21. Pheeooo, pheeooo. (Or: Dreamers in harsh reality, with an excursus over Olaf the Thick, whose holiness cut him a sailing channel through the same)

Had the question been put to the councillor, there would have been no doubt as to his answer: Reality was the top dog. Few had seen its face, even fewer knew its rightful name, but it was commonly assumed that it wore a broad-brimmed hat and cast a long shadow. When caught in the open, it stole away with a scornful laugh.
Luckily there were other dogs, who might be termed next-to-top or second-next-to-top, therefore living and acting close to Reality and feeling called to shoulder the burden of speaking on its behalf. The Prime minister belonged to this camp, as did the party leaders and the editorialists of the morning papers, and a keen ear could discern dogs barking in the name of Reality at lower levels of the pecking-order as well. Since the Prime minister was in addition a party leader and often a former editorialist, he held a unique position, being the earthly deputy of Reality and having, as the saying goes, preferential right to interpret its messages. Thus one of the dynasties from the banks of the Nile had been reincarnated on the shores of a northerly sea, after a miraculous historical leap over centuries and latitudes.
As regards Reality it can furthermore be said that it intervened like a modern managerial type, avoiding direct command and giving its subjects a free rein; there was for example no standing order prohibiting ruthless exploitation or exhaust emissions. On the other hand mistakes and errors of judgement were corrected with some delay, and then heavy-handedly. In this a central quality of reality became manifest, it was hard, harder than the iceberg that tore open the hull of the Titanic. Hardness attached itself to reality as a fixed epithet: in the oral tradition dealing with the terms of life, citizens stood in awe before harsh reality. (At the same time making it clear: Reality might be a power bossing and interfering on the outside, but it had a strong deputy on the inside).
Hardness is a physical quality with a scale of its own: diamond scratches quartz, quartz scratches glass. Anyone who doesn't know his rightful position in the scale stands the risk of butting his forehead into blood against the hard diamond of reality. This convention in turn hints at the position of reality, it is external world, neither bird nor fish, but running riot somewhere at eye-level. Unlike thinkers of other nations the philosophers of Harry's nation - or at least the philosophers of Harry's municipality - had therefore given up racking their brains to prove the existence of reality, neither within nor without, for their part it sufficed to have once or twice butted foreheads into blood. From the same point of departure, philosophers of a neighbouring municipality had in turn distanced themselves from all attempts to prove anything whatsoever; true philosophy should content itself with trying to the iron-hard parameters of Reality. The municipal policy of the Party, more than that of other parties sworn to soften the environment of citizens by means of air bags, upholstered corners and disabled toilets, had no doubt picked up some inspiration from this camp.

The boys had met harsh reality in the form of one of its spokesmen and bloodied their foreheads, the feeling that tore their innards could be called hate. They roamed the streets aimlessly, venting their anger on loose objects, blank walls. If they had been able to dress their feelings in slogans they might have chanted: We-hate-po-si-ti-vi-ty! We are dreamers, escapists, producers and consumers of dreams, cranky insects with wings spread over the winds, airs, jet streams of a world, where every conceivable resting-place is strewn with pheromones, decoys, glue perches, system poisons! Who is willing to risk the positive, when it gets trapped and defined in the end, for no obvious gain? (We detest reality).
The last not said in plain words, they were children of their society that much. But they dreamt of disappearing with a cheeky whistle in the open street: pheeooo, pheeooo, gone missing, or at least beyond the rough grasp of harsh Reality. From this it stood doubly clear: there was a lack of submission to the top dog in the day-dreaming, the daydreamer was not broken in, an unbroken or original authority insisted on governing designs and actions. Considering the result, the new regime would probably not differ much from the old one, dreams acted and ruled with their subjects as much as realism did. Maybe the attraction lay in their superior power to elevate pictures over the horizon, letting them loom in a tempting remote light, who could say? If you were attracted by limelight, groupies, rank on the charts, you learnt four chords and performed tonsatta jingles, in that costume you recognized your co-dreamers and were recognized by them. The mimicry could become more definite, but then associated with larger expense: you pulled on the skin of some active expression, mimicked the model of the postal order catalogue. After a while it became evident how the attempts hobbled or fell to the ground: your own body would never stand on the summit of Mount Everest, in spite of the dress. From that moment the overt mimicry was compromised, you turned your back on it, feeling shame, passing on to silent, mute mimicry. In the retreat from overt, candid mimicry to secret, shameful lay the beginning of all adultness.
