For the first time in more than a decade, I stayed home during the summer, as in, remaining in Sweden during the warmest part of the year.
These evenings, we are often greeted by the monotonous rumble of high powered pleasure crafts going up and down the western archipelago, of people seeking yet another hip place to spend the night (where there seems to be as many rock festivals lined up along the Swedish west coast as you can anchor), alternatively, an absolutely silent and secluded natural harbour, where you will be lulled to sleep by the soft evening breeze to wake up to the curious pecking of some sea fowls finishing off your evening meal carelessly forgotten out in the open.
Most of the world’s philosophers and religions have spoken in some form or other, about love. But language is characteristically evolving as a process of communication and relativistic as a tool of communication, which leaves it sometimes grossly inadequate in expressing our thoughts and understandings of the workings of the world. How would people for example, describe a state of (perceived) psychosis of one that is not in psychosis but of an alternate reality, inaccessible by others who are themselves limited by their own senses? And to what extent is that alternate reality, alternate? Would it not just – be – in a world of 96% unknown from biology to quantum science [1,2,3,4]?
Some of the most influential and renowned minds have tried to use the inherited apparatus of language, to explain their perspectives, of their understanding of life, of how things are. But due to the nature of language that is sometimes slow to evolve in order to iterate depth of insight, they have had their thoughts literarised because there are few more efficient means to communicate thought than through language. Subsequently words become signifiers for what is, and what is, is also relative to each individual’s expression circumscribed by culture. With time in language, conflation leads to confusion where in the literary canon, ‘love’ has come to accrue other meanings, in connotation with other concepts ranging from ‘god’ to ‘nature’.
‘Love’ percolating through the vocabularies of the world, the word, its concept and meaning, fracture.
Many people would most of all attribute love as something grounded in human emotions, that is most often seen in a dichotomous distinction from ‘hate’.
Sweden is a large and not very densely populated country. Summers are as made for long drives and long conversations following the sun to see it touch the horizon before rising again.
Where increasingly, time is considered a personal luxury, Swedish summer months seemingly uninterrupted by nights are when you can truly feel the endless stretch of time ahead of you. Today we decided that we’d go barrel hunting. And for that, we headed towards the northern west coast archipelago of Tjörn and Orust, driving across Tjörnbron.
The modern bridge replaces the original Almöbron, built in 1960. In 1980, the bulk carrier MS Star Clipper hampered by heavy fog during the night, collided with the span of Almöbron. That night, several vehicles plunged into the sea before they were able to close the bridge. The foundations of Almöbron, can still be seen sitting directly under Tjörnbron. These foundations now seem to provide the perfect angling spot and in the nearby park, an Erik Nordström’s memorial was built to acknowledge his initiative for building Almöbron.
I love marketing. And what better way to market than to chance upon these tented food stalls at Järntorget in Gothenburg during lunch hour?
Despite the overcast sky that threatened a tropical rainstorm, it was a decision to head towards Järntorget for lunch that landed this serendipitous find of a food market, courtesy of Tentazioni of London.
“Being married is so great, it’s so fantastic, it would be such an achievement to be married.”
That line came from a young woman who sat in a café that served French baguettes and kaffe latte to brunch not just two weeks ago, in Sweden. She grew up in Asia. She was highly qualified in academic credentials and currently has an ascending career in finance. But she’s in her late twenties and it was the general vibe from all back home in Asia, that it was about time she settled down and got married. Her parents were willing to engage a matchmaker to arrange a marriage if that was what it took to get her ‘settled down’ and feeling accomplished as a woman.
It was the search for that perfect xocolata calenta in Barcelona 2011 on a weekday morning that found me wandering the streets of El Raval in the neighbourhood of Ciutat Vella, also known as Barrio Xinès or Barrio Chino, close to the quarters of Barri Gòtic, that landed me tasting the most wonderful variation of the Eurasian semolina almond cake, infused with orange.
