Lovisa Prybil (N2A) and Ingmar Kviele (ES1A) were the proud winners of the two writing competitions Ink & Quills hosted this term. The ingenuity, skill and enthusiasm they displayed deserve not only a standing ovation but more readers – which is why we have decided to publish their pieces for everyone to read. Let the words speak for themselves. Enjoy!
I blomstrande landskap
under gryningens klang,
mot nyare tider
från mörkret jag sprang.
Med kappsäck i handen
en tidsfrist jag fått,
mig taggar rev längs kroppen
från de rosor jag sått.
I blomstrande landskap
under stjärnljus så blått,
en drömröst av kristall
mig så sakteliga nått:
”En fjäril med vingar,
en ros med sina blad,
några änglar som dinglar
med benen, på en rad.
”Ett blomstrande landskap
med örter, gran och skog –
allt har någonting gemensamt;
allt sitt strå till stacken drog.
De uppfyllt sina önskningar,
de har gjort natt till dag.
De uppfyllt sina syften.”
– Det gjorde aldrig jag!
I blomstrande landskap
under solsken och glans,
kom du, ljuva frändskap,
ur en glänta någonstans.
Med ögon blå som juniskyn
och hår i gyllene symfoni,
ditt leende givit mig klarsyn,
ditt leende har gjort mig fri.
The Awakenings of Hippie Johnny
A Journey Outside of the Societal System
Life is about walking around everywhere and leaving behind the dirt from your shoes. The great dilemma though, of course, is that the world is too big to leave traces visible to the entire global population, as even the names of the most powerful bureaucrats and oligarchs of the Western world are largely unknown to the general public;
Conclusions one can draw from this: Material gains are useless unless your name is mentioned, shouted out, learned in schools, placed in ads, and seen in movies in bright neon letters. Adam Lanza, Matt Chapman, Charles Manson: murderers and household names
The boogie-man is more well-known than David Schwartzman; therefore, the boogie-man is one of the most powerful individuals in western civilization.
Therefore, public attention is the only worthwhile gain, the only way to leave behind the dirt from your shoes visible enough to last for millennia.
Therefore, do crazy shit instead of getting that job as a business manager you only decided upon due to your near-sightedness on success and the pressure exerted by the people and institutions around you. A drunken hobo’s shoes are much filthier than a business manager’s, stained with blood, ash, tequila, and hours full of moments instead of moments full of hours.
Take a non-conformist (the hobo of society), breed it with an experimental, open-minded intellect and you get: PJ Harvey, Fiona Apple, Nick Cave, Lou Reed, Baudelaire, Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, Blixa Bargeld, Mark E. Smith, Ian Curtis, Woody Guthrie, Kurt Cobain, Viktor Tsoi, Jeffrey Magnum, Connor Oberst, Pete Doherty, George Orwell; the dirtiest shoes ever to be beheld by humankind, so filthy, its scent doesn’t even resemble any of the feces in the material world, having a smell so vile it’s too horrible for our inferior noses to register without unintentionally causing suicide.
Many members of our species usually find out this information during the middle of their lifespan, when the only stains they’ve left on human soil have been via descendants and material accomplishments, otherwise having led an existence within the boundaries of the societal system. However, this realization, usually known as the “mid-life crisis”, doesn’t happen in order to mark the end of the quest for remembrance. Instead, it serves to mark the beginning…
Awakening I: A Paradigm Shift
Johnny was a suburban father, living a suburban life with a suburban wife and his suburban daughters, who dropped out of high school and moved out long ago to become prostitutes in his eyes. Jumping from one boyfriend to the next, they usually only came back when cash was low and they needed an interest-free loan, easily obtainable with a tongue full of memories and a bottle full of tears. He often thought of not paying them, telling his ordinary suburban wife to not answer the door whenever they knocked and asked for money. This, however, was useless when that ordinary suburban wife was on the daughter’s side, and opened the door for them every time they knocked and asked for money.
The day was a day like any other ordinary suburban day, a temporary trip inside the city to labor in the accounting firm, and then home, to the suburban wife, who gives the same ordinary suburban smile she must’ve trained years to perfect. A smile, glued like a mask on a face of seemingly average proportions. A day like this would usually end in a TV dinner and a boring book, coupled by the usual rushed kiss before turning the lights off and going to sleep. However, this was not an ordinary day.
A suburban wife was missing from the equation, disrupting the sequence by having sex with the postman in the living room instead of greeting Johnny with the ordinary manufactured smile as he opened the door. So instead, it was replaced by a new sequence, consisting of Johnny witnessing his painfully ordinary suburban wife screwing the mailman, she in turn telling him that it wasn’t what it looked like and begging him to forgive her (which are quite contradictory statements if you look at them closely), Johnny furiously growling at her to spare him her apologies and saying that he doesn’t want to see her again, and a slam of the same door he had entered through just seconds ago.
