Sunday, November 4, 2007

The Mausoleum

My absolute favorite. A huge building at the end of the line. A place for remembering someone you loved and lost. Or to think about your own death, how fragile we are, how little time there is. My very beloved brother had died that same summer, and I was carrying my own sorrow because of that. One young man sat inside the Mausoleum playing classical guitar, some people cried openly and a lot of the visitors had put up small pieces of paper with names and few words about their loss. The place was covered in dust and sand, making the atmosphere almost magic. Silence everywhere, but at the same time we could hear all the noices and sounds from the camp around us.
So here was this castle in the desert, making me think of the fact that people everywhere, - at all times, have put up places in order to remember those who were here before us. A strong experience in my life. Something I will never forget.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Till human voices wake us, and we drown

We were sitting in the van that afternoon waiting for the heat to reduce. The door was open, we had a couple of chairs outside but the heat out there was too much for a Norwegian coming from the Arctic region of the world. We were waiting for sunset.

So we just relaxed in the comfortable seats in the small livingroom of our van, a livingroom that in few seconds turned into a spaceful place to sleep when needed. I had my glass of wine. Thom was reading a book. We had been eating a well prepared avocado with sourcream and scrimps, mixed with some blue cheese - and some wholegrain bread brought all the way from the huge health food store in LA.

I knew that my companion on this trip had been working as an actor in several plays, but I had never heard him read anything loud. Not untill now, when he lifted his eyes from the book and asked if I wanted him to read for me.

LET US GO then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherised upon a table;

Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels

And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent

To lead you to an overwhelming question …
Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
Let us go and make our visit.

The begining of T. S. Elliots first big poem, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. This is a difficult text, some say; As it shows us only surface thought and images, it is considered difficult to interpret exactly what is going on in the poem.

So I just sat there, listening to Thom's voice.

On the surface, Prufrock relays the thoughts of a sexually frustrated middle-aged man who wants to say something but is afraid to do so, and ultimately does not. Prufrock is full of self-doubts, with a pessimistic outlook on his future, as well as the future of society and the world.

By these words, Thom was coming out of the Noosphere, and became a person of flesh and blood. Maybe he was seeing himself as a picture of this middle-aged man, and Prufrock's many frustrations? He had gone through a heavy heartbreaking affair before we meet and had assured me from the beginning that this was not a romantic trip. I think that this Burning Man-journey was the opposite of some new romantic wave. It was a way of breaking out of the middle-aged frustration over not having done what he really wanted to in his life.

I was not his new love, I was a hard-headed Scandinavian woman who had been out on a winter night - as we say it back home - many times before. I was an easy travelling companion, he knew I would not freak out over the Burning Man-experience. He knew I would leave and hike back to LA if times got tough, and he knew we shared some real-life-experiences on broken hearts and broken illusions.

And me?

I was breaking out of my every-day-life as well, crossing the Big Ocean in order to experience something completely different. I admit that my expectations of a love affair were bigger than his. To say something else would be a lie, and I seldom lie. So he knew, and made the best out of it.

But all these things taken into consideration, I still think that Thom - my former Noosphere friend - will always remember this afternoon in the van in the middle of the Nevada desert.

Someone who wants more on T.S. Elliot and Prufrock may find it here. To me, there are parts of this poem that will always connect me to the Burning Noosphere experience, although the title of the poem is misleading since it is neither a love poem nor a song in the classical sense.
But the end of it is lovely:

I grow old . . . I grow old . . .
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled (- which was very modern at that time -)
Shall I part my hair behind? ( - which was a Bohemian fashion, and a brave thing to do - )
Do I dare to eat a peach?

I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me (- oh, no?)

I have seen them riding seaward on the waves.
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back.
When the wind blows the water white and black.

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea.
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown.
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

The Chapel

None of us cared particularely about the cradle or the children's playground. We had both passed these periods of our lives long ago. But The Chapel, representing love and relationship was attractive. And it was such a beautiful building, both day and night. We went there, and became part of a small, short ceremony where Noosphere and IceQueen (our nicknames or avatars) were tied together in a Burning Man promise about to have and to hold - etc. Rather cute, but not meant for an everlasting anything - if you ask me about it from a more distant point of view.

The Van

Our van was just fantastic. It had a small kitchen and a lot of room in order to sit and eat, read og sleep.