Working on the batter of this cake, I can’t help but return to the words of the protagonist in Proust’s Swann’s Way, the first of seven volumes to À la recherche du temps perdu (published between 1913-1927), on when the petite madeleine, crumb soaked in tea, touched his lips:
Summer is here and I don’t think any form of soft or coercive persuasion would keep Swedes on office grounds unless absolutely necessary. My years working in executive education also taught me that holding organisational seminars outside of office grounds could prove more productive for project work. The change of environment provides a welcome break in everyday routine that encourages the workings of the creative. It was for this reason that I found myself standing in the lobby of Quality Hotel 11 at Eriksbergshallen this morning, looking to congregate with the rest of my colleagues whose main focus is research in the European context.
I pondered the transportation mode from Gothenburg down south to Mölle.
“You could take a train, but it’s a little complicated to get there after you get off the train.” so I was warned.
Forty-five minutes by car backed with an excellent knowledge of the intricate network of roads (GPS will do too) from Helsingborg C train station is what it took to get to the once fishing village of Mölle, that today is nothing short of a Scandinavian riviera resort cum holiday-spa getaway.
The view of the harbour, is breathtaking.
Around since the Stone Age, the first mention of the place came from a Danish handwritten letter in 1491 now archived in Copenhagen, the author writing of a town named Myllæ. Since the 1500s, the town was a fishing village where in 1569, it consisted of just ten ‘fishing houses’. About a century later, the number increased to twenty-two and then in 1800s, there were sixty-six such fishing houses.
It’s been clear blue skies and intense sunshine for some days now along the west coast of Sweden.
“Ah no! It’s not supposed to be like this now. It’s too early! You know, it’s like this now, then later in the summer, you know it’s going to be miserable. It should be bad weather all the way to Midsummer, then after that, you have good weather. Now that’s a good summer!” ~ A neighbour.
Of all collaborations Marc Jacobs had done in the past decade till 2013 for Louis Vuitton with Stephen Sprouse, Takashi Murakami , Richard Prince and Yayoi Kusama, the Murakami range remains one of my favourites in terms of the execution of precision chaos in art if there ever was such a thing.
Not particularly attracted by poparstic works per se, what draws me to the Murakami Vuitton range is the result of the unusual synergies between traditional handcrafted work grounded in rich European travel history with all its roundness of sensory experience, and the contrasting surreal ‘flatness’ of animations of a completely different era in pop culture, from Japan. If these two worlds can come together in any sense of classical physics and philosophy, then almost anything else can come to be of other areas of unlikely synergies. And the results are a certain finesse of execution in design that is not symbolically regressive Mad Max grunge that comes across in Sprouse-Vuitton collaborations or Gaudí organic progressive reminiscent that comes across in Kusama.
The first thing you’d notice about this bag is how weighty the canvas and sturdy the construct of the bag is for its satchel size, where even in GM, it was clearly meant as something more fashionable heritage narrative than a luggage carry-on.
The Trianon Sac De Nuit was created and produced in limited edition in conjunction with the celebration of Louis Vuitton’s 150th anniversary, paying tribute to Vuitton’s early days of 1854 – 1892, when Vuitton began selling light weight flat-topped trunks covered with their signature grey Trianon canvas. Prior to Vuitton’s flat-topped trunks, most trunks for travelling had rounded tops so that water would run off, the disadvantage being that they could not be stacked. It was Vuitton’s Trianon canvas, airtight flat trunks that allowed stacking with ease, for voyages.
The symbolic flower for the month of May is the Rosa Chinensis or the China Rose, which shares the same name / title to one of my paternal grandfather’s favourite songs, “Rose Rose I Love You”.
That song was first recorded in 1940 by Yao Lee and then by Frankie Laine in 1951 with the lyrics of the latter unrelated to the original.
What I found interesting in Laine’s version is that the song references a girl, possibly named Rose, as a “flower of Malaya”. This reference brought me back to the origins of Clifford Pier in Singapore, built between 1927 and 1933 and named after Sir Hugh Clifford, Governor of the Straits Settlements at the time. The pier was one of the busiest embarkation and disembarkation points in Singapore that belonged to the Straits Settlements Crown Colony during the early 1900s, from immigrants to the trading of goods. That Customs House at Collyer Quay stands in close proximity to what was once Clifford Pier today is testament to its history.
