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Beyond the Lone Islands

http://dawntreader-island2.blogspot.com

Thursday, 31 December 2009

A New Year's Blessing




May you have the hindsight to know where you've been,
The foresight to know where you're going,
And the insight to know when you have gone too far.

An Irish Blessing

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Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Back in the Study

One thing Santa (kind of) brought, is that I have at last been able to "reclaim" my Study!

After the hard drive crash on my desktop computer in November, it felt like the whole study basically turned into a sepulchral chamber /slash/ store room... Since the old computer screen was too heavy for me to move, and it was not possible to connect it to the laptop, it has just been sitting there, on top of the computer table, looking blank and ominous... Besides being of absolutely no use on its own, it has also been in the way of setting up the laptop properly, connecting that to other appliances etc.

Using the laptop on top of a table of ordinary height, like the writing desk in the study, or on the kitchen table, just doesn't work well for me (for any length of time), because of my neck/shoulder/arm problems. The alternative has been sitting in bed or in my recliner chair in the living room. To be able to do that sometimes was of course why I got the laptop in the first place (three years ago); but it does not work equally well with all kinds of "jobs"...

At Christmas, finally, I got help from my brother to move the old screen aside (onto a tea trolley on wheels until we've decided on its final destiny).

What a relief! It really felt like getting the whole room back.

Now the laptop sits on top of the computer table, from where not only can it be connected to the printer/scanner, but also to the rollermouse* wrist-support and the wireless keyboard on the lower shelf, at the proper height for me! Moreover, this way the laptop screen is also at the right height, and I find the whole solution works better than I thought it would. I hardly even miss the bigger screen now. I shall have to reconsider again whether it is really a new desktop computer I want... The main problem with the current laptop is really that it has very little storage space left (+ I would like to update from Vista to Windows 7). But an alternative to buying a new desktop might be a new and better laptop instead...(Living alone, there really is a considerable advantage in keeping as far as possible to machines that one can actually manage to lift and move about without help!)

Anyway - having had a few "indoors" days after Christmas, I've started (re-)organizing my photos; renaming catalogs by dates to begin with, to be able to find things more easily. And taking care to make back-up copies! ;) This being one kind of job that I find I do better in upright position at the computer table, rather than leaning back in a recliner chair...

Next Year (!) I'm also looking forward to trying out the Photoshop Elements software that "Santa Dan" was kind enough to send me... (Hoping there will be enough space left on the hard drive for it.)

*A rollermouse is a technical aid which is basically a wrist-support with a built-in mouse.



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One More Day



One more day, and that will be the end of a year.
It has been a rather turbulent one, in some ways.

2009 included a lot of  worries, sadness, ill health, and death.
Looking forward, I don't seriously expect much better of 2010.
I dare say the new year will have its own share of all of those...

However, 2009 also included inspiration, and kindness. Some of it, surprisingly, from people across the world, who one year ago were still unknown to me. That is something I would not have been able to guess, the day before New Year's Eve last year.

And that brings me hope for 2010 as well:
Not every unknown thing that awaits must needs fall in the disasters and disappointments category!



The cold in the outside world around here loosened its grip just a little bit over Christmas - the temperature going up to around zero for a few days, resulting in wet slushy snowfalls, and absolutely horrid state of roads (including pavements and footpaths) when that froze again. Since yesterday, it is again colder (right now -8 outside my window) and the ground is covered by solid, knobbly, unwalkable and treacherous ice. If you don't slide on it, you're likely to stumble...!

Going out for a walk just for the fun of it is not on the agenda just now. If you venture out, it is on some serious mission, like getting food supplies or medicine, or library books...

The cold inside my head and chest is still keeping its grip on me, too. A little less coughing today than yesterday I think - so far. But still basically hibernating, and drinking lots of tea!



