliest poems and being deeply disappointed by them. I thought them genius when I wrote them (which is also why I published them of course), but in 2013 I found most of them just barely passable. That was when I realized that I needed to assess how I have developed as a poet over the years in order to determine what I have actually gotten out of the process of writing. I returned and re-wrote this essay in 2017 to include the “conclusion” that was my newer works and the return to writing in my own language rather than English.

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To Sign or Not To Sign

I am frequently asked to sign my paintings. I don’t want to. It’s not that I can’t understand that the person who gets the painting would want it signed – I mean, it is more convenient for them. But it takes something out of the final product for me.

Supposedly it should be a great feeling for an artist to sign a product. It would finish it definitively, and clear it from the mind’s eye. However, it doesn’t function that way for me. For me, a signature is the sign of death and decay. It is a sign you mark a thing with to declare that it is all downhill from here – no further development is allowed, and from now on the object has been written off by its creator.

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Poetry Today – the Potential

There has been a lot of discussion about the validity of poetry in today’s society. A lot of good, although obvious, points have been made by poetry enthusiasts and poets who defend the claim that we continue to be creative and imaginative and thereby continue to need an outlet (ie: poetry), and that we always have, and probably always will, continue to explore the possibilities of various types of artforms. Being a poet, I do not disagree with these statements. I whole-heartedly embrace them. I have, however, noticed the lack of certain arguments in the debate, that I per se consider very basic and obvious, but which haven’t yet been put forward by another poet that I have heard of. Therefore this essay.

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Of the Increased Digitalization of Art

This is an important topic to address, and it is only natural that so many people have done it already. Technically it is unnecessary for me to add my thoughts to the lot, but since it is inevitably on my mind, I’ll do it anyway. The topic is of course what consequences digitalization has for art, generally speaking. And it is a large topic and difficult to address with any accuracy, but I shall endeavor. In order to do this I will necessarily have to express myself concisely, so forgive me for the slightly compressed nature of the following.

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Art Through Participation

In the past, art has been the work of one artist, and it has been supposed to conclude in a final ”work” that was unalterable and meant for display only. But times have changed, and they keep on changing. Today, there is no rule stating that art has to result in a “work”. Technically, art can be an ongoing process. The internet has made it possible to get feedback faster and from a much wider audience, and the artists who use this venue for publication could easily use it to expand on their work over time, and change it according to the audience’s wishes. Technology makes it possible to change the perspective, the means and the goals of art altogether.

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Relics From the Past

I generally dislike talking about two things: Sentimentality in poetry, and my gender. Putting both in the same essay is, as far as my own mind is concerned, an explosive cocktail. I dislike it beyond explaining, but I nonetheless feel that it is necessary to discuss. What exactly? The difficulties of writing poetry that is not coloured by nostalgia and sentimentality – and the added burden of having to fight these things all the more because people already find it difficult to take your writings seriously because of your gender, and because of your gender specifically looks for emotional outbursts in everything you write – causing an extra burden to be placed on you, because you have to be extra careful about everything you publish. I think this says it all.

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Of My “Fiction”

I am basically not as imaginative as people might think when reading my fiction. I do not “invent” fiction – I only fictionalize reality.

I think the biggest barrier I had to overcome when I started writing prose fiction rather than pure poetry, was that I had the ideal of thinking up fiction, which was something I never succeeded at. It wasn’t till I realized that the best pieces of fiction ever written are based on real events (however fictionally coated afterwards) that I actually managed to write anything worthwhile. My short stories have come into being based on this principle: Real events, coated with fiction to a smaller or larger extent depending on their individual nature.

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Poetry and Tarot Cards

Much has been said about the revelatory nature of poetry and tarot cards. I am to say yet more, and I intend specifically to comment on their similarities.

It is no new thought to most of us that poetry is revelatory, although we may not consciously think about it every time we read a poem. With tarot cards however, that is especially key; we know it and we expect it to be revelatory.

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Why My Sight Is An Advantage

Most people who have the benefit of the full use of their senses are using them quite superficially. Ask them to look at something, and they will only award the object a quick glance – just long enough to classify it inside their brains without actually being able to distinguish it from the general idea of the category they have mechanically placed it into. And if you thereafter ask them to draw the object, the result will at the very best be a stylized and most unnatural sketch, which shows little to no knowledge at all about either symmetry or proportions – far less the look of the object in question.

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Art and Memory

Art is a creation that is based on human memory, which is, as you already know, imperfect and highly selective. Why claim that artists “lie”? They can’t wring more out of themselves than what they are given to work with. Our memories are selective, and so art becomes selective. Our memories do not always preserve all details, and so art leaves out things as well. Our memories may trick us – but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It might cause us to see things in a different light, and that might turn out to be exactly the light we need in order to understand something.

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A Note on the Nature of Art

Art is merely a form of communication. Each form of art a different form of communication. But still just forms of communication. And it is the thing communicated that matters; not really the way in which it is communicated.

All the myths about the artist as a divinely inspired presence are utterly useless. Artists are (at best) skilled and have practice in perceiving and passing on information, but they are not extraordinary in any other way. Every person, I believe, is born with the ability to do what I do, but most choose to focus on other matters. That doesn’t make me particularly extraordinary. I am just a person who follows my inclination towards creating artwork, perhaps in the foolish hope that other people will someday come to understand what I mean by it, despite the fact that I don’t even always know the meaning myself.