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  December
28, 2013
me+ME: Journal 1975 
Sections
Introduction
1. Journal 1975
About ME/CFS

Introduction

This file is not about the crisis, but is in fact all of my - remaining - journal of 1975, which is the first year that I spent in Norway, in Dovre. There must have been considerably more, notably from February and March of 1975, but I haven't seen it for decades, and probably lost it long ago.

What I have is from November 11 to November 20, 1975, and consists of 8 1/2 handwritten pages. The main reason to reproduce it is that it is mostly about  mostly literary books I read or was reading, and apart of that about my daily work, that was then mostly as a farmhand.

There is a lot more I could say about Dovre and Norway, but all I say here is that my Norwegian girlfriend and I arrived in Dovre on January 3 or 4; lived in a  primitive wooden house built in 1795 all year, except in the summer, when we lived with ca. 18 cows rather high up in the mountains, milking the cows; and that these pages were written in a few weeks that I lived alone, because my girlfriend was in Lillehammer, where she received some education for the job she had accepted the next year
as a journalist for a local paper in Lom, where we moved to in the beginning of January 1976.

But these pages are from November 1975, and I reproduce all I have. They were written in English, because that was the usual language my girlfriend and I used, though by that time we also both spoke good Dutch and good Norwegian.

We were both 25.

1. Journal 1975

The text that follows between the two lines was written in 1975, and has been copied completely and without changes except for the following:

- the writers' names are in bold
- titles (also when partial) are in italics
- some paragraphs - i.e. empty lines - have been added
- the links are all added today
- the notes are all added today

Otherwise, it is all as was, except that it originally was handwritten.

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Schema

Alarm-clock: 7                      2 hrs maths        ]
Exercises   :                         2 hrs Norwegian   ]     5=11
Breakfast  :                         2 hrs typing         ]
Clean-up   :    - 9.30

Things to be done:
         Maths
         Norwegian
         Type out Notes & Papers                         12.XI.1975  [1]

11.XI. (Tuesday)
: Mainly wasted time on reading papers. [2] Also bought a lot of shoppings, and made a deal with Hans about woodcuttting. I help him, cut his wood, he helps me cut mine. Friday-evening is the first Sveitser-duty. [3]

Am reading: MannDer  Zauberberg [4] (not bad, but too wordy (the proportion words : effects is too high)); Gibbon, Decline and Fall (good, but too many facts - one drowns in the amount of murdered emperors, for example); Eckermann, Gespräche (very good, but too much attention is paid to literature for my taste - amd what is excellent about Goethe one rather senses than reads, his open mindedness, enormous comprehension & empathy and his immorality. [5] And he was very untypically German in putting, justifiedly, so much stress on practical experience. Koestler, Act of Creation (very good, though my theories are better, although along the same lines [6]); Koestler, Ghost in the Machine (where his thinness of theory is shown in Appendix I); Reich, Greening of America (unexpectedly good, except for R's incomprehensible naivity re American youth, which leads to an almost ridiculous idealization & optimism).

Otherwise not doing much, except yoga. Also, I've been (& am) changing the last months - Buddhist philosophy starts to bear experiential fruits. Such changes are both difficult to date & to discuss, but one can try:

- 67     : (school-leave): increase of independence (independent judgment)
- 69-70 : (Carolien & Sleep-In): increase of trust in capacities (individual
             relevance - important: one wonders how many people had the
possible experience of experiencing themselves as relevant to themselves & others, unmediated by institutional roles).
- 70-72 : (Dijkstra): increase of philosophy, shift from Marxism to some sort
             of positivism with stress on language
- 72-74 : shift from language-based philosophy to experience-based philosophy.
- 75     : increase of awareness.

This is not very revealing, nor is the definition of "change" = "shift of the
vectors of thought & emotion". [7]

12.XI. (Wednesday): Have been cleaning up, reading some, typing a little. Evening books returned to Lee [2x G. Snyder, Hemingway, Old Man & Hamsun, Markens Grode] who wasn't there. Picked up Ehrlich from Sandy, and spoke a little to Ingebjorg, who said she found it difficult to talk to me because of abstractedness.