New Year's Eve tomorrow I still hope to be celebrating "traditionally" - which in my case means having two or three friends over for some food and a film in the evening, and watching the inevitable fireworks from the windows around midnight. (Living in town, one thing is forever out of the question on New Year's Eve - any attempt to have a 'quiet night' and just go to bed early!)

.~. HAPPY NEW YEAR! .~.

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Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Quotation of the Week (53/09)

Truth is not spoken in anger. Truth is spoken, if it ever comes to be spoken, in love. The gaze of love is not deluded. Love sees what is best in the beloved, even when what is best in the beloved finds it hard to emerge into the light.


J.M. Coetzee, Slow Man

* Read my book review of Slow Man here. *

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Sunday, 27 December 2009

Book Review: Slow Man



Slow Man is a novel from 2005 by J.M. Coetzee, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2003.

For the first twelve chapters, it appears to be a pretty straightforward story. The main character, Paul Reyment, a man ”on the threshold of comfortable old age” as the text on the back cover says, is the victim of a traffic accident, which results in the amputation of one of his legs. Besides the common problems of old age, he now also has to deal with becoming an invalid, dependent on other people for help with the most trivial things. He has to hire a nurse to take care of him, and he goes through a few before he finds one with whom he feels comfortable. When he does find her, he soon finds himself developing feelings for her that go beyond the patient-nurse relationship. He lets daydreams run away with him; extending his affection to her children, but ignoring (among other things) the fact that there is also a husband in the background whom he has never met.

The story so far is interesting in itself, and well-written enough to keep the reader's interest up.

Then one day Paul ”takes the plunge”, bringing his feelings for Marijana out into the open... And from that point on, we are no longer in a straightforward story at all; because suddenly, on Paul's doorstep, out of nowhere, Elizabeth Costello arrives, and starts to interfere.

Slow Man is the first book I ever read by Coetzee. I was not aware, when entering chapter 13, that Elizabeth Costello is also the title of a separate novel preceding this one, from 2003. I found that out later, when reading up on the author a bit. I'm not sure it matters much, however, because it is pretty obvious from the context of Slow Man alone, that Elizabeth Costello (in this book) appears as the ”alter ego” of the Author.

This is how she presents herself:


'I was going to say I was from the State Library,' she says. 'I was going to introduce myself as one of the Library's volonteers, come to assess the scale of your donation, the physical scale I mean, the dimensions, so that we can plan ahead. Later it would have come out who I actually am.'
'You are not from the library?'
'No. That would have been a fib.'


(Paul has a collection of old photographs which he has decided to bequeath to the State Library after his death.)

It is made clear that Elizabeth Costello is the Elizabeth Costello, renowned writer; and she goes on to quote the initial paragraph from the first chapter of the book we are in...

The continued dialogue between Paul and Elizabeth does not only bring to the surface all the moral and practical problems that Paul has been suppressing or ignoring in his daydreams; it also brings to the surface the Author's struggle with the independence of her own creation. The interaction between them is far from simple. For example, Paul, who at first just ”occurred to” Elizabeth - ”a man with a bad leg and an unsuitable passion”, turns out to have a past, which she knows nothing about – it is he who has to tell her about it, not the other way round.

Enough revealed. This is a book which manages to do at least three things simultaneously: Tell a good story. Raise questions about some serious moral issues. Analyse the relationship between the writer (any writer) and his/her work of fiction. All done with an admirable mix of humour and compassion!


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Saturday, 26 December 2009

Time To Hibernate



Typical Christmas: A lot of going back and forth by car...!

Yesterday and today have been no fun at all from weather/traffic point of view, the temperature around zero and sometimes rain, sometimes snow = slush. A lot of accidents were reported on the radio as my brother drove me back to town yesterday afternoon. I hope he got home safe today, from a considerably longer drive... (P.S. He did! Confirmed by text message...)

Myself I have had the luxury of not even having to set foot outside the flat today. Hopefully I won't have to do so tomorrow either. Eventually I suppose I will run out of either food or paper tissues (the cold is still hanging in); but until I do, or the weather improves, I will continue to hibernate...!