There was a road in the opposite direction, into the glowing subterranean world that was pushing Mount Everest high. An alternative for the one who was familiar with the sugar pull, knew how dreams tugged, urged, tied up, tried to turn heads, at the same time seeing how dreams themselves got snared and were transformed into benefit or profit. The other road tried to take the sting from the temptation, the sugar pull, by denying the ingratiating and sweet, choosing instead the bitter and denying, what revolted for a time, before it too had become everyday and routine. Dreaming could be turned into consequent negativity, when you had spotted its sources and could pay the entrance fee or just: were able to hack into its world.
If Lars cherished any feelings, they were about distance, rage, rebellion. He felt betrayed in front of the companions, singled out by a positivity that made him feel sick and that he already hated actively. The negative wasn't as readily or evidently classified and didn't allow itself to be mobilised without resistance. There was nothing to say that it must be the final station, the choice was primarily about avoiding the positive, what followed after the visit to the underworld needn't be specified in the contract.

Ideas no longer emanated from the Party, if they ever had. (No, the source had never been there, in his dark moments he could say that to himself: all our ideas are pinched from lending-books). In the most recent time the trend-setting ideas arrived in gift wrappings from Capital, with financing arranged, or at least sketched in rough outline. Some service might be expected in return: municipal security, building-site free of charge, water and drainage. But the concept already existed, procured from some other quarter. This was his most painful discovery in politics: that he wasn't expected to hatch ideas on behalf of the collective. He was expected to coordinate, be there as some sort of left-luggage office, receiver of the short-term and lack-lustre ideas of other agents.
The Party had been on visiting terms with Capital since time immemorial. That was a must: you had to fraternise with all actors at the highest level of power. The time spent in the youth federation was preparatory, there one learnt to evaluate levels, screen disturbing elements and be a tough-customer-when-called-for. From this elementary school the Party worker's unique sense of reality and particular knack or style in the exercise of power emanated. Still no one was fully feathered after passing it, on the contrary he might still be carrying a handicap: the individual alienation to the somewhat shabby actors of capital. In many cases worse than that: the distrust, the hostility towards the same. Here was scope to stray from the determined class affiliation and convert other, dormant talents than those of the tough customer: geniality, sociability. (Or simply vanity, superficiality, self-interest, most currencies seemed to be convertible on this particular market).
The people that had put their mark on the policy of the Party, writing their names into the history books, all had this faculty to socialize with the others under genial forms, and to wring a maximum of result politics from the entertainment. Still, when he turned around, trying to catch their eyes, he got the impression that they had been able to stand their ground, having at their disposal an inner reserve that had created degrees of freedom for initiative and control. Hadn't a number of Party representatives in fact been positioned one step higher than their opponents and manoeuvred more skillfully in the labyrinth of national politics? Such freedom was the first criterion of reality sense. That sublimity belonged to the past, however, the golden age of the Party lay, like the golden age of bourgeois entrepreneurs, far back in history, the present time lacked a positional self-evidence, nobody dared to or could stick to his guns any longer. Reality had retreated with a scornful laugh and left its pursuers in the open street; blinded, waving their white sticks. The whole matter was highly distressing, this feeling that politics had sold the butter and lost its contact with reality.

Adult beings extorted a salary, one way or another, and had pension accounts, these were the infallible attributes of adulthood as preliminary death. Adolescents had neither, but there was no escaping from this aspect of Reality, attempts only ended in bloodied foreheads. Like all transitions from adolescence to adulthood this step took some particular ritual; in Harry's tribe the initiates built idols of reality and masceraded in them before submitting to its harsh rule.