Brian Cox. Transcript on supernova explosions in the distant galaxies and the use of analogies to daily activities such as the baking of bread to explain the Hubble Law. How the use of analogies and metaphors in language can help in the structuring and understanding of a concept for those outside of the discipline of quantum physics.
now these are rare / you get one supernova per century per galaxy / so very rare / but there are a lot of galaxies / and this is a beautiful picture / i think again / from the hubble space telescope
“I will never require you to believe anything” – Tyson
“But Britain is not Europe as we are constantly reminded. That’s right, here we have the English breakfast and the Continental breakfast. That’s very different breakfasts that you can order here.” – Tyson
“That’s not the way you should do it. Did you time it? It says three-minutes. I always do it in three-minutes, otherwise, what is the use of instructions? And why cook egg noodles at all? You’ll never get it right!”
“How can you find out exactly how you like your egg noodles if you are to always follow the three-minute cooking rule stated on the package?”
“Yes, but there’s always a best way to do things, in a certain context.”
Heston’s approach to the culinary arts, the interaction of curiosity, experimentation, innovation and note taking that builds a repertoire of exacting knowledge, is a life philosophy.
Robbert Dijkgraaf’s lecture given at Gresham College in 2012 that focuses on string theory, quantum gravity, and the interface between mathematics and particle physics, bridges ideas from the various disciplines of science and arts, could be said to be have played a pivotal role in influencing the manner in which I saw the Individual in relation to space and time. Dijkgraaf takes on an evolutionary perspective to space and time, that are “near to their end”.
From the transcript of the lecture:
“If you go back in more recent history, for instance, Richard Feynman, the famous particle physicist, he has said that if you really do not know mathematics – and do not be worried, there will not be many equations today – but if you do not really know mathematics, you cannot get across the real feeling of the beauty of nature.”
“Not only did we have this unification of space and time but the next ingredient was that space, the stage, so to say, is not rigid, it is flexible, it can curve, it can shape, and it does so under the influence of energy and mass, and that is the phenomena that we call gravitation. So, anything that carries mass or energy will curve the space and time around and thereby space and time became no longer the stage, but an active player in the game. Space and time are something which has physical properties and a future in physical laws, and in fact, it is the influence of this curvature that describes the motion of particles under the influence of gravity.”
“I think the evolving universe, the Big Bang, is part of our culture, and in fact, these images and the discoveries that are made are getting more and more exact and precise. We are living in the age of precision cosmology,…”
I generally dislike totes. Personally, the very purpose of carrying a bag at all is to be able to go hands-free of carrying the goods, either by slinging it over the shoulder or in rucksack fashion, carrying the goods weighted on your back square between the shoulder blades.
But there are always exceptions.
The Louis Vuitton Monogram Manhattan PM is one such exception.
Many years ago I watched a man restore an antique wooden door. He had first carefully sanded it down to its original paint layer, til it was soft enough to run your hand over it, til you could feel the warmth of the wood at its core. To get the door to match the rest of the interior of the house, he then began by adding a thin layer of linseed oil. Each brush stroke was carefully calculated in pressure, length and weight.
I soon realized that he carried with him a tacit knowledge that not many others had. But more than tacit knowledge was also a genuine interest in what he was doing. He breathed life back into an antique door that most others would have thrown away and replaced with a brand new one from Bauhaus. He worked with undivided attention and as I watched, I pondered who else would ever come to appreciate the efforts? What came through clearly was that the care he put into that antique door was also a personality trait that you could see run through almost all other things he did.
I realized that this door might well outlive us both, at the cost of some linseed oil.
New evidence “brings ‘Theory of Everything’ a bit closer to reality” (Wall 2014) The bottom part of this illustration shows the scale of the universe versus time. Specific events are shown such as the formation of neutral Hydrogen at 380 000 years after the big bang. Prior to this time, the constant interaction between matter (electrons) and light (photons) made the universe opaque. After this time, the photons we now call the CMB started streaming freely. Credit: BICEP2 Collaboration.
