Frida Stéenhoff was a Swedish author living in Sundsvall in central Sweden and in Stockholm. She was well educated, and was a radical liberal advocating female rights and a more free love life, in her novels, plays and pamphlets. In a recent book, Blott ett annat namn för ljus (Just another name for light; 2007), published by the editorial Rosenlarv, her ideas are presented in an essay, a short story, and a play.
She lived between 1865 and 1945, a time when it was not so easy to actually practice these ideals. It is interesting to contrast this with the life just a half century later, of Tove Jansson and her partner from the 1950′s and on Tuulikki Pietilä (who by the way recently – February 23 – passed away), who were born in 1915 and 1917, respectively. They each separately, and together, managed to live their lives without the restrictions of various kinds that Stéenhoff describes so well in her writing.
Tove Jansson did not need to argue for a free life, instead she could picture the complications of relationships of human life, whether in the Moominvalley or in short stories about the life with Tuulikki.
To the city hall of Umeå, a ceramic fountain designed by Stig Lindberg was moved. Sadly enough, parts of the fountain were cut off in connection with the change of location and have not been found again. Nor are there any sketches or drawings showing what it should look like. Furthermore, the fountain has not been maintained well so it is in a bad shape. This means it will not be possible to restore the work and it will most likely be put into storage.
It was made in 1962 for the newbuilt Centrum House, close to the Renmark square where the outdoor fountain still is placed (see Jan 27 entry). There it overlooked an indoor plaza in a shopping mall and even housed shoals of gold fishes.
Photo by Hanna Eriksson, source VK.se
….singing at the congas. Lalehs voice has grown a lot lately but it seems she almost doesn’t dare using it fully in all songs. Her appearance is still a rainbow of genres - everything from cabaret to Melanie to Niyaz – but all still totally Lalish.
I think about the nerdish and sour critic who wrote about her new album that she is just another ordinary singer-songwriter – he has not understood that she is one of those rare performers with a special radiation and presence on stage.
She has the audience totally in her hands, we even leave when she tells us the concert is over…we obey with a foolish smile in our faces and walk out like hypnotised while the band keeps playing the last tune. I even see bags and shoes that people forgot to take with them….
Today, February 12, is the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth. He holds a unique position in biology as one of two founders of the theory of evolution by natural selection. Although his book The Origin of Species also holds an anniversary, the 150th, this year, its ideas are still surprisingly fresh and up-to-date.
I have written in earlier entries (2006) about Darwin and his travels on the Beagle, and over land on the Isla grande de Chiloë, and also about his theory. The travels were crucial in the devlopment of his theories. It took him many years to arrive at the publishing of the ideas he knew would arouse a lot of debate – not until the young Alfred Russell Wallace (another extensive, but more unlucky, traveller) approached him with the same conclusions.
However most people did not actually grasp the mechanisms for evolution that they proposed, and still today I find that it is not so easy for biology students, let alone the general public, to understand the seemingly simple but quite intricate idea of evolution by natural selection. It is probably the combination of different prerequisites that is the difficult thing – the more or less random variation in inherited traits, and the (sometimes) directed force of natural selection.
On the Swedish Radio webb there is now available a lot of material about Darwin.
As every winter for more than 400 years, last week there was again a market in Jokkmokk. No one knows if there was an all time high in visitors this year, but the hotels were full in nearby towns (in Lapland that means 200 km). The weather was normal for the season, that is 20 degrees centigrades below zero, and snow in the air. There is a healthy mix between the simplest, cheapest stuff and the finest Sámi handicraft with items for thousands of euro.
There are also great chances for cultural and culinary experiences, that is at least if you have booked far in advance. Otherwise you can always visit local friends and try differing varieties of the traditional and compulsory reindeer meat soup, or participate in folk dance at the folklore centre. The Sámi museum Ájtte also offers a lot of activities during the market.
People come from a lot of places – not only Scandinavia and Finland but there also many German visitors.
Here, you can find a local market blog.
The finest piece of public art in Umeå, and maybe in all of Northern Sweden, is the copper fountain by Stig Lindberg at the Renmark Square in the town center. When it was new in 1979, the surroundings were still quite oldfashioned and half rural, with low wooden buildings. Then, the fountain was a premonition of the modernistic town view yet to come. Now, the square has caught up in appearance with this piece of art. Lindberg himself was actually born in Umeå, in August 1916, and there are also other public works by him in the town.
Terence Hanbury White was an odd English writer with a fancy for medieval stories. His main work, The Once and Future King, in its five parts, is one of the strangest novel cycles in the 20th century of Britain.
It is based on the Arthur legend and is written as a medieval fantasy work about the 8th century which makes it mildly anachronistic, to say the least. Merlyn the wizard is living his life backwards (a concept which also appears in the works of others) and so becomes younger all the time, while Arthur matures into an old king.
The books are hilarious with their constant puns. but at the same time also heartbreakingly tragic. White was a pacifist and an interested naturalist, and also displayed an ecocentric message in his work. Some fine fantasy parts are the chapters where Merlyn sends out Arthur to live among various kinds of animals to increase his wisdom, for example among the ants. Read more about this in the recent issue of the Swedish journal Natur i Norr!