The preface was revised from October 2008, all documents were checked and uploaded anew, new chapters written and inserted in the text. The foothold of the "first block", Tendencies, was published 27.1.09, a couple of chapter "germs" were added - and my head banged into the ceiling of the webpage. Therefore, in order to house new text, i have acquired a site with more space. As a consequence of this the character of the text will be changed. I might as well confess: this has been my (vaguely anticipated) target from the very start, the 2-D character of texts is one Gutenbergian restriction that must be overcome.

So, in 2010, departing from a separate www address ( and a larger web space than before, the project takes a new turn. First: i will no longer call it a "novel", what i present is "a not altogether unorganised text structure". The original sketch will be revised and embedded in the new development. Second: The overall organisation of the text will be chaotic, meaning that no text volume, minute or large, will be closed or finished in a conventional sense. In spite of this, I aim at coherence and interrelation. Third: The text will make use of the different programming possibilities of the Internet, linking internally, linking to the World Wide Web and applying JavaScript. The original "novel" introduction (below) will be packed up in a separate document and made available as historical evidence of the path trodden by the project "Black Hole".

Do you see that man who has just skipped out of the way of the tram?
Consider, if he had been run over, how significant every act of his
would at once become. I don't mean for the police inspector. I mean
for anybody who knew him. And his thoughts, for anybody that could
know them. It is my idea of the significance of trivial things that I want
to give the two or three unfortunate wretches who may eventually read me.

James Joyce in a letter to his brother, Stanislaus.

I look upon this as a sort of "dialectical" reaction to an all-pervading,
Catholic or thomist emphasis on logos, that Joyce must have
met with during his school-years under the protection of the Jesuit order. God is
the ultimate guarantee of words, charging them with at least a shade of his sublime
quality. And: some wage serf's life on earth is not made significant by his clandestine
thoughts - if we count in eternal life. So, Joyce's project can be understood and
justified, but still i ask myself: where do we stand today with his "idea", after almost
a century of secular-trivial erosion? Do trivial things retain any kind of significance
after being touched by e.g. the soap opera? Isn't the foundation for Joyce's dialectics
pulled aside when triviality is no longer painted on the golden ground of universals?
My own answer is in the affirmative: the whole project appears as a thing of the past
and is irrelevant today. Still, I'm not advancing an explicit counter-programme, i can't
see where the development is heading, what it will lead to in the end. To begin with i
content myself with writing an experience of some new "significance of trivial
things" off my breast with the Black Hole project.

"We all originate from province."

Many thinkers, artists, scientists have an unmistakeable urban, cosmopolitan polish, and they breathe the air of something we could call "centre". Still, the same individuals often declare, in a sweeping statement: "We all originate from province". (Something alien, sometimes hostile they call "province", from a position that may be called "centre"... A provisional attempt at definition: province delimits centre, outwards, centre constrains province, inwards). Intended is then not only a geographical, topographical Outside, but as much a mental and ideological reserve, the inertia of which is counteracting and resisting some political and intellectual supremacy of this "centre". This adversary is conservative and conserving, in both a good and a bad sense, its formula goes: more of the ancient, well-tried, already tasted. Opinions may differ regarding the relative balance between these two; as I see it, "province" is always and everywhere in the majority; it may thrive even at the very heartpoint of the "centre". At the same time it should be emphasized: concepts like province and centre can never be thought of in isolation from their human carriers; we carry them with us whereever we set foot. They are topoi in a very wide sense. It's the appalling Irish or Dublin province that Joyce evades and longs for in vain in his Triestine exile, and if Fionn and the Fianna had represented some sort of centre, Finnegan's "wake" is the restoration of province, its re-taking of ground lost. The result of this tug-of-war is individual: on one hand the apprentice years in Paris get the upper hand, on the other the adolescence in Dalkey. Where the pull from the centre is strong, province will be exploited, serving as a substrate and topsoil for some purpose generated or originally grabbed and adopted in the centre - but at the same time it remains a burden and a problem, a millstone around the neck of its carrier. For the sake of justice, intellectual honesty, the centre must be fitted with the same ambiguous stamp: topsoil and problem. It is up to us to be active, creative within the framework of this polarity, it depends on the time and the circumstances in what "camp" we happen to get most inspiration and most returns.

Sweden: province put in the centre.

