Work as progress.

— Mateusz, you handsome devil, what is it that you do for a living?

I get this question more often than you’d think, even though the phrasing might be slightly different. My mother, for example, might sigh “Have you got a proper job yet?”

Every once in a while I go through an identity reassessment, especially when sketching a new version of the blog or a business card, or when I stumble upon a piece of insight like Merlin Manns “Watching the Corners: On Future-Proofing Your Passion” — the premise of which is that we hang our identity on old merits long after those merits have ceased to be relevant.

What got me thinking was my first ever end-of-semester gift I received from the students at Chalmers.

I teach courses in photography at community collages in Gothenburg (Folkuniversitetet & Medborgarskolan), and I work as a guest tutor at the international Master of architecture and urban planning studios with Ana Betancour at Chalmers and KTH, teaching people how not to fuck up public presentations, discussing the value of film as an analytical tool in architectural practice and generally asking future architects stuff which I wouldn’t ask if I’ve had architectural schooling.

Many of them don’t seem to know why they want to be architects, nor is there any consensus regarding what an architect does, so the area is ripe for someone like me to come in and ask what they think they are doing — it’s great fun.

The photography courses present a rather mixed crowd, from people who’ve taken pictures their whole life and who just want to learn the digital end of it, to people who’ve become parents and want to document their toddlers with the shiny dSLR the friendly salesperson sold them. I draw diagrams of focal length and JPEG compression algorithms.

That’s the tofu and potatoes of my life, and it’s pretty awesome. Teaching keeps you on your toes and I’ve learned to draw on the eclectic knowledge I’ve amassed, working with people to reach interesting conclusion and alternative angles to problems. The work description could be “talking with people” but in my more interesting moments, and with enough caffeine pills, I become an apophenic Eliza, channeling the on/off-lined world.

I haven’t done freelance media work for a while, but should anyone want to give me money for recording their seminar, proofread their dissertation or photograph something I could give references and manage it. So the question of how I make money is easy enough to answer, but the problem arises when it bleeds into my understanding of who I am, especially when there’s a discrepancy.

For example: I’m not paid to do art. I occasionally apply for grants, which in a sense amounts to spec work, and I do art works and publish them on/off-line, but I’m not getting paid for it. I do it, and my formal art-education opens up related fields (e.g. the urban architecture courses) but it’s not my livelihood per se. I know that this shouldn’t bias me against seeing myself as an artist, but I have always had the notion that one is in part one’s job description, and ones job is the thing one does for money. So if you describe yourself as someone who does something for which you’re not getting paid, the jump to describing yourself as monetarily worthless isn’t big. It’s a way of thinking which is hard to shake.

All this doesn’t interfere with what I actually do, as I’m doing more art now than before, but it’s a shift in perspective which I’m adjusting to.

Update, tofu, Michael Jackson

This summer has been odd. I’m enjoying sunshine for a change! Just over the weekend, an underwater photo session was followed by a Michael Jackson tribute evening, and I got up in the morning to make my own tofu (piece of cake!) and then went to a barbeque to meet nice peoples. I have what can be described as “a tan,” ruining my usual summer pasttime as a white-balance card for RAW photography. I don’t know what is happening, but I like it.

Having spent the whole day looking for parts to my beater bike – “throwing good money after bad” comes to mind – I’m caffeinating myself before a much needed WordPress update. If anything disappears or looks like poop on your system, please let me know; It’s very possible that the theme I designed for the blog will break into thousand little pieces, but Marlene Dietrich is holding me company, so all should be well.

Crooked little vein – a few thoughts.

Ever since I found Warren Ellis‘ Transmetropolitan in the Reykjavik library, I’ve kept an eye on him. I know I’ve linked his blogs often enough, and he’s long ago reached critical mass when it comes to finding odd things online – I don’t think he has to do any lifting these days, but rather have all the disciples of Whitechapel scouring the web for wrong.