The Café

The desert was dusty and hot. It was approx 40 degrees C, and sand everywhere, and the van often felt very varm and sticky. So the enormous tent on the Playa, the only café in the area, was an exellent place for resting, coffee and hot chai. Noosphere had a digital camera, and we used it a lot, trying to capture some of the athmosphere.

We could sit there for hours, and there would always be someone dancing, chanting, playing some instrument, reading loud or drumming. Day and night, - was an ever ongoing performance. Here was also an exellent opportunity to get to know other people visiting Burning Man, and sharing thoughts and experiences about this project. At one point I was resting alone, waiting for Noosphere who was standing in a cue in order to buy some chai, when a rich Cuban businessman and his young male secretary sat down and asked for company.
- Was I Swedish? And what did I do here?
- Norwegian, neighbour country of Sweden, travelling with a guy, I replied.
- Who was he, my husband?
- No, someone I met on the Internet.

I think my Cuban friend got rather shocked.

- You Skandinavians, he said, - are crazy. My wife is Swedish.
- Well, then you surely know all about that. So where is she?
- Travelling somewhere in Sweden.
- Sure. And what are you doing here, then? I asked.
- Just looking around, he said when Noosphere suddenly turned up with two cups of chai and was introduced to my new friends.
The rest of that conversation was rather interesting. As I told you readers of my blog once before: This might turn into a big novel! (And I'll come back to this story later!
I promise.)

Some people even used the tent to have a nap during daytime, because the activities at night were cooler and the show never ended. There was an ongoing party for five days. At least! And some got really exhausted, no wonder!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Black Rock City, The Playa

I think this must be one of the world's most spectacular festivals. We settled our van next to a couple fra Sacramento who was here for the fifth time, obviously looking for a renewal of their every-day-life. I remember the wife in her 50-ties looked at me and said: Remember! This is a real pagan festival. Yeah, I guess it is. It is probably good that something like this free playground exists in a somewhat conservative, religious country like the States - and I guess the"lawless" state of Nevada is the genuin right place to put a festival like Burning Man. We shared some meals with our neighbours, and that was nice, but the rest of the time we strolled along the playa, listening to conserts, looking at the installations, and looking at people, most of all. Some of the spectacular things were the people walking around in the nude, only covered in complete body colours like silver, red og green. Kind of fun, and there were places that offered to bodypaint you completely, if you felt like it. We didn't.

If you want to read more about 'our' year on the playa, please look at

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Arriving in Black Rock City

Going there was such a trip. Arriving was fascinating. I just loved it. It was a real camp in the desert of Nevada, and it seemed all well organised and friendly. We brought with us everything needed for five days stay in the desert, - food and water, all well planned before we left LA. One of the rules in the Black Rock city is that you cannot buy or sell anything there, except for tea and coffee in the huge tent in the city center. The first thing we did was to park the car and go looking for the Burning Man platform in the center of the playa. The man was tall, built of wood and visible from distance, even if it was a small sandstorm blowing and rather dusty in the air. We had to wear a dust mask, tight sun glasses and tie some cloth around our heads to avoid sun and sand. We looked like real desert beduins, but it was needed. I was amazed to see how well organized the place was, and I liked the consept: You should not throw anything on the ground, but take care of your litter and make the place look like untouched when the festival is over. Great idea! This year's theme was the Seven Ages of Man, and the desert was full of art installations focusing on this theme. Later I will put out more pictures from the installations, some of them were enormous - and I kept thinking: How did they manage to take all this stuff into the desert? And how much time did they use to organize this camp? They said we were around 25 000 people camping in Black Rock city, and the art installations were focusing on the 7 ages of human life: The Cradle, The Play Station, The Chapel, The Coliseum, The Temple of Wisdom, The Maze and The Mausoleum. All taken from William Shakespeares text, As You Like It:

All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players,

They have their exits and entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

An interesting vibe here over the wire

We started to write to each other. Not only about music or litterature, but about our lives.

I learned that it was possible to laugh and cry in front of my computer, just because of the messages he sent to me. We kept on talking for a long time before things evolved into serious business. There is a timegap of 9 hrs between us, Norway and west coast US, so it was not always easy to be online at the same time.

We talked in the morning before I went to work, that is late night LA, - and then in my afternoon hours when the morning sun rises over California. Sometimes we talked around 3 at night, at my place, when he came back from work.

- You have an interesting vibe here on the wire, he said one day.
Oh yes. I felt that interesting vibe, too.

