Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Sommerbrev fra Testrup Højskole 2001

Grundtvig, din gamle nisse! Igen finder jeg mig til morgensamlinger skrålende med på Brorsons salmer i folkeoplysningens navn og nydende hvert sekund af det. Susanne drog denne sommer på en uges kursus på Testrup Højskole, kurset med titlen Tag & Skriv! – Fra Dada Til Wasteland med et fokus på modernismens tidlige gennembrud i Europa. De danske højskoler er i krise, de lukker på stribe i disse tider og flere overlever på at tilbyde kurser i windsurfing og anden ugudelighed. En af de højskoler som dog stadig er i fuldt grundtvigsk vigør er Testrup hvis lange kurser har en filosofigren med et temmelig hardcore Kierkegaard-fokus og en skrivegren med en hvis eksport af elever til Forfatterskolen. Nu kunne det også se ud til at Testrup måske er stedet hvor en ny rektor for føromtalte Forfatterskole findes når Niels Frank om ikke længe skal finde sig en afløser. Vi skal ikke sådan rende med sladder, men rektor-emnet var lærer på nærværende kursus og har initialerne H.O.J. Første morgensamling åbnede med en Brorsonsalme med bl.a. følgende vers:

Hvad skal jeg sige når jeg ser
At alle skove vrimle
De mange fuglesving der sker
Op under Herrens himle?

Hvad skal jeg sige når jeg går
Blandt blomsterne i enge
Når fuglesangen sammenslår
Som tusinde harpestrenge?

Svaret kom ret efter: aguuuga rum laBANGooo retkifemli ooohlabetifimiloloo! (eller noget sådant). En af lærerne på stedet Mads Eslund som stod for det dadaistiske laboratorium satte en optagelse af Raoul Hausmann på hvor han i den grad gakker ud i et lyddigt der til forveksling kunne minde om en Mifune midt i et ret så drastisk epileptisk anfald. Selvom det nok snarere end fuglesang er lyden af krigsmaskineriet der motiverede dadaisterne så så jeg alligevel en slags kobling.

Men jeg var der for at kikke nærmere på Hr. Lars Bukdahl, af egen omtale Kontroversiel Digterkritiker på Weekendavisen. På anmeldelsesværkstedet, placeret i et alt for lille lokale til kursuslederens maniske gestik og pacen frem-og-tilbage, lagde vi ud med at få stukket et par eksempler på Basilisks B16-serie i hånden, små 16-siders bøger med et ganske genreudfordrende indhold. Jeg har således anmeldt fra bl.a. Journal Ka kendte norske Ingvar Nistads Can I touch this? i mulig konkurrence med eventuelle fremtidige Morgenbladsomtaler.

Danske Mikkel Thykiers .katalog. var andet anmelderoffer, i forvejen rost til skyerne af Bukdahl hvilket jo opfordrede til at gå i andre retninger. Her er den noget indforståede postkort-version af min anmeldelse af Thykier:

Kære Audun
Mikkel Thykier, jeg ser hans lille alvorlige fjæs for mig, knappenålsøjne foran bogreolen: ”Shit, jeg er et vidunderbarn!” Dette er en collection af similer, små fragmenter der undersøger vejen fra virkelighedssansning til billede. Han rammer tit plet hvorved Poesi vitterligt opstår. Høj & lav stil blandes, Pelle Haleløs & Rimbaud. Jeg gider ikke de botaniske optegnelser til sidst, stribet dafne? Det kan du selv være! Vejet og fundet for let, nægter at støtte op om geniforklaringer.
Hilsen Susanne

Opgaven der fulgte lød Vend Dine Argumenter Om og er da også en nærliggende fristelse, bogen er faktisk ret fin til tider.

Og der dukkede Lars op med en stor konvolut. Netop ankomne bøger til snarlig anmeldelse for Weekendavisen. I denne bunke var en del fra amerikansk oversatte bøger der udkommer i forbindelse med Det Store Brag af en dansk-nordamerikansk lyrikfestival In The Making, men også adstadige hjemstavnsdigter Knud Sørensen som har været udgivelsesaktiv i mindst 30 år kommer med en ny samling på Gyldendal Dagligdagen som anmelderholdet med frydefuld ondskab slagtede, bl.a. i haiku-form:

Kronhjort frem af dis
Uden mindste strejf af kitsch
Avantgardefri brøl

Vi lavede et hav af sammenligninger á la hvis denne bog var et stykke tøj ville den være … en støttestrømpe, hvis denne bog var noget spiseligt ville den være … sondemad, hvis denne bog var en slægtning ville den være … Onkel Fontex, hvis denne bog var en lyd ville den lyde … rollatorknirkende. Og ja, Susanne har arbejdet for længe, alt alt for længe i hjemmeplejen.

