Gluten and writing

This is the one hour of the day when you can buy alcohol on the ship, and for the less sociable, it’s a Sophie’s choice. Do you come out and spend an extra hour with the people who are driving you to drink in the first place? Or do you abstain so you can hide in your bunk until the last minute?

→ Idle Words: Gluten Free Antarctica

On the day of the attack, he wrote, someone had purchased 60,000 BVB put options — a wager that the shares would fall below a certain price by a certain date. “A purchase like this is only rationally explainable,” he wrote, “if the buyer was expecting the stock value to go down very rapidly.” This kind of drop, he pointed out, wouldn’t happen if Dortmund lost a game. It would require something more serious, like losing players, or the entire team, in a terror attack.

→ Bloomberg: The Get-Rich-Quick Scheme That Almost Killed a German Soccer Team

“Gravity was never proven,” Patrice said. “It’s just a faulty concept to try and brainwash you into believing that tons of water can stick to a spinning ball. When you think of what they taught us in school, that the Earth is spinning so, so, so fast and you can’t feel it? And then all this water’s sticking to it?

→ Meet the people who believe the earth is flat

“She quickly disrobed, laid on her back, put a bunch of powder in her vagina and hit play on the tape recorder. Well, when the guns went off in the song, she emitted little puffs of smoke from down below. It made me proud to be an American.”

The Daily Beast: ‘Deep Sleep’: How an Amateur Porno Set Off A Massive Federal Witch Hunt

MateuszGluten and writing

My time is your time

At work we’re going through an organisational review thanks to a work grant from TRS, and we’re having workshops at least once a month – not counting the planning Skype meets and such. It’s easy for me to forget that I am paid to be there, but most everyone else who attends is a volunteer member who is doing this out of the goodness of their hearts or similar organ.

My own engagement with volunteer organisations has been flagging lately. Laborator – the biohack lab I was starting up – has died of consumption, listlessly fading away underneath the varnish of neglect. Other than that I haven’t put in any time into stuff that hasn’t been work – be it paid or my own.

So it’s inspiring to take a step back every once in a while to realize that much of what is good in the world is still happening because people see a need and step up to get it done.

MateuszMy time is your time

All these pictures need a viewer

I’m working on publishing two issues of a photo magazine this year. Not sure if “artist book” or “fanzine” is the better term, so let’s just stick with “zine” for now. For starters, I’m just using my own images, and it’s straight up photography – I’ve amassed enough pics that I ought to be able to put together at least a few interesting issues.

Part of the drive here is the distrubution model. I’ll keep the production costs down as much as possible and will at least initially print it using newsprint paper, which will allow me to be more frivolous with the copies since I don’t have to keep track of costs as much.

I had a dinner for a few friends who are in the art book scene a couple of months ago, and the recurring theme was the difficulty of finding a new audience. So an idea I have it to try to create an audience from scratch. I’ll do a limited run of each issue (let’s say 100 copies) and they’ll be numbered and signed like any work of graphic art, but I’ll post them to random and semi-random recipients, encouraging them to send some money if they’d like to receive the next issue. If they don’t send anything, no foul – I’m sending the mag unsolicited after all – but if they do choose to send money I’ll have at least a subscriber for one issue.

I’ve set up an instagram @monocultured (which to my amazement wasn’t taken yet) and as one does these days I’ll post the progress there. Let’s see how it fares if I don’t market it at all.

It’s odd going through the tens of thousands of images that I’ve accumulated to try to suss out something meaningful. It pretty much amounts to a completely new work – what I thought when I took the picture, what I’ve used the image for previously, none of that matters. It’s now a selection I’m doing in 2019 and trying to coax some meaning from.

I’m going to work on this using diptychs for now – pairing images up and play on their interaction. An analogy close at hand is that of binaural audio, where the resulting sound is created in the mind of the listener, rather than the creator. When you leave two images next to each other they relate to each other, and understanding them isn’t predicated on you knowing their origin, but rather on your interpretation of how they reflect each other. Perhaps a better analogy would be the Kuleshov effect – but the interaction of images in those examples still hinge on interpreting the scene as a whole, not as two seperate, equal, images.