Not long after this talk, we decided to meet in real life. But it took a few months before we managed to find out where and how. When Noosphere suggested some kind of art festival somewhere in the Nevada desert, I accepted immediately. But I had no idea about where we were going. No idea at all.

Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair

We both loved the Chilean writer Pablo Neruda. I had been singing Canto General with my choir in my younger days, he read the poems.

Here is a taste from Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair.

Full woman, flesh-apple, hot moon,
thick smell of seaweed,
mud and light in masquerade,
what secret clarity opens through your columns?

What ancient night does a man touch with his senses?
Oh, love is a journey with water and stars,
with drowning air and storms of flour;
love is a clash of lightnings,
two bodies subdued by one honey.

Kiss by kiss I travel your little infinity,
your borders, your rivers, your tiny villages;
and a genital fire - transformed, delicious-
slips through the narrow roadways of blood till it pours itself,
quick, like a night carnation, till it is:
and is nothing, in shadow, and flimmer of light.

-Pablo Neruda

Enjoy, my rare jewel of the Wire....

Noosphere meaning -

The LA guy had Noosphere as his nickname. I had to find out what it meant, and I think we have to sort that out, before I start my long journey.

The name Teilhard de Chardin soon appeared, connected to the name of the noosphere. And one of his statemnets were that " - each one of us is perforce linked by all the material organic and psychic strands of his being to all that surrounds him". Interesting, isn't it?

'Somewhere under all the commercial frenzy, in small rooms above garages, and bedroom corner offices, and laptops on airplanes, a new sphere is being created, a shared sphere of thought and creation and mind, and not just as abstract theory, not at the bandwidth of the printing press, but an instantly accessible, ever-present sphere of meme and dialectic.
Teilhard de Chardin called this the Noosphere, and he would be pleased at our Net, I think.' Noosphere wrote this to me on the 7. of February, 2001.

In Wikipedia it says: The noosphere can be seen as the sphere of human thought being derived from the Greek νους - meaning "mind" in the style of atmosphere and biosphere.

And more: The word is also sometimes used to refer to a transhuman "consciousness" emerging from the interactions of human minds. This is the view proposed by the theologian Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, who added that the noosphere is evolving towards an ever greater integration.

Wanna read more?

Writing without seeing

We were writing to each other without ever having seen each other. It took quite some time before we exchanged pictures. That was not really important for any of us. But we soon saw some common interests in litterature and music which made it very easy to talk.

We exchanged some of the things that we had read, things that felt important in our lives. Like learning to know the Mexican poet Octavio Paz:


Between night and day
Is an unclear area.
It is not light, not shadow:
It is time.

An hour, a pause of insecurity,
A darkening page,
A page where I slowly
Write these words.

A fire eating itself.
Day turns and looses its leaves.
A dark flood removing
the borders of all things.
Strong and soft

It tears away everything leading to an unknown place.
Reality flows away.
And I write:
I talk to myself
- I talk to you.

Entre la noche y el día
hay un territorio indeciso.
No es luz ni sombra:
es tiempo.

Hora, pausa precaria,
página que se obscurece,
página en la que escribo,
despacio, estas palabras.
La tarde

es una brasa que se consume.
El día gira y se deshoja.
Lima los confines de las cosas
un río obscuro.
Terco y suave

las arrastra, no sé adónde.
La realidad se aleja.
Yo escribo:
hablo conmigo
- hablo contigo.

Octavio Paz
My inner three
Àrbol adrentro (1976-1988)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

A long way to go

The year was 2001. It was a long journey to go by van all the way from LA to Nevada, where the Burning Man Festival is held in the beginnning of September every year. This is a very special event! My journey was even longer: I came all the way from Northern Norway in order to go there...

Ice hotel

I sat writing late one night, when a message from the ICQ dropped down in front of me, asking for an ice hotel somewhere near to my place, which is Tromsø, Northern Norway. I checked the sender, a guy from somewhere near Pasadena, LA.

Who is this, I thought. - An American who does not know how to use a search engine?

Saturday, October 13, 2007


This will, in due time, become a novel about a noosphere man who took me to a nowhere land called Black Rock City, way back in that very special year of 2001.
We met on the web. We talked.
And we met in real life nine months later and drove through California and Nevada on our way to Burning Man, a huge festival in the desert. But the journey took us much further than that. As a matter of fact, it has not ended yet...