Sunday, February 27, 2011

Forever

This is my take on the big question, one of the biggest questions possible, I guess, my life-long experiences and studies of it:


There is no God, are no gods, faeries, angels, demons or «higher beings» whatsoever, but there is an afterlife, or rather a middle life, lots of them, actually, what’s commonly referred to as reincarnation, without its religious trappings.

I guess I have a no-nonsense approach to this, like I have to everything that is currently perceived as paranormal and life itself perhaps.

First of all I’m not and will probably never be one hundred percent certain about this, not as long as my heart keeps beating. My experiences, and those of millions of others, may be hallucinations or fever dreams, projection or otherwise imagined, in spite of countless both empiric and purely scientific evidence to the contrary. The physical death might be the end. One can never be completely certain about anything. I reserve the same doubt about this as I reserve about everything.

But I am fairly confident that I’m basically correct, that what I have experienced and what I’ve read about others’ experience is true and verified in any truly objective mind’s eyes.

Many people calling themselves skeptics claim the paranormal isn’t rational, but I say it’s very much rational, and I say it’s those self-appointed skeptics that are in truth irrational because they deny the evidence. Even many proponents say you should leave rationality behind and take things on faith. I certainly don’t agree. Each person should approach this, like they should everything, with a truly open and skeptical mind.


I’ve been beyond the veil quite a few times, usually in uncontrollable, also life-threatening situations, but also because I traveled there deliberately. I’ve encountered human beings, spirits both dead and alive, but never anything even approaching those before mentioned «higher beings». The Shadowworld, as I call it is «populated» by human beings and human beings only.

It’s a beyond powerful experience, totally impossible to properly describe. You truly feel like a god. There is no time or fixed time, as you’re bombarded with memories from all your lives simultaneously. The word «knowledge» becomes something empty and trite. You’ve never known anything like knowledge in this life before you become face to face with your Shadow, your eternal Self. Many doing that can’t take it and see either God or Satan or similar, but if you face it without fear or conceit, you see «only» yourself, in a many-angled mirror.

I see it all, us as flesh and spirit, material and immaterial and more, pretty much as a dynamic, many-faceted existence where all the parts of the sum are equally important, crucial to the whole.

I have several times, just for good fun (and deadly serious) walked around and presented myself as God, done it for weeks after one of my Journeys. My guess is that I’m not the only one who has done so during the long and twisted history of mankind…


And do you know what the best part of it is? There is no ego involved here. I can honestly say I don’t care shit if you share my angle or not. I don’t mind talking about it or discussing it, but you should know in advance that I know all the arguments and very few of them impress me.

What often pisses me off, though, is that each and every human is a beyond vast, ancient spiritual being and waste their lives being others’ lapdog.

But then again, that would have pissed me off, even if we weren’t beyond vast, ancient spiritual beings.


Btw, I enjoy my life and would have done so even if I hadn’t seen myself as a beyond vast, ancient spiritual being. I see death as a completely natural part of the cycle. My cycle is slightly more extensive, that’s all.

Friday, February 25, 2011

The true life of the human being

I’ve just returned from days and nights in the wilderness. Returning to civilization from the wilderness is always a downer. Once again it's confirmed what is the true life of a human being.

We are pretty much asleep and forget so much in our dreary, civilized existence. No matter how aware you may be, no matter how much you fight against it (and I am fighting) you forget. Awareness is reduced, inevitably.

In the forest, in the wilderness I… wake up. I notice in countless small and big ways what it means to be alive, what it means to be Human. My senses improve, hearing, sight, smell and taste and the sense of touch, and what isn’t instantly noticed.

Awareness!

Everything is heightened. It feels like I’m high, except this is done without chemicals, and is far superior to it. Blood is surging through my veins and awareness is soaring.

Civilization has never really felt real or true to me, but on the contrary felt fake and false. There is no doubt in me what so ever what I prefer.

