15 ways to be the superior one in any debate like Jordan Peterson and Steven Crowder

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1. Start with where you agree 

Jordan Peterson does this a lot: He listens to the opponent’s argument, takes it in, evaluates in his mind, and then, he tracks down all the little things that they actually may have an agreement on. This might sound like an impossible task because the whole point about a debate is in fact to disagree and to find a way of getting your opponent on your side. However – if you take a look at a couple of Jordan Peterson’s debates, you’ll come to realize that there are actually a lot of ways that you can agree. Now, how does this make you more superior in the argument? Well. It’s pretty simple: By starting with where you agree, you immediately show yourself off as a kind, understanding and tolerant human being – and no matter how controversial your opinions will present themselves to be – your opponent will see you differently and you’ll be guaranteed to be treated with more respect and integrity throughout the remaining parts of your debate. 

2. Forget about who they are 

What usually happens before you sit down to argue with a person is that your mind will prepare itself with a set of expectations and preconceptions about who they are, what they stand for and how they’ll argue their way for it. This is a very common mistake in debates -, especially among politicians. The problem with this is that you’ll start focusing more on the person debating their cause than the actual cause itself. Perhaps you’re already intimidated by this person. Perhaps this person insulted your sister last week and now you’re ready to take your revenge. Or perhaps this is a politician or an activist from the left wing, you’re from the right wing –  and you’re already infuriated by this person (who you don’t even know anything about) because of the general preconceptions that the media presents to us about people on the left. If you instead, forget about who they are and only focus on the argumentations of their cause, you’ll immediately be regarded as stronger and more powerful in the discussion. You’ll be taken seriously and you won’t be judged as much – regardless of what your opinions might be. 

3. Avoid getting personal 

This might be the one thing that determines whether you’re a professional debater or not. When you debate a cause, you want to seem like you’re interested in the cause only, not your’s or your opponent’s private life. I know it seems tempting to pitch in that story about when you had to have an abortion because you were too young and vulnerable – when debating with a pro-life activist. But please. Hear me out: Don’t do it. It will only shed darkness on your abilities to stay cool and unaffected. Your story might make you emotional, you might cry and you might call your opponent horrible for calling YOU a murderer – and that’s when you’ve lost the whole argument. Now, I’m not saying either one of you is right to do this. I’m just saying that the very second you told that personal story –  it suddenly became a hundred times easier for your opponent to take you down and to announce themselves a winner. Remain an emotionless robot, if you can … 

4. Be careful with attacks

I know, I know, I know. But what if I’m debating with an irrational human being? you might ask. And trust me. I know exactly what you’re talking about. I know the pain: That person, who, in the middle of the debate starts shouting, calls you a fascist, points their finger at you and commands that the world would be a better place if someone wiped off every single person who shared your political views – that person is probably an asshole. Still, don’t give in. The reason why this person has – all of a sudden – become the biggest asshole on earth, is simply because they feel threatened by you. Perhaps you’re debating with a woman and you’re playing around with the idea of shutting down the woman’s right to vote. From her point of view, she has a right to react. She has a right to wish you dead – because at that moment you verbally abused her gender. Now, you didn’t do that, of course. Because all you did was verbalize an opinion – which, everyone should be allowed to do at any time. However, in her world, hearing an opinion about the gender of women is the same thing as hearing an opinion about her. So in her eyes – you were actually pointing a finger at your opponent, suggesting that she didn’t deserve the right to vote. Now, this puts things in perspective, doesn’t it? Imagine hearing from your opponent that you don’t deserve the right to vote. It’s not very pleasant, is it? So – before you start attacking her back (and becoming just as unreasonable and immature as her) you got to put yourself into the shoes of the reactor. Why did they react so much? Perhaps they’re not used to hear the word women and NOT immediately relate it to themselves as an individual? Perhaps they’ve been taught by their parents that their gender defines them and that whoever verbally abuses their gender, also, simultaneously verbally abuses them as a person? Most likely, they have a right to react. Because they see things from another perspective than what you do. So why not – next time your opponent becomes aggressive – why not evaluate their position in the argument, before going into attack-mode? Why not ask your opponent: “Why did you get angry just now? Do we have a miscommunication? In that case, I’d love to hear about it, so that I can fully understand your way of reacting. Because right now, I’m clueless.” 

5. Never begin with “So what you’re saying …” 

In the famous debate between Jordan Peterson and Cathy Newman, it’s easy to pin down her first significant mistake; Namely, the sentence: “So what you’re saying …” Now, if you break it down, you’ll see that the reason why she chose to begin her sentences like this, is in fact, quite understandable. Yes, we’ve all done it before. We have all been a Cathy Newman; She did it because she started to feel threatened, and as a natural reaction to this, she unconsciously decided to regain her power over Jordan Peterson by making her own summary of his every opinion and demanding that whatever he said, her perception of it was the right one. It’s an innocent sentence – “So what you’re saying” – but the meaning behind it and the way it’s received is far more aggressive than what you might think. As a result of Cathy Newman’s powerplay, Jordan Peterson immediately felt as if he was put in a spot, unable to utter anything because he knew that whatever opinion he came with next would be attacked by Cathy’s own version of the truth. The conclusion to this is –  never assume that your version of what someone else is saying is the right one; Because when you start going down that path, you’ll be perceived as “the bully” and you’ll have lost the whole debate. 

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6. Try not to generalize

This is a tough one because we all do it from time to time. As humans, we simply can’t help putting people in a box by categorizing everyone’s behavior. Our brain hates chaos, therefore, we unconsciously create order. And how do we do that? We make our own answers to unanswerable things by putting them in boxes with our own invented labels. (Society in a nutshell!) This is not a bad trait. However, when you’re debating an opinion or an issue with someone, generalizing too much can actually make you look ignorant and onesided in the eyes of your opponent. We never want to be the villain in a debate. So here are a few things you can do as to not generalize too much:

  • When you want to argue that a vast majority of a group is so and so – try finding the actual percentage online. Don’t say “All men are rapists” or “All women are submissive”. Just because you’ve had a couple of bad real-life experiences with a certain type of gender, it doesn’t mean they’re all the same. Remember that if someone generalized your gender (unless you’re a psychopath with no feelings) I’m sure you wouldn’t have liked it. 
  • When you want to say “Most people are so and so …” say it, but add “But there are exceptions of course.” Yes, we all know there is the exception to everything and it’s too obvious to even mention, but saying it actually helps a lot to improve your character in the debate. Not only will you be perceived as tolerant, but you also, simultaneously warn your opponent that the rest of the generalizations you’ll be pulling in the future of the conversation should be taken with a grain of salt. 

7. Support yourself with facts 

We’ve all been there – it’s physically painful to be the one who’s poor on facts, while your opponent has graphs, numbers, and dates – all memorized in their head. You feel inadequate, unable to support your side even though you know its the right one. So what do you do next time? You study. Study hard, meet your opponent one more time and hit them with the truth. Trust me. Nothing feels better than when your recent downloaded knowledge makes you more able to argue for your side. 

8. Argue as if you desperately want your opponent to change your mind

Steven Crowder is a master at applying this specific method in his debates. What he does is that he sits down with someone who has an opposing view and before anything else, he says: “Here is my view, you’re more than welcome to change my mind.” Now, how does this little sidenote affect the entirety of the remaining debate? It’s simple: With a statement like that, you are in essence admitting to the possibility of being wrong. Ergo; You’re a person who constantly practices self-improvement, which involves – always questioning your own beliefs, always willing to process the other side of a story and always open to criticism on your viewpoints. A highly intelligent man is someone who covers all those things mentioned above. And a first-impression like this can go a long way in any debate. 

9. Never point fingers or assume something about your opponent 

If you’re debating with a stranger, be careful with your assumptions. Remember that you don’t know their story or their background. Mutual respect for whoever they are and whatever they’re going through is crucial if you want to keep your superior role in a debate. 

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10. Adjust your voice and posture 

This is probably Jordan Peterson’s best trait; He is one of the few people on the right who never goes out of line with his voice or temperament. Notice his way of behaving in debates; He’s steady, he’s calm and he has the audience listening immediately. Why? Because not only is his tone of voice serene and pleasant to listen to, he also takes time with his sentences. He pauses a great deal – which is yet another effective way of capturing the opponent’s full attention. Try it yourself: When you’re arguing with someone, suddenly pause in the middle of your sentence, look at your opponent to see if they’re actually listening to you, then look down, stroke your chin and continue where you left off, slowly. This method is highly effective in any circumstance (not only debates) because it makes you seem powerful and in control. 

