mandag den 16. juli 2012

Dear Diary, a bit about why I'm writing in English

Dear Diary,

Although I am almost thoroughbred Dane, I am presumptuous enough to write to you in English. By doing so I am going against most of the grain of Danish culture and I'm especially in breach of just about all articles in the informal Danish Constitution,  aka “The Laws of Jante”.

The author that first 'discovered' these norms and set them down on paper was a novelist called Aksel Sandemose, and in his novel “En flygtning krydser sit spor” (which would probably be translated into English thus: 'A Refugee crosses his own tracks' ), he summed up the unofficial yet ironclad rules like this: 'Don't imagine that you are important in any sense of the word and especially don't imagine that you are better than the rest of us!'

In fact, after a certain Anders Breivik had massacred 77 people in Norway as a terrorist action to 'advertise' a 1500-page Manifesto and a 12-minute video published on the Internet only hours before the heinous deed, and importantly both in English, calling for a Conservative European Revolution that would rid the Continent of Muslims, I wrote an analysis of Breivik's actions and messages when I, like many others, had spent some days recovering from the shock, and as his writings were in English, so was this analysis.

Nonetheless, the first comments my analysis got on a Danish website and Facebook was of course: “Why are you writing in English!?” And people were sceptical when I explained that it seemed natural to analyse a Manifesto in English with European pretensions using the same language so perhaps you are beginning to have a hunch what I'm up against here.

But yes, I have to confess to believing that I am of some importance – if to no-one else then to myself - and probably to my dog,  and that what I have to say MAY be of importance. I have lived the life of a human in the so-called developed world for a good fifty years and have been fortunate enough to see quite a lot of said world at various points in my life so far from the top (or at least being on route to it), from the many positions in the middle classes and now in my later years from the bottom so I might have some stories to tell and some points to make.

I know that it is somewhat unconventional to start a diary this late in life, unless of course you have become somebody so that some kind of memoirs are of interest to the general public. Okay, Mr Obama did write his first two books of memoirs before really becoming somebody, but at least he did become President of the USA not much later. And yes, there may be some old folk around that are told by relatives, friends or the like to write theirs.

I have to admit that I have neither excuse (well, one or two kind personal calls, perhaps), just an urge to write. An urge that has been with me since I began to be able to write. Being 50+ in the so-called developed world you are not supposed to be anticipating your own death in any foreseeable future so I don't have that excuse either. And what's worse: My diary of all things is probably one of the poorest part of my highly dispersed writings that need to be done in English, let alone interest more than perhaps a handful of people.

Then why am I doing it? Because I'm a lazy perfectionist! Some of the things I have written, especially a would-be and tentative political manifesto for an ideology for the 21st Century (called “Liberal Socialism”) and various political, economic and social analyses would seem much more appropriate to pick for the larger audience that writing in English makes it possible, albeit by no means whatsoever certain, to reach. It is not that I'm certain that said manifesto or some of its ideas will ever catch on. I just feel that having thought about a way to improve the world without too much bloodshed, suppression and squalor for almost forty years, the least I can do is get bloody thing down in writing lest it would not be read because never written …

But you see, I also wrote that bloody thing – the manifesto or at least the first drafts of it - in Danish and I'm having a hellish time trying to translate my own thoughts from Danish into English myself. It is somewhat peculiar as I have been a part-time translator between English and Danish for years, as well as holding an MA in Political Science and English with emphasis on English-speaking societies …

That's what I mean by saying that I am a lazy perfectionist … I can probably translate political documents better than most and my own thoughts better than anybody else. And having even tried Google Translate I know that technology has to go through several more scientifically based revolutions before the Machines take over that and most other areas of running a developed society as some are afraid of and others look to with hope – having seen Man making a try!
Of course I shall probably slug my way through translating the now infamous Manifesto but you see, then comes a whole host of other stuff – again things I don't know to be worth something but would like to see having a fighting chance. And that, together with the urge to write, the confirmation by science that remaining active in as many languages as possible staves off dementia, and the need to unload some of the trouble created by our “mortal coils”, is the reason why I at 50+ am beginning to write my diaries – in English …

Yours truly,
Claus Piculell 

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