Sidste dag fik vi chancen for at anmelde anmelderen, Lars Bukdahl havde på en time skrevet en sonetkrans ved navn De Kaldte Ham Sonet Frans, angiveligt skrevet i trods op imod Inger Christensens kanoniserede værk Sommerfugledalen og i drømmen om at få sin egen lille B16-bog. Vi var nådesløse, skønt det var svært at stå for de sprogligt kreative fjollerier.

Torsdag var dedikeret Finnegans Wake som må betegnes som det længste lyddigt skrevet nogensinde. Digter Peter Laugesen var på besøg og læste fra sin oversættelse af værket som han påstod allerede i sin oprindelige form var nær 50 % (hm) skrevet på dansk/norsk. Efter en 20 minutters intens hypnotiserende recitation var vi så ganske svimle at en publikummer sammenlignede teksten med et narkotisk stof. Laugesen replicerede at i så fald burde den måske være forbudt og kun sælges i små stykker på Christiania.

Om aftenen kom billedkunstner Michael Kvium som sammen med Christian Lemmerz og producent Dino Raymond Hansen har lavet en 8 timers (og 8 millioner kostende) filmatisering af Finnegans Wake, kaldet The Wake. Filmen har rejst verden rundt allerede, har bl.a. været i Stavanger på et tidspunkt og ved flere lejligheder har den været opsat som DJ-symfoni bl.a. i Dubrovnik og Minsk.

Vi blev opfordret til at gå og komme i løbet af natten (filmen blev vist til kl. 4 om morgenen) og bruge den som tapet til almen festen og hængen i baren. Kunstnerne kan ikke siges at have villet vige tilbage for at bruge hver eneste mulig avantgardistisk og om muligt provokerende krølle: en amerikansk pornostjerne var hyret til optagelser af kønsorganer i fri flugt i samarbejde med ”lokal københavner”, en irsk bar var blevet bygget i en lagerbygning i nordvestkvarteret hvor 100 statister kunne muntre sig med Guinness ad libitum og nærbilleder af mider i kogende olie eller under angreb af en særlig aggressiv myreart forekom (Kvium: ”Der har været mange dyr i denne film, de overlevede ikke alle sammen”). Gennem filmen som både var i high & lo-fi blev der i dén grad fokuseret på fede mænd der vakler fulde rundt og fortolkningen af værkets antydning af incest-temaer i den lydlige sammenligning med ordet ”insekt” –

[…]

Teksten – skrevet med let hånd på et vesterbrosk bibliotek – er publiceret på Gasspedals e-post-liste sommeren 2001
The Fishing Trip

There’s a fish hanging down from the ceiling. Its a beautiful fish, all shiny silver and with one drop of blood dripping from its nose. Yet another dimension is added to the show, the dimension of smells, the salty fishy smell hits the audience while slowly filing into the small dark closet-like room. Theres only room for a few people in there and we’re on the program only twice so it’s très exclusive and we like it like that. After some fighting with the other two we decide my piece is gonna be in the middle since its the longest text. I’m dressed in my dads waders, a shirt in a red pattern and across my eyes I have a long black stripe, I’m not sure why but it looks cool. I’m wearing a headlight and behind me there’s slides of me splashing through water at some Copenhagen seaside. The small room is covered in blue light and the slow rhytmical music of the Scottish band Boards of Canada creates the backdrop for my voice reading a long poem, The Fishing Trip.

As students of a small creative writing course in Copenhagen we had the brilliant idea that reading a text to an audience should somehow be multi-sensual. All we had was a week to prepare the show that was going to be part of a public show of the small school we attended, a school with different kinds of creative courses besides ours. We had no theory, no experience with performance or theatre so it was all made on instinct and I think it actually worked out well in the end within the limits we had.