A giddy graphics, a promised perspective with extent and depth. A craft flying at supersonar speed, a channel, a corridor, a gorge obstructing the view to both sides, incessant ambushes, crafts flying countercourse, evasion, mines, pheeooo, pheeooo, the laser cannons spraying fire, explosions, explosions, evasions, pheeooo, pheeooo, giant monsters grabbing from the sides, mines, explosions, crafts flying countercourse, evasion, pheeooo, pheeooo, NEW GAME. Your own craft had three lives, the tension didn't become unbearable until two of them had been spent and the final, irrevocable journey began, pheeooo, pheeooo, narrow gorge, wings vertical in space, mind your p's and your q's, the enemy lurking at the exit, pheeooo, pheeooo, mines, monsters, crafts flying countercourse, heart pounding, the friends flocking at your game: GAME OVER, explosion, the parts falling like snowflakes into the void, über allen Gipfeln ist Ruh, from some close-by a sigh that could be interpreted: thankgodimonlywatchingthegame.
'It didn't obey! I pressed, but it didn't fire!'
It was a constant source of dispute: whether all commands were obeyed or if two commands could come so close, that the system only managed to follow one. Or whether the programme had a degree of freedom of its own, allowing its own reality to ignore commands.
'You were shitting in your pants! Move over, it's my turn now!'
'Lay off! You were standing too close and disturbed me!'
They had brought it to an incredible dexterity. Initially they could keep a game running for five minutes, later on a quarter of an hour, half an hour, in the end till limits of Reality: closing time, homework, other pretenders, put a stop to the journeys. Each one of them had covered light years in this way; they were scarred veterans, masters of the universe, highly experienced with all the horrors of virtual destruction.
After a while they began to savour the idea of complicating the journeys, introducing choice: channels that branched and fell into wide plains, where there was a state of temporary suspension and survey. Or branched and fell into entirely new regimes. The old games were too monotonous, their complexity too low. This feeling straddled the worn out crafts and returned to the producers, pheeoo, pheeoo, after a while returning with new programmes, again able to fascinate for a while, until they too could be controlled with little effort. That way a new pursuit was born in the middle of the pursuit, pheeooo, pheeooo, the permanent development cherished an unspoken promise: you ain't seen nothing yet. In the end the games would create a softer reality, surpassing the hard everyday version when it came to thrill, possibilities, attraction. You would take the step, settle down and never return. The name of the final game could be Nowhere, its rules had to be learnt consecutively, being created by the journey in itself, in continuous interaction, and each horizon was fresh, shrouded first in fog, next obscure puzzle picture, in the end offer of promised land, and still not the right offer, the right way instead was a sidetrack, like a narrow, winding gorge, without perspective, without promise, one amongst thousands, and it fell into something inconceivable. Such a game might have some prospect of winning them, but it was still not to be had, everything in the showcases and counters of hard Reality was repetition, seen before, experienced before, or became so within a week or two.
Most of all they detested GAME OVER, it was a nothing worse than death, re-deportation to the lifeless block of Reality. In harsh Reality the game was most definitely over, no free games to come there.

A politician could be invited to a golf club on a Sunday afternoon. He could walk a round if he was inclined to, have his swing corrected by competent instructors, pheeooo, pheeooo, get initiated into the freemasonry, be offered an advantageous family membership (the bourgeois golf play games were on the brink of ruin, losing proselytes). In the midst of it all he could be introduced to people who fumbled with an idea, a project behind their backs. Some small morsel could be partaken of, one place or the other: personal chemistry by way of the taste buds, later on the excursion might go on to one of the domiciles, the sauna was heated, the perfect hostess had laid the table with small hot dishes, there the first cost estimates were sketched, blueprints were shown, a small-scale model.