In my continued effort to harden myself, to improve my changes of surviving in nature, also during winter I spend nights and days there, also during subzero temperatures. I’ve lived outside up to eight months from March to November. The first year I did it I did it as research for my novel Thunder Road: ice and fire, which is about the anticipated collapse of civilization and a group of people attempting to survive in its aftermath. The next year I did it because I loved it. I set out to repeat the experience, but it felt even better. During those eight months I wasn’t sick a single day. After I moved back into a house I got sick after just a few days.

It is hard for a person that has grown up in civilization to readapt to a life in nature, the wilderness, but completely possible.

The biggest problem (among many), however isn’t really about surviving there, but about civilization itself, the fact that it’s still there. It becomes impossible to live in a forest that «developers», with their bulldozers might set their eyes on at any time. Even the deep Canadian forests or the Amazon, biggest in the world aren’t safe, not in any sensible understanding of the word. So, you know civilization is coming for you. It’s just a matter of time. So you return to a place you despise. You can fight it by example, show people living in their coffins that the human being is still alive. But you also need to fight it, savagely within civilization itself, in technological arenas like the Internet. Nature is shrinking. We, current humanity are destroying the very foundation for our survival, are destroying everything making life worth living. That’s all I need to know, to fight the horrible Machine with everything I am. It should be sufficient for everybody, but most people are asleep today, most of all when they’re not sleeping. So they endure the horrible existence of civilization because they prefer to live a lie and not embrace themselves and what is clearly the true life of the Human Being.

So, returning to civilization is a downer, inevitably, but it is necessary. Becoming a hermit isn’t the right thing to do, not today. It becomes just another freak show in the current giant established and sickening media circus. I do my best to wake myself up as often as possible. My heightened awareness stays with me longer and is generally at a heightened level, but that is also a form of torture, because you can easily see everything Wrong, see how Wrong the current world is.

But I enjoy my awareness. I don’t shrink from it. Good and bad, great and horrible is better than numb and comfortably numb. I love the extremes of human life, so I am able to thrive, even in the torture chamber that is civilization (yes, I know, I, too, am deceiving myself. Everything, even what is right becomes Wrong, is turned outside in, downside up today).

But I know where I belong, and so do we all, deep down, below the countless layers of shit and poison and self-deception we are coated with in our pale, despicable modern existence.

More articles of many on the subject on Midnight Fire:

Problems

Beyond insane

Destroyers (III)

Just another oil spill

The vast and obvious dangers of modern existence

What's wrong with civilization?

Tumor

Tailspin suicide run

Chemical cocktail

The World Grinder

Living in the wild

Primitivism

Tribe

The technological glorification of technology

Not fit to sustain life

Destroyers

Bulldozer

Any digging in your neighborhood?

Choices of Doom


Friday, February 18, 2011

The Traveler

This month at the Midnight Fire blog has been about storytelling and this is, too, really.

A few years ago I spent the entire time onboard a plane crossing the Atlantic in conversation with an old lady. She wasn’t really wealthy and never had been, but had had money enough, had used those she had to see the world. She had been traveling all her adult life and had many great stories to tell, from all over the planet, from countless different cultures and viewpoints. It was one of the most enticing flights I’ve ever had, and in spite of not having slept for almost twenty hours I wasn’t tired at all, but awake and happy and encouraged beyond words afterwards.

I could see the concealed frown on her brow, though, and waited patiently for the reason for it to reveal itself, to confirm my suspicion.

She finally asked me, almost at the end of the flight, why I, «a fairly young man» spent hours in the company of «an old hag». I explained it to her, in more detail than I had earlier. I told her that I was a traveler myself, and that I enjoyed listening to other travelers, and that hearing her stories felt so precious to me, and would be, should have been to all mankind.

It was a poignant moment, bittersweet and great. I witnessed how she glowed in gratitude and joy and a certain kind of sadness, as I did, too. She had rarely been appreciated for what she was, for her yearnings and experience. Such is the world today.

But she had seen it, seen how it truly is, how it should be, at least during many brief glimpses, and I told her so.