And what a wonderful sequence that was! By the end of it, Johnny had stopped running away from the ordinary suburban house which was once his home, and started crying his eyes out at the nearest bar that he could find, telling any drunken spectator willing to pretend to be listening about how he knew all along that Sheela was screwing the mailman, and how he had already lost his love for her years ago.
At the end of the night, cancelling out any thought of going back to the house to at least fetch his belongings, a depressed suburban father laid himself down on a bench, with a half-empty bottle of scotch on one hand and a piss-stained coat he had found on the other, and started reflecting on his life. His childhood was ordinary, his adolescence was ordinary (and nothing like his drop-out daughters’), and his early adulthood had consisted of getting a car, getting a wife, and getting babies.
He had been “approved” at school and a law-abiding citizen in adult life, a specimen which could easily be sampled to represent the entire western population, normative in gender, normative in race, normative in sexual orientation, normative in behavior, normative in thought; normative in existence.
The more Johnny thought about this the more depressed he became. He felt tricked, like some higher power had deprived him of experiences he could’ve had. Before he went asleep and had a nightmare about the recent events, he took a last long swig of the scotch, hearing the faint bark of a dog at a distance before he dozed off to sleep.
Awakening II: An Alternative Outside Society
By the time Johnny woke up the next morning, cars had already started carrying their masters on the concrete-layered streets. He tiredly got out of the bench and made his way back to the bar, but due to the fact that it was Saturday, it was closed, with a sign showing the opening hours for the rest of the week.
This information effectively made Johnny more depressed than he had been the night before. Not only was he bone broke at a time when he was craving breakfast, the drunkenness that he had lost when he had woken up was going to remain absent for the rest of the day.
Night falls; after suffering from hunger and alcohol-withdrawal for various hours, and getting tired of being an unsuccessful tramp, an unshaven hobo (who had once been an ordinary suburban father) finally snapped, and decided to desperately attempt to regain the mediocre sequence in his life and return to the only form of existence he had ever known. He was going to walk back to his ordinary suburban home, pretend that he had forgotten everything about the previous night, and receive another fake plastic smile from his deceitful suburban wife, which was much more bearable than the situation he was currently in. The only problem: he didn’t know where he was, or how to get back to this building.
In his fury over his wife screwing the mailman, Johnny hadn’t paid any attention whatsoever to which parts of town he was going through, his only goal at the time being to get away from the house as fast as possible, and to get a bottle of scotch to quench his sorrows. With this information in mind, he abandoned his objective after a 3-minute quest, and resorted instead to uncontrollable wailing until he passed a horribly abused park populated only by one man, who upon seeing Johnny flung himself into the nearest hiding place he could find: some bushes nearby.
“Hi, don’t worry, you can come out” said Johnny, drawing himself closer to the figure, “I’m not dangerous”. A single eye poked out of the bushes, carrying half a face with it.
“You tryin’ to steal my weed?”
“Your weed? I wasn’t even thinking about stealing your weed.”
“Well, you better not try to steal it, because this shit is quality weed” the face replied before retreating back to being invisible behind the bushes, presumably to light his cannabis as a thick cloud started hovering over the bushes that he was hiding in.
“Look”, said Johnny, “I’m hungry, broke, and in dire need of a drink. I don’t really know why I’m talking to you right now, but I feel like everything’s going badly, even though I’ve been an ordinary law-abiding citizen my entire life. Please just tell me where the nearest taxi is, or the nearest phone, or the nearest guillotine?”
After a long pause, with the cannabis cloud still hovering over the bushes that Johnny was gluing his eyes to, searching for movement, a bearded figure with a bong (which could definitely pass as a shorter Gandalf look-alike), left his hiding place and approached a relieved Johnny, who at the sight of him exclaimed:
“Thank god! I cannot express how thankful I am of you volunteering to help me, Mr…”
“- Christian name’s Peter, dudettes call me Papi when we’re in the sack, otherwise I’m simply known as Steve. Listen man, I’ve got no idea where you can find a phone, or a cab, or any other way of getting yourself out of here. But because I feel sorry for your miserable ass, and just because of that, I will take you to a party, where I can get you laid and hopefully make you somebody else’s problem. Sound good to you?”
Although his initial relief was shattered by disappointment, considering his lack of choices Johnny accepted the offer with a nod and accompanied Steve down the street, telling him how horrible his life was and thinking that he was listening to him, when he instead was up in the planet of Endor saying hi to a two-headed Hugh Jackman. After leading him through a labyrinth of buildings, Steve eventually told Johnny to shut up and pointed out the door to a club that was to mark the end of their journey and their final destination. After a check on the guest list by the doorman and an explanation on Steve’s part as to why he was bringing Johnny along with him, the doorman opened the door to a world which would permanently change the existence of a certain ex-suburban father.
“Welcome to The Place,” the doorman said, “step inside.”
Steve entered the building with Johnny at his side.