Take a look at this video of Jordan Peterson’s debate with Cathy Newman. Notice how he uses both techniques throughout the entire discussion: His posture stays the same –  laid back, calm and cool – his tonality remains the same and he does the “pausing thing “every now and then. 

11. Implement humor 

Jordan Peterson does this in the video above when he takes the liberty to laugh at the way Cathy Newman always seems to misinterpret what he’s saying. This is in no way agonizing or bullying – because the way he does it (contrary to the bullies) is very inviting – as if he is telling Cathy Newman; “Isn’t it funny how we’re not on the same page at all?” Another reason to why he does this has a lot to do with strategy: Jordan Peterson doesn’t want this argument to turn into a fight between two opposing views – because that won’t do good to anyone and it won’t convey the right message to the audience. So when he feels like the energy is about to get a little too tense, he rescues himself back with a little laughter or a joke – this way, he won’t be regarded as the villain, the audience will cool off and so will the opponent. After all, it’s not warfare. It’s just a debate. 

12. Make the other person feel understood 

Going back to the importance of being humble: It’s very very important to take the side of your opponent even when you don’t agree with their viewpoints. How do you do that? This is how: Imagine that you’re arguing with someone about an emotional subject. Let’s say “The transgender community”. Okay. So your opponent considers themselves to be of no gender. You don’t believe in that and you’re very against gender pronounces. Your opponent begins to explain how they didn’t feel at ease with their gender while growing up, and that they were often bullied and misunderstood. Now, you have to be very smart here – you have to not be like the bullies that your opponent experienced in their childhood. Because if you begin to insult them, they’ll only get the trauma back from their childhood, they’ll hate you and you will have lost the debate (in their eyes). So, what you’ll do is that you’ll nod, stroke your chin, say comforting words like “Yeah .. that must have been hard.” and “I can’t imagine what that must have felt like …”. Forget about what they stand for – just for a moment. Realize that this is an actual human being who has experienced suffering. It’s an emotional subject for them. Don’t be the villain. Try to understand their point of view. Now, after you’ve given them your comforting shoulder, you can begin to calmly explain why you don’t believe in the LGBTQ community, while still making them feel understood. And that’s how you win the debate darling:) 

13. Use Visual imagery 

In my life, I’ve seen this a lot. And it’s very very effective. Why? Because sometimes, your opponent might not understand the argument you’re giving them. You might be using advanced terms and databases that they have not yet been able to look into. What do you do? You come up with an example that they can understand – something they can relate to their own life. That is visual imagery: You immediately invite your opponent into a world of visualizing a specific situation in their head. Don’t be the villain and say: “Oh, you haven’t heard of this term? What are you, stupid?” (Maybe Donald Trump can say this but I urge YOU not to!) Instead, try to make them understand by putting them in an alternate situation with key components that apply more to their life. 

14. Admit it when you’re wrong – it actually makes you look stronger 

Actually, I have to compliment Cathy Newman on this. She did it once in the interview with Jordan Peterson, and I’m telling you – if she hadn’t done that – if she hadn’t admitted to her mistake just once – she would’ve been A LOT more ridiculed in the media. Trust me on this. When I saw her admitting to her mistake, I actually grew more respect for her. (Now, I wish she could’ve done it more but once was enough to make her seem … hmmm … just a tiny bit more powerful in her position!)  

Take a look at Cathy Newman admitting to her mistake:

15. Ask yourself: Do I want to be right or do I want to learn?

Or rather .. do I want to be the villain or do I want intellectual stimuli?

Sometimes you have to choose one. Because it’s inevitable that you will – some time or another – be the wrong one in a discussion. Now, I have come to the point where I want to be wrong, just because I find it more fulfilling and definitely more entertaining. It depends on the way you look at it. Perhaps you love to win, that’s fine. Just … please do me this favor and … admit to your mistakes if you know you’ve made one. There’s no use in making yourself look better when your audience already knows that you’re loosing. In life, you’re supposed to be the student, not the teacher. And even if you are a teacher to some people, you’ll remain a student for someone else. That is how you become an intellectual. 

 

I hope you liked this article and that you learned something new! Now, keep on debating that heartfelt issue of yours! 

 


Love, 

Aftur S. Nerdrum 

 

 

 

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Why growing up is so hard

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I used to be the kind of child who, before making a choice between two alternatives, I would visualize a cross-road in my mind. The image was clear and in high definition; It was a road that split into two different pavements. Each one would lead me to a different future and it was up to my intuition which road would be the most pleasant one to travel by. Of course, as a result of this, I rarely chose anything at all. I would either run away from the obligation or … make someone else choose for me. Can you imagine what entering adulthood must have felt like ….? 

On my tenth birthday, when my mum took me out for French pastries, I took about fifteen minutes just standing over the counter, staring at all the delicious cakes and tarts, wondering which one would bring me the most joy. That day was the first day she had ever told me: “You can have whatever you want now.” – a dreaded sentence in which I knew was not good for my mental health at the time. Naturally, I didn’t want the burden of having chosen the wrong one, so I ended up putting my hands over my eyes and let my mum choose for me. The responsibility of deciding between pastries in a bakery was just too much of a burden on my shoulders. This particular kind of behavior continued to follow me a decade later. But I never knew why I struggled so much with it. I guess logic told me that if I didn’t choose anything, the possibilities would continue being endless. I wouldn’t be questioning all the time whether I made the right choice and I wouldn’t suffer from regret.

After a little while, I started looking into alternative worlds. As you probably would have guessed already, the notion that I could be someone else and do other things amounted my mind in an instant. It was like a get-out-jail-free card for my imagination. So, one day (I think I was around twelve years old) I had a headache. It was normal irritation, like the one you get when you haven’t been drinking enough water. I knew it wasn’t deadly and that I would be fine the next day. Still, my mind immediately began visualizing an “alternative me” developing a brain tumor. I drew the whole story in my mind; I was a girl, starving for more attention from my siblings and my mother, and because of this, God served me with cancer. Oddly enough, I felt happy with my diagnosis. I was finally someone. I was “the girl with cancer”. Better than nothing right? Well, when my health started deteriorating and my life was at risk, I came to the realization that it wasn’t that good of an idea to wish for cancer. And so I sat down and wrote my first story ever. It was called:

“The girl who didn’t want to have cancer after all…” 

I became mesmerized by this alternative girl I had created. She was like me, only more bold, honest and wicked. I read the whole story for my sister and my best friend. They loved it. So I wrote a part 2. They loved it even more. I guess the moral of the plot was to be careful with what you wished for. In life, you may think you want something, but then once you have it, it’s not as great as you thought it would be. A classic human mistake isn’t it? Can you blame me now why I had such a hard time choosing something – anything – by myself? Well. Let me tell you this – it does not get any better when you’re an adult. In fact, it gets worse. Yay! And if you’re a hypersensitive girl like me; If you also visualize a crossroad in your mind every time you have to decide something or if you think that a stomach-ache could, in fact, be intestine-cancer .. well, you’re not alone. But life is going to be just a bit harder for you. I hope you can take it! 

