from ”Outdoor Life in Shoreland Terrain” translated from Swedish by Gabriella Berggren
I wish to approach this with good humour under various headings. For good humour is the only thing that can keep a person going, together with his fear that everything will go wrong. In other words, to come to grips with the world to the best of my ability without being afraid, without picking at my food. It ought to be possible to understand things in an entirely different way; through the slow mystery of breathing in and out, (almost breathlessly) like when you wander in a pine forest in severe cold and the fragrance nonetheless overpowers you.
You have to take it calmly and breathe with even breaths even though you nearly always get too much of everything, or too little, but never just the right amount of anything, because there is no such thing; and to remember that you never get it on trial, and won’t have the chance to change your mind, simply because it’s what you subsist on. It’s not a matter of accumulating knowledge, at least not the kind of knowledge that you can eat, it’s more about making the knowledge yourself out of a matter that always appears willing to lend itself to any knowledge, any system, concept or conglomeration whatsoever, be it vertical or horizontal.
But the real problem is that even this shapelessness is only apparent and that life really does have a glass bead game built into it somewhere and that you can hear it play from time to time.
This of course only happens sometimes, and never because you have understood something, but only because you have managed in some way to copy the melody, always unintentionally.
To lay a thing in the moss
Sometimes when you walk in a forest.
Sometimes when you walk in a forest you bend down.
Towards the ground and lay a thing there.
You lay it there in a nice place in the moss.
It is like an exercise, you practise leaving things in forests
and letting someone else take care of them.
It’s not rubbish you leave.
You leave a part of yourself.
You had already realised that. A mitten
is a part of yourself, but also doll or sandwich.
Other things can also be parts. Something that you once owned
lies on the ground in the forest when you leave,
something you would have needed
that you cannot do without, a part of life
or a large part. And moss will grow on it, and oblivion will take it.
And forest will grow and machines will come.
And forest will fall, and moss will be torn to shreds
and the country will get export income and nothing will be left.
In a hundred years new forest will grow
and all will be gone and forgotten.
Go into every house
Man can float
rock boats horizons
cry office tears
make difficult chicken
look at feet
when you look
at people it may strike
you that their noses are
much too big. Or that their
knees at close range
look like old faces,
as if they had
grown out of
The age of human assurance
The age of human assurance
ended around 1840. That was when the bodies
could no longer contain their souls. A fault
had appeared, the people woke up
early in the morning
and looked round the room,
set their feet on the cold splintery
wooden floors and walked to the windows. It was
nicer outside in those days, you saw
leaves mostly. There were sooty mines
and ironworks, but not like now
a blackness over everything. Outside
stood an innocent dawn, a blessing
if you like, or a reminder
of the old blessing of waking
and being in it.
It was then, 1840 in the autumn,
at the nicest time, that the bodies
couldn’t contain their souls any more.
The frost was there like a hand
brushed over the grass. The souls
shrank and began to stray. They made their way
to the city. There winds blew down
empty streets. There were
tobacconists there and casinos. The souls
sought work and got work, got married and
had children, gained a footing
in public bodies and department stores
and built this whole world
of uneasiness. But the bodies
got all the closer unto God, they blossomed
in all the autumn colours,
before oblivion finally gathered them in,
home to God’s mighty
pile of leaves.
You see people
stroking their cigarettes.
With the middle finger’s soft inside
as if they were small children. As if the people
were small children and the cigarettes
their little animals. Then comes
the little fire and the animals
begin to burn
in one end, and the people
suck them in. Greedily, as they say.
Fiercely. Remorselessly. Without mercy.
They do it for someone else’s sake,
or for some other thing’s sake.
First the little caress.
Then the fire. A longing
for sacrifice, to give themselves away.
To become animals and give away their days.
The problem with our age. People have said:
there is no way out. But I say: there are too many ways out.
All that is offered is ways out, but no way in. They also say:
all the ways out have already been worn out. But I say:
Then try to find a way in. Because the way in cannot be worn out.
As soon as you have got in you are there. Then you have it around you.
Then you may sit by the fire. But when a way out has been tried
and you have finally got out, you soon want in again,
because there is nothing out there
only absence and cold space. Hence this bitterness,
and this disappointment in ways out. Therefore I say: Don’t go out.
Go in instead. And if the house starts to shake, stay seated.
Stay seated with a pretty smile.
I know that many wonder where it comes from,
whether it is from within or without, and if it can run out.
Then I believe that it must be from without. You can see that by the hands,
how they are held stretched out ready to receive it. The entire being
is turned that way with face and all. Inwards nothing is turned, only the back.
You don’t expect anything from that direction, therefore there is no face there.
You can laugh there, but that laugh comes out through the mouth and wants to meet
whatever comes from outside, and greet it, and bring it back in. Some people
say that we stretch out our hands and that we laugh
to give away things that we have, but that’s not what I think.
I think that we just want to take and take, all the time we want more.
I don’t think that we have anything. Then they wonder
if it can be used up. Then my answer is that it cannot.
That much is for sure. It lasts throughout life.