13.XI. (Thursday): Chopped a little wood but got sick with axe - use good tools or no tools. Tomorrow I'll buy one. [8]

Did some Norwegian - the book is stupid, and, I think, put together in a hurry, for the money. Mistakes such as say at the beginning of a list of irregular words that it best can be learned at second reading, and use those words two pages later in translation exercises, and the exercises themselves, which are as phantasy-less as possible. Also did some maths [I think I'll try to get & do all Lang's books] and typed some [Notes on Psychology]. Went to the Bj's fjos in the evening, to see what needs to be done. [9]

14.XI. (Friday): Some reading & typing; to the Bj's to see about the sheep - I forgot that Hans gave me 3 reindeer skins yesterday. I looked into the dictionary and found that tanning is done with oakbark, and since A. has oakbark as an experimental health & herb cure against cystitis I put together a little experiment in natural tanning: two pieces of skin in a pot with hot/warm water and some oakbark. I'll wait for three days and then see how one of them is doing.  [10] [Something like tanning is useful, since the skins are quite hard - bendable but stiff, not flexible].  Ate with them. [11] A. phoned & comes tomorrow. The job is OK but she has to pay rent (with an amateur-philosopher & towns-character, or something) which she does not want to protest about. I can't see why not - double rent = double rent, and it is not necessary.

Went to the shop, bought axe (Saeterpilen) and returned old axe to Aunsmoe. Played chess with Gunnar, Leif-Gunnar & Olaf, and won. L-G is not so good in solving match-problems. [12]

15.XI. (Saturday): Agnethe came at 6, while I was working in the barn. She had a fast hike (but I don't like her hiking - the only remotely safe country for females to hitchhike is England, and even there you'll better be a weightlifter, karate-expert and bearer of a gas-gun. Norwegians are too fucked up & also dangerous drivers). [13]

Before that I cleaned up the dishes & the floor, frightened the cats with the vacuumcleaner (which otherwise is not much use), chopped wood & did the barn. The barn takes about an hour (except for bringing hay to the sheep in the meadow). It's easy & can be done in half the time.

The job is OK. [14]

16.XI. (Sunday): It was cold in the night. [15] A. had not brought her down, so I had to sleep in the sleeping-bag, with the other sleeping-bag & a blanket on top. I kept waking up. So I was sleepy all day. A. took the train of 2.25 which we only made by running fast & long.

It started to snow yesterday [Friday-evening, in fact] and now it is winter. Much of the landscape qualifies for posters advertising winter-holidays. (Part of that is the newness - it is striking how different everything appears (same when the snow disappeared): contrasts completely disappear, or arise from nowhere & all sounds get muffled). [16]

People from the VU, says the NRC, have calculated that 10x more food can be produced now, without much difficulty. And Addeke Boersma (director FAO) says that much undernourishment is due to lack of money - people can't pay the foodprices. When does someone influential finally propose to guarantee everyone a basic income? [17]

Went to bed early (21.00).

17.XI. (Monday): Typed notes, something on Notes on Psychology and Theses in Social Philosophy, excerpted some more Weyl (excellent) [18], and did some Norwegian & maths. A. bought Heller's Something Happened and Lessing's Five. Most of my time goes to Heller. It is excellent. [19]

18.XI. (Tuesday): Tried to ski today for a few minutes, later repaired ski. Did mathematics & started a piece called Theses in Social Philosophy, in which I finally want to lay down my ideas on society, after this did not work out satisfactorily in the pieces on Marx & Anarchism. [20]

In the evening returned book (Kina, Japan og Korea) to the library & met Lee & Joe, the other American. Spent the evening talking with both at Joe's, in the motel. He would want, he thinks, to rent Ingelsgaard if we leave, for he pays 220 kroner, it's small & noisy. Otherwise, he appears not stupid, but nervous, and it is somewhat irritating to talk with him because he likes his own ideas too much & tends to take your point up as soon as he agrees with it by talking louder than you do. He travelled a lot. [21]

Walking back, I saw a good part of the - complete - moon eclipse: first time I saw it was when I came out & then it just started to shine again. When I arrived up, the eclipse was just over. The eclipsed moon was dark red-brown - a bit dusty-looking, and rather difficult to see, also because most of the time there were thin clouds in front of it. [22]

One can easily imagine it must have been an awe-inspiring phenomenon to those who did not have an explanation for it. (I think Anaxagoras  was the first known to guess the right cause - he also inferred from it that the earth was round (the shadow)).