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Here is a list of the 7 challenges I had to go through with the pains of getting older … 

 

  1. You realize you’re the only one in charge of your own health 

For me, this is the worst one – in fact, it’s something I still struggle with. Yup. My life is great you guys, but we all have problems. And here I am, telling you mine … About a year ago, I slowly began developing a mental syndrome which Wikipedia chooses to call: “Hypochondria”. Allegedly, it’s one branch out of the tree of the many anxieties that human beings have to go through at least once in their lives. While others struggle with anxiety about money, social life and claustrophobia, I struggle with worrying about illnesses and death. I love hospitals – they make me feel comfortable and safe. I hate being away from my doctor or not knowing where a hospital is located because then I can’t check if everything is alright with my health. Every time I meet a doctor, I usually jump on them and ask them about all my concerns. My future dream involves having my own private doctor of whom I can pay a visit whenever I like. I usually have symptoms of some sort, all the time, every day. However – I don’t know whether this is caused by me just being an alive human being or me mentalizing myself into pain. A little bit of both, perhaps. Anyways. I recently discovered that a part of growing up is being in charge of your own health, which … pretty much makes me even more worried. Now I have to take care of what foods I eat, how much sleep I get, what vitamins I lack and which symptoms mean what?? Yeah. It’s hard. But I’m slowly but surely getting used to the idea that being alive also means experiencing physical pain every now and then – and that it’s actually a good sign:) 

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2. You have to make your own decisions. You just … have to

Yeah … It’s not the greatest, but if you wish to be an independent, functional human being in this world, it’s bound to happen sooner or later. You can’t just go back to being a child in bed, relying on your parents to make the choices for you.  You have to decide on a way to earn your money, you have to know who to spend your time with, you have to choose a condo with or without a roommate, you have to choose the street, the city, the era, the car, the grocery store, the bedcovers, the bedsheets, the phone. Yes, you will probably regret half of them. But hey! You’ll learn and next time you won’t choose that thing that was wrong for you again. So look at all this a learning process, not the real thing – that will keep your sanity-level up for the remaining parts of your twenties:) 

 

3. Everything costs … SOO much! 

Why did all the prices go up all so suddenly? Is it only me, or does it feel like the average price of something increases by an amount of 50% each year? Maybe it does. I haven’t checked the economic marked lately, but my personal theory is that it doesn’t increase that much. A little, maybe, but not a substantial amount. Rather – we start becoming more and more conscious about our own purchases. Why? Because we’re growing up! We become smarter. We begin to actually prioritize the things that mean something by putting the things that don’t mean anything back on the shelf. Suddenly, buying that expensive purse from that expensive brand becomes an insignificant thing for us. We laugh about high-school girls and boys who STILL care about materialistic values because we know all too well that those purchases won’t mean anything when they’re put into a situation of having to earn their own money. No one cares about what you wear, who you date or where you went on vacation. People care only about themselves because there’s not enough room for others in this chaotic, stressful and expensive life called adulthood. And frankly, it’s not too bad wearing cheap, basic clothes that no one recognizes or thinks anything of. At least you’re not faking it. At least, you’re being real!

 

4. If you leave a cup, the cup will stay … forever 

I still cry over the fact that every single action has a consequence to follow up with it – including leaving a cup or a glass of wine on the counter. It’s still so amazing to me that if you live alone and leave a cup, the cup will actually stay there .. like … forever! Until you get up on your feet and decide to actually do something about it. But until then – it will just …. stay there. Isn’t it weird to you? Perhaps it’s just me. (Quietly reminding myself o clean the empty cup behind my laptop after writing this article …)istockphoto-472281487-612x612.jpg

 

5. You have to be nice to everybody 

Yeah … Not my best trait but I’m working on it! Again, don’t mistake me. I consider myself to be a genuinely very nice person and I usually always see the best in people. But … you know those days when … all you feel like doing is locking yourself up in your room, staying in bed, read a novel and not talk to or see anyone for weeks on end? Well … if you’re a creative like me – if you’re dependent on having an extended group of influential contacts in order for your craft to get it’s deserved recognition in the world – well, I’m sorry to say but you have to learn to be your best self all the time. You never know when a business-opportunity is going to present itself. You’re a starving creative! There’s no time for your ego to come through. You can’t just – in the middle of talking to one of the most influential investors – yawn and say “You know what, I don’t really feel like socializing today. I’m gonna take a nap in your coach.”  I know, I know – extreme example. But you get my point. Growing up also forces you to fake it a lot of times. Do like me – pretend you’re going on a stage. You’re an actor/actress now, not your real self. Just do your very best performance and keep reminding yourself how much it will pay off in the end. 

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6. Did I mention laundry?

The most dreadful subject of them all … laundry! Your clothes just get dirty. I know, it sucks, but it’s something you have to live with. Sure, I did my own laundry throughout my whole life, it’s not like I’m not used to it. But it’s something about living alone … it makes it harder. Till this day I have yet to figure out the reason why … but I think it’s because there’s literally no one there to tell you that you smell and that you should probably do another round with your dirty clothes. 

 

7. You realize the world isn’t …  that great 

I am an optimist and I will always be – however – I am also aware of the cruelness of the world and that people can actually turn out to be full of shit (excuse the expression!) 

But it’s true. And it’s one of the hardest things I had to come to terms with when growing up. In my teen years, I used to dread newspapers so much that I wouldn’t even let my eyes read the headlines. Yes, it was that bad. In the grocery-store – when seeing a newspaper – I would quickly turn my gaze away before my unconsciousness was able to download any information at all. I would hear something about “murder” or “terror attack” on the TV when I was sitting in the emergency room in the hospital, and I would immediately put my hands over my ears to shut out all the noise. It’s not that I didn’t want to learn about the world. It’s that I physically and mentally couldn’t handle it. I struggled understanding why people do what they do – why rapists rape, why terrorists attack and why kidnappers kidnap. So I chose to just turn away from that world completely. I chose to look at them as aliens. I couldn’t – I simply couldn’t see them as human beings! To me, they were more like otherworldy species who had come to the earth to destroy us. For some reason, this childish notion comforted me and gave me hope for a better future world. 

Now, however, I’ve been training my mind to come to terms with the reality of things; People do what they do because they simply have another perspective of things. And the best thing you can do as a human being is learning to put yourself into other peoples shoes. Because that is in fact, the only way we can ever find a solution to horror. We have to try and understand why they do it. Not turn away from it. I refuse to blind myself like I did in my teens – because mentally blind people don’t contribute to any change. All they do is shy away from reality. They’re in denial. Yes, it is hard to grow up, to hear about such horrors and to be forced to comprehend that THIS is, in fact, reality – but you can’t change what’s happening around you. You can only change where you go from there. 

 


Love, 

Aftur S. Nerdrum 

 

 

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Short story​: One bizarre day in Bloomsbury​

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PART 1

 

Monday, 6th. of August. Location: Carnaby Street, Bloomsbury.

The year, unknown. 


It happened one sunny afternoon when a man was walking down a street he knew all too well. From afar, it looked like he could be heading to a business meeting or a law firm. His black coat, nice and long, his hair, freshly cut and smeared with wax. His face, empirically handsome and shaved. The buttons on his shirt and the briefcase he was holding could tell almost anyone about his blue-blooded upper-class-status. And yet, for whatever particular reason, there was a murky cloud about him that day. In the midst of passing colorful houses with storied pasts, shops with titles everyone recognized from all parts of the world and pubs where his mates would meet for a Sunday pint, he caught a glimpse of a familiar figure – almost dissolving into the crowd.  Long and slim she was, dressed in a 1920s fur-coat. Her hair was of a lustrous black, her skin, pale as snow. 

“I’m sorry. Julia?”  he uttered by the time he had lurked his way through the herd of tourists and deafening middle-school students. His hand was touching her shoulder now. She turned around slowly and locked eyes with the stranger. 

“I … think you are mistaken. I’m Alexandra. Not Julia.” 

The man shook his head. “Julia … come on. You do have the talent of making a fool out of me, but fooling me would be impossible. You know that.”

The lady said nothing, only smiled. Then she pulled out her hand and greeted him hello. “I’m Alexandra, I’m visiting a friend here. Originally from Poland. And … you are?”

The man couldn’t help but laugh; Joyful over having met an old ghost from his past yet stunned by the lady’s slight Slavic accent on her English. 

“Okay … Julia. Joke’s over. You can let go of the facade now.” 

The lady looked down for a couple of minutes. Then she paused her breath and said harshly: “Believe me I am telling you the truth. We have not under any circumstances met each other before. Trust me. I’d remember you.” And with no apparent intention of seeming discrete, she then studied the man’s tall figure from the top of his forehead and all the way down to his bottom feet. “No. Never seen you before. Sorry, you must’ve mistaken me for someone else.” 

“Are you suggesting there are two of you?” The man asked, pulling them both away from the crowds of people and into a street-corner, next to an Italian bakery.  “Because you are the spitting image of a girl I used to know in my old school days. I …” The man closed his speech abruptly, as if in slight hesitation as to what he was about to say next. “I refuse to let you go before I find a way of solving this mystery.” The man blushed as his gaze went downwards, embarrassed by the flock of middle-schoolers passing them at that moment. 

The lady looked weary. “Is this some sort of a pickup-line? If so, I honestly don’t have time for this right now. Let go of my arm, please.” 

The man shook his head and smiled nervously. “I can assure you that for the present moment, all my actions are sanctioned with complete romantic sobriety. I am, in other words, not on the look for a partner.” 

“Then what do you want? Aren’t you heading somewhere?” She took a quick glance at the man’s briefcase. 

