Saturday, December 13, 2008

Journey to Port Said

Before I left Sweden, my mother gave me a novel to read. She does that sometimes, maybe as an act of wordless communication, paradoxical as it may sound. Yet it took me until yesterday and the rain before I set aside the time to read it, the way I like to read novels, from cover to cover, taking in every page in one single comfy armchair.

Built around fictive letters, the novel reconnected me with the time frame of Gilgamesh, the late forties, this time in Africa, as reflected into the present. Again small communities, northern instead of southern Sweden, decades I never lived but still alive for me, images that the living has a duty to pass on, if only as a tacit protest against the late-modern loss of memory.

I think of that sometimes, how to make the youtube-generation care about the Spanish Civil War, the opening of Japan or the Weimar Republic? Not the events as such but the experience of human existence that they represent? Now, the book was not about this, just a rasmusian detour, but its real content is not easy to digest into a blog post (it goes without saying that it was a darn good book - unfortunately, no translation has been made).

Aptly, the last days have otherwise been about planning the future. I have put together a last-minute STINT-application for a semester at the Institute for the Future of Humanity (FHI) in Oxford, a request for Futura-funding for my hotel nights in NYC in February and given some thought to the coming spring semester in Gothenburg. It is all about choosing, in a superficial sense of course, but the more profound choices remain, as always, more elusive.

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