I have written a long letter to a friend, and talked to another one on the phone, and watched two episodes of a British crime series on DVD, which I got as Christmas present from my brother - Jonathan Creek. I'd never heard of it but got really hooked by the first two episodes. So from entertainment point of view I can easily hibernate a few days more...!



"Certain mammals have what many people might consider the good fortune to be able to sleep through the winter—to hibernate. They bed down in the fall and, for all intents and purposes, don't arise again until the spring." (Quote from a web article on hibernation. The picture is my own, from the zoo in the early autumn. I've used it before on this blog, but I think it's sooo cute...)

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Thursday, 24 December 2009

Christmas Special



Rae asked a question in a comment about perhaps the strangest of all Swedish Christmas Eve traditions:

Quick question: Do you watch Kalle Anka on Christmas Eve? I just read that this is a Swedish tradition, and it's not something we have in the States. I'm curious, and so glad I have a direct line to ask these kinds of questions!


Yes. It is true. The Kalle Anka = Donald Duck Christmas special is still aired at 3 p.m. every Christmas Eve. When it started, back in the very early days of television, this was a real treat: there was only one channel, and we almost never got any cartoons. So any other previous Christmas Eve family traditions were set aside to give room for an hour of Disney, in almost every home that had a television set.

Why on earth they/we still keep it up, in this media age overflowing with TV channels that send nothing but cartoons, and everything available on DVD besides, I really don't know! Rumour has it that it is people of my own generation and older who still insist on watching it "live" at 3 p.m. on Christmas Eve... The kids couldn't care less, since they watch cartoons all the time!

Neither I nor my brother had children of our own. It has been a very long time since we celebrated Christmas with any children around. The last few years it has only been our parents and us (and my brother's dog) on Christmas Eve. Mum and Dad, as late as last year, still insisted on turning on the TV for the Disney show at 3 p.m. - even though they usually ended up sleeping through it, and my brother and I often did not bother to watch it at all!

This year, Mum no longer with us, was the first Christmas Eve ever (that I can recall) that the TV wasn't even on at 3 p.m. We were all resting and Dad fast asleep; not in his chair but on his bed... He never mentioned it, neither earlier in the day nor after he woke up, so I don't think he remembered.

Quote from Wikipedia :


From All of Us to All of You is an animated television Christmas special, produced by Walt Disney Productions and first presented on December 19, 1958 as part of the Walt Disney Presents anthology series. Hosted by Jiminy Cricket along with Mickey Mouse and Tinkerbell, the special combines newly-produced animation with clips from vintage animated Disney shorts and feature films, presented to the viewer as "Christmas cards" from the various characters starring in each one.

Starting in 1963 and continuing through the 1970s, re-airings of the special would include preview footage of the studio's new or upcoming feature films. Beginning in 1983, it was expanded to 90 minutes and retitled A Disney Channel Christmas for airing on cable television's The Disney Channel.


The show has been shown infrequently in the US in recent years, but in the Nordic countries (Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Norway) the show has been broadcast every year since 1959, and has become a holiday classic.


In Sweden, the show is called Kalle Anka och hans vänner önskar God Jul ("Donald Duck and his friends wish you a Merry Christmas"). It is broadcast on SVT at 3 PM every Christmas Eve, in connection to the all-day traditional holiday programme.


The show is one of the most popular shows all year in Sweden. Every year the viewers number between 3 million and 4.5 million in a country with ~9 million inhabitants.




I'm home for the night; tomorrow will be more or less a repetition of today, i.e. my brother will come again to pick me up before lunch, and drive me back in the early evening. Dad has home carers popping in and out around the clock even when we are there now. We are grateful for their services.