19.XI. (Wednesday): I have a tendency to sleep too long - either I wake up very slowly, or I wake up very late, or both.

I finished
Heller - it is one of those books of literature which are worth 20 scientific treatises. It must be the type of writer, for Catch-22 is similar & so are Kesey's books. What other writers? Tolstoy, Dostoyevski maybe, though I didn't like him when I read them. That may well be different now. [23]

The characteristic, incidentally, is social diagnosis by description, and the criterions are, of course, that the diagnosis must be true or sensible, and new. Most "psychological novels" diagnose, but they do it explicitly & morally, not by description. Also - therefore - they never are true or sensible or new or informative. [24]

In Germany I can't think of anyone. Canetti maybe, but I only know pieces of him. Nietzsche wrote philosophy. I think Böll is not good enough. Handke I don't know, except for Der Hausierer, which I don't like. Lichtenberg didn't describe - he would certainly have qualified.
Mann and Hesse don't - moralists. Brecht is too moral. Well, anyway, I can't think of anyone I know. (Musil, may be, an Austrian. Well, maybe Dürrenmatt's plays qualify.) [25]

In France - Stendhal, Flaubert. Not Proust (too personal). Céline. Sartre's plays. (Not all: not Oreste. But Huis Clos and Les Séquestrés d'Altona.) Genet, at least his play "De Meiden" (in Dutch). There may be more. [26]

In England: Swift, Huxley, Orwell, maybe Trollope, whom I don't know. Dickens, if you throw out his happy endings & higher class saints, and there are more. (Maybe Germans are not ironical enough - too heavy-handed. Multatuli, of course, is the only Dutch one. Though to some extent a moralist.) But
Heller probably is the best in diagnosing, Kesey in describing. Oddly enough, they both only wrote two books and one play derived from their first book. [27]

I tried to ski - but I did the repair wrong (my shoe can't be put straight on the ski). Also, I can't find the faintest indication which is the right resp. left one.

I forgot someone in the above list: Dylan. (I borrowed his complete texts till New Morning from Joe. Also Thoreau, Walden + Civil Disobedience.) To quote, from Dylan p. 240-241:

i talk t'people every day                        for the rest of my life
involved in some scene                          i will never chase a livin' soul
good an' evil are but words                     into the prison grasp
invented by those                                 of my own self-love
that are trapped in scenes
                                                        i can't believe that i have
on what grounds are the                         t' hate anybody
grounds of judgment                              an' when i do
an' I think also                                     it will only be out of fear
that there is not                                    an' i'll know it
one thing anyplace
anywhere that makes any                        i know no answers an' no truth
sense. there are only tears                       for absolutely no soul alive
an' there is only sorrow                           i will listen t' no one
there are no problems                             who tells me morals
                                                         an' i dream a kot
i have seen what i've loved
slip away an' vanish. i still
love what i've lost but t' run
an' try t' catch it'd
be very greedy                              ^
           |_________________________| READ ON

The reproduction is literal. The above series is not fragmented. [28]

20.XI. (Thursday): Went to the shop, bank, postoffice. Received theory-lessons for driving license. They look OK. But cost 82 kr. Which is less than the 200 kr they would cost if I were to take them in person & not in writing. [29] Typed on the Theses & read some Bateson. Put my logic & general philosophy papers in a folder. I need more folders. I believe the cat doesn't like the snow much - she is in most of the time. [30]

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The above is the full text of my Journal for 1975. The notes and links are new and are all made today. The main reason to reproduce it here is that I read it yesterday, I liked what I read, and I thought some of you may want to know what sort of literary reading I had done at 25.

It turns out that it is more than I thought, for in fact I mainly read philosophy and logic and science, and hardly any of that is mentioned in the above.

Besides, the above also is a record of my two years and more than seven months of living in Norway, that I very unwisely left in 1977.



