JANTELOVEN (The Jante Law)

If you have imagination
one week in Denmark is almost a life sentence.

There is nothing epic here.
They do not allow it.
It is a country of people
Who defeat themselves.


Copenhagen Wednesday

She had the day off from work and we spent it together. We took the train across the long bridge across the Baltic to Malmo, Sweden. It was raining across all of Scandanavia. There isnt much to Malmo. It is a northern town like any other, cobblestones and streets and squares and we sat in a restaurant and then a bar. We ate and drank and talked and it was like all the other times between us except for that one thing which made it completely different.

We stayed in the bar hoping the rain would pass and it did, finally, but the wind had picked up. At the bridge before the train station we were almost blown over and both our hats blown off into the canal. We climbed down the bank to the water and reached in with an umbrella for the hats. Then we ran to catch the train back for Copenhagen, she making it through as the doors closed but I had to throw my shoulder in and then pry the doors back. The Swede conductor was upon us quickly for holding the doors and she started yelling at him on the crowded train. I finally stepped in and said it was me that stopped the doors and he should be talking to me. He said I wouldnt do that in my country, but I have and would and said he needed to let this one go and walk on by. But she wouldnt let off him either and so I just sat back and watched it and the ashamed faces of the Swedes and Danes on the train. It was a good good show.

We went to Christiania where they smoke the dope and believe they are free. It is dark there and the people mumbled and huddled outside near the fires. There is graffitti and they try at art and they believe they are alive. .....................................................................................
..........................................................................................................But its not easy to keep writing of what has happened here because what happened wasnt some place I went. Today and yesterday and tomorrow and until I leave are useless. I cannot make them literature. She was only a dream. She was the dream of an overnight forklift driver. I had come to Copenhagen to finally give the city and her back to themselves. I wanted them to exist as they had during the nights I lifted boxes of bleach up ladders, drove reach lift trucks, tossed bags of stone, and listened to the trauma of the very poor. I was in Copenhagen then, with her, and it was beautiful.

But now here is nothing. Vacations are useless. There is only physical training in new places and this is not a very good place for training. The Danes irritate me. They are exactly the same and admit to it. They told me of Jantes Law and how it defines them and how it strips them of any ambition. They long to be like each other, to find some average. I do not understand how brother Søren could have stayed.

And the rest is literary pretense. I dont want literature from this trip. This trip happened months before and I should have written it then. Then it was literature. It was the literature of a forklift driver. There arent even any feelings. There is only boredom. What I wrote of Sunday is mildly embarassing, but to reread those feelings, to know I was capable of them, that is something. I am encouraged. I do not know how those feelings passed so quickly. How quickly boredom replaced them. She and I had already happened. Copenhagen had happened.

The pictures are the only thing missing and I must take them. The city and her and I were stories without pictures.

I am here now to take those pictures.

I will show you the city. I will show you her. And then I will have to write of the trip to Copenhagen and the girl. The city and the girl that were with me in the nights driving the forklift and living as the poor. That was the story.

Copenhagen Monday to Tuesday

It was dark when I left the cafe and without a map I was lost again. I did not know what time it was and I did not see a bike shop for renting bicycles. Suddenly the streets were empty. Copenhagen had gone indoors. I went looking for dinner but the restaurants were empty. The bars and cafes were empty. I wanted something with people. Finally I saw people outside a restaurant at a little square. Inside it was full. I asked to be seated right in the center of the restaurant, right in the middle of 2 long tables of people having a party. I wanted to eat alone in the midst of as many as I could.

A big Danish girl in a country dress explained the menu and how to order with the little green light above the table. The green light would signal her to come. I choose deer with greens and potatoes. I ordered a glass of red wine and asked her to bring a large carafe of water. I listened to an obese American telling an englishman about his greatly successful car washes across the southwest. The englishman was much impressed. The wives of these men were mostly silent.

After I ate I drank more water. I had tea. And then things were even clearer. I started feeling good even. I had acted poorly yesterday but that was distant now. I would need to apologize for that or find somewhere else to stay the week. I left the restaurant and caught a woman taking down her flower stall. I bought lillies. She pointed me in the direction of the apartment. I would bring these flowers to the apartment and leave a note of apology for her.

I wrote the note and explained how I felt, that my heart hurt and that I hoped she could forget about what I had done and said the night before. Then I left and started back towards that restaurant with all the people. As I sat in the downstairs bar of the restaurant I realized my heart wasnt hurting much at all. At the next bar it was hurting even less. And when I started walking back towards the apartment and it began to rain I was just some guy wandering around in the rain in a city he didnt know, and I wasnt lonely at all.

I found a metro stop but the line was closed and someone sent me on to a bus station. A pretty girl was standing there and had been waiting for some time. In fact she lived on the same street I needed to get to. I said lets split a cab and we left together. She was from a city called Arhus and worked some famous cafe at the city center. She invited me to come by the next day. I said I would.

She was back at the apartment when I got there and thanked me for the lillies. We didnt talk any more about it but I could feel that she felt better. I lay in bed next to her. I went to sleep.

