Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The strange Bartleby

In this entry I will look at three passages from Bartleby the Scrivener by Herman Mellville. I am trying to unpack the figurative language in the passages, and hopefully get a deeper understanding of the character that has intrigued critical literature since its inception in 1853. Although, some theories suggest that Mellville wrote this as a comment on his own situation as an author, as he was one of those who had to fight while alive, gaining a massive reputation post-mortem - I mean, who hasn't heard of Moby Dick? Melville struggled a bit at the time, and it was not until he inherited a bit of money that he could write full time. So the possibility that Bartleby the scrivener is a comment on his own life is definitely present. However, I will not look at this from that angle.
           Figurative language is how we relate to the world, and how we relate to literature. And this is the angle from which I will search for a deeper understanding of Bartleby the Scrivener. 

The story is one with hardly any action. It mostly takes place in an office, and the lack of action is intriguing, and this kind of passiveness in the story adds suspense. 
            Bartleby the Scrivener is about an elderly lawyer who owns an unambitious law-practice, in his own words, on Wall Street, New York. It was written in 1853, and the slowness of the time is reflected in the words. But we are in a rising capitalist society, and the need to make money is hovering in the back as a growing burden. 
           The Lawyer is employing law-copyists, or scriveners, to write copies, or written records, of his cases. These records were incredibly important, and to make sure each copy was the same, they had to not just write the copies, but check them after they have been written. The Lawyer has two scriveners Turkey and Nippers, and a young errand boy called Ginger Nut. And as his business gets busier he sees the need for another scrivener. It is in this capacity he encounters, and employs Bartleby.
Bartleby stands out as a kind of a puzzle from the start; to begin with he is, somewhat surprisingly, hard working, and almost the epitome of a conscientious employee. But the moment he is asked to proofread his work; do something other than write; he refuses with a passive defensive ‘I prefer not to.’
            I will mainly focus this short essay on the death-metaphor through the tropes related, and opposite to ‘pale’ and ‘pallid’
Bartleby is almost a phantom through the entire story. He hardly eats, and he tries to live on the margins of the people he has his own kind of interaction with. 

‘I can see it now – pallidly neat, pitiably respectable, incurably forlorn! It was Bartleby.’ (Mellville, as cited by Roof. 2005:30)

The Lawyer is accessing, and visualising his memories of Bartleby. He can see him in his mind, but it is also likely that ‘seeing’ is pointing to The Lawyer’s deeper understanding of The Scrivener.
            Bartleby is ‘Pallidly neat’, and pallid can be a way of describing the actual colour of Bartleby’s skin, or the colours of his clothes. But it is functioning both at an actual and a metaphorical level, as his colourless spirit is as ‘loud’ as his pallid presence is ‘dull’. His actions are uninspired, and he seems lifeless. ‘Pallid’ is not only a metaphor for death, but it also points to a flaw in Bartleby’s mental health. 
            Pairing ‘pallid’ with ‘neat, that can mean (among other things) nice, clean, elegant, smart or proper, Mellville is creating tension in his description of Bartleby with an unusual dichotomy.
            The Lawyer has compassion, empathy and sympathy for the ‘incurably forlorn’ character, and he recognises the ‘otherness’ in Bartleby. And it is through this feeble attempt of respectability that Bartleby’s tragic flaw is disclosed. Bartleby can no longer relate to, or function in the society he is trying to be a part of. He is ‘forlorn’, ‘lost’, failing to ‘fit in’ with the unspoken rules of society. Such rules act like language, that according to Nietzsche present ‘truth’ as metaphors that have been in the language for so long that any ambiguity is lost – as Bennett and Royle say (2009:81).
            Or, is Bartleby simply a way for The Lawyer to explain a particularly dark side of himself, placing Bartleby in the corner of his subconscious mind, facing a brick wall? 

‘I remembered the bright silks and sparkling faces I had seen that day, in gala trim, swan-like sailing down the Mississippi of Broadway; and I contrasted them with the pallid copyist, and thought to myself, Ah happiness courts the light, so we deem the world is gay; but misery hides aloof, so we deem that misery is none.’ (Mellville. 2005: 37)