“Oh … not really. I … Okay. I might as well tell you.” he said and felt a flush of shame. “I just got fired from my job.” 

“And now you just saw someone who reminded you of a nostalgic past?” The woman suggested with a curious smile. “Random day ha?”

“Yes.” 

“And that made you feel something?” 

With those words, the man felt a cold mist swirling through the insides of his body. In an instant, he realized what a lumpish fool he had been, assaulting a stranger on the street and practically forcing her to admit to a false identity. “Listen, Alexandra. You probably have things to do in town, so .. I’ll leave you be. Sorry for the inconvenience. Goodbye.” The man walked off in a hurry, but his feet had not reached far when he felt a cold hand grab his shoulder and spun him to the other side. It was the lady. 

“Hold on!” she said, locking eyes with the stranger again. “This sort of thing doesn’t happen often. If I have doubleganger, I would at least like to see her picture. If … you have one.” The man let his mind wander for a moment, then slowly, he motioned towards her. “Alright. You do have a point. If I’d ever meet someone who knew my doubleganger, I’d be raging with excitement. Would you …” The man placed his gaze at the Italian pastry-shop, situated just opposite them. “Would you like to have a coffee with me?” 

Inside the coffee shop, sitting opposite a little round table with one candlelight, two espressos, and a large lemon cheesecake to share, silence had fallen between the two strangers. While the man carefully sipped his strong coffee, he studied Alexandra’s eyes, lips, nose, and forehead – his look on her, induced with noticeable amazement. “Can you stop?” she laughed, turning her bashful face away from him. “I’m not her. Most likely you’re just infatuated with a daydream. I mean, we must have some differences. It’s impossible for two people to be like clones.” 

“I guess you’re right.” the man said and finally pulled up a picture hiding in the insides of his wallet. “See?” he pointed to the polaroid. “Her hair was shorter, a bit thicker and hazel-colored. And her eyes … I was reluctant to admit it at first, but … I can see now that they were greener. Not so brown, as yours.” 

Alexandra studied the photo of a girl dressed in pastel-colored 50s clothes, sitting on a wooden bar-stool, her hands clasping around a tall glass of beer, her pale cheeks, flushed with a pinkish red.

“Very cute.” Alexandra murmured under her breath, her eyes still fixed on the photo. “She looks like a girl in love.” 

“She was …” he said. “Vulnerable too.” 

“Hey!” She spurted out, breaking the forlorn energy that seemed to have amounted them both. “You haven’t introduced yourself yet. I don’t know your name.” 

“That is true.” the man said. “Well …” With his hand pulling out to meet Alexandra’s and his eyes fixed on hers, he uttered out: “I’m Larry Blythe; Born in Exeter under the poor choice of my parents – who, also gave me a name I loathe more than anything. British to the blood, meaning impeccably dull, with no sense of humor except for the one inherited by the famous sitcom, Monty Python. Lousy at cooking, exceptionally good at making weak and watery coffee, a secret sci-fi geek and … painfully inadequate in love.” 

“Well you do have the British sarcasm going for you.” she giggled as her eyes grew wider with each look on him. “Now …” she paused, her voice, this time, somber and more serious: “The world has yet to know … what happened with Julia?”

“That’s unfair.” the man said. “First, I need to know about you. You said earlier that you arrived here from… Poland, was it?”

“No.” She said, shaking her head in a firm manner. “Let’s do a game. First, tell me about your friend Julia. Then, I’ll see how much I have in common with her. If we’re very similar, we have a doubleganger. If we’re not, you’re delusional.” 

Quiet. 

The man thought the game to be ridiculous, and in a moment or two, he wondered why he had even accepted a coffee with a complete stranger on the street.  I might as well go along with it … He thought, brushing his British intolerance off, staring callously into the eyes of a woman he had yet to know. 

“So … Tell me about her!” Alexandra yammered out, her eyes glittering with curiosity. 

The man nodded, then asked her what she would want him to explain. 

“Everything! What was her favorite thing to do? What foods did she like? How did she talk, was she humorous? Was she good at dancing?” 

“Alright. I guess there’s no choice huh?” he added, placing his gaze away from the woman and out the window, eyeing the glistening rain that had started falling from the sky two minutes ago. Then, with a soft voice, he told her … everything.

For the remaining hour and a half, he called upon the time spent with Julia in his younger, more youthly years. He told her about their friendship, about everything she had taught him, about their arguments and their irrecusable differences of which eventually, led them to their parting. He spoke in detail about her genius; Her ability to learn a new language within a week, her fondness of the Greek myths, Aristotle and Plato. And most importantly, he told her about his own ignorance. 

“She trumped me in every way …” the man sighed, his eyes, still fixed on the rain pattering on the window-glass. 

“And you felt … threatened?” Alexandra asked, mesmerized by the detailed recollections of his past. 

“Not threatened,” he answered and took a deep look into Alexandra’s eyes. “Worse. I didn’t understand her enthusiasm. By the time we went from being friends to lovers, I had a hard time keeping up with the ways of her world. She did not fit into my social circle. I did not fit into hers. Her conservative parents insisted on us getting married. Every day, every hour, she was impatiently waiting on a ring. We parted, I guess I left her with a broken heart. No! I know I left her with a broken heart. It was obvious! She loved me, but in ways, I could not comprehend. When we called the whole thing off, I looked at the whole situation with indifference. I thought it best that we left our worlds and social-circles unharmed. I was happy with my ignorance. But then … I realized my foolery, and I slowly but surely began … despising myself for it.” 

The man’s voice had evolved over the course of their conversation; It was deeper now, less cheerful. And to Alexandra’s astonishing surprise, his chosen words and tone almost sounded crestfallen – as if, she was talking to a man at the very peak of committing suicide. With that, she boldly decided to ask the most obvious question of them all: 

“Do you .. wish you could go back, experience it all again? Perhaps … do things differently?”

“Do I wish?!” the man cried. “Do I wish?!” he howled again, still staring into the woman’s eyes with a dismal expression.

“I’d die for her to speak to me again,” he said, lowering his head in despair. “Of course, when I realized my mistake in letting her go, she had already moved on. The woman refused to return any of my phone calls or voice-mails. I sent her a letter with an update on my life every year. They were all sent back to me.” 

“But …” Alexandra sensed there was some piece of information she was missing. Hesitant at first, but curious to know the truth of it all, she burst out: “It can’t have been that bad! Surely this woman – Julia – would have forgiven you after all these years?” 

The man sighed and took a quick stare out the window again when he said: “I’m afraid I left out a little detail in my story …  Alexandra … I … ” He paused for a second, then turned his gaze down on his shoes and continued: “I did something bad. Something really really bad.” 

 

 

 

To be continued …. part 2 will be published next week. Stay tuned… 

 

 

 

A short story: The night I read “Inferno” by Dante

botticelli-dante

Yesterday, late at night, I stumbled upon a tale of darkness and despair. It was just over 1  o clock, the moon was up, the stars shone bright and I was utterly and completely mesmerized by the excruciating horror of Dante’s words. Stiff as a stick, I lay there in my bed, turning the pages over. My skin pale as a ghost’s. My body, not being able to move a muscle, blood was flowing through my veins and with eyes wide open, I stared into the darkness as the window-curtains slowly but surely began … to move. Fright shook me at that moment. A black curtain had become a sordid serpent, lurking its way from across the room and into my bed. Was I awake or was I – like Dante – also finding myself in the midst of a vivid nightmare? Had I gone mad? No. I squinted my eyes and began to understand what was happening. It was Dante’s effect on me – from the very beginning of his opening lines; Describing a hell on earth, his galvanizing words had electrified my brain and lured me into a world of hallucinations. I looked over at the snake again. It was closer now, and it moved towards me at a rapid speed until its eyes, only about four centimeters away from my face, stared directly into my soul. A tremendous amount of fear and excitement lurked beneath the surface of my mind, but I did not stop. I could not stop. I had to continue reading. If I looked up from the book, the serpent would move closer. If I looked down on my book, it would stay at its original spot. The situation was clear: I was fighting a battle between my hallucinatory unconsciousness and the distraction of Dante’s story. So the only thing I could possibly do was to continue reading without stop. And that was when it happened; That was when I knew I had gone mad for good. Yes, reader. You heard me right: I was in this moment being dragged into the book. Against my will, Dante himself had fought through the pages with his forceful arm, pushed against my chest, clutched his hand on my nightgown and hauled me into a dark hole that would lead us both into the woods of a spiritual realm of suffering. On hard ground, we landed, in the middle of a surreal landscape that consisted of an inland sea, sepia-colored bushes and heaps of dirt, sheltered by the tallest trees; Everything smeared in blood. With an anxiety that almost amounted to agony, I collected myself up from the ground and stared fearfully into the eyes of Dante Alighieri. Unable to utter a single word, I studied his tall, dark figure, his long, downward nose, and his surprisingly foul gaze. “Do you feel that smell?” he then asked in the deepest and cruelest of voices. What smell, I wondered. But then I knew. And .. I must tell you, it was by far the least pleasant surprise I had ever encountered throughout my twenty years on earth; It was the smell of feces. With a disgust so unbearable, as much for the eyes as for the nostrils, I turned my eye gaze down on my body as I came to realize that it was all covered in human excrement. The stench of it – so insufferable, that no word in any vocabulary could ever seize to compare with such an odor. It was if I allow myself to say it, an experience that could make you gag forever. “That is the body-waste of all the sinners in the second circle of Hell,” Dante spoke. “Those wretched creatures believe they can rid themselves of their wrongdoings if only they release their internal waste matter,” he continued and gave a quick grin. “What they do not know is that the Lord sees their sins as far too critical, ever to be reconciled. In the end … they’ll be drowning in their own excrement.” He pointed to a large bowl far out into the forest where human screams and cries could be heard from a mile’s distance. “It is not “fire” they are drowning in,” Dante said and laughed, as he grabbed my wrist and guided me into the next circle of Hell.”