Notes of 2013
P.S. Dec 29, 2013: I made some small corrections and additions.
[1] I do not know the precise meaning of this schema anymore, but it does roughly correspond to my days' activities. I was mainly preparing for a state's exam in VWO, that would give me entry to the university, but although I had paid everything and had written an express letter in May that I could not come because
I lived in Norway and that Agnethe and I had accepted a three-months job to milk cows in the summer, and therefore wanted it postponed to the autumn, which was quite possible, the Dutch chief of the state examinations took the trouble to only answer my letter four weeks later, and merely mentioned that if I would not arrive at the exams two weeks prior to his letter, I would have failed.

I did not know then, but this was and probably still is the Dutch general attitude. This amounts to the general thesis that We Are All Equivalent, and Anybody Abnormal Gets Damned. (This is all both complete hypocrisy and maintained by the majority of the Dutch. Two of the things that the Dutch do not like at all are critics and people who differ in assumptions from the average. Then again, it also is typically Dutch to complain about everything - provided most other Dutchmen complain about them too.)

[2] My girlfriend Agnethe and I read a lot of papers: At least three Norwegian ones, plus the international edition of the NRC-Handelsblad (that I stopped reading in 2010, because it had changed to something awful). One reason to read a lot of papers was that Agnethe wanted to be a journalist, and indeed became one the end of 1975.

[3] Hans was our next door - 150 meters walking - neighbor, and the owner of a farm, and a farmer. He was a very friendly and nice man, then in his fifties, also of considerable intelligence, but with hardly any education. A sveitser is a helper on the farm.

[4] I read Dutch, English, German, French, Norwegian, Danish and Swedish quite easily, and generally prefer the original works, if I can read the language.

[5] I probably meant: amorality.

[6] I still think so; I still did not publish any of it.

[7] This was probably the time I did most yoga and was most interested in Buddhist philosophy, though the latter interest was also fairly strong in the middle Eighties. But in either case, I was never a believer, and I did not do much yoga, but I did some.

As to roles: Few people
experience themselves as relevant to themselves & others, unmediated by institutional roles. That is one of the great lacks of the societies I lived in: Most things are dumb, most things are artificial.

As to philosophy: I am quite proud that I changed from Marxism - which I got from my parents - to positivism when 20, and left that within two years for realism. Most academic philosophers remained stuck all their lives in one of these, especially the first two, if of roughly my age. Also, I still am a scientific realist.


[8] I did chop and saw a lot of wood in 1975: We heated the house and also partially cooked on wood.

[9] Serge Lang was a French-American mathematician, whose textbooks are very good. I do not know what happened to my "Notes on Psychology". The fjos (spelled with an o with a hyphen) is the barn, in which I spent quite a lot of time in 1975. Note that by this time I had "proved myself", by showing I could do all the necessary work in a stable, namely by having done it in the summer of 1975 together with Agnethe, and indeed in 1977 I also got a diploma that qualified me as a livestock farmer and a jordbrukavloysar (= someone who can take over a farm if the farmer gets ill or wishes to go on holiday).

[10] It didn't work.

[11] That is, the Bjornsgaards. They were a very nice family, and our only neighbors, for we lived half way up the mountains, rather than in the village.

[12] Leif-Gunnar was some 10-15 years older than I was, and the agronomist in the village, and a quite intelligent and helpful man.

[13] I changed my opinions in two respects: Hitchhiking was also dangerous in England in the Seventies, and Norwegians are good drivers.

[14] That is: Agnethe's job.

[15] This means: It was at least minus 15, and probably considerably less.

[16] It is really striking how different the snow makes things appear, and we had many kilometers of sight, living high up against the mountains. Also, by "snow" I mean SNOW: A meter or more, and at some places very much more, and also laying there from November till March or April.

[17] Nothing was heared anymore from the "scientific" publication of "people from the VU", and no one influential has proposed a basic income for everyone, these 40 years, though that would be eminently fair.

[18] This is almost certainly his
Philosophy of Mathematics and Natural Science, that I only know in the English edition of the 1960ies. I do not know what happened to my own texts.

[19] This was, at that time, Heller's second book. I did not read Lessing, and can't find "Five".