One practical problem I had when starting out selecting images was that I had no easy way to quickly match up different images and make a selection of good combinations. Lightroom, Bridge, all DAM:s and specialized apps I tried fell short. I posted this on and user tomp from London threw together an app which did exactly what I wanted! It’s still rough, but it’s unmeasurably better than any other solution I’ve tried, so if you’re in the same predicament I’d recommend you to try it out.

MateuszAll these pictures need a viewer

The words I’ve read this year

Second time in a row, here are the books I’ve read this year in more or less chronological order per category. This time around I’m trying to give a short description as well! One drawback of listening to audiobooks – for purposed of reviewing anyway – is that there’s no easy way to capture quotes. I find myself walking to work, hearing something witty and thinking “oh, that was pithy, I ought to quote it somewhere” but then I’m always left scrounging Goodreads for whatever it was I found so memorable.


Rafael Alvarez, David Simon: The Wire – Truth Be Told. I and Sara rewatched all five seasons of The Wire (She hadn’t seen the last two) and it’s still a brilliant series. The book didn’t add that much and some of the essays where a bit long-winded or read like someone just wanted to get it off their chest, but the background to some actors and the making-of was interesting. I could have done without the episode recaps since they often didn’t focus on the pieces I was interested in and, well, I’d just seen the episode…

Isabel Fonseca: Begrav mig stående [Bury me standing]. I bought the book when first Sweden saw an influx of Roma beggars a couple of years ago. It’s a well written and heavily annotated story of Isabels journeys through Europe, piecing together the history of a largely ahistorical people. Full of personal observations from meetings with Gypsy families and community activists, it reads in parts as a parody of the prejudices one hears, but is at the same time a scathing story of oppression past and current.

Victor Papanek: Design for Human Scale. At less than 200 pages it’s a slim volume, but it’s a joy to read. Besides being chock full of quotable phrases – …the global village is in danger of becoming a global slum. – the takeaway is that “design” is an inherent human pattern-finding trait which shouldn’t be detached from a world of limited resources and social context. Or as he puts it: Design is to technology what ecology is to biology. I’m already looking forwards to reading this again in a few years time.

Syd Field: The definitive guide to screenwriting. Character is action, action is conflict, conflict is story – something along those lines. The book is worth reading for the insight into Hollywood movie production in particular and storytelling in general, and I’ll be sure to revisit Fields advice if I ever get to write a script again. It does leave me unfulfilled though – there’s a sense that he’s trying too hard to shoehorn his analysis of movies into his preconceived notions of form, and the book gives a disjointed sensation of repetition and contradiction.

Vibeke Holst: Som Pesten. Thriller set in the world of WHO and EU during a pandemic. Politics, skullduggery and organized crime – great read. A related read would be the The Coming Plague (Laurie Garrett) which is a bit dated by now but still a fantastic description of the cyclical nature of pandemics and how they’re managed by CDC and others.

Epub / PDF

Peter Watts: Beyond the Rift. Collection of short stories. A bit Ballardian at times, which is a good thing. One of them was read on Starship Sofa a while back if I recall – The Thing rewritten from the aliens perspective.

Patricia McKillip: Alphabet of Thorn. Low key high fantasy. Enjoyable and well written. Coming-of-age and floating magic schools.

Andrew Groen: Empires of Eve. I’ve installed Eve Online a couple of times but haven’t got past the tutorial – just reading about Eve once a year is enough for me. This book chronicles the first couple or years of Eve; the drama and politicking is fantastically rich for an MMORPG.

Daniel H. Wilson: Robocalypse. A re-read, but given that it only took three hours to breeze through it’s time well spent. Not the best writing or character building, but I have a soft spot for epistolary novels since they allow for trying out different scenarios and ideas.

