Pur Autre Vie

I'm not wrong, I'm just an asshole

Thursday, January 19, 2017

I "Wrote" Another Poem

"All Apologies"

Come live with me and be my love,
The years to come seem waste of breath,
A waste of breath the years behind
In balance with this life, this death.

Sunday, January 15, 2017


I have become obsessed with Norwegian farmhouse brewing, as documented by Lars "not remotely an arsehole" Garshol on his blog.  I'll write about it another time, but for now I just want to observe an overlap with another obsession of mine, World War II.  The Germans invaded Norway during WWII for strategic reasons.  The Norwegians had built a hidden torpedo station at an old naval base on the Oslofjord, allowing them to sink a large German battleship and delay the invasion.  The Norwegian government was therefore able to escape with its gold to England.  During the war, the Norwegian resistance was courageous and effective.

Anyway WWII comes up a couple of times on Lars's blog.  Here's a remarkable passage, in which Lars is talking to a Norwegian man who brews traditional farmhouse beer, and who is describing his experiences during WWII:

"We brewed from the light grain [lettekonnjet]," Rasmus says. I guess this needs some explanation. In the old days, before the time of purebred genetically identical seed grain, people sorted the grain, setting aside the heaviest grain for seed grain, and for brewing. The lighter grain would be used for bread, and, if there was enough, for animal fodder. But Rasmus is saying they used the light grain for beer.
"Why," I ask. He shrugs and says, "we couldn't afford anything else." Which figures. 1941 was not exactly a year of plenty in wartime Norway. I remember my grandmother saying my father as a baby, in 1945, ate ashes in the fireplace because he was so hungry, and the ashes contained fat. So brewing from the heavy grain would have been too extravagant, I guess. But people still brewed.
It's amazing to me that Europe managed to move on after the war.  Of course, eating ashes from a fireplace is relatively benign, as far as memories of the Nazis goes.  But it still seems like something that would stay with you.  And so many people had vastly worse memories—Londoners could remember the blitz, and of course pretty much all of continental Europe could remember the Third Reich's atrocities.  Meanwhile if my father had been so hungry he had to eat ashes, I think I would harbor resentment for my whole life.

Monday, January 02, 2017

The Good Officer

Another passage from A Writer At War: Vasily Grossman with the Red Army, 1941-1945, by Antony Beevor and Luba Vinogradova.  At this point the Red Army is on German soil and the rape and pillage are terrible.  Again the book quotes Grossman's notes:

Women's screams are heard from open windows. A Jewish [Soviet] officer, whose family was killed by the Germans, is billeted in the apartment of a Gestapo man who has escaped. The women and girls [left behind] are safe while he is there. When he leaves, they all cry and plead with him to stay.
This might sound too good to be true, but in fact Grossman recorded (but did not publish, I think it goes without saying) a lot of stuff that reflects extremely poorly on the Soviet troops.  That lends credibility to examples like this one, even though they seem contrived.  (Also, this passage doesn't reflect that well on the Soviet troops in general, obviously, just on this one officer in particular.)