The house was warmed up again (after breakdown of the heating system the other week), and all the appliances seemed to be in working order. To our surprise, we even found the house full of gnomes/ Santa figures, which I thought it too early to put up around 1st Advent when we were there last. I thought my brother had put them up last night - he wondered if I had been there in between to do it! Big mystery when we compared notes and we both said neither of us had anything to do with it! Turned out it was one of the home carers. She happened to be popping in today, too, so that's how we found out. Some of the things she had dug out of the closet we hadn't seen for years, and of course she had put them in (for us) unexpected places. Quite funny! There was even a gnome on the wash basin in the bathroom - one that I can't even recall having ever seen before!

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Wednesday, 23 December 2009

A White Christmas



.~. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year .~.

This year we won't have to wish for or just dream about a White Christmas - we've got it, all over Sweden. In some corners of the world you probably think that we always do, but the fact is that it varies a lot. The further North, the more likely it is. But here in the South-West, if memory serves me right, I think the last time we had a snowy Christmas was back in 2001.

Last night we had another decimeter of it fall down on us, and the temperature has gone up a bit to around zero. But the snow is likely to last for Christmas; we might even get more of it.

In spite of the snow I'm honestly having a very hard time getting into the proper Christmas spirit. The last three days I've spent partly in bed. Not flu, just a common cold, but enough to pretty much drain me of the last of my Christmas ambitions. Monday and Tuesday I did not go out at all. Today I had to go to the local small grocery shop for a few things. In the summer that took me perhaps a quarter of an hour, there and back again. On a winter morning with a head-and-chest-cold and with snow outside, it's a very different story; especially if you also count the time it takes to get properly dressed for the adventure, and then undressed again when you've finally made it home...

In the afternoon the phone rang and woke me up; which made me realise I had been asleep - again. (Lay down for a rest after the strenuous effort of microwaving myself some lunch). Well, at least it was good news, so far: My brother had arrived at dad's house (after a 300 km slushy drive) and so far had found things in working order (no apparent further examples of Murphy's Law going on at the moment). He had even managed already to set up the Christmas tree he had bought (artificial one). And will come to pick me up tomorrow (before lunchtime). (Christmas Eve is our main day of celebration here in Sweden.)

Anyone wanting to know about traditional Swedish Christmas food will have to seek out some other website for information. I was never good at it. I have managed one thing - a small baked Christmas ham. (I had bought it before the cold got the better of me, and managed to prepare it yesterday.) I also have a couple of home-made cakes in the freezer. The rest of the food will have to be bought and improvised. My brother said he'd take an inventory of the fridge and go shop later. We won't starve. There will even be presents although not a whole lot. So I guess it's going to be Christmas after all...


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Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Memories are made of...



Not sure what you call this in English - the best word I find in the dictionary is probably just "hanging". Or would you say "tapestry" even though it's not woven? Anyway... It was made by my mother, some time back in my childhood. It's a sort of combined collage-quilt-embrodery-technique. I can't actually remember where it used to hang, if it had a special place at all. I happened to find it now on 1st Advent when rummaging through some drawers at dad's house looking for table cloths. Didn't find a good place to put it up there where he would see it anyway so I took it home with me. Handwashed and ironed it and put it up on the door to my study.

The landscape reminds me of another Christmas decoration from my early childhood which I think was found not worth saving when my parents moved in the early 90s. It was a little village of home made cardboard houses, church included, and little people made of home made play dough (flour, water and salt), dried in the oven and then painted with watercolour. Each Christmas, my mum cleared the top shelf of my bookcase, rolled out a layer of white cotton wool over it, and then we placed the houses on top and built the village. There was also a little dam made by a mirror, on which people were ice-skating.  When we'd built the landscape, we finished off by sprinkling some boric acid crystals on top which made it glitter, like snow when it's really cold outside.

Most Christmases we spent alternating between my grandparents' houses which were about 15 or 20 kms apart (and 100 kms away from where we lived). Going by car between those places, in the dark, my brother and I used to count lighted Christmas trees in the gardens we passed on the way. Not as many of those back then (in the 60s and early 70s) as there are nowadays...