Daniel H. Wilson: Robogenesis. Sequel to Robocalypse, and still entertaining but less so. It builds like a thriller/suspense story, but I never get the sense of urgency. Narrator writes as if it’s in past tense, and it’s set up for yet another sequel. Some of the robot ideas remind me of Ruckers Ware Teralogy, so it’s still worth the few hours it takes to read.

Alastair Reynolds: Slow bullets. Short sci-fi after-the-fall story with some Mcguffins. If it’d been longer I would have quit – reads like a short movie script.

Richard Morgan: Woken furies. Third in the altered carbon series, and mostly a confusing mess of technobabble. It’s a continuation of Gibson and Stephenson, post-cyber & transhumanistic, but maybe I have less patience with this kind of writing these days? Couldn’t keep the characters straight for all the jargon, and didn’t really care about any of them at the end.

Blake Snyder: Save the cat! While writing the script for my and Saras short Learning Experience I read this to get pointers on story development. Even though Snyder writes with the ambition of making it big in Hollywood – Memento is shit cause it did poorly at box office – there are suggestions for tension and storytelling which are worth knowing.

Hans Rosling: Factfulness. A reminder of how important it is to keep a clear head and always look at the larger picture instead of focussing on the misery-driven narrative. My focus tends to be on the negative, so his sentiment that “things are bad but getting better” is a useful hint for taking a step back. The largest omission from the book is the issue of anthropogenic climate change – not that his appeal for a factual world-view isn’t necessary for dealing with it – but occasionally the text read pollyannaish. This isn’t fair to the authors, but since it’s published in a climate of climate talk, it’s odd that the issue is almost omitted – as is the mass extinction of flora and fauna by human hand.


Terry Pratchett: Interesting times. Part of the Rincewind storyline – which seems written for laughs rather than plot or observation. Pratchett always had a levelheaded description of racism, but even with being conscious of that, the orientalism is a bit problematic.

Terry Pratchett: Maskerade. Witches storyline. Agnes Knit joins the opera and there’s a mishmash of phantoms and people dropping like flies from the flies, and “Miserable Les”.

Terry Pratchett: Feet of clay. City Watch storyline – a whodunnit with some class analysis and curmudgeoning. Quote: “Whoever had created humanity had left in a major design flaw. It was its tendency to bend at the knees.”

Terry Pratchett: Hogfather. Death storyline. Religion, belief and the psychopaths that keep the word interesting by killing people.

Terry Pratchett: Jingo. City Watch storyline. Warmongering, racism and nationalism. A bit too punny, but still good in these times of chest-thumping patriots. Quote: “Build a man a fire, and he’ll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he’ll be warm for the rest of his life.”

Terry Pratchett: The last continent. Rincewind saga continues with a story which is two stories, set in not-Australia, overly reliant on wordplay and funny sentences. Not sure what the point is here.

Matt Taibbi: Insane Clown President. A collection of essays from the republican campaign trail of 2016 – previously published in Rolling Stone. Entertaining to listen to, and with hindsight – now halfway into the Trump presidency — it’s a sobering read. Some interesting analysis and self-criticism, and it’s noteworthy how the tone becomes darker and more despondent as the essays progress.

Yuval Harari: Sapiens. A book which not so much bites off too much as tries to swallow humanity whole. Reminds me of Guns, germs and steel by Jared Diamond in it’s scope and ambition. It mostly succeeds – I’d love to have an updated print of the sapiens family tree hanging on the wall – and is widely entertaining, although he by necessity skims over a few things and generalizes with too much liberty at times.

Yanis Varufakis: Adults in the room. The former finance minister of Greece humblebrags himself through six months in office. Fascinating reading nonetheless since it puts names and faces to the mechanisms of austerity and structural adjustment programs IMF and gang routinely force upon societies.