The process where any human "carrier" of province or centre becomes in some way alienated from his context, his roots, is complex and difficult to map. Odd details join to form a pattern, gradually confirming each other and reinforcing the experience. My own experience of province is linked with today's Sweden as a nation - although I am well aware that the same nation for periods and locally has constituted or commanded a centre, or centres. I discern today's Swedish province primarily from the prevalent use of language, from linguistic custom ; language is an excellent indicator of the oscillation of social units swinging away from and towards some hypothetical "centre", for ears that can hear, eyes that can see. (The process is much like the precession of the Earth's axis, it goes on all the time, one needn't be conscious of it, and if one wants to study it, one has to get concepts and instruments.) In today's Sweden it's considered desirable to express oneself in an easy-going, good-humoured way, somewhat vaguely, often with a silly smile, as prototype I can adduce the party leader of the political Centre, first spokeswoman of the Province, a significant contradiction! In one way this tendency can be summed up as an emphasis on "the significance of trivial things". Market leader is the Swedish Broadcasting Corporation, or television at large, the language and the self-appraisal of the broadcaster can be studied day by day on the left side of the SR webpage. This shallow, superficial, easy-going character permeates not only the media but also political expression and large parts of the "literature". Choosing among thousands of possible examples, one can e.g. compare the language of meteorologists on the webpages of DMI and SMHI , one offers precise, to-the-point language, one is chatty and sometimes close to dyslexic, or one can compare English and Swedish Wikipedia; the differences in precision, profundity, correctness manifest themselves throughout. (At the same time English academics stress in unison: English Wikipedia is terribly unprecise, provincial...) Anyway: something is lost when provincial Sweden lays down the level, and this loss is quite in order to the domestic carriers of province. It must be admitted that there is a feeling of "loss" here and there, e.g. in the liberal camp, in the lament of Swedish teachers over the prevalent "decay" in language skill, and in an elitist project like the tv channel Axess (an effete, stilted centre attempting to assert itself, protest). I am fairly sure that province gains in Sweden just because a hypothetical centre, or a centre that was there, has been weakened. It's much like the assault of Germanic tribes on a splitting and breaking Rome, the ceaseless assault of warlords on a defenceless Monrovia; in the Swedish case it is even possible to discern how the assets of some past centre are pillaged. New pretenders are added, languages mix, syntaxes change, out of the chaos a new centre might eventually emerge. I pull out this thought from my considerations, retaining it as a working hypothesis.

Farthest out: Province of province.

Further and further, province becomes more and more provincial, finally we reach the end of the world: the Blasket Islands. Presumed origin, target for our yearning, nothing but charm. At once it turns out to be an illusion: the inhabitants desert to electricity, running water and cockney English by the first means of transport that comes along. A memento: we all head, flee towards the centre. And still it can be met with here and there: the province of the province, and the elongated province Sweden most certainly has its own province. In the end we are faced with a system of Chinese boxes, it is crucial and important to make use of this complication.

The novel

One characteristic of province is the fact that it has a time-scale of its own; it struggles to turn the clock back, a quarter of an hour, half an hour. It is non-contemporary. But this is a quality of the centre as well, although reversed: the vanguard self-appreciation, the sentiment of being the turner of the wheel of time. Therefore BLACK HOLE as a text must not attempt to mimic the present time, it must be un-contemporary, pull backwards and forwards; in this negative reflection it becomes a contemporary novel. I started to publish chapters on the web in 2000, they form the first part: "Something must happen". These chapters have acted as generators, bringing forth new text. At the outset there was a chance element in the text production; I wrote in a fairly straightforward way, nothing was rejected, and I studied written situations over and over again. In this way I gradually realized how I "decline", not single words, but pictures, situations; today I am able to compose in a more conscious/deliberate manner from that point of departure. In March 2004 I started to revise the text; from this point onwards I have decided to add an English translation as well, in this way making the text accessible to foreign readers. I experience such a double "wording" as in some respect binding, obligating, it will force me into an optimal effort. My raw translation in turn is scrutinized and corrected by Bebhinn OMeadhra, this is an ongoing process where we gradually try to approximate the general character of the Swedish original. Her efforts have meant improvements to the Swedish text as well, I have been forced into defining the illogical structure of my illogical structures. In September 2008 I am ripe for a new revision; this time it's about squeezing new text into the old one in order to expand it and add a new aspect.

ABOUT the work:

In general I put much effort into the text, the reader will soon find that the style is a bit precious, deliberately overelaborated. Not everywhere: I try to achieve a sort of affected precision in certain chapters, in others the text, the language should limp a little. Important in both cases is: overelaboration, limping text must be shaped, created, it is permissible only in its "conscious" form, its task is to create a sort of rococo asymmetry. Not only the puppets of "Black Hole" should taste the full extent of some brute affectedness; the author himself must indulge in this fashionable Swedish "åsanisseri" (untranslatable), in practice it means two different levels. At some point I will draw a line and join in the search for Harry Jönsson, this shift will create new writing conditions. Aesthetic considerations are hidden as some sort of rebus throughout the chapters, in part explicitly, in part as metacommunication; particular features of the text are in some way anticipated and commented upon - in the text. And chapter headings of course call for attention, they act as opening accords, but at the same time they are my way of raising my cap to the master of deliberate, conscious affectedness: Musil. (Günter Wallraff - himself in many respects unconsciously affected - knew this, without understanding. I hesitate when saying this: what if affected Wallraff is as a matter of fact strongly influenced by "affected" Musil?) For me there is a competitive element here: the kingdom of Sweden should be able to outdo the excesses of Kakania at least fourfold, if I do not master that task I have failed.