Later on he could be invited to a ferry-cruise, the large conference cabin was booked and waited on by three short-skirted hostesses, at the landing-stage an air-conditioned coach was waiting, the tour lasted for four hours, ended in a health resort hotel, cigarrs, live candles on the table, grinning hosts, everything can be arranged, business can wait till tomorrow. Even that needn't be interpreted as bribery, improper influencing, there were precedents for that. The next step could be the Spanish Gold Coast, Tenerife, on the horizon Cape Town and Otaheiti showed like mirages. Life was dangerous, you had to look out, but if you didn't socialize with Capital, business passed the municipal nose by. He had activated his school German, procured two decent suits, joined the golf club and learnt how to swing a driver, although all this was trying. He had learnt to tell a burgundy from a bordeaux, farmed salmon from wild, horse meat from beef - nor did any of this feel like effort wasted.
For his own part, in order not to be devoured entirely by this environment, he had drawn borders that he made a strict point of. He didn't take presents, not even a match box, he didn't make purchases with his expenses credit card, he openly declared his loathing of hunting and all sorts of weapons, he tried to avoid being seen secluded with women. But he could reel off a joke from a seemingly inexhaustible store, sing folk songs and operetta arias, play a melodion, perform ordinary conjuring tricks (and above all, have success with them in front of the gallery) and deliver long, witty speeches when such were called for. Because of this he was a welcome and sought-after guest in many situations, and it was all a matter of one and the same: wringing out a maximum of benefit for the municipality.
Harry had a sense that he had left the narrow road long ago and was compelled to find his bearings in a landscape where he wasn't at home and found it difficult to survey; strewn with bunkers, traps, possible mistaken initiatives. A careless twitch with the club, pheeoo, and the ball passed the hole by. At the same time he knew: he had one political life on this course, if he put his foot wrong the game was over.

And worst of all: you descended in a direct line from one of the higher Priests of this Reality.
Of what good was a father, who didn't have the sense to abstain from giving his son the same name as a wellknown pork butcher's firm, and who was in addition up to his ears in an activity, that was in some way suspect or inferior in the eyes of friends, whose company you had set your heart on? The first day in secondary school had barely ended, when Lars wished for the first time that he had been begotten by somebody else, someone who facilitated the path of life for him, instead of by his mere existence, his way of being, from the very outset strewing it with thorns. Even an anonymous donor would have been for the better. Still, his ambitions didn't go as far as creating himself, like an ancient god, that option seemed to have vanished from the minds with the triumphal progress of genetic engineering.
As a result of this he slipped into an evasive existence, intent on avoiding at all costs to follow suit. That wasn't fair, he wasn't the one who by his cruel dominion skinned the providers of the school-friends and made their lives a misery by one and a thousand obstructing regulations. It was his bad luck to be born as a side-branch of that camp. In dawning self-defence he developed himself into the wit of the class, the clown of the school, the cheer leader of the basket team, the dancing master of school parties, everything that might end in immediate and contant popularity. But behind his clown face lingered the decision for a future road that didn't hanker after popular favour. One day he would restore himself from absolute zero, start an unburdended existence, with no penalty points. He was a liberation army, waiting for the favourable turn, something like the emergence of the rain period, when the jungle of reality started to turn green, and you could develop your forces shut off from irrelevant view.

No hero is ever sent off from this arena, the interprets of Reality continue to haunt the place long after their departure from this life; flying like large bats in the darkness of thought, moralising stories told about their pains and their shortcomings all the time. ( you might be a great man among the stars, but in harsh reality you are but a poor wretch, mr interpret ) For one example: in the interested myth formation surrounding the godfathers of communism it is stated, that one of them always addressed the other party in his own mother tongue, such forthcoming of course having something comical about it in our modern time, where an eclectic mix of Anglo-Saxon and Latin has set itself up as the unique tongue of Reality. ( and we assume that the Dialectics of Nature was an abortive attempt at an entirely new linguistics? ) It sheds some light over a notion that characterizes any polyglot: the Babylonian confusions of this earth are best approached in their own tongues. As self-evidently a medicine man believes that diphteria can only be approached and cured in its own tongue, and a general never doubts his ability to come to speaking terms with the enemy, from whatever corner of existence he may come. (Yes, even a municipal politician in an offside municipality probably has some faith in his own ability to address all occurring problems in their own tongue).