Awakening III: A Revolution of Perception
Lights: in anarchy
Hedonism in display
Confused souls struggling for breath
Hashish invades the senses
“Hey, call me Papi”
Dancing is easy
Dancing has no structure
Drink some stolen Jägermeister and movement becomes dancing
Empty, drowsy faces; inaudible speaking
Eyes meet for the first time
But descent follows shortly after
An orgie right before his eyes
Animals in their rawest form
No explanation required
A half-open mouth not searching any more for a visible exit
But staying, right where it is, gazing at his shoes to make sure that it’s really happening,
The liberation of everything
The freedom of the previously constrained self
What more did they lie to him about?
Males cannot mate?
They are mating right before his eyes, and what a beautiful scene it is!
Differences are diverse but at the same time non-existent
Money is not an issue
Money doesn’t show
Money is exterminated into nothingness
And who cares about the outside?
Everything is groovy
Everything is cool
Everything is infinite
Authority is absent
They’ll show the world its colors against all odds
Moonlight covers their bodies as they paint the walls of streets with messages of wisdom,
Challenging normative existence, and leaving their mark on the world
A smile on Johnny’s face
A smile of satisfaction
Time to go home, to houses of people one will never know and sometimes will never wish to meet again
It’s never been done before;
Why not try it for the first time?
A hesitation occurs by coincidence; however, it is merely temporary,
As joints are rolled and glasses are poured
The future is set aside while the present fades away
While Johnny didn’t remember much about the night he had, he at least vaguely remembered the person he woke up with the morning after. That was a good sign in itself. Being extremely hung-over and knowing the other person’s name was essential in order to get a free breakfast.
Eight months of experience had provided him with the necessary code of conduct in order to survive the world he liked to call “Plan B”, a world where matters outside the realm of freedom were deemed unnecessary and insignificant. Founded and made up of dissidents and fugitives of another world referred to as the Establishment, its cultural norms, if any, were revolutionary, and served as a time machine for dissidents like Johnny to turn back the work of Kronos, and become 21 instead of 52. This however only worked in Plan B, as citizens of the Establishment usually perceived these people as a bunch of loonies and old folk trying to feel young again, something Johnny inevitably faced every time his prostitute daughters got a hold of any of his temporary addresses. Fortunately though, it seldom happened, as apparently his deceitful ex-wife went off and married the mailman, who had no problem funding his daughters’ extravagant endeavors.
Sometimes Johnny missed his life in the Establishment. Feelings of freedom and youth, however, usually ended up comforting him, making him forget about any possible advantages of living in a world of Newspeak and pre-determined hierarchies. He recalled the day when everything changed for him, when Steve opened the doors of Plan B for him, and he became re-christened and enlightened. What a wonderful day that was! He hadn’t seen or heard anything from Steve ever since, knowing only that he usually hung out around The Place, and that they had frequently shared the same drug dealers and sex partners.
I would’ve loved to shoot heroin with him sometime, Johnny thought to himself as he put his only raiment on, a pair of spandex jeans, and woke up Eliza, his temporary landlord. Upon waking up, she kissed his lips and asked him what he had thought of her Drag King performance, which he had completely forgotten about but which he was luckily able to shake off with the usual white lie:
“The drag show was fucking great dude, fucking fabulous!”
After a little morning sex and a few cigarettes, a quiet breakfast took place, followed afterwards by the ceremonial departure that had become one of Plan B’s own set of norms, and which didn’t have to be further explained with an excuse or a false promise, as was the case in the world of the Establishment. Theoretically, not even a short goodbye was required, this formality only being used by some in order to prevent what they viewed as “awkward moments”.
When Johnny was about to leave however, this exact awkward feeling had come upon him. It was coupled by an invasion of guilt and even shame which had not been encountered during the previous months. He wondered if Eliza too was feeling equally awkward, but then concluded that she probably wasn’t, and that it would probably be impossible for anyone, male or female, to feel this urge in Plan B. Monogamy belongs to the Establishment, as well as all other restraints of the neighboring societal system.
What would any of his acquaintances here think, what would Eliza even think, if he would suddenly run back and tell her that he wanted to get to know her and take her out for lunch with money he didn’t have? He had his reputation to think about, his place in this new world which had good values and traditions, made in order to prevent the despicably authoritarian alternative, the system which they had left and consciously rebelled against for so long.
These newfound feelings gnawed on Johnny’s mind for such a long time after leaving the building that he uttered a victorious sigh of relief when they had finally subsided. His mind eventually returned to thinking the usual things, and life shifted back to normal in a matter of seconds. The experiences of the past months had reassured him of the remembrance his way of existence was set to accomplish, whether it was as a vandal and drug-taking delinquent, or a hero who had been unafraid of defying the conformity of the Establishment.
He knew, either way, that whatever he did during his lifespan, the dirt from his shoes would be smeared all over the town, all over the country, and all over the world, in a way that would be visible to everything and everyone carrying out the simple task of existing on planet Earth.
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