My copies of Transmet were bartered for food a couple of years ago, but I still hit his blog a couple of times a week and follow him on Twitter. The persona he’s built around himself is charming — an alcoholic misanthrope with a heart of gold and a twinkle in his glass eye — and he’s a very prolific writer and blogger and whatnots.

I’ve had it in my mind to buy his novel Crooked little vein since I heard of it. Plodding around Stockholm I found it as a small paperback, and bought it along two other exculpations for illegal downloading. Took less than a day to get through the 260 pages, including the recipe for roasted garlic at the end.

I know exactly who I will give this book to now that I’m done reading it; Someone who hasn’t trolled Ellis webpages for the past couple of years. Because it reads like a very long and rambling blog post, or a bunch of 3AM tweets; The story and the characters are cardboard cutouts on which to hang bizarre phenomena and amusing word combinations. It reads like a Spider Jerusalem rant, and those were fine because they didn’t stretch longer than a spread and ended on a full page panel of someone shitting themselves, which is always good for closure.

Some of the scenes are well written, but they are few. The saline injection bit is one of only two moments where the narrator actually feels present in the moment. The rest is scenery and posturing. There’s never a feeling that anything really matters. I don’t mean this in the bleak oh, nothing matters everything is gray let’s cut ourselves way, but rather that nothing that happens in the novel has any real consequences. There’s one sympathetic character who actually seems to have an internal struggle going on, but Bob Ajax doesn’t show up for more than a couple of pages and is then dispatched by alcohol and cops.

There’s one central idea that I take away with me after reading, and that is how the concept of “mainstream” has changed. It’s how I understand the long tail discussion, but from a cultural point of view rather than an economic: If you bundle together all the disparate “minority views” on any issue, being in a minority then becomes commonplace. It’s the otherness that we have in common, not the quality that make us other. This is a concept that is worth repeating. It’s something that those of us steeped in the postmodern vat might take for granted but that a large number of humanity would shit upon.

The argument for a shifting mainstream is presented nicely enough, although it’s barely made before the novel ends on a romantic note with an action/noir finale. Most of this book reads like a parallel universe story – as if the main character is hallucinating all the time. Actually, imagining that the story is an illusion, that the Mick McGill is merely a fictional character in a deranged storytellers mind, makes it more readable. It would explain the non sequiturs and manic view of the world. Read it as a alt.usenet version of the movie Identity, and you’ll have more fun.

So. This book will be presented to someone who doesn’t know what Bukkakke is. In this day and age it might seem hard to find such people, but I know a few and they will receive a gift.

Having more fun than Jesus ever had!

I am not good at entertaining myself, and people are not returning my calls. Here are a few ideas I’ve been tossing around as to how I can become more “fun”:


Since I’m working with architecture at the moment, maybe now is the time to start planning that hobbit house that I’ve been dreaming about. I will pass on the round doors though.


Feed evil people to my free-range pet or get more hot sex with 40+ dancers who appreciate cheating on their husbands. Both are OK. Stop watching Californication which cannot be good for anyones constitution.


Photoshop the title covers of self-help books. Possibly subvert hypnosis self-improvement audiotapes to sow the seeds of confusion and future bedlam.


Go on vacation and learn to appreciate sleeping by the pool. Get a horrible tan and spend two weeks peeling my skin in public until I am porous enough to bleed like a sponge.


Accidentally knocking a catholic up, or dress like a retarded rabbit.

The party at the end of the tunnel is just another tunnel that tries to look fun.

Ok ok, so I’ve just had a boring day, no need to deny that something fun might actually happen sooner or later, but today has been ugh.

From the top:
* Long distance shot of demons milling about an illegal party.
* Mark points in the direction of fun happening.
* Anna enjoys herself in Rasmus bike while he pokes the chain a bit.
* Anna enjoys herself in Rasmus bike, while rasmus yells something.
* Handbook for physical theraphists who like to snap peoples necks.