Colin Ward: Anarchism – A Very Short Introduction. A three hour listen which positions anarchist history, ambitions and struggles in the contemporary world. Good overview and a reminder of that another society is possible.

Michael Pollan: Change your mind. After hearing an interview with Pollan on Quirks and Quarks I gave his book a listen. It’s an overview of psychedelics and how they have been used and the resurgence of their study within psychiatry. The descriptions of depression and the hypothesis for how psychedelic experiences can alleviate it rang true with me, so if I wasn’t on an SSRI I’d give it a try.

Terry Pratchett: Carpe Jugulum. On vampires, choice and religious conviction. A well paced story in the witches series. Not sure why he included a phoenix except for bringing the character Hodgesaargh into the story.

Naomi Alderman: The Power Women gain the power to generate electricity and the gender power balance starts to shift. Told 5000 years into the future by a historian, it’s a “through the looking glass” story which has some good world building, although not the most believable characters. A mix of “No men beyond this point” and “Left behind”. Worth a read though!

Emily Croy Barker: The thinking woman’s guide to real magic. A through the magic wardrobe story of Nora who is transported to a parallel world of færie and magic. Barker builds a convincing world, but the stilted characters distract from the already too drawn out story. Mostly written from Noras perspective, and it’s an interesting effect when the author occasionally jumps into the head of one of the other characters – it’s jolting, and I can’t decide on whether I like it or not.

Eric Schlosser: Command and control. A chronological history of nuclear weapons, particularly in the United States, with recurring jumps to an account of the Titan II missile explosion in Damascus. Fascinating stuff, especially all the near misses I’ve never heard about, which might have caused WW3. The chapter on MAD and other cold war strategies is sobering. (followed up by watching The Day After)

Lev Grossman: Codex. Edward the banker gets an odd assignment sorting an aristocratic family’s book collection, ostensibly to find “The Codex.” that’s about as exiting as it gets, and no amount of twists improves on a story where the characters care for stuff without having any reasons to. Even for a book dated to 2004 the computer game described makes little sense, and reads mostly as an attempt to create mystery where there is none. A librarians “DaVincis code”.

Terry Pratchett: The Fifth Elephant. Watch series – about the choices we make and the mechanics of realpolitik. Well paced and some genuine complicated emotions.

Terry Pratchett: The Truth. Getting into “banged corn” territory – there are too many analogues technologies and ideas being thrown in for a laugh. The story of how movable type brings on the news-age to Ankh-Morpork isn’t terribly exciting and whatever points it’s trying to make about the value of Truth clashing with privilege get lost in the hubbub. Some nice characters and commander Sam Vimes is always on point, but the story is a portent of what’s to come in the series.

Terry Pratchett: Thief of Time. Death & Susan series. Even thought the Auditors aren’t the most interesting villains, the gallery of anthropomorphic personifications musing on life is fun enough.

Jon Ronson: The Psychopath Test Audiobook. Ronson gives a rambling account of his search for psychopaths. He weaves scientology, DSM IV and anecdotes together into an image of “sanity” as a permutable state and not a stable characteristic of anyone. He reads the book himself, and his neurotic reading and self-referencing is one of the joys of the audiobook.

Books I’ve given up on, as well as the page I gave up on it and the reasons.

Don Delillo: Underground. [Page 19] I can see that it’s high litterature – it’s well written and has a rich language. It’s just no my kind of language. It’s as if Tom Waits and Warren Ellis had a lovechild – very Americana and wordy. How much space can you afford a hotdog? Burma Shave.

Kim Stanley Robinson: Aurora. [Audiobook – 2 hours in] A coming-of-age story following the sixth generation in a generational ship heading towards Tau Ceti – an interesting setting but there’s only so much exposition I can handle without a having a story to hang it on. Again, a book looking to be a movie, or rather a Netflix series.

Constantin stanislavski: An actor prepares. [p19] I look forward to when I know enough about acting to appreciate this book. It’s well written but goes over my head.