The crucial question of how to best address Reality asserts itself against the background of these examples. Reality obviously presents some sort of an aspect problem, demanding an insect eye with millions of facets in the supplicant that wants to address it properly. Taking the polyglot as his example, the prospective world improver might be tempted to believe that he must learn all living languages in order to communicate with all aspects of reality in the best way. This conclusion, however close at hand and tempting, is misleading, however; when it comes to it, there is no lack of understanding in a purely linguistic sense in the global public forum. The total amount of prognoses and diagnoses is immeasurable, and no one doubts their evidence. In spite of this they carry little weight, and world audiences have come to terms with this state of things; the modern world ignores all expert opinion on its crises and solves them in labour , regardless of decorum. The character of this labour is strictly muscular or physical, the surrounding production of words and pictures having as its sole task to accentuate the perception of pain associated with labour. It is a wellknown fact that self-tormentors of the past used to partake of a tablet of aspirin prior to partaking of the public forum, it is also known that this remedy amplifies any pre-existing pain in the stomach, leading to a sort of unio mystica with the aches of the world. The councillor, being a modern man and thinking that one should be a little lenient on oneself, was content with half a tablet of paracetamol before opening the local paper or switching on the tele. On the outside the ache of Reality was raging, more furiously from day to day, media most definitely being a part of this torment, and a responsible citizen was expected to carry his share of the global suffering, in solidarity, but he should at least take precautions.
There was an opposite pole in the camp of concern, low-ranked since it didn't give a damn about the officially decreed Reality. It cackled Game Over, took on its shoulders all suffering of the world and had a Top Dog of its own. In Harry's time the Church experienced its worst recession for decades; the enterprise getting along like a sheltered workshop, with little or no rebate. This could be interpreted as a sign that the firm was on the brink of ruin, and that a bankrupcy clearance was imminent. The ordinary man took such rumours with calm, firms went bankrupt each and every day. In secret the antique dealers had begun ogling the movables, however.
Now, it's a matter of fact that no firm goes bankrupt without struggling against bad odds; before the bankrupcy at least one and often two packages of measures have bloodied their foreheads against harsh Reality. In the languishing enterprise it was a natural thing to direct the searchlight against the products primarily carrying off the brand: rituals and sacraments, they had the same unwavering position as Absolut Vodka in their segment of the market. A trained mind would expect to find possible good synergies here, provided there was a readiness to link sacral service to catering. In an era where citizens got printed matter thrust into their hands without having to pay a penny, and where they flew half way around the world for small change, it was only a matter of time before someone hatched the idea of low price ritual with everything included. This epoch-making step had been first taken in Harry's municipality, which wasn't at all surprising, since churchgoing was on the wane there.
That way "Sankt Olof's Arrangements" had been born, its logo depicting one of the draughty and damp, but picturesque Saint Olaf churches that had taxed the nation's resources for seven-hundred years or more. Everything could be arranged: funeral cakes and three shovels of earth, the flag run up or halfway down, Verdi's Requiem and the Wedding at Ulfåsa, limousins and rice, battery water for the baptismal font, discounted sacramental wine from Australia and as the icing of the cake: the sacral seal on the parcel. Ten percent of the proceeds were ploughed back into ritual and sacrament, all of a sudden the firm could afford to repair the leaking roof of the picturesque church. And best of all: the ordinary man could afford to marry or bury his beloved ones for a paltry sum, the whole thing so cheap that the customers wondered to themselves who was actually paying, if the Highest Chicken itself had got all this murderous advertising and spending going.
The project wasn't the worst the councillor had come upon, and there was nothing suggesting that it merited particular attention from a serious municipal politician. Harry was on his way to the bin with a handout from the post-box marked "No ads please", when he looked at the leaflet for one last time and memorized the name of the firm signer, no harm done in complaining to Ass. Vicar Herrniander. His assistant memory filled in: Party member, revolutionary theologian from the university town, two years among the street children in Rio de Janeiro, and now: catering in a parish beyond all ära och redlighet. He felt a sudden need to fill in the gaps of the life history, luckily the household offered a person who could assist with some expertise at the time.