Later that spring I find myself part of yet another strange show. I’ve been asked to come for an interview at the Danish Writer’s School Forfatterskolen, an hour of being grilled by 8 prominent Danish writers and intellectuals. I’m in a state of panic and chose to view the interviewers through my burned-out social workers eyes and reduce them to their ever so unavoidable bodily conditions, their bodies are like mine: shits, bleeds, have orgasms, gets sick, dies. So I’m free that way I think and starts off enthusiastically explaining about the beautiful fish hanging from the ceiling and on every question I say yeah! yeah! yeah! like I was some sort of beatnik on speed. I wasn’t accepted.

The first time I walked through the Nordnes park of Bergen I was surprised to find a gigantic totem pole there. I knew the style of it very well, the symbols of the eagle and the raven. This totem pole was from the Pacific North West, though my guess was a little bit further north: Alaska. I travelled to Alaska in 97 to be part of an international volunteers work camp there and fell in love with the rough & rainy mountain landscapes. Now in Bergen, a place with quite the same climat and scenery I find out by moving a little closer that the totem pole is a gift from Seattle, official friendship city of Bergen. But there’s other reasons for this sudden feeling of recognition and lines connecting, geographically as well as personal. The deja vu I experienced studying the art of the inuit indians of Alaska has historical references too. Looking at a map of the North Pole it’s obvious how closely connected Greenland is to Alaska, much closer than to Denmark in its culture and art, although Greenland is supposed to be part of Denmark.

Walking a little bit further through the park I started to feel tired, my Danish feet was not used to steep climbs like this from walking through the pan cake landscapes of Denmark where the highest point is called Sky Mountain, Himmelbjerget, though its not much else but a small hill. But I was lucky, I saw a bench and rushed to it to sit down for a while and relax my weary feet. On this bench I saw a small sign much to my surprise declaring that this was a gift from the official friendship town of Falkirk to Bergen City. Less of a pompous gift than that of a totem pole, but once again giving me the strong sense of connection. Scotland is yet another place I stayed in for a while some years back so once again my personal history is being connected in strange and surprising ways geographically - and historically as well: I remember visiting the (quite tacky) Viking Museum of Largs on the west coast of Scotland not far away from Glasgow where I stayed looking for work for a while. When the museum guide discovered I was Danish she pretended to be very scared, I was representing the evil imperialistic power of the vikings that drove them from Scandinavia to Scotland and Ireland to kill and concour the country. She of course only did this to make the kids laugh and I didn’t feel much like a scary viking at all.

But whats up in Bergen? Fishing is up! I’m fishing for a future, I’m here to write, Im here to study the art of writing, I’m here…and I…don’t know why at all. I didn’t understand the language back then, but I like fish cakes and brown cheese, besides that all I know is what and where I don’t want to be, my ideas of what’s up next are quite vague, but yeah. I want to write.

The Fishing Trip wins a short story contest much to my surprise and joy. It’s a university litterature magazine in Oslo "Filologen" that all of a sudden decides that this is in fact a short story and not a long poem like I always thought it was. The text is without full stops. What breaks up the text in stead of full stops is the sound-like word click, like the sound of a camera taking a picture or of the phone being disconnected. At the (dare I say) performance in Copenhagen we changed the slides with each click and in that way the sound of the slides changing actively was part of the reading. I was into that kind of thing, long expressive flows of text. Full stops was like death. I wanted movement above all.

Staying in Norway for another year I had the chance to read The Fishing Trip at a real theater. During my study in Bø in Telemarken the class went off to Porsgrunn on a two-week seminar on drama to work on texts with actors at the Grenland Friteater. Theres was not many students specifically interested in drama as such and we were only a small group that stayed there through the whole seminar. What a pity. This is way beyond genres and a specific interest in drama is not the point. We imagined drama as classical drama and some didn’t see the point which I think was the great chance to let go of the text and let it out in a room with more dimensions than that of the page. Of course this is a loss of control for the writer, the estetics that you’ve decided on is no longer in your hands and weird things happen. That’s a great and exciting and maybe even scary trip for a writer, into the open space. But its recommended. I learned a lot from working with the actors and it’s tools I can put in my suitcase and bring along with me on future travels.

Tekst publiceret i teatertidsskrifet The Open Page no 7/March 2002.