Lisbon, October 2023
Day 4. Did you know you are meant to cook mushrooms without oil? Well, you’re meant to dehydrate them first, try it. See how much liquid evaporates just from heat alone. Soon you’ll have a cloud of vapor rising from your pan. After they’re done and shriveled up should you apply your fat of choice and they can be seared just like meat. This is how we are cooking our omelette this morning after a Korean barbecue last night and of course adding the left over pork belly.
An old friend wrote to me yesterday asking to have a phone call. I asked why and he said he found this blog. He said that it was because of an essay here that he started reading to Chip War. I think it was in the first post I wrote when I was in Hamburg and listening to it while I was walking around the harbour. See, I’m afraid of ‘link rot’ so instead of maintaining my links with a system (because URLs will change) I’m trying instead to maintain them through context.
The fact that he wrote to me and picked up on that book which wasn’t even an actual recommendation sort of proves my point from yesterday. We create things and they go on to live a life of their own. They interact with the world as living things (as long as we can keep the domain up) and maybe even help people. There’s that video I have about racism on youtube and although I’m a bit annoyed that it’s my most viewed video, it seems like people are interested in it and it’s been helpful.
I think of what Henry Rollins said about his work. He just creates and creates. He creates things and lets them out to sea like little boats then he works on the next thing. I like that approach. It’s like Bob Dylan who has god knows how many albums. Yes, focus on quality but quality comes from quantity of repetition. Aware and focused repetition. You sharpen your words with every single one you put down on the page.
I wrote a poem two days ago:
Yellow burn unprompted
Like a line from the sun
I read a poem that said
To remember that Icarus flew
The U bahn has yellow rails
Where you can hold
As you’re thrown about
The broken and breaking city
Yeats wrote about losing
A face in a crowd of stars
Here a star would be lost
In pool of faces
I reference Yeat’s poem “When You Are Old” https://www.timothylim.is/when-you-are-old. I love the last line when he says: “And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.”. I read the analysis and the general idea is that he is writing to a lover who spurned him and he ends the poem with an adieu saying “I didn’t need you anyway” and retired to his crowd of stars. The ‘hiding’ aspect just gets me because there’s a shame to it, a retreat. There is no glory or nobility here, it is defeat.
I feel the same about cities. People come here for different reasons. Some come to hide, to hide amongst the stars, people who have been weird or ostracised in their small towns but in the city, how weird can you really be if there’s a crazy person shitting themselves next to everyone at the bus stop.
I try to take a more positive approach. I come to the city to be seen. There are people here who will finally get me, who will finally see me. I love Norway for all it’s sides but at the same time I could never be truly Norwegian. I can try in some ways, I can become fluent but nothing in my heart compels me to. Maybe it comes from the privilege of choice. I remember my taxi driver in Lisbon who had come from Bangladesh and worked as a waiter in the restaurant. He wasn’t allowed to take orders because he didn’t understand Portuguese so he learnt every day on the bus to work. Soon he was able to take orders and eventually became the manager of the restaurant.
I asked him if he liked his life. He said he “couldn’t complain”. He was alive, he was driving in an uber which was far better than restaurant work and he was saving money for his family to come join him in Portugal. Life was hard but I think he was harder, in a good way.