The next landscape was that of a shore; A gigantic sea had caught our full attention, so dark and so massive that human eyes could not reach to see the end of it. In between the waves, one was able to spot a sinner or two, fighting the sharks that would bite off one limb every time they screamed or hollered a cry for help. This stage of brutality made the whole sea go red with human blood. Over the water, the skies were engaging in a frightful storm. Buckets of rain mixed with chunks of hail pattered dismally on the concrete roads, followed by a lightning-strike every second minute or so. In front was a wooden dock, which would lead the path to a tall, white lighthouse. “Why is it white?” I asked, all baffled. “When the rest of Hell is painted dark …”. Danté answered: “The lighthouse is where all the angels come and visit from heaven. They need a break every now and then in order to grasp the contrast of their situation. You see, they cannot be fully happy in heaven with all the splendor and luxury if they do not get to see a little bit of suffering as well. It eases their minds, as they are reminded of how lucky they are for having been good in life on earth. When they are finished, they fly back home.” Dante said as he then gave me signs to follow his lead onto the wooden dock. “But Dante, where do you belong?” I asked as we had reached the front entrance of the lighthouse. He then took a long look on me – a look I will seize to remember for as long as I live – followed by the most unforgettable words: “After my death in 1321, God sent me here”. Again – words cannot describe what horror swam through my body at that moment. Dante was sent to hell. My ears could not believe the sort of information they had received, so I continued to interrogate him in a desperate sort of manner: “Why would they do such a thing? You were Dante Alighieri! You were one of the big great authors! I live in the 21st millennia and people still continue to praise you and read your work!” Dante looked at me again – and I swear on my mother’s death when I say that no moral reason could support the monstrosity in his current countenance when he uttered: “You just told yourself the reason as to why they sent me here.” At this moment I swear I heard my own heart hammer so rapidly, so much that I could almost feel the palpitation of every single artery inside my body. “What do you mean Dante? They sent you here because you were a genius?” 

“Geniuses …” Dante said “Or as I call them, talented men, will forever bear the weary load of envy and disgust, led on by the mediocracy. The inadequate population always wins in the end. They always have and they always will.” He then turned his back on me as he let his eyes wander into the night sky while uttering the words under his breath: “If you must know … the real reason why they sent me here, is because of the book you’re reading right now. It never should have been published in the first place.” Dante traversed the path around the lighthouse back and forth as he spoke, as if without any clear conception of where he would lead me to next. I, of course, followed his every lead with great anticipation. “Hold on!” I hollered. “So … was it wrong of you to describe Heaven and Hell because … because it was true?” I first dared not say the last words but curiosity killed me and I had already traveled this far … “You need to understand this child,” he said. “Life is not a playground filled with unicorns and sugarcanes. It is cruel. It is dismal. And every good deed you do, no matter how honest, no matter how true, it is inevitable that you’ll have to pay your service in the end. This is mine. I told the people a version of my truth, captured through my imagination. What I failed to realize then, was that the truth I called my own, was a universal one. It was the truth of God. And even if millions of people during the 12th-century already pursued a belief surrounding heaven and hell, mine was told so vividly, so precisely – that I could not escape being punished for it.” Dante said and pointed his finger to his head. “See? Having a brain is that discouraging. I am telling you this now because I know you are a writer and a seeker of the truth. I know you wish to unlock the greatest mysteries of the world. So I am preaching to you now and only now you’ll hear it from me – don’t.” He then pointed to a large, blackened crucifix, standing in the middle of the sea before us. It was the only cross that received the lightning-strikes coming from the sky in a consistent manner, yet, somehow, it did not surrender. “That is Nicolaus Copernicus,” Dante said. “Because of his baffling intelligence about the placements of the sun and the earth in the universe, God has turned him into a cross. Now he is being punished every minute by electrocutions of the lightning strikes. Yet, he never dies. As a cause of his good deeds on earth, God wanted him to have an eternal experience of a chronical state of pain”. Then Dante pointed towards a mountain, swimming in the water on the other side of the sea. There was a naked man climbing it, step by step, his blue skin stained with blood and blemish scars. With his meager arms, he pushed a rock the size of an English cottage with all his remaining strength, only to see the rock roll down again by the time he was two feet away from the top. “That is Socrates,” he told me. “Not only was the brilliant man condemned to death by false charges, but he also has to do the impossible task of pushing a rock up a mountain, again and again, for eternity.” 

“But what is it all good for?!” I cried as I watched all the horror and the wretchedness going on repeat around me.

“God has human characteristics too. Didn’t you know?” 

“But Dante! How can this be human?!” 

“My dear child,” Dante said and patted me on the head. “Envy is a human thing. It comes in all shapes and sizes. God punishes the good because they often exceed himself. Their wit outsmarts him, their humbleness often makes him look like a fool. No one can exceed the excellence of our Lord. If they do, they are punished.”

“But I thought the devil punished?!” I cried again. 

“Oh no. You have been mistaken. See, God rules over Hell, while Lucifer rules over Heaven. It is the very essence of what we call balance.” 

“What does the devil do?”

“The devil gives praise and grandeur to the ones who have obtained nothing in their lives. The people you see walking on the streets, the gentlemen who work, the wives who occupy their days with mundane things, the townsmen who never feel the urge to express creativity, feed their virtue with books and knowledge or offer service to their community – they are the ones who get to live carefree lives in heaven.” 

With this, I trembled down on the ground before him: I could not endure looking at, or far less to allude to, the events of the preceding night. “Oh, mother Jesus!” I howled, my eyes filled with tears. “Why does it have to be so unfair!?! Why can’t I help them?!” 

Dante laughed like never before. The sound of it, evil. His eyes, glimmering with a peculiar form of self-possessed wickedness. “You … you think life is fair?” he laughed again, this time, with even greater delight. “Oh … you have much to learn my dear. Now. I have bestowed you my presence, my current situation in hell and my ultimate guidance to a carefree afterlife. I will, therefore, leave you, as I have finished my duty. An angel who goes by the name “Ignoria” will soon come out of the lighthouse and escort you home. Now remain safe, and remember my words. Farewell.” And in the blink of an eye, he vanished, followed by a dark, musty smoke that disappeared as quickly as it’s arrival. The angel came out from one of the windows of the lighthouse – a beauty she was: Her gown was made of silk that carried shades of light sepia and cream-color, her hair, golden, her eyes, miraculously blue and a face so perfectly symmetrical. On the back of her neck, there were wings. “Come with me,” she whispered gently in my ear and touched my shoulder with her ivory-skin. Then she carried me, almost weightless I was, all the way up towards the moon and the sun. On my way there I went through the skies of Hell: Tornado storms, lightning strikes, gloomy clouds, and a specific kind of coolness that bites you in the neck. Then I entered the skies of heaven: pink-colored clouds made out of sugar, people so beautiful – it would be impossible to depict them – were dancing to the sound of rhythmic church-quire that came from above. Angels kissing, falling in love, reading poetry over candlelight, cherry-wine, and goat cheese, all served on silver platters. Then after a while, we reached the sky of the earth, and soon enough, I was dropped – almost out of nowhere – back to where I belonged: In my bed with the book in my hands. 