We haven’t met again, but I know we will, know that our paths will cross again, many times, in the centuries and millennia to come.

The reason the Neanderthals are extinct

The Storyteller

A varied and good life

Multicultural

Nomads

True Artistic Freedom - Making movies

What goes on in the music «business», the book publishing «business» and the current art world in general also applies to filmmaking. Everything costs less. A film can be made for practically nothing and the old distribution channels that the established production companies dominated are breaking down, being supplanted by the new and exciting and independent ways. The internet is a direct line between the truly independent filmmaker and the audience. Even though the process is slower than with books and music it is clear that also here agents, theaters and the established production companies are becoming redundant.

This is great news for us considering ourselves auteurs, or who’s aspiring somewhat to that somewhat lofty term. An auteur is someone that is participating in the making of art from start to finish, in moviemaking from conception, the writing of the script, the shooting, editing and launching. That as a process has certainly always appealed to me, for many reasons, the biggest being independence, creative and otherwise.

The present is an auteur’s wet dream. You can make movies for nickels and dimes, for the price of bus tickets and catering. You need only a camera and a computer, and nothing else, both so inexpensive that most people can afford it or choose to afford it. One single human being can make a film, either a documentary or an (un)traditional made up story. I will certainly do that.

People in the established part of filmmaking would claim that it is a collaborative effort, but even though that might be true for most films made today, it isn’t a Universal truth. A big production will always need lots of participants, but some directors, even during today’s dominating horrible system are still able to make it their films, put their unique mark on it. David Lynch, making Inland Empire certainly made that one totally in accordance with his vision, and his alone.

Fortunately for me I’m also enjoying the support and collaboration of a group of musicians, actors, photographers and artists. We will be participating in each other’s projects and make great art together.

Money isn’t really an issue here. Neither is censorship. We will focus on making the films and then show them on the Internet. If that will result in money coming our way, it will be a bonus, not a requirement. This is also clearly an advantage. We will make the films totally without commercial considerations. There will be no censorship, either imposed or self-imposed. We will make the films exactly like we want them to be, with no outward interference allowed or desired. If the writer/director/auteur wants to talk to the producer, he or she may just take a look in the mirror without a care in the world, and have great fun in the bargain. We won’t have to consider how many theaters will show them, since we have no interest in showing them in theaters, in places dominated by monetary or «moral» concerns.

This is how art, all art, all books, music, paintings, sculptures, films and everything should be made, of course. The commercial production and distribution network has ruined art for way too long. This is a fact. If great art occasionally has passed through that system it has become so in spite of, not because of it. Let the old ways die, let it keep rotting on the vine like it has for so long.

The future is now!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Making covers

make all the covers for my books from start to finish. With a background in digital publishing and as a graphic designer I was never truly in doubt that I wanted to do it, to continue on my stated desire to do virtually everything on a book myself. I decided early on a minimalist design, a deliberate deviation from the flashy, impersonal and repetitive images of mainstream books. My covers aren’t advertising, but descriptions of what the book is about, and they are often planned years in advance, in some cases before the novel has been completed or even started on.

When I took the picture of South Platte River in Denver in 2002 I knew it would be used to illustrate The Defenseless. The river is almost a character in the book, the deep and dark and boiling water being a kind of mirror image to the two dark and deep brothers and their boiling blood. It was taken in bright daylight. I darkened it significantly to get the mood right. It turned out exactly the way I pictured it in my mind.

The photograph of the Los Angeles skyline, also taken in 2002 fit Your Own Fate perfectly, showing Jeremy Zahn’s final destination, the place where his fate would be played out. The branches down in the right corner is a deliberate inclusion, a kind of opposite to the sinister skyline, a bit of green and freshness in all the gray death.

The two above are single pictures, doctored in Adobe Photoshop, in the electronic darkroom to the desired result.