ABOUT my position:

I have had questions about my relationship to Swedish publishers. I do not reveal too much if I state that publishers have read early versions of the project; the reactions have oscillated between distaste and total lack of understanding. My own position is (and has been for a long time) that we no longer have any publishers, no longer any literature worth the name in Sweden. The realm of notions of the prize-awarding Swedish Academy and the intellectual level of academic literature science at some Swedish universities are in line with the state of the written word in that same country; the wretched Academy should be liberated from its unworthy bondage under the Nobel Prize, the statutes of the prize changed to give it some progressive function. And of course it's not without repercussions when "independent liberal" papers like Dagens Nyheter and Sydsvenska Dagbladet collapse into total nothingness (and social importance = zero). I have no recipes for these papers, it's probably best if they are silently and mercifully removed from history. The journalist product of the Swedish Author's Association, "The Author", in true reformist spirit suggests "qualification development" for authors (chuckle), and an event like the shabby novel competition of Forum/Expressen/Månadens bok (Book of the Month) offers another piece; the jury should have had sense enough to avoid it (318 contributions were returned, no prize awarded). These events together shed light on the Swedish Kleinschriftsteller, the poor sod who must be pushed into vocational training courses in order to develop his "qualifications"... Why not brush up the Academy in the same way, once we are at it - nobody doubts that there is a connection between the kitschy media event of the Nobel Prize and the failed Swedish novel competition. (There is a prompt confirmation of this devaluation in February 2007; TV4 - representing absolute zero among Swedish media - succeeds to the broad-casting of the Nobel Prize event from the official Swedish Kingdom Television). The step from Victoria Dyring (BBC-inspired programme host) to TV 4's Paris Hilton characters may seem insignificant, but it is significant, and it will have repercussions; we can all look forward to the event anticipated by Johan Anglemark, when he travestied the press releases of the Academy in 2005: Finally Robert Jordan! . That would be an award "in tune" with the cultural ideology of today's Swedish society.


, I have a better suggestion: something LINUX-ish is called for to advance the sake of literature, efforts simply turning their back on the prevailing system. New "leagues" must be created - at least provisionally - at higher qualitative levels. My own project should be seen against this background: I am trying to write a "bedeutend" (translate: seriously significant) Swedish novel, the first one in thirty or forty years (everyone may bring one text from this interregnum, but not two, that would be to exaggerate it), so it should not be surprising that negative reactions to the text serve to assure me that my compass needle is pointing in (approximately) the right direction. In general I do not think, that there is room for anything "bedeutend" in Swedish publishing or public discussion, or that it can attract attention there. Imports are tolerated, works where we adopt some external valuation from an external context and publish in some sort of compulsory way, as legitimization. Günther Grass may serve as an example, but I am inclined to place Enquist outside of Sweden as well, maybe he needs geographical distance in order to be productive at all. At any rate these products from abroad mean little to the Swedish society, they have no impact there; to say that they concern us marginally is to overstate the case - in Sweden Enquist is known as a "H. C. Andersen ambassador", at most. Triviality neglects no details on its conquest march.

ABOUT a possible space of freedom:

Against this background I claim: Internally, out of the existing soil, nothing "bedeutend" can grow, creation must take place in isolation from the system that castrated (among other things) Swedish literature - or confirmed this castration, as part of a larger pattern. (I do not say that things are much better in other countries, promoted today is mainly a sort of film manuscript for reading on subway trains, "chick flick" that can be flogged at book fairs). Any free space for creativity that might still exist in Sweden has no contact points, no common surface with established channels of publication or "media"; this may seem something of a paradox considering the repressive public life that could tolerate and carry Almquist and Strindberg. To me the medium is the message as far as the No. 1 medium, television, is concerned; a boundlessly silly, opportunist, officious and thoroughly ideologized medium. Above all I hate the role of "culture journalism", in particular where it reviews in a culinary jargon; I expressly want journalists to stay far away from me, and I value the aleatory function of search engines higher than most writings and discourse on literature offered me by contemporaries. "Black Hole" has landed up in its rightful place - its only possible location: the black hole of the web - anyone who wants to distribute it is free to create a link.

Christer Persson

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    e-mail: cp.hollviken'at'

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