 

Aftur S. Nerdrum 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The magic of science – how I went from hating it to loving it

science-illustrations-17th-century-middle-temple-libraryThe noble prize winning Swiss physicist, Heinrich Rohrer said:

“Science means constantly walking a tightrope between blind faith and curiosity; between expertise and creativity; between bias and openness; between experience and epiphany; between ambition and passion; and between arrogance and conviction – in short, between an old today and a new tomorrow.”

I believe what he means by this statement is that science is more than just an intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic structure of the physical world. It’s philosophy, it’s connections, it’s secret codes that need to be unlocked by detectives in long white coats.  

Why didn’t they teach us that in school? 

For years I have loathed everything that’s got to do with science, including the universe, planets, biology, chemistry, physiology, and mathematics. Oh, and science fiction – I was known to talk badly about the books and the movies. I didn’t understand why anyone would be so concerned about what goes on in space. Traveling to Mars, what is it good for? Why not try to fix life down here on earth? In schools, they would present scientific subjects in a much serious way – telling us that if we were interested in science, we’d probably wind up being doctors. Did I want to be a doctor? No. Absolutely not! So I decided to fail it. I studied rarely, I only knew about names such as Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Galileo Galilei, and Nicolaus Copernicus. Little did I know what they stood for, how much of an impact they’ve had on this world – that we can actually thank THEM for all the knowledge we know NOW about the universe, quantum physics and the possibility of time-travel. 

Now you may ask … so how did I end up liking all of this? Can a person actually go from loathing science fiction to … loving it?

The answer to that is yes. Because it happened to me. And here’s why: 

It all started with an innocent movie called “Atlantis: The Lost Empire” from 2001. Yep, you heard me. I began my journey into scientific enlightenment through a Disney-film. Now, as surprising as this may sound, if you take a good look into the production, it actually makes a lot of sense. In short, the story is about a young man, Milo, who decides to unlock the key to unraveling an ancient mystery by looking into both historical, mythical and scientific evidence. This archetypical hero’s journey is not unheard of. In fact, these types of investigations can be found in all of the sciences: When you’re solving a difficult equation in mathematics you’re basically being a detective. The same thing applies to chemistry, physics, and astronomy. Now, this movie has been with me since I was a child, but it wasn’t until three months ago when I decided to see it again, that I found myself lost in complete fascination over the investigation of a lost kingdom, only mentioned in historical, religious and philosophical texts. We have all heard of Atlantis I thought, just like we hear about the stories from the Bible. But how fun would it be to actually take a myth and apply it to real life – see if it actually exists? 

And so I began my research into different conspiracy theories and speculations about Atlantis. I found out that Plato talks about Atlantis (in the Socratic Dialogues) as a miniature utopia that ruled over several other islands and parts of the continents of Africa and Europe. His theory surrounded a mysterious kingdom which was highly advanced and surprisingly technological. Allegedly, the kingdom got destroyed and vanished from the earth’s surface as a result of “The Great Flood” that – according to many philosophical and religious writings – happened in 4004 BCE due to the prior Ice-Age. After this natural catastrophe, the few humans that survived would have to start from scratch – time therefor began from zero again, 200 000 B.C. 

But was this true? To me, it sounded like a fun idea, but very much a false conspiracy-theory, 

So I dug a little deeper: As a somewhat childish attempt at solving the puzzle, I began to mix philosophy with science. I dove into the Greek myths, ancient texts written by the big greats (Aristotle, Socrates, and Plato) and mixed them with contemporary scientists today, such as Michio Kaku and Yuval Noah Harari. 

As a result of this, I discovered the links between the philosophers and the scientists. They were all – somehow – onto the same thing … 

  • In Harari’s new book, “Homo Deus” which came out in 2015, the author suggests that we – Homo Sapiens are slowly evolving into Homo Deus (meaning God Humans). With the technology expanding so rapidly and scientists experimenting with advanced genetical research –  at this very moment – on how to receive eternal life, it is very likely that we will, in the end, become like the Gods in the Greek mythologies. The questions then would be … are we moving forward, or backward? Can it be that humans like us have existed before? Is there a link between Atlantis and the myths inspired by the Greek Gods?
    Michio Kaku (The Tibetian physicist) is onto something similar in this video: 
     

According to this scientist, we’re still in the type 0 status, however, we are transitioning into the type 1 Status, which is the status that will eventually lead to Type 2; SUPERHUMANS. 

All of this led me to think that maybe we might have existed before. In other words, this civilization of technology and us evolving into superhumans could very likely have been a time before The Great Flood after the ice-age, exactly 2.4 million years ago. Does this mean we coexisted with dinosaurs? Maybe. Maybe not. But certain discoveries tell us that we definitely have existed before the official birth of Homo Sapiens, which supposedly would have been 200 000 B.C. That’s right. Not long ago, in 2017, there was a 6 million-year-old footprint discovered in Greece. The footprints are small tracks made by someone walking upright on two legs—there are 29 of them in total, and these tracks are so specific that they can’t possibly stand to comparison with any vertebrate or other living creatures that have existed on this planet. Is it possible that the historical timeline of Homo Sapiens – as we know it today – can be disproved by the next upcoming scientists? 

I don’t know. All I know is that I love science. I love space, I love the universe and I love science fiction – all because of one Disney-movie that inspired a fire in me – an interest I did not know of before about a month ago. 

I guess the conclusion is, anyone can fall in love with science. It just depends on how you present it to the individual. If Schools taught us the whole story behind mathematics and physics – not just the basics – but the whole reason why we do this, I am sure that more students would excel in these subjects. Physicists have superpowers – as they are the key-holders to our society and the future we have yet to experience. They know what we don’t know, they have most likely already predicted extraordinary, otherworldly things in which we have no clue about before we see them happening in the world. Isn’t that insane? 

I truly wish I could write more about my discoveries and more about other scientists, but that will have to wait for another article. I hope you got inspired and remember to let me know what you thought about this article below:) 

 

Love, 

Aftur S. Nerdrum 

 

 

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Email me: afturspildo@gmail.com


 

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Novel Sneak peek​: Chapter 1, page 26

“How funny is it that you paint!” She suddenly burst out, as a desperate attempt to avoid answering the questions he had interrogated her with earlier. “May I ask … why do you prefer calling yourself a painter and not an artist?” Jean shrugged. “Artists don’t interest me in the least. They can throw a painted shoe on a blank canvas and call it art. Anything you do can fall into that category. I paint. That’s what I do. No more, no less.”

Long silence.

Kathy didn’t know what to say next. On their long walk to town, she had already passed by beautiful neoclassical houses with terraces and rose gardens – matters of which she would normally have strong, insightful opinions about. Now, however, she was put into a situation where she was confronted with her utmost weakness: The art-world. Half stunned by the stranger’s bluntness, half ashamed of her own ignorance, she managed to utter a few more words: “I don’t quite understand – so you paint, yet, you’re not an artist?”

“What I do is a craft.” He said firmly, as he put his rugged hands on her shoulders, leading the way to an outdoor café. “It takes years of practice and hard work. The art-world consist of cheaters, liars, and people who’ve been brainwashed with the idea and notion that having no skill at all – means something. I refuse to be a part of that club.”

 

-A S. Nerdrum 

Today I saw something that gave me hope

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And what I mean by that is … what I saw was a reminder of what life is all about. 

 

So what happened exactly?

 A normal Sunday. Around. 1o o clock in the morning. I’m sitting alone in the corner of a cute Italian coffee-shop where they sell the best espressos I’ve ever tasted so far. This is obviously a big part of the reason why I go here every morning. But not entirely. I also go here to eves-drop on conversations. This way I gather inspiration for my work and store them in a notebook for whenever I’m in need of ideas for a written dialogue. What I do is that I carefully note down the person’s words, their gestures, their unique attributes. And let me tell you – each conversation is entirely different and true to its stereotype: 

-The couple on their first date; Nervous voice, shaky hands, awkward questions.

 –The business meeting between the new employé and the boss; Excitement, loud voices, energetic hand-movements. 

-The retired couple on vacation; Relaxed faces, smiles that light up the whole room, mundane conversation topics. 