In the morning I left her in bed and went out looking for a bike shop. Near the Central Station I rented a bike until Saturday and without thinking of breakfast or water or even that I wasnt wearing the clothes I had brought for riding, I started west for Roskilde. Some big road would take me directly there. It didnt seem far and I started slow and then that wasnt fast enough and after a great hill the city ended and it became a larger road through industrial parks and car dealerships. There was nowhere to stop for food or water. The wind picked up and chilled me. It darkened and I thought it might rain. I rode harder and put my head down. I had to keep my body temperature up and there wasnt anything beautiful to look at. The road reminded me of that barren stretch of highway in Jersey before you reach the Turnpike from Philadelphia.

When I came into Roskilde a girl pointed me towards the famous church. There was a beef house near it with very good and affordable beef and I should eat there. I drank tea and water along with a beef hamburger patty that was barely edible. When my shirt and jeans dried up I went out and saw the church. Busloads of children had filled the church and men wearing animal face masks were wandering around with big signs. A few were dressed as wizards. A disco ball hung from an area where many of Roskildes famous men had been buried. It did not make any sense to me and I left. It was almost dark and I took my bike on the train back to Copenhagen.


Copenhagen Sunday Night to Monday Afternoon

There were delays out of Frankfurt. When I reached Copenhagen I had not slept in 2 days. She gave me her lips but there was no tongue. The kiss did not last, and then I knew. 

We went to a bar and she told me she was confused. She had met some other fellow and she didnt know between us who she wanted. That was it for me. I hadnt imagined any of this. It was supposed to be epic pleasure. I finished my beer, then hers, went to the bar and demanded that they be refilled. If it wasnt to be epic pleasure than fuck it, epic sadness and pain is just as good. 

I had the beers quickly. Then shots, something called a Fisherman. Tasted of medicine. Whats the record on these things? What record? said the bartender. Then its fucking time someone set a record, and I started drinking them up. Where could I go to get in a good fight? Some ghetto up north with Somalians, good, good. This week will not be successful unless I am arrested. Im gonna tear Copenhagen down. All this reticence, everybody looking the same, cleanliness and order, fuck it. Fuck that all. Im gonna break every law there is in this fucking place. I cant remember much else. Probably more cursing, leering, arrogant shit talk and then we went home and I vomited and passed out. 

The next morning was terribly awkward. She hated my guts. I wanted her to. My head was gone, along with my heart, and it didnt matter anymore. So, you made your decision yet, I said, grinning. Yes, she said.  

She got on the metro and went to work. I stood there for awhile and then I started walking. I didnt have a map and the streets made no sense and it didnt really matter anyway. I didnt have any reason to be in this city. I am often alone and there is nothing to that. But when you are badly hungover, jetlagged, hungry, dehydrated, and have just blown it with a girl in a tremendous, tremendous way, then you arent alone anymore. Youre lonely. Youre standing in Copenhagen in November in the cold and everyone has something and somewhere to be and someone and you got nothing. You came because of something, someone, and now thats gone and you made it go away, you and your arrogance, just you. Maybe you could have fought for her and tried to get her to choose you, but then that is not what you do. You fight for you. You dont fight for anyone else who isnt committed to you and if it hurts, it hurts and then fuck it. Fuck it. 

I stepped into a cafe and ate some soup, drank some tea. That made me feel better. My mind was a little clearer. I watched the girls riding by on their bicycles through the window. I had to get on a bicycle. I had to give this city meaning. Only riding alone can take it out of me. 


Aphorisms: Power

30. After learning from the greats, one must create to compete and topple them. You will find the limits of your ability and fail, or become a god among men.

38. This work you do is not relevant to your life. It is relevant to history and the lives of men who will come after. For what is great is great for all times, not any particular time.

39. It is not important to put before the public every idea as it is created. Rather, it is best during one's life to live quietly, without acclaim and attention, to keep what you are creating for yourself until the very end. It is the foul nature of attention and wealth to erode one's ability to create and think the hardest thought.

41. What is great is always timely, until it is defeated by that which is greater.

74. Seek out difficulty, danger and that which will destroy you.

90. Keep all victories to yourself, for yourself.

125. What is moral is that which heightens power.

130. A lack of physical power and physical discipline are the first indications of moral frailty.

139. Do not fear dying before you get there, for there is honor in it.


Ride to River Forest

I rode the cinder path along the Des Plaines River through fields and old growth forest. There was mud and the fallen leaves made for slippery riding. I crossed the tracks. I lost the trail and recovered it. A fat nerd on a recumbent called out to me, asking what was I riding. I explained and he said his friend wanted one. His friend had cerebral palsy. I did not ask how someone with cerebral palsy could operate a biycle. I wanted the fat nerd to go away. He charged ahead of me and looked back for my acknowledgement. He slowed, fell behind me, and continued to talk to me. I ignored the nerd. "Watch this!" he yelled and powered down a hill and up the other side, turning to wait for me at the top. "I have to go home now," he said when I reached him.
The light was still strong when I reached the Frank Lloyd Wright homes in River Forest. On the way back I road the Des Plaines River Road. There was none of the beauty of the forest and the river and the leaves, but the wind was behind me and the asphalt was fast. If you can ride hard enough, and keep your head down, all that is ugly you do not see.
Copyright © Moraline Free