Monthly Archives: October 2011

You cannot possibly take your camera to prison

I am reading the new book by Norwegian author Vigdis Hjort, ‘Thirty days in Sandefjord’, inspired by the thirty-day sentence for drunk driving the author served in Sandefjord prison.

There is a lot to take in, a lot to think about in this book. About social class, education and drug use in this country, that, and so much more as well. I’m keeping it at a distance, treating it as an intellectual exercise, since it would be too difficult to take it all in. I’m too naïve. Too sheltered in my own world of academia, cameras and fancy olive oils. I could never do anything illegal, right? But of course I could, like everyone else.

I expect there is a lot I would have to face about myself if I had to serve time in jail. But right now the only thought that makes my belly tighten in imagined fear is, what would I do without my camera – for 21 days, for a month, longer?

I am chronicling my life one image a day for the thirteenth month in a row. Pointing my camera – or phone – at something has become an intergral part of my day.

Some might claim that it would do me good, to get out of the habit of distancing myself from the world and hide behind the lens. To those hypothetical people I say, I don’t hide, I see more, and better now that I have been shooting so much, and I hope to expand that vision also to the unfamiliar, the foreign parts of the world around me.

Analogue time


Black and White Monday

Language is wine upon the lips. –Virginia Woolf

The above quote is one of my all-time favourites. It evokes a full-bodied red wine, enjoyed in good company, while eating delicious food. It evokes laughter. Friendship. Candles gently lighting the room.

I have wanted to know where this sentence is taken from. What is its context? For what kind of story did she come up with this metaphor? I have found only two answers to these questions, neither completely satisfactory.

According to one blog I found, she said once said this to her husband Leonard. No source was provided for this piece of information.

Using Ctrl+F to search for the phrase “wine upon” in her works on Project Gutenberg, I found the following sentence, from her book Jacob’s Room:

Cowan, Erasmus Cowan, sipped his port alone, or with one rosy little man, whose memory held precisely the same span of time; sipped his port, and told his stories, and without book before him intoned Latin, Virgil and Catullus, as if language were wine upon his lips.

At this point I almost regret looking for the context. For one thing, the words are not exactly the same. The book version is tied to a person, a he, Erasmus Cowan, that I can’t know without reading the book, and now the perfect adaptability of the internet quote is destroyed. What is more, Cowan is drinking port wine while telling stories, so there is an almost physical connection between the wine and the language rather than the evocative metaphoric connection of the internet quote.

The point of all this? For once I should have remembered the old line about never letting the truth get in the way of a good story instead of following my native academic instinct to dig for sources and originals.

Sunday Stories: Elin

So instead of a Wednesday photography Feature, I’m doing a Sunday Stories recommendation this week. My friend Elin is hosting TWO giveaways on her blog, one in English for Halloween that might be of interest also to my foreign friends 🙂 Elin is a librarian as well as a voracious reader with quite similar tastes in literature to me, so I can heartily recommend her literature blog.

Her Halloween giveaway is a part of Neil Gaiman’s project All Hallow’s Read, a brand new tradition of giving away a scary book for Halloween. I suppose there are adults of every age out there who won’t agree with me – scary books often involve supernatural elements, after all – but I’d say it is much healthier to give away books than candy, and I might just jump on this tradition myself in one way or another when Halloween rolls along.

Favourite things

Wednesday Feature: Remembering summer

Winter is only a heartbeat away now. Once the fires of autumn die out, we will be facing yet another three-month stretch of darkness and cold. Me, I’m reminiscing about summer and longing for the sun, and what better way to do that than through the treasure trove of my contacts’ images on flickr and twitter?

Libertad Leal‘s clever through-the-viewfinder image, for instance, serves as the perfect antidote to the foggy and rainy days we’ve been having. Thanks to Libertad for letting me feature this summer dream.

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