But today I saw something different – something that put a spark in my eyes and lit a fire to my soul:


A couple who look like they could be around 20 – 21 enters the café and sit down by the table next to me. Immediately, I’m able to spot where they’re from – The boy; Blonde, curly hair, blue shiny eyes, reddened skin, tall. The girl – brunette, brown eyes, fairly light skin. They’re from the States. 

“So, where did we end our conversation earlier?” the boy asks after the waiter has handed them two ice-lattes. 

“How do humans store their memories.” the girl replies and casually puts her iPhone aside.

“Oh right! What would happen if a human cloned themselves? Would they have the same memories or would they start from zero?” 

I stop reading my book and look up to the ceiling as to pretend I’m staring at something while listening to their conversation. For a whole hour, sentences flow out of their mouths without stop: Ideas, patterns, psychological aspects of the human mind, physics. Soon the conversation takes a turn into the more advanced theories about the world, such as Quantum mechanics, alternative universes, the probability of aliens being single-celled organisms, the differences between the brain-state and the mind-state, how human beings only think in algorithms etc. My eyes are glued to the wall and my mind is swimming around in delicious new ideas, facts, statistics, and terminologies. I am their listener, but I am also their student.


That hour of eves-dropping made me think in different ways, contemplate new ideas and form new, interesting conversation topics with my friends later. Not to mention — I regained my hope for our millennial generation. They were only kids. Yet, they were knowledgable, capable of seeing patterns and interested in unlocking the secrets of the world. 

They were interested. Not interesting. And THAT is the kind of youth that we need more of today. 

Before today, I thought they didn’t exist anymore. I thought iPhones and Computer screens had ruined our attention span and altered our ego. But here I was, listening to something which later in time would prove me wrong.

I realized how ignorant I still am and how much there is yet to learn. And this … gave me hope. 

So don’t give up on us. Continue to believe in magic. This couple was more infatuated by each other and their ideas than they were in their iPhones – and THAT is a miracle in itself. 

 

 

Love, 

Aftur S. Nerdrum 

Prose #1: The Other Woman


She was the portrait every one stopped to see just one more time before leaving the museum. 

She was the Nordic light at dawn; mellow enough to keep you sane, yet distinctive in its presence – leaving you there like an old fool, wanting more. 

Words that came out of her mouth were only ever spoken in melodies. But you’d have to hold your guard. Because if you listened close enough, you’d find yourself completely captivated, mouthing pretty sonnets to yourself, day in and day out – all dedicated to her. You’d be drunk on her mouth, her tongue, her ocean of words –  your mind and your life would – without your wanting – become infused with the whole persona of one woman – you’d speak like her, smile like her, read the books in her manner. 

I knew from the very instant this happened to me – that music, literature, and paintings were all crafts invented to describe women like Alice. And I found myself – for the first time – forgiving him for leaving me. She was the other woman. But she was the better one.

 

– A. S Nerdrum 


 

20 things I’ve learned in 20 years

IMG_5204.jpegIMG_5206.jpeg1. Your body is a machine. Whatever you feed it – food or information – it will react accordingly. If you feed it junk, you’ll be junk. If you feed it with crappy reality-shows and celebrity-news, you will become like them, talk like them. If you don’t refill your battery with exercise (endorphins) and stimulating thought-processes, you will be depressed and fatigued. It takes a lifetime to find the perfect pattern that will tell you how and when to refill your battery properly and with the right portions. So start now. Don’t take this machine for granted.

2. Decrease your options in life – and you will eventually realize that it gives you MORE, not less. Don’t say yes to every event, don’t spend time with a million friends, don’t follow people you don’t care about on Social Media. Eliminate everything that doesn’t define you, lift you up or leave you feeling satisfied – and you will find where you need to be. 

3. Everyone is religious. Even atheists. Some people devote their lives to depression or anxiety. Others focus their energy around facts and figures. You might be religious about your phone – or your craft – or a God. But you ARE religious because none of us can actually survive without being submissive. We need something to guide us. Find out what your religion is, then decide whether it’s helping your life or destroying it.

4. In life, we will all suffer one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. Choose wisely. 

5. Human beings tend to inhale the very thing that kills them, only to feel more alive. That’s why we smoke, drink heavy alcohol and do drugs. We don’t necessarily like the substance in itself – but we enjoy the feeling of having done something we know is wrong. It doesn’t give us a “high” – what it gives us is a sense of PURPOSE. But it’s a short-term one, and it’s only attained by those who are too scared to take the big leap – too scared to finish that manuscript, go to those auditions or try something only to realize they’re bad at it. That’s why drug addicts are generally interesting people – they once had an intention to do something great with their lives. But when fear got the better of them, they relapsed and decided to drown their souls in short-term pleasures. And for the rest of their lives, they’ll continue fooling their body (with this substance) to think that they’ve done something great – to think that they have a purpose in life. 

6. Most of what you see and believe are human constructions. The city you’re born in, the border that divides yours and your neighbor countries, the name you’re given, the institution you’re forced to stay in for ten years (also called school), your hopeful parents – expecting you (or forcing you) to go to college and get a degree and become a doctor. Time, money. They’re all just abstractions that human beings – who are not smarter than yourself –  have created to put you into a box so that you can be a robot and serve a functional society, just like the rest of them. When you actually start playing around with these ideas, you’ll discover that everything is meaningless. Why should you care? You can break out of these constructions. You can make your own little island,  live by your own rules. A couple of people will be disappointed in you, but so what? You have one life. Don’t waste it on public formalities that changes every ten decades or so. 

7. Books will make you more tolerant. When you read a lot, you come across a lot of villains. Kidnappers, murderers, rapists, corrupt politicians, heartless bastards … the list goes one. Now, if you’re lucky, you might find yourself reading about these villains from a narrative perspective – meaning you’re in their lives now. YOU ARE THEM. And somehow, you discover the villain’s weak side. You begin to sympathize – and that’s when you’ve managed to put yourself into another person’s shoes – a person you never thought you’d be able to relate to. This will make you more mentally mature and it will strengthen your character in ways you never thought was possible. That’s why reading is so magical. 

8. If you want to change yourself, start with your environment. You are on average the five people that you spend the most time with every day. So choose your friends carefully. Whatever they talk about the most will enter your subconsciousness and become a part of YOU. If you’re an aspiring writer, find a group of writers. If you’re a painter, find a group of painters. Never underestimate the power of social influence. 

9. Being angry at someone can actually hurt YOU more, than the person you’re angry at. 

10. The first seven years of a human being are years in which the child will download ALL the exterior information into the unconsciousness. In fact, 95% of what we do in life, derives from those programs that we have ALREADY stored in our subconscious mind. In a way, we are living a life that has already been lived for us. What we watched our parents do – how many times they doubted themselves – what decisions they made – when they had success – all these things are ideas and choices that we unknowingly carry with us and use in times of decision-making. THAT is why it is SO SO important how you raise your child during these first years. And that is why the poor stay poor and the rich stay rich. Children of poor families (from age 1-7) have watched their parents struggle, doubt themselves and lose courage – this is why those children usually tend to have problems with this later in life. Whereas rich parents – they can have a stupid child who does stupid things and is stupid with money – but they will still be able to make money and live a decent life?! Why? Because they’re doomed – they’re already programmed to make these unconscious choices because of their parent’s success. This can apply to many other things. The trick is to ask yourself – where do you struggle in life? If you know the answer, it will likely be something you were NOT exposed to as a child from 1-7. How can you fix it? By repetition. Just like when we’re kids, we learn by things happening before our eyes over and over again. You need to practice, every day, and it will eventually stick to your subconscious mind. Only 1% of the world’s population find out about this and fix their flaws. The rest of the 99% continue living the life that is already (subconsciously) set out for them to live. 

11. We complicate our lives way too much. As human beings we are inclined to seek destruction – we tell ourselves, no, it can’t be that easy! “My life is complex and messed up and I’m never going to be like … happy. I’m just here and I hate the place I’m at right now but I can’t change it because life is just more complex than that.” No! It’s not! if you open your eyes – you’ll come to realize how easy things are. You either make a change, or you don’t. You either work on that task every day and become great at it or … you don’t! There’s no magic formula out there – that only SOME people are lucky to get in life. Life is not that complex. It really isn’t. It’s not that hard to be content and it’s not that hard to enjoy the little things. There is so much of life to enjoy already – hell, the very fact that you woke up this morning is a miracle in itself. If you take a look at the big picture, nothing really matters except that life is beautifully chaotic, filled with opportunities and YOU are more than lucky to have been born because the very fact that your parents met each other and fell in love was a coincidence. Stop complicating things, please. 