Mike Goodridge: Directing. [p75] A series of interviews with directors – not frightfully interesting, although they should have plenty to tell.

Mark Manson: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck. [Audiobook – 45 min in] It’s bro-mindfulness and might have something important and/or useful to say but it’s so poorly written — sexism, humblebrag, broisms — that I just gave up. Even listening at 1.5 times normal speed there wasn’t enough content to merit pushing through.

Magazines subscribed to (and occasionally read)

Fria Tidningen (bought up by ETC and now defunct In fall they reappeared under new ownership)
ETC Magasin
Guardian Weekly
DN Fredag-Söndag

MateuszThe words I’ve read this year

Watching movies #1

I have a backlog of movies I’ve “been meaning to watch” and I’m going to use my newfound filmmaking ambitions to consciously watch as many of them as possible. In that vein, let’s list a few:

In pursuit of silence, by Patrick Shen, is a documentary which tries to nail down the idea of silence and its place in our modern lives. The first half starts out building a mood – showing land and cityscapes, getting some quotes from people who’ve though about the topic – and the second half delves more into the science of it. John Cages 4’33 features prominently, but it’s the long pauses and silences which make the film.

All interviewees are presented with their own voiceover over footage when they’re not speaking, which gives a nice effect of inner thought. Sometimes what is said are platitudes, and the parts which deal with the science (health effects of noise pollution, for example) feel a bit tacked on – as if Shen didn’t want the film to become too abstract and added a rep from Virgin Airlines to speak about jet noise in order to ground the topic more – but all in all it’s a strong movie which caused me to still my breathing and speak quieter.

It brought home something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, which is how I totally suck at being by myself or unoccupied (to the point of causing me anxiety) and probably would benefit from taking up meditation or walks in the forrest.

Tura the teenager has gotten into horror movies – mostly fast paced zombie flicks – so we’re subjecting ourselves to the highs and lows of the genre. We put The Mist on (by Frank Darabont) but bailed after fifteen minutes – what a hot mess. Characters who change mood on a dime, poor dialogue, campy acting. I’d mistaken the movie for the 2017 series which apparently is better – and even though it’s supposed to end with a dramatic twist, no twist is worth sitting through this thing. Perhaps it was well received because it served the American audience an allegory for 9/11?

We switched to Monsters (by Gareth Edwards), and although the mood and world building is nice the setup is inexplicable – there are planes flying in the world, so why can’t Samantha just take a flight home to the States? And how come Andrew the photographer “has been waiting for this three years” just to “get a shot” when there doesn’t seem to be a shortage of footage of the monsters on the evening news? Towards the end it gets a bit too on the nose, but it’s well acted and worth a gander.

I read 30 days of night (by Steve Niles) not long after it came out, and now we watched the movie. Tura approved although it “wasn’t that scary” – plenty of gore, but as usual in horror plenty of stupid moves and last-stands which we could do without. I have a weak spot for movies which don’t mind killing pets or kids – bonus if a protagonist does it – so the movie has that going for it. Carter was well played, and the makeup and special effects were nice.

We finished the evening with The Shining (Stanley Kubrick / Diane Johnson) which Sara realized she hadn’t seen yet. It’s a brilliant movie still, and has lost none of it’s impact since I first saw it. Halloranns death is still senseless, and with the buildup of his arrival taking so long it’s the closest to comedy it comes. As I’m writing this Tura is going to bed and is complaining that the movie was too scary. Well, she shouldn’t have complained about the timidity of the previous scary movies I guess. Now let’s hope that she manages to fall asleep…

MateuszWatching movies #1

Making movies!

I took two months vacation this summer and spent most of the time in glorious idleness – swimming in the ocean, catching up on reading, drinking a lot of beer. In August we left for a short trip to Poland for a family reunion on my fathers side, and I got to drive in Poland for the first time – something I dreaded more than I care to admit.