The covers to ShadowWalk, Night on Earth and The Slaves are composite images, a mix of several photos. The Slaves continues the theme of water, adding a crowd of an enslaved population to that of the deep sea. The Night on Earth cover is a mix of a woman with fangs on a cemetery and the front of the New Scotland Yard building in London. ShadowWalk is wild, unfettered wilderness and mystery on the front and a witch walking down the stairs at the imagined Ravenscourt castle on the back.

Covers to most of my upcoming books, even those not written yet are practically ready already. Sometimes ideas to stories have come from photos and not the other way around.

It always feels great witnessing how different angles of creativity and art augment each other and come together.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

True artistic freedom - stage 1 to 4 - the story so far

I’ve written what is pretty much a step by step account of my path from young, hopeful (and naive) writer to the suave, independent self-publisher I am today. I will republish the first few paragraphs of each article here with links to the rest.


I published my novel «ShadowWalk» in March 2003 on my own label, my own publishing company after a desert walk lasting two decades between various established publishers. That was my second. The first was the Norwegian edition of «Dreams belong to the Night».

No established publisher would or will ever want to touch my work, at least not without major rearranging, censorship, so I decided to do it myself. I took the advantage of current technology, and did everything, except the actual printing myself. In hindsight I feel almost grateful towards all those greedy and stuck-up publishers…

There are basically two major faults with them. They publish either only work they, personally deem to be of artistic merit, or they just want lots and lots of cash. Either approach equally despicable in my eyes.

True artistic freedom - stage 1


I finally printed my novel The Defenseless. I finally did it.

Publishing date will be July 21.

The novel Your Own Fate is also printed and will be released August 21.

So it begins.

It feels beyond great.

I’ve printed at lightningsource.com and am publishing through its extensive network of distribution partners, retailers and wholesalers.

True artistic freedom - stage 2


My novel The Defenseless is now indeed available all over the world, for virtually anybody to enjoy. The Print on Demand (POD) process is exceeding my wildest expectation. There are no disadvantages compared to offset printing, only advantages. And if a store or a retailer wants to buy 3000 copies of my book and I want to offer them lower prices my printer Lightning Source (LSI) offers offset printing as well.

Self publishing and POD is the way of the future. The old ways are dead. Good riddance. The only way the tyrannical established publishers have any hold of authors anymore is if a given author gives them that hold by clinging to the old and horrible ways. Everybody, generally speaking going through the old system of sell out and censorship should ask themselves hard questions about what they’re doing.

I’m becoming, like I have for a long time. And this is just the beginning. I have lots of novels to offer you in the coming years, all among the most controversial the world has ever seen published, and totally unacceptable to the before mentioned old and horrible system.

True artistic freedom - stage 3


This will deal with many things I haven’t mentioned in the three previous posts and will also serve as a kind of summing up of the info and statements there.

I have now published four novels under my new self-publishing initiative. It works like a charm and beyond my expectations, really. My books are available all over the world, and the Lightning Source network will be further expanded with a new printer opening in Australia for the Australian and Asian markets this summer. And my experiences during the publication, distribution and selling serves to confirm and even add to my previous opinions about the industry.

True artistic freedom - stage 4


You should also read all my other articles of writing and art on Midnight Fire. If you truly desire an alternative view of the world, I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

Hysterical and fanatical grammar defenders

I said goodbye to such a line of thinking ages ago.

There is a somewhat comprehensive ongoing discussion about this. A few want everything to be by the rules, by the book, and everything outside that is a baaad thing. Case closed. No further comments necessary. Others say that you need to know the rules to break them.

I disagree with both. I was fairly familiar with the rules once, but deliberately left them behind. Virtually any adherence to those mentioned rules is a bad thing in my eyes. I have to confess you will discover some use of rules in my books, inevitably, since I have inadvertently been tainted by them, but I’ve managed to remove so much of that taint that its presence has reached acceptable levels.

What I do today are deep pools of alternative work, in both form and content, and that is how I love it, of course. My voice is and will ever be unique, also because I am constantly working with myself to develop my absence of rules further.