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Monday, 21 December 2009

Felstaed On My Wall



I've mentioned before that I won a photo of my choice from Dan's blog Wood and Pixels about a month ago. It arrived this week and I thought I'd show you its new 'home' - on the wall between my living room and the hall. It's a picture from up above the clouds in the Rocky Mountains.

Dan also kindly included a print of another picture which I had commented on: a white deer. I found a frame for that too and put it up on my bedroom wall. (The white and blue picture to the left.)




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Quotation of the Week (52/09)

There are the words themselves, and then, behind or around or benath the words, there is the intention. As he speaks he is aware of the boy watching his lips, brushing aside the word-strings as if they were cobwebs, tuning his ear to the intention.


J.M. Coetzee, Slow Man
.~.~.~.

I'm a little behind with the Nobel Prize Laureates... Checking it up now I can't believe it was as far back as in 2003 (six years ago) that Coetzee was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. I picked up Slow Man at a pocket book sale in the summer, and am reading it now. It's the first one by Coetzee that I've read. (First published in 2005.) I'll write more about it when I've finished it.


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Sunday, 20 December 2009

Christmas Decorations



My Christmas tree is up! It's 60 cm high. I think it is celebrating its 23rd Christmas. All the decorations are proportionate to its size.
The parcels arrived by mail on Friday, from my aunt and from a friend.



The Manger Scene is also in place, on a shelf in the study.
And the choir of angels is singing in the window:





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Saturday, 19 December 2009

Low



Low temperature: This morning the thermometer showed -13 C. Time to dig out the fur-lined mittens, which hardly came to use at all last winter (which was mild).



When I went out around mid-day the sun was shining.
Under my feet the snow still made that creaking sound...



Freshly fallen snow on a cold day looks like fur!



Low sun gives incredibly long shadows...




Low tree branches close to the water have gathered a layer of ice which is kind of 'hovering' above the surface of the river. It looks strange.

Low mood: The snow looks pretty, but the cold does not agree with my body! I wake up every morning with the feeling of a bad chestcold, and I need extra asthma medicine. It also takes almost twice the usual time to walk anywhere with snow and ice on the ground. A lot of things that usually make me tired now exhaust me...

I wish I could say I'm really looking forward to Christmas, but I honestly am not, since it will mean extra efforts rather than relaxation. If I could, I would apparate* myself away to some (warm) place with full service provided!

*(Footnote: "Apparate" is a way for wizards in the Harry Potter world to transport themselves from one place to another in an instant, just by concentrating really hard and "turning on the spot"...)


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Friday, 18 December 2009

Garden Decorations




Today when walking to the post office in the late afternoon to pick up a parcel*, I passed this garden, which besides the Christmas tree also had a Yule Buck likewise decorated with fairy lights. (The link goes back to my post from 1st December, where the Yule Buck is explained together with our Father Christmas traditions.)

Twilight was just setting in and I managed to get a couple of decent pictures without all the lights just getting blurred. Also note the typical "electric candles" and/or Advent stars in almost every window!





In this street, there is a broad variety in architecture, old and new side by side! These are some of the more modern houses, with the windows going from floor to ceiling. I think I would feel like I was living in a dollhouse - no privacy! (I've never been inside.)

.~. ~. ~.

* The parcel that drove me out in snow and ice at this time of day was worth the walk: It was one I had been waiting for - containing the picture of my choice which I won in Dan's bloggoversary contest at his blog Wood and Pixels back in November. The parcel has been on its way for such a long time that we both were beginning to wonder... but it arrived safely! (Besides my chosen picture, Dan had also enclosed a print of the white deer - an extra big Christmas hug to him for that!)