Helena Granström makes some interesting observations about what science, even the social sciences, have given us over these centuries – a conviction of the functionality of how things are (everything by science can / must be physically empirically quantifiable) but a loss of a true understanding of the intrinsicality of the being of things (here lies the realm of the less than 4% knowledge of the quantum world that even as I write this, a few weeks ago, sat a very bright PhD student in the room and asked, “Is quantum physics really a field of study? Who does quantum physics? What good does it have for us?” To which I was at a complete loss of words, except to reply, “Yes, it’s a real field of study. I think the CERN might be very upset to hear what you just said.”)
In 2007 the rules of the game were changed when it came to importing and selling wine in Sweden. That year EU ruled in favour of the individual’s right to trade freely between Member States , and suddenly anyone could import their own wine without the Swedish governmental monopoly ‘Systembolaget’ having any say in what or from whom.
The Xwine company was founded almost immediately upon that. The idea is a simple one. Find unique vineyards in Italy and France, and offer their wines to friends and customers in Sweden.
Rediscovering the obvious
A few years ago we were traveling in rural China well outside of the tourist trails. Here we were invited for lunch with some locals. The omelette served was so rich and tasteful it stunned me, I had never had such a good omelette at any more urban hotel or restaurant. I realized I just needed to know the secret and asked our host, thinking there must be a secret ingredient, how this fantastic omelette had been prepared. As a reply, I got back, a blank stare. – You do like this, she said. You take two eggs and your chopsticks, and then you stir, like this … (whip, whip, whip … )
It was not before we came back out on the land outside the house that I noticed a whole bunch of free roaming hens, picking and eating whatever they found on the ground and doing what hens do. I realized that was the entire secret, happy hens, left alone living together with humans, not as an industrial production unit.
So when it comes to food production and consumption, something that fundamentally affects our lives and eco-systems, while it seems that some parts of the world have seen its third global shift, there remains a constant struggle today, to reconcile the different perspectives of how humans should and can manage their environment in an integrated, ecological manner that puts them not at the top of the food chain because that perspective is myopic and eventually self-destructive, but alongside in collaboration with all other food chains and eco-systems .
Some things in life, are unexplainably uncanny. Like my first time landing at the airport in Shanghai. As I stepped into the arrival hall, I saw two formally dressed individuals, one of whom held a name card that read, “Cheryl CAMPBELL”. Without pause, I found myself walking right up to them:
“Are you looking for me?” I asked curiously, careful not to mention my last name.
“You from Gothenburg?”
“Yes, from Gothenburg.”
“You, Cheryl Campbell?”
I hesitated a heartbeat, then answered, “Yes, that’s me, Cheryl, from Gothenburg.”
“Ah! Cheryl CAMPBELL! It’s a pleasure meeting you!”
I smiled, returned the warm greeting and said very little thereafter.
Then there were my days in Barcelona in 2011, where depending on which route I took to the IESE Business School, I would find myself every morning, walking past two different monasteries, one was a Carmelite Order, an order devoted to silence, contemplation and reflection, and the other with a heritage in the Order of Saint Clare / the Second Order of St. Francis of Assisi.
At the most superficial of coincidences of my days in Barcelona, my parents had wanted me to become a nun of the Carmelite Order. I also grew up in a convent founded by a Minim Friar, St. Francis of Paola (1416-1507), named in honour after St. Francis of Assisi (1181-1226).
During these days, was that visit to Santa Maria de Montserrat, a Benedictine abbey located on the mountain of Montserrat, about forty-eight kilometres from Barcelona, where I found the most delightful of cheeses crafted by the monks themselves.
So I couldn’t help but muse when for several years in a row at Passion för Mat, whenever I meet with Jacques and Maria Six of France Fromage who specialise in fine cheeses, they seem to place in front of me, specific types of cheeses related to my life’s travels somehow. This year, when Jacques pulled us aside to relate the story of Reblochon, fromage de dévotion, I almost stared at him in disbelief.