Most people in the established part of the business today, authors or publishers/editors are ether one of two, either journalists or English teachers (or English majors) and it shows. Generally speaking, the books they’re responsible for, in some way or another, is exactly as dull and stale as my earliest, long since discarded work, and is yet another reason I threw rules out with the bathwater, like the lukewarm shit it is.

It is always funny, when people with such, or similar background, repeat what others have yapped about to me for decades, like I haven’t heard it all before. Explaining it to them seems like a hopeless task. They seem totally incapable of thinking outside any box or their own closed mind.


And with this, I believe, I’ve attacked virtually anybody even remotely associated with the old and stale and oppressive publishing business on the Midnight Fire blog and site. If you feel left out, please inform me asap…

Doing it yourself - technical advice for self publishing

I’m self-publishing and the result is great, far better than doing it through the trite and oppressive established publishers. My fervent hope is that everybody, within all arts will be self-publishers in ten years, like they always should have been.

This is one way of making the necessary pdf files of the cover and the content, a task necessary if you want to publish through printers and distributors like Lightning Source (LSI).

I had experience from digital publishing and benefited from that, but the process, even though it requires some initial effort should be fairly easy for everybody.

I do everything myself, except the actual printing, a task very satisfying and also creative. Do it like this and you have total control from start to finish. Every word and image you use will be your own, your own creativity manifested. This is true artistic freedom like it should have been all the time, not the fucked up and destructive process that have ruined artists and their work for a century.

The process is easier than ever, now. You needed to make Postscript files before and then make a pdf file. Now, the Adobe pdf process makes one printer-ready file practically in one swoop. These are Lightning Source’s requirements, but they are the so called industry standard and should be quite similar to other printers. I studied the LSI requirement for weeks before starting up, but it was much easier than I had feared, really.


When you make the cover you might want to download a preformatted template from LSI. It will make it far easier to place all elements in the right place, for instance on the spine. I do that and open up the EPS-file in Adobe Photoshop professional, (pretty much the industry standard these days unfortunately). When you do a message box like this should appear:

If it isn’t like this you should change it to be 300 pixels/inch resolution and CMYK color. I recommend that you read a lot about CMYK colors before starting up if you don’t have knowledge of it beforehand. The anti aliasing should stay unchecked. Width and Height are the complete template image, not necessarily the size of the actual cover. When opened, it will look like this:


This is the template where you place your images and text, make your cover. This one is for a dust jacket that I made for one of my hardcover books (Night on Earth). I use layers a lot. If you haven’t done that before you might want to learn it. I use about five hours to complete the actual process, even though the advance creative wrangling takes far longer, of course. But once you have an image in your head about how you want the cover to be, it’s just to get started.

When you’re done you save (file/save as) it all as a pdf file like this:




I write and preformat my books in MS Word 2003 professional, preferring that to later and other versions. You can make files up to 32 MB with that, which should be plenty. I keep it simple, use a few extra fonts and stuff, but that’s pretty much it, no macros and shit. Thereby it will make it easy to also use later versions of Word, if I should need it.

Then I «write to file» (file/print) using Adobe Acrobat (yes, the industry standard) via MS Word. The Acrobat, once installed will appear as a macro in Word. The following is for a Norwegian Word version, but Properties is in the upper right corner.




Custom Royal is my custom-made page size for my book. Default settings are the industry standard needed to make your book print ready, and there must be no security on your file or the printer won’t be able to open it. Uncheck and check everything you see here.

That’s it. You press OK, and you’re done.

Some people claim Word is for writing and that you shouldn't use it for layout, but I've used Adobe InDesign for 15 years, also while it was still called Pagemaster, and I prefer Word for this task. You can do everything important in Word.

One more thing: As a precaution you should always check your file to make sure the fonts, all your fonts are there. You use Adobe Reader, file/properties and check if all the fonts are properly embedded. If they’re not, you must retrace your steps and make sure you have done it right.


This is a bit sketchy, by necessity, or it would have been twice as long and way too technical. Feel free to ask questions.