26 July 2011

On a personal note

I am sure that there are many who cannot have failed to hear about the events in Norway Friday last week, on 22 July. As a Norwegian citizen, I am deeply shocked and horrified by what transpired on that day; first the explosion in the government quarters in central Oslo and then the massacre on the inland island of Utøya, less than an hour from Oslo, killing youngsters in their teens and twenties. With thousands of others, my wife and I took part in a procession in my hometown yesterday, with fellow citizens and visitors and anybody who wanted to take part in commemoration of the dead and those missing and in extending sympathies towards their parents and relatives. We were carrying white roses from our own garden, many were carrying torches.

I have been thinking about a way this blog could contribute towards taking a stand against the inhumanity displayed by such horrific acts. I have written in a previous post, the Billy Bang Vietnam Aftermath band, that music can have a therapeutic function in coming to terms with and processing traumas derived from witnessing and taking parts in gruesome acts, particularly in wartime. I do also think that music can promote spiritual and humanist values, whether religious or secular, and that we have in a small way done that on this blog.

"Amazing Grace" is to me one of the most beautfiful tunes there are, and this version is my favourite among those I've heard. Some may remember it as the signature tune of Radio Geronimo which used to broadcast round about 1970-1971 and I sometimes tuned in on the old mediumwave at midnight to listen to the three-hour show. Years later, I remembered the tune during a visit to London and found it in a record shop, Rock On, in Camden Town, on Old Kentish Road. The shop is long gone, but I've kept the record and thought I share it with you all. Here it is.

In the aftermath of the tragedy, the poem "Til ungdommen" (To the youth) by Nordahl Grieg has become something of a national anthem, performed at several official functions in the last few days and also at the one we attended. Here is the text and an English translation:


and here is the song:



kinabalu said...

The tune, in wav and mp3 audio format:


onxidlib said...

Watching the horrible news during the last days made me feel so sad and on one point I even had to cry - and crying myself is a real rare event.

I wish to express my deep and heartfelt compassion for the victims and their relatives and friends.

There is one thing which I found astonishing and at the same time very impressive.
The reaction of the people in Norway was not full of hatred but in all their grieve still emphasizing a community of freedom and democracy.
This came from the "ordinary" people and also from Premier Stoltenberg.
There was no looking for simple answers but a longing for understanding in all its complexity despite the cruel and barbarous murder.

Sending to you my deepest feelings of sympathy and respect.

gilhodges said...

Love and brotherhood to you and yours, Kinabalu.

buruno said...

beautiful post. I pour my feelings over everyone who has suffered, and is still suffering with this absurdity.
and may peace be with us all.

sotise said...

H.Best Wishes to you and Family .
the stoic compassion of Norwegians is indeed very moving .. i too found myself weeping with them.

and thank you for the lovely, very poignant choice of tune , which to me above all else signifies hope amidst the deepest despair,given that John Newton the man who wrote it was a slave trader, before being a christian..and anti abolitionist.

On a political note , those very issues that fueled the hatred of a probable psychopath, namely that of refugees and immigration (particularly muslim immigrants), and the basic humanity and compassion required to deal with them on the political level (or lack thereof) are very much in the spotlight here with both major parties playing both sides of the fence, and in no small way consciously adopting that psychopathy, sending alarming mixed messages which sadly Fuel the overt racism of many.

anyway... love and peace to you..
take care

glmlr said...

Blessings on the Norwegian soul.

serviceton said...


the jazzstronaut said...

Terrible stuff, peace and goodwill to all our friends in Norway.

All the best, Kinabalu.

freebones said...

i don't know what to say about this. what a terrible tragedy. some people need to be uplifted in life. what a poor fellow he must have been to be driven to such gruesome acts.

healing and peace to all.

riccardo said...

A big hug to you and all the people around you from Italy (Country
that in recent decades has experienced several times this painful tragedy) but also a consideration: this is not simply the act of a psychopath, but a real political crime committed by a fanatical of the far Right against an hundred of young leftists, responsible of representing the Europe of tollerance. If the xenophobic Right is so grown up in the Old Continent, probably, the fault is a bit of each of us.

take care

Grego Applegate Edwards said...

Heartfelt sympathy and condolences to all over there, especially the victim's families. Tragedies so senseless are hard to cope with. Time is a healer, but one still lives with the hauntings.

All the best,
Grego Edwards

sotise said...

"If the xenophobic Right is so grown up in the Old Continent, probably, the fault is a bit of each of us."

too true , and "moderate" polititians who often amplify these sentiments, because they want to win votes , are so much more responsible..
They pontificate about war criminals and smugly endorse tribunals for crimes against humanity , whilst promoting racist policies , and sentiments which ultimately lead to ethnic cleansing and genocide.

kinabalu said...

Thanks for the many kind words from all of you. I thought I'd expand a bit on some of Sotise's observations that there is a double standard at work here.

It strikes me that if it is a case of "our" terrorists, it is always the work of a psychopath, a loony, a lone wolf or an asocial individual. If is a case of "their" terrorists, it is always assumed that they are acting on behalf of a murderous ideology, that they are scheming and planning to put the ideology into action. In "their" case, it is a clear connection between ideology and action, in "our" case there is a clear disconnection between ideology and action. Something obviously does not add up here.

Of course, the rhetoric is that those who have propounded ideologies that may have spurred "our" terrorist into action can in no way be held responsible for actions that may result from such ideologies.

As I see it, you can't have it both ways. Either you have to say that murderous actions are the work of loonies, no matter what ideologies may have inspired them or you have to say that individuals act on ideologies, whatever they may be.

Words have consequences.

kinabalu said...