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Thursday, 17 December 2009

Murphy's Law


Do you recognise the epigram "if it can go wrong, it will"?
It is generally known as Murphy's Law

Murphy's Law was named after Capt. Edward A. Murphy, an engineer working on an Air Force Project designed to see how much sudden deceleration a person can stand in a crash. One day, after finding that a transducer was wired wrong, he cursed the technician responsible and said, "If there is any way to do it wrong, he'll find it." The contractor's project manager kept a list of "laws" and added this one, which he called Murphy's Law.

During the month of December, Murphy's Law seems to have moved into my dad's house, determined to stay. For new readers (I notice my number of Followers has gone up lately!) I'll sum up the background: My dad became a widower in May this year. He is still living in his own home, alone, but with a lot of help from municipal home care staff around the clock now because of various health issues.

When my brother and I were there for 1st Advent, my brother discovered 3 cm of water on the cellar floor, caused by a plumbing problem. Resulted in need of help from big truck with pumps and hoses the following day.

There were also problems with the lock on the front door being on the verge of falling out. Resulted in need of locksmith.

Last week the refrigerator gave up. Resulted in need of urgent purchase and delivery of a new refrigerator. My brother dealt with this over the phone, while I dealt with nervous breakdown (my own, and not very successfully dealt with).

Yesterday it was some pump connected to the heating system that stopped working. Resulted in need of I'm-not-sure-whose-services, but home care staff seems to have dealt with this on their own this time (making the appropriate phone calls) - I guess they're now accepting Murphy's law too and beginning to see machinery breakdowns as part of the daily routine in this house! 

One problem which we have not yet dealt with is that because of the increased traffic (all the home care cars coming and going) the front yard has become all muddy during the autumn, resulting in need of a truckload of gravel, and people to spread that out. While they (who?) are at it, it would probably be a good idea to also have the path up to the house fixed to make it easier for dad to get out with his rolling walker. But with all the other stuff happening we haven't had time to talk to anyone (whom?) about that yet.


While we were doing nothing about that, the weather changed this week. Instead of muddy ground there is (I suppose) now frozen and snowcovered ground instead. Arose another question: How to deal with snow when more of it falls down at the same time. Luckily we have an arrangement since before that the snow plow drives into our yard (which is at the end of the road) and turns around there. But if there is a lot, some shovelling by hand etc will be needed too. (Mum and dad used to be able to do that themselves. Last year, luckily there was very litte snow all winter.) There is another team within municipality organisation which can help with that (at a cost, and only for the elderly). The problem with that is it turned out one can't just ask them once and for all to just go out there whenever it seems to be needed - they need to be to told on each occasion. The job to decide when it's needed will also have to fall on the daily home care staff. (The snow situation here in town where I live, and out in the countryside where dad lives is not always the same.) Luckily though, home care are again being very helpful. My job today was to call them about this, and they did not seem to consider it a big deal to include that too in their job.

Remains to be seen though what Murphy's Law will find to strike at next... (Murphy's Law Site has a lot of suggestions... )

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Winter Is Here



Winter is here now, for real. Around -10 C, and a strong wind on top of that. The roads are icy and slippery with a deceitful layer of powdery snow on top. The wind also keeps whirling the snow around. Where I live it still isn't too bad because although it's been snowing on and off for three days now, it has been very small snowflakes, and we have only a thin layer on the ground so far. Reports on the radio tell me the traffic situation has been much worse on the East coast today. I have been out, twice even, because I had to - but it is no fun. The wind is bitter cold and blows right through you, and you (well, at least I!) can only walk in tiny little steps, looking down all the time to watch where you put your feet... Getting home, you find all kinds of muscles aching which you didn't even know you had!



Statues in the park, two days ago.


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Quotation of the Week (51/09)

The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it.

Terry Pratchett

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Book Review: His Dark Materials



Back in August, Rae had a book review about Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials - a very blunt review that I have to say I enjoyed more than I did the books. I wrote in a comment to her post back then, that I had listened to the first two books in the series (in Swedish), but did not really take to them, so I wasn't sure I was ever going to get round to reading the third and last one. In spite of that, I just recently have.