When I first read this I absolutely fell in love with the use of language, and how he paints a picture. What I saw was groups of people, dressed in gala-outfits, happily gliding like swans down the river-like Broadway is a deep contrast to the colourless, pale, quiet, and lonely Bartleby. They are both equally distanced from life and the real, but the reverse anthropomorphism makes the happy human group seem like swans gliding down the concrete river. The thing is, not a single place in this passage does he mention the word 'people'. I just assumed. And that is how figurative language works. It places us in a recognisable environment, even if it is an out of the ordinary colloquialism. In fact, a language without recognisability will make no sense. We need figures and tropes to maneuver in the world. And this is what Nietzsche talked about, I think, that we relate to the world through what we recognise. 
Broadway can be more than just the street in New York; it can be the opposite of the narrow road, or the path less travelled. Broadway will then be the road the majority of people choose, and this is again pointing to the ‘otherness’ of Bartleby, as he is not likely to ‘skip’ down Broadway. This is also in a time before the 'limelight' of Broadway. The novel was written in 1853, musicals came later. Even though, the street has always been a place for people to gather, and it was, as it still is, a place where money talked, and people would dress up nicely to show off, then as now.
Happiness courts the light’ suggests that darkness, as the opposite of light, will be courted by ‘sadness’. Bartleby’s mental state is stuck in the darkness. ‘Misery is none’, Bartleby is slowly erasing his reasons to BE. He puts on a mask of humanity, but eventually it falls off. The language in this passage is de-familiarising Bartleby from the rest of the world. He is an outsider.
            Bright, sparkling, close, happy, light, paired with misery, hiding, pale (pallid), distanced and nothingness are powerful out of the ordinary contradictions or opposites in this passage. They are almost deconstructed colloquialisms. The fact that the opposites are not the normal colloquialisms we relate to, when making a linguistic point, portrait them as quite scary, fractured and ‘uncanny’, strengthening the ‘otherness’ of the Bartleby character.
            Mellville places Bartleby on the margins of an early capitalist society; making use of contradictions and opposites maintains Bartleby’s marginalisation. The Lawyer visits his memories to support his current thoughts on Bartleby’s otherness. Memories can change, and every time a memory is ‘remembered’ what you remember is the last time it was accessed, meaning that contradictions can grow over time, eventually overshadowing what really happened.
            All of his colleagues have nicknames and in this way they are immediately familiarised to the reader. Bartleby is even more marginalised and further distanced with being referred to only by his surname, but this is Bartleby’s own choice, as it is the only name he disclosed. It is clear there is no warm relationship when he is only addressed by his last name. However, the name presents a contradiction as well, because the Lawyer feels an unexplained kind of compassion, or pity, towards Bartleby. This makes Bartleby a pairing of contradictions by just being present in the story. He is hard working, but he refuses to work, he is a part of the team, but follows his own code, he is present, but he is ‘gone’, he is polite, but he is rude, he is alive, but he is dead.

‘On errands of life, these letters speed to death.
Ah, Bartleby! Ah, humanity!’ (Mellville. 2005:52)

Rather than having Bartleby removed from his office by force, when he ‘prefers not to go’, The Lawyer decides, in what can be described as a comic twist, to move office. Bartleby stays put, and this is his ‘one way ticket’ to prison. The prison is called ‘The Tombs’, a name that is a direct reference to silence and death, as it is another name for grave.
            Even though Bartleby seems lucid in his choices, for example not to eat when in prison, it is likely that he is in the final stages of untreated clinical depression. The consequence of his choice is starvation, and finally he is absolved from the burdens of life.
            The Lawyer sinks back into memory wondering whether Bartleby’s previous job as a ‘reader’ in the ‘Dead Letter Office’ had something to do with his apathy against life. Through these memories, The Lawyer addresses his mortality, as well as Bartleby’s. He is speeding to his death; probably realising he forgot to live. He has avoided conflict his entire life, and Bartleby’s passive resistance baffled him from the first ‘I prefer not to’ to the last.
            The dead letters sounded like the echoes of men, and that is what Bartleby probably realised they were. When working in ‘The Dead Letter Office’, he witnessed the destruction of the important written word; he witnessed people hanging on to the dead’s treasures. His colleagues would steal a ring, or a cheque, and then they would auction off the rest. The dead letters were stories never told, lives never lived, and it shattered Bartleby, as it shattered The Lawyer thinking about it. Also it points to the fact that this is an untold story in Bartleby’s life, as The Lawyer is simply guessing at this point. But he realises that they both ended up on a journey speeding them to the end.
            Considering ‘The humanity’, The Lawyer is ‘incurably forlorn, pitiably respectable, and pallidly neat’, continuing his life hiding behind his life lie.

To sum up
Bartleby’s pale and distanced presence, even when he is not present, his passive resistance, and his darkened mind, makes him an ambivalent character. His colourless look on life, and his will to fight for this pallid existence, refusing all offers of help, is fascinating. Is he the antagonist? Is he the protagonist? Is he a part of the protagonist’s mind?
With the language, Melville is creating a character that forces the reader to interact. He does this mixing the known and the unknown. The metaphors and comparisons are a little distorted, making them, as Bartleby, uncanny, and marginalised.

Bartleby is hardly saying a word throughout the entire short story, and he is fighting to stay in his gloomy state. I claim he's a philosopher, and I believe he is in terms of making other people think. His passive resistance is making The Lawyer think about why he is resisting. The Lawyer is thinking about why Bartleby is resisting change so hard. The Lawyer is puzzled at his own reaction to this resistance. Bartleby is a kind of a wake up call to The Lawyer. And what he wakes up to is not really optimistic for his future. This is, of course, only speculations, but the thoughts set in motion by Bartleby are fundamentally devastating. 
I also call him an anti-capitalist soldier, and the connotations to soldier mostly involve violence. But it could also be a link to soldiers on the peace side of the equation. The Salvation Army are called soldiers and they do not fight with weapons, but with words. Bartleby is fighting to remain the same. He might not be well enough to make that decision, but that does not mean he is not going to fight for it. In doing so he becomes a soldier. So Bartleby is everything from philosopher, where he makes people think with his almost non-verbal communication, to anti-capitalist soldier, and maybe he actually was just a figure of speech, a metaphor for protest and individuality in an increasingly uniform society?

Bennett, Andrew, and Royle, Nicholas. 2009. Literature, Criticism and Theory. Harlow. Fourth Edition.

Mellville, Herman. 2005. ‘Bartleby the Scrivener’ in Understanding Fiction. Judith Roof (ed.) Boston. Houghington Mifflin. Print

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Steven Wilson