'You forgot: Danish folk high school', Jenny answered, 'with windmills and secret offshore accounts, they are experts at treble bookkeeping. The catering firm doesn't surprise me one bit.'
'Ah', Harry answered. 'How does the revolutionary theologian make both ends meet in the trinitary bookkeeping?'
'Well, ministers in general are a sort of Thinking Augusts when they let themselves go into business, they are not like ordinary, modern capitalists, who content themselves with just earning money and keeping it circulating. With their particular bakground they are capable of creating a sort of gospel that so to say gives cause for different kinds of sidelines.'
'Yes, yes; and what is the long and the short of it in this case?' Harry asked, showing some impatience.
'The long and the short of it is that the saint is the worst hooligan that ever sailed between Skanör and Visby, and no sugar saint at all. He is, way of speaking, a saint for the impenitent contemporary time. With no effort at all the deputy vicar got a hundred and fifty natural topics for excellent preachings.'
'I imagined Master Luther had signed off all the saints. Did the revolutionary theologian absorb papist influence in Brazil?'
'Well, religion never can be preached as a theory, it must be transformed into flesh, just like politics, my dear Harry. The way the deputy vicar sees things, Jesus has been profiled as a sugar saint from time immemorial. So he took to preaching Saint Olaf, the rogue and the ruffian, or Olaf the Thick as the Swedes baptized him. The whole thing has assumed traits of heresy, there are people who say that the assistant vicar only preaches Olaf, the villain, and is scrapping Jesus, the sugar saint. The diocese has already summoned him for a private conversation and shown the implements. But vicars and bishops know that the catering firm has fifty percent of all marriage pertaining to the nation's storage institutions for criminals, and bulimic matings of course must be blessed by Olaf Thick, that is in fashion today.'
'Jesus Mary', Harry whispered. 'Sugar saints, is that what you said? It's a perfectly correct objection to all abysmally stupid religions, the sugar saints are reconstructions after the event. This is exceptionally interesting, without precedent, here is a man who can read the writing on the wall!' And he added: 'Olaf Thick, that's the guy who sailed on land, wasn't it, the mountains parted for him when he was sailing for Nidaros? It shows a certain knack with reality, that can't be denied. This is what the Northerners valued first and foremost in their saints: the ability to navigate between the shoals and shallows of harsh existence! And the fact that the Swedes didn't like him only speaks in his favour.'
'Phew, I think the parting of mountains is copied from Brendan. Or was it Per-Albin? Or Moses. Well, at any rate: one of the sugar saints.'
Lars was standing in a doorway, had listened to the conversation with ears reaching out. Three weeks later a strange statue made its appearance on the lawn of the garden, it showed an overweight Viking with a cross hanging around his neck and a sword in his hand, wings on the back, the features were quite obviously copied from the Per Albin bust in the municipal office. The free hand was masturbating, over the helm soared a massive halo. The whole structure was built from sugar cubes and artfully decorated with candy colour; it couldn't be doubted that the object represented a sugar saint. The relic in turn was protected from foul weather by a grotto of papier-maché. In a sacrificial bowl (it came from the microwave oven) at the base of the statue lay three crowns. Ruth hung a tallow ball for the tits from the halo, Jenny lit two candles in front of the bowl. 'Really, a true wonder in my humble garden', Harry exclaimed with trembling voice and doubled the sum, remarking: It would harm my repute if I gave less than the Swedes! On the fundament he scratched runes: Lars, son of Harry. But back into the house he shook his fist to the son and thundered:' When you marry it will be Thick Olaf's Catering for you, then let's hear what you think about that menu!'
'It has an underlier (underliggare),' Jenny said and clicked her tongue in approval. 'Most sophisticated; in the tradition it is the heathen who feels Olaf's weight, but who is the underlier meant to be in this case?'
'An underlier?' Harry said in surprise. 'It must have been the thing i scratched on.'
A seducer of the youth, this Herr Niander, his pulse should be felt, what wool was the deputy vicar made of? Harry made a memorial note to himself.

32 kB, last corrected 31.1.07, 27.11.08.

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