The last week was spent filming and editing a short video for a competition. I’m better motivated to solve problems rather than fulfilling my own projects, so I threw myself at it with gusto – enlisting the help of Sara to write the script and Emma-Kara and Benjamin for acting. We shot it with no rehearsal in an hour and a half. I’m happy with how it turned out – I’m especially proud of the sound which was completely done in post – but looking at it now I can see a bunch of stuff I’d like to do better. I guess there’s a reason why there are so many people on movie sets.

So it appears that I’m now trying to become an “indie filmmaker”. I’m reading books on acting, writing and producing, watch masterclasses and youtubes of varying quality, and buying a shitload of equipment I’ll have to justify owning. A 7kg panning video tripod is nice, but do I actually need it? The obvious answer is yes, yes of course I need it because I’m an indie movie making person now.

As always when I’m into something, it turns into a slight obsession and with that I tend to spend money with abandon.

Right now I’m reading Syd Fields The definitive guide to screenwriting and it’s interesting to peek behind the curtains of Hollywood movie production. I’ve stumbled upon many of the terms before – character arc, plot points, act I II III – but never read much about it. Syd has some practical advice to give in the book, and I’m definitely watching movies with a more critical eye thanks to it. The book is littered with arbitrary and poor metaphors, and occasionally he contradicts himself from one sentence to the next, but it’s still a worthwhile read – especially to get a glimpse of how big studio scripts (and movies) come into being.

I’m going to try my hand at a few more competitions, using them as an external motivator and yardstick. I have no ambitions past entertaining myself and my friends, but it would be fun to see a few projects through to completion, and challenging oneself is always a learning experience – I mean, if you never jump into the deep end you won’t know how tall you are, right?

MateuszMaking movies!

Getting older, with people.

So, I’m 40 now: my time halfway served and I’m nowhere where I thought I’d be when I was a kid. I’m in a good place though; Irrespective of the current depression and the resulting mental miasma, I have a loving girlfriend, a job and my deadlifts are getting better. Also, just a this summer I experienced my first surprise party! Sara had pulled together family and friends – some I hadn’t seen in a long time – to show up at our allotment cabin and celebrate my birthday. It took me a while to process and I was honestly out of words, but it brightened my week and the urge I’d had previously to flee the city was gone.

As anyone with a birthday near a national holiday can affirm, childhood trauma of overseen birthdays is a thing – I still remember my birthday cake melting abandoned because the kindergarten teachers hurried us out to celebrate midsummer. So I wasn’t looking forward to the hosting a party anywhere near my actual birthday since it usually doesn’t work with peoples plans.

Sara managed to arrange a surprise and got all these people together to make me happy, and it feels nice to be reminded of that I’m not as alone as I sometimes feel. It feels real nice.

MateuszGetting older, with people.

Moving on from Facebook

I was never enthusiastic about Facebook to begin with, so there’s no sense of regret now that I’m exiting the platform. My text-file with site passwords is 978 lines long, so Facebook will join the ranks of all other forums and apps I’ve used over the years.

I’ve been online for 25 years by now, and when Facebook came along it was a platform much like another – a “find my classmates” with some added functions. So you get suggestions, you add people to it, and then you wake up one day and suddenly there are tons of people who have never known the Internet to be anything but websites like these. And even thought Facebook wasn’t all that innovative or new, it was at the right place at the right time to create a critical mass of users which has allowed it to ensconce itself in our browsers and cellphones – as well as in the public mind.

It’s become more difficult to get out since there’s no one service which can offer the same functions as Facebook, but out I’m going – if for no other reason than to rediscover what the web can still become beyond the walled gardens of the big five corporations. (Facebook, Google, Apple, Microsoft & Amazon).

I remember when Facebook announced that they were allowing personalized sub-domains, and I set the alarm to wake me at the hour so that I could register – much like having a low user number on Slashdot used to mean something, I figured that having my own url on Facebook would allow me to control the set and setting of my home on the platform. Over the years it’s become abundantly clear that it’s a dysfunctional home, and it’s time to vacate.