Here's a good piece which illustrates the point I'm trying to make:


glmlr said...

Mmmm ... in my (not totally) humble opinion, this is simply another case of religion being what it always has been historically.

A mass exercise in self-deception.

sotise said...

When i used the term psycopath in my first comment ,i meant it in a clinical sense, someone who lacks a genuine empathy for others, who is dead to the suffering of other sentient beings (dead at some deeply emotional level)

One thing i resent is the deliberate catch all ,conflation of that specific psychopathology with madness ,or lunacy.. they are very different classes of mental disorder.
most Lunatics are harmless ,usually mostly merely dangerous to themselves.

psychopaths , are skilled mimes , masterful at feigning emotion and sympathy, when in fact they feel nothing at all.

one cant but conclude that many of the worlds leaders,(including those in the corporate world) are psychopaths who have no idea ,and very little interest in the havoc they wreak on the lives upon which they act.

one surely has to be immune to the emotions of & capacity for pain in others to calculatingly execute a planned mass killing on the scale uner discussion (or any scale for that matter)..

The psychopaths , make the rules .. our psychopaths ,the victorious ones ,who run the war crimes tribunals, create the framework which distinguishes collateral damage from murder..

Tony Blair is out here at present , i just watched him smuggly dribbling on about war crimes, border protection, refugees in europe and the role of the media in a democracy.. i suddenly feel very nauseous..

a vain, war mongering lying media whore, subtly rewriting/transforming himself into a wise compassionate contemporary saint..before my very eyes..
that process is what terrifies me ...the self deception is almost total...there's a perfect illustration of the psychopathology.

kinabalu said...

glmlr, religion can also be a vehicle for mass consolation, as has been demonstrated in this instance, but point taken. It was important that the church came out strongly in favour of humanist values and also as a symbol of national unity. It was noted, by foreign correspondents, that muslims used the Oslo cathedral to show their sympathies with the victims and their relatives.

kinabalu said...

sotise, interesting points. A psychopath has no problem shifting from one role to the other.

As I understand it, legal responsibility has to do with whether the act, no matter how horrible, was committed deliberately and with intent. A person cannot be held legally responsible if it can be shown that the individual was insane in the moment of committing the act. In my view, legal responsibility obtains in this case, though the defence attorney has argued for insanity. But does he have any choice?

Igor said...

My deepest sympathies to courageous Norwegian people.
You'll come out stronger from this tragedy. I can say that from personal experience, I went through a terrible war in Croatia. The town where I live, Zadar, was heavily bombed over two years.
The most important message I can give to proud Norwegian people is: Do not let hatred overcome.

Terror and horror begins when, metaphorically speaking, Batman loses, and Joker wins and becomes a Head of State. Who can say that it never happens?

sotise said...

Wow Igor ,you've been through a living hell and survived sense of humour intact, thats a fucking miracle, something most of us can barely imagine.

this suddenly comes to mind,A most vivid & Poignant image i remember from tv clips of Sarajevo in late 94 or 95 , as that town was being strafed by low flying aircraft.. was these 4 older guys
a croatian, 2 serbs and a muslim , sitting around on the verandah in their boarding house playing cards , drinking Cofee with music playing on a transistor radio, one was sobbing quietly between words and mouthfulls of cofee , as he explained that this had nothing to do with them
they had not wanted this , they had nothing but contempt for the war mongers, they'd been living in this Town together for years and were friends.
he wept as he described the destruction of his flower bed the previous day..

then one of them said something like, "those Barstards they hate that we can live here together , they can no longer smell the flowers..life was good here , but they cant stand that."

I remember that whenever i see these lying fat cat fucking bureaucrats, talking about the problem of democratising the heathen unwashed... certainly if they are opressed libyans , but not the even more oppressed Saudi, poor.. no mention of them... ever.

tht sarejevo thing was only a very brief clip 5 minutes or so.. the sort of thing one rarely sees in television war coverage ,mostly its just sweaty meat sacks running around ,faceless stick insects firing and being fired upon in the distance.

and of course by contrast you have all this sickening embedded journalism .. the soap opera of daily life at the noble encampment with Daniel Boone..

SOTISE said...

heres another article of possible interest to readers of this thread..

"The New Anti-Semitism"

kinabalu said...

Thanks for your thoughts, Igor. I've seen the effects of the war in Vukovar. The physical scars on buildings are still very visible, the psychic scars on humans are less visible, but as deep and longer-lasting.

camilink said...

good vibes in strong times!

i wanted to send you the link to the book "Amazing Grace. The Story of America's Most Beloved Song" (Steve Turner. HarperCollins, 2002)

here it is:

god bless Norwegian people!

JC said...

This was indeed a very sad time.

Unfortunately we live under systems which cultivate hatred as a means to pit the "ordinary" people against each other. If everyone fights among themselves then they are too busy to notice what the powerful are doing and too divided to unite against it.

Nation against nation to person against person, nearly all fight among themselves for the crumbs that fall off the table.

Here in the United States seems be the worst of it, with full time corporate propaganda working overtime with the government to distract the masses in a media circus, where a few hold the country and a substantial part of the world economy hostage in an effort to destroy it for everyone else but their patrons.

It all (deliberately) breeds irrational hatred, which periodically boils over against the innocent.

I trust we all do our small part to bring these issues to light and to organize peacefully to overturn that system. That seems to be happening in very unlikely places (Egypt, Syria, etc.), while the terrible reverse seems to be happening in similarly unlikely places.

It is a struggle with great cost, far from over there and not yet started in most of the rest of the world. Keep hope. Encourage what is right.

kinabalu said...

cami, thanks for the link. I wasn't aware of the book, but it shall be devoured.