12. If it won’t matter in 5 years, don’t spend more than 5 minutes worrying about it. Seriously. Just don’t. 

13. No matter how “talented” you are, your talent will eventually fail you if you don’t practice your skill. Repetition and a hard work-ethic come first. Always. 

14. For a relationship to work, you both need to be free, independent individuals. You both NEED to have your inner home. You need to be able to make yourself happy, even in the worst of times. You need to have your own hobby, your own “cave” – that place you escape to when you just want to be alone – and you need to have your own friends. This might sound cynical and very anti-love, but it’s not. It’s highly crucial for the love, the chemistry, and the fire to still have a spark, even after many years. Perhaps your hobby or your activity is something that doesn’t resonate with your partner at all. Perhaps they don’t even like it. That’s okay! In fact, that’s better! Then you have something entirely for yourself, which is kind of awesome. Because being dependent on someone is not love, that’s an obsession. You should only ever need YOURSELF. Period. 

15. Your friends are not there to be changed or fixed – or to change/fix you. They are there to love you in spite of your differences. Dolly Parton once said: “The best friends have everything and nothing in common, all at the same time.”. Focus on your common grounds, don’t meddle with your differences. It will only ruin the relationship and create complications. You can give them guidelines, but you can’t fix them. 

16. You need to embrace an emotion before you can let it go. Go all out. Lie in your bed and cry. Scream. Talk to people about it. Analyze why you feel this way, how and why it arrived in your head and what you can do to diminish it. You need that closure because if you don’t have it, it will stick to your brain and slowly eat up your soul. Do yourself this favor today. 

17. Any bad situation can bring out something positive. Because in life, you are always the student: The abusive boyfriend that you held onto for too long was your teacher – he/she was teaching you every day what NOT to look for. Your terrible boss taught you how to handle terrible people. Your economical failure taught you what NOT to invest in next time. 

18. Treat yourself with respect and other people will start respecting you. 

19. Your life can ALWAYS, ALWAYS be rearranged. We are ever growing, therefore, ever-changing. If you think you’ll never be able to get out of your current situation, you are wrong. The reason why you haven’t done anything is just lack of courage. But this can easily change. The first step is always doing something. 

20. You’re not a writer unless you do it every day. The same rule applies to every craft. 


 

Love, 

Aftur S. Nerdrum

I joined the San Miguel Writer’s Conference​ & Literary Festival — this is what happened and this is why it changed me …

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We’re in Mexico.

We’re in the new cultural capital of North America; San Miguel de Allende.

It’s been exactly twenty days since I left my comfort zone up in the North. 

It’s the day after my last day at the San Miguel Writer’s Conference and I’m speechless. 

Where to start? 

 

I had never been to a writers conference before.

Why?

Perhaps I didn’t see the point, or perhaps I was just too scared … was I even good enough? What about my age? People will laugh at me when they discover how young I am. A twenty-year-old little girl hoping to make a living off of being a writer … give me a break … 

Anyways. So there I was, about to sign up for something I had been reluctant towards doing for years. My heart was pounding and my mind wouldn’t let my body rest; going through a dozen different expectations all at once – and let me tell you: ALL WERE NEGATIVE. 

In fact, these were my exact thoughts that moment: 

#EXPECTATIONS

The workshops will probably be rather boring and academic, held by a heavy-eyed professor with hearing-aids and poor eye-sight, located in a classroom with a whiteboard. The speeches will be all about how difficult it really is being a best-selling author (and that you really shouldn’t do it unless you’re prepared for a handful of tears, regrets, and rejections), the authors will most likely not want to talk to you (because let’s face it, when you’re finally famous and over-paid, why would you want to talk to a hopeless nobody, who’s scribbles of writing haven’t even made it to the editor yet, and most probably, never will?) The other participants will be much older, much wiser, much more published and therefore earn the right to meet the younger crowd with arrogance, rejection, and phrases like “so what does your book include – a hundred pages showing text-messages from your smartphone?”

As you can probably tell, I’m not exactly proud of my millennial-generation – without any choice in the matter, I have been automatically put into the category of inarticulate, empty-headed hipsters who, in the future, will be responsible for making the world’s population burn to the grounds and rotten in their own ashes; Also called ignorance.

So you can’t exactly blame me for being scared of talking to adults. They know things! And better yet, they know how stupid we are becoming! 

 

#REALITY

Well, let me tell you what actually happened … 

The workshops were held by fun, engaging published authors who didn’t seem to shy away from making a couple of sarcastic jokes every now and then. Not only were their words motivating, but their very presence made you feel like you weren’t alone in the everlasting fight for creative recognition. Every lecture was saturated with a handful of valuable, practical information – advice which you could only receive from those who really know the playing field, not from Google. The location was a beautiful hotel with an enormous garden – and everything was included in the package: The cute coffee-stand with free coffee and pastries, the daily gourmet lunch in the restaurant – catered by the very best chefs, the outside bookshop, covered by a tent, featuring all the best-selling authors from the states, Canada and Mexico – the public open-mic where unpublished writers would share a piece of their soul in front of an audience, the book-signings – where you could actually have a conversation with your favorite contemporary author whilst getting your book signed, the park where participants would meet, picnic, read or share their scribbled notebooks with one another. AND LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT THE SPEECHES – The speeches were held by authors who had flown all the way from the US or from Canada, just to inspire struggling writers with their personal stories, their highs and lows, their ten rejections and how they found their loophole through the rocky road to publishing. Most of the writers were exceptionally humorous – something that stunned me and made me think things over; WHY and HOW had I not received this information earlier?

Of course – you have to be FUNNY in order to be a successful writer! (I guess we have a lot to work on, myself and I …) 

Trust me on this – it’s not a lie – it’s not flattery – I BROKE OUT LAUGHING ABOUT 10 TIMES on average through every speech. These writers know the game; They know how to turn a vile reality into a Woody-Allen-like joke, they know how to charm and THEY KNOW how to gain the audience’s attention. (So if you’re reading this and you’re an aspiring author – LEARN HOW TO CHARM THE PUBLIC. It’s not the only way, but it’s a good way to get there.)

Oh, and the people – they were the kindest, most generous human beings.

Some DID point out my age, but it wasn’t with arrogance – they were just surprised by how young I was and that I was actually interested in going to a writer’s conference! I even had a conversation with a couple of writers from the US, got some contact-information and on top of that – I was invited to writer’s groups, poetry-cafés and more! I was in heaven! 


To sum it up, I will give you a list of a few things I learned – that I didn’t know before entering this conference:

  1. The best writers are humble people (they won’t meet you with arrogance and contempt, but rather with understanding and sympathy. They remember how hard the playing field once was for them and they would like nothing more than to show you guidance and meet you with mutual respect.) 

  1. Traditional Publishing is an expired tool (I was also sorry to hear this, but if you want to play, you have to accept the changing times. You can still do it traditionally, but it will be much harder for you to market a book properly and you won’t be able to publish your work under your own rights.) 

  2. Being a writer is not just a profession – it’s a lifestyle (If you really want to do this, do it right. If you’re a writer, you’re a living story-teller. You observe everyone and everything around you, every day. You note down random conversations in coffee-shops, you analyze people’s gestures, their weird attributes, their way of expression. You tell stories to your loved ones when you come home after work – what happened, what did you see, what did it make you feel and think? ALWAYS have a pen and paper with you-you never know when you have a good story – and remember – you’re never really out of your office. Your office is wherever YOU go.)

  3. As a writer, you have to be funny (I envy those who started off as stand-up comedians, then turned to literature. Man, they had it easy … Well, for us boring people, we have to practice! Because whether you like it or not, you have to be entertaining on the outside as well as on the inside. Fine, your book is funny as hell, but it doesn’t help if you can’t use this magic in spoken words. STOP BEING SHY. Just … STOP IT! If you are, I want you to stand up and yell out these exact words: I AM NOT SHY!! Now go out of your house and be awesome. Earn those laughs. Because you know you can. Anyone can. It’s just a matter of courage. 

 

Alright, better get to writing — AND watching YouTube videos of standup comedians … 

I hope you loved this article, and if you’re wondering about anything else, hit me up on my social media or email: 


INSTAGRAM: HERE

EMAIL: afturspildo@gmail.com

 

Love, 

Aftur S. Nerdrum 

 

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