Eight years ago I was ruminating on what had become of Hotline & KDX, and if I can say it myself I quite like what I wrote (You can read the post here) so allow me a self-quote:

For a time I nourished the idea that I should be logged in somewhere at all times. By running my own server, I could be online and present at a place where others could see me, and often I would log in to servers or join an IRC channel just to be somewhere while I slept. Even though you are not conscious of your surroundings when you sleep, you still exist; And it felt important to think of myself as existing online, not only to me, but as a proof of the possibilities that the net embodied.

I’ve never changed my password to Facebook over the years. Ever since I signed up it was NotReallyInteresting. It’s time to do good on the flippancy with which I set up that password, and quit.

MateuszMoving on from Facebook

Thanks for having me!

Sara and I often listen to spoken word when going to bed. Laurie Andersons Heart of a Dog is a recurring theme, but mostly it’s podcasts: We’ve gone through P2 Fågel and Klassiska Podden a couple of times, and the weekly Quirks and Quarks is in rotation as well. I’ve been listening to Q&Q for a couple of years, and enjoy the formulaic setup of the show – brief interviews with interesting scientists and related professionals, all hosted by the affable Bob McDonald. Despite some jarring choices in sound design, it’s pleasant enough to fall asleep to and the segments short enough that you might learn something before drifting off – do lobsters feel pain? Is there a sugar conspiracy?

Because the show is so formulaic, I was curious what it would sound like if we’d only hear the welcome and thanks of guests on the show. The idea is that there is content even in this – by Bobs tempo, timbre and accentuation – and I’m curious to hear what non-listeners hear in the exchanges.

So here are all the guests introduced by Bob McDonald at Quirks and Quarks the first half of 2018. I’ve excluded segments where people aren’t introduced (cold opens and collages), and normalized the audio. There’s no noise reduction for the different sources, and I’ve kept the intervals between Bob and the guests as is – silence is another signal, after all.

Perhaps the idea is all nonsense, but I found it to be interesting nonsense nonetheless. This was a much quicker exercise than other found audio stuff I’ve done – like Appropriate Christmas – but at least I can check one experiment off my list of silly things to try.

MateuszThanks for having me!

On the pill again

The intervals between my depressive periods grows ever shorter – maybe my brains is getting bored with me. Whatever the reason, I’m back on the SSRI train. When I was younger I could always count on my downs to be followed by a few manic days of productivity, and so the trade-off seemed worthwhile. Now it’s just a flat greyness interspersed with lethargy and despair, so I’m medicating.

I’m in good company though. According to Socialstyrelsen (National board of health and welfare) there were 603603 people 20 years or older who bought at least one treatment of SSRI during 2017 (all medication stats are searcheable) and given a total population of 10 million, let’s assume that one in every ten adults are on antidepressants (this doesn’t take into account ADHD medication, anti-psychotic or sleeping aids – which adds another 1.1 million users for all age groups). Sign of our times, over-diagnosis or something in the water?

It’s a good thing that depression and other psychological problems are becoming less of a taboo and social stigma – I don’t think it’s a coincidence that it concurs with #metoo and reflections on toxic masculinity – but the flipside is that we’re becoming used to explaining away personality with pathology. What can be said to be my “real self” if it’s not an amalgamation of my traumas, quirks and mood? I have no problem with using drugs to change myself – better life through chemistry – but in the end it becomes similar to hedonism: There is no center towards which you’re aligning your ambitions except the one you choose, and that is endlessly malleable. “Let there be pleasure on Earth; let it begin with me”

Having said that, SSRI offers me a respite, and I’m looking forwards to taking a long vacation both metaphorically, but also literally, from work. I’ll finish up some projects at KKV before summer, celebrate my 40th birthday somehow, and then I’m off from all responsibilities and will hopefully relax for a few weeks.

MateuszOn the pill again