[20] Meanwhile, I could ski quite well. The "Theses on Social Philosophy" disappeared, but something like it that was quite good, also written in Norway in English, was a long letter I wrote in 1976, that I may reproduce. The links to Marx and Anarchism are to my Philosophical Dictionary.

[21] I was reading Norwegian (and indeed learned it mostly from reading the Norwegian papers and from talking) and indeed in 1977 could pass for a Norwegian. Lee and Joe were Americans taking some sort of agronomical education in Dovre, and were in their early twenties. Ingelsgaard was the name of the house Agnethe and I lived in, and was built in 1795.


[22] In fact, that is the only time I saw a total eclipse. The picture in the Wikipedia looks a lot like what I saw, but is clearer.

[23] The reason is that I read Dostoyevski's "Crime and Punishment" when I was around 12, and the same goes for Tolstoy's "War and Peace". Both were in my parents' book cases.

[24] This is not very clear: It must be true or sensible, new, informative. The least I should add is that is must be critical, and that I like satire.

[25] Maybe I should add that I read all I mention, and that, since I've mostly educated myself, these writers were also found by myself. There must be some German writers that classify, but even now I can only think of Schopenhauer's essays.

[26] These are the French. I knew and know less of French than of English literature.

[27] The English and American, but treated lightly here. I certainly could have mentioned more, but didn't, while the reason I did not mention Henry Fielding, William Hazlitt and Mark Twain is that I had not read them in 1975.

[28] For some reason, Dylan's text is typed. The rest is handwritten. As to Dylan: I didn't much like Dylan from John Wesly Harding onwards. Here are my reactions to his aphorisms:

"good an' evil are but words": words are but words, and so? That is: good and evil are not just words. I agree it is difficult to give good answers, but see Hume.

"on what grounds are the grounds of judgment": Also not relative. The grounds of judgment are expanded definitions: Deductively valid judgments are such as to lead from true judgments only to true judgments; inductively valid judgments are such as to lead from true judgments to judgments that are more or less probable, according to the calculus of probability; abductively valid judgments are such as to lead from true judgments to plausible explanations.

"that there is not one thing anyplace anywhere that makes any sense": This is a cop out, or a statement by someone in deep depression, that is also self- falsifying.

"i can't believe that i have t' hate anybody": Speak for yourself, and this depends a lot on one's experiences. Those who survived concentration camps generally judge differently, but I agree there is generally too much hate. (Then again, there are no mountains - of love - without valleys - of hate.)

"i know no answers an' no truth for absolutely no soul alive": Another cop out. Of course one knows some answers and some truths, but it is true that one generally
knows a lot less than one thinks and than one should. Also, theoretical statements generally are probabilities only: only particular statements are definitely true or false (and may be, and often are, untestable).

Anyway... I do not like Dylan much, but indeed I have read a whole lot more than most listeners to pop music have.

[29] In fact, I did get my Norwegian driving license by the end of December 1975, and the next 1 1/2 years drove a lot, for my girl friend did not dare to drive, but covered a large territory as a journalist. I since lost the license, and besides do not have the money for a car, and never had. Also, I don't like driving, but I really can do it, and most drivers, especially the Dutch, cannot really drive (which I learned and mostly practised on frozen and small roads).

[30] The last note. I am sorry if I have written too many notes, but I like to comment, and this is the only journal text I still have for 1975, that in fact was a very nice year for me. That is one reason to reproduce it; the other reason is that I do mention quite a lot of literary writers that I had read by 1975, and that I also mostly had found myself, through my own efforts, and not through school, which was mostly a dumb bummer, and also not through university, for I was not yet allowed to attend it (and when I did, it was another dumb bummer, though I did get an excellent M.A. in psychology and a fine B.A. in philosophy).


About ME/CFS (that I prefer to call M.E.: The "/CFS" is added to facilitate search machines) which is a disease I have since 1.1.1979:
1. Anthony Komaroff

Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS(pdf)

2. Malcolm Hooper THE MENTAL HEALTH MOVEMENT:  
PERSECUTION OF PATIENTS?
3. Hillary Johnson

The Why  (currently not available)

4. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2003)
5. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2011)
6. Eleanor Stein

Clinical Guidelines for Psychiatrists (pdf)

7. William Clifford The Ethics of Belief
8. Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)
9.
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)



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