What got me there was that in between, a month or so ago, I happened to pick up the film based on the first book (because they sold it at a very cheap price at the supermarket). To my confusion I found that for a change I liked the film better than the book. But it was so long ago now that I listened to the book, so I couldn't quite put my finger on why!

Okay, that was enough challenge... I find it hard to seriously criticise a series of books like this one without actually having finished it. Just theoretically, there might be some redeeming factor in the third volume that would "explain everything"...

There wasn't.

The only relief I found in the third book was that it made me remember enough about what I did not like about the first one. So the good news at the end - for me - was that at least I won't have to go back and reread that again, to decide why I liked the film better. I might however possibly one day be curious enough to watch the other two films, just to see if they will manage to continue making the screen version more easily digestible than the books...

The difference is, I think, that the film still leaves some room for interpretation. (Usually it is the other way round, isn't it.) The books do not, because when you call the Church the Church, and the Bible the Bible, and have them appear equally corrupt in every parallell world in the whole universe, then that really does not leave much opening for the reader's own interpretation. Pullman's quite outspoken purpose in these books is to get rid of  The Authority; but in doing so, he as Author really takes its place. He claims to want to tear down the Kingdom of Heaven and replace it with a Republic. In my opinion he does not succeed with the latter, because he does not really trust his readers to be able to make up their own minds.

In the last book, Pullman literally closes every window that was possibly left open earlier in the story. He begins his story in the first book in a world which is very much a parallell to ours except that people wear their souls on the outside (as daemons in animal shape). Confusingly, places and religion and a lot of other things have exactly the same names as in our own world. He then goes on to also involve our own world, which however is really neither better nor worse; we just can't see our inner animals. He then proceeds in the last book to open up window after window to a lot of different worlds; but we get to see very little of any of them except two: One with animals on wheels (does that ring a bell?), and a very depressing world where all dead people (and other creatures) go, apparently without the company of their souls (daemons). Where the souls go, I don't think we're told (or else I managed to sleep through that bit). The only window left open at the end is to continue to let the depressed and apathic shadows of the dead dissolve and unite with nature (in the world with animals on wheels).

Apparently the love between main characters Will (from Oxford in our world) and Lyra (from Oxford in parallell world) is supposed to illustrate a great miracle of awareness, and sort of the opposite of  what happened to Adam and Eve in "the Fall". But like Adam and Eve, Will and Lyra too are expelled from Paradise, and (unlike Adam and Eve) not even allowed to continue to be together, in any world. Each must go back to their own world,  because neither of them can live in any other than their own. Moreover, every window between worlds must be closed, or the great awareness will leak out of the whole universe. A parallell lesson learned by Lyra is that made up stories are no good; salvation lies in Reality. On top of that she loses her initial intuition when it comes to reading the instrument called alithiometer. What she already knew how to do, she will now have to spend the rest of her life learning.

One question rises above a lot of others in my mind: Why does Pullman bother to write fantasy at all? What is the point in opening up windows to other worlds only to close them again? The conclusion at the end seems just to be: "I told you a story to teach you not to put your faith in stories, because stories don't tell the truth".

Sorry Philip. I don't find yours all that convincing either...

Snow in Santaland



Santa himself was not at home today, but Santaland (Tomteland) looked rather inviting anyway with freshly fallen snow on the ground and the trees and the roofs of the surrounding buildings.







It's time to post your Christmas cards, if you haven't done that yet! The red mailboxes are put up especially for Christmas cards within Sweden (for which there are special stamps printed; the postage is a little cheaper than for an ordinary letter - but not much).


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The Ice Bear



Today I managed to get pictures of the finished ice sculpture. (See the artist in action in previous post). It is a polar bear with a little cub. The Swedish name for polar bear is isbjörn = ice bear.



We also have a thin layer of freshly fallen snow on the ground today. It is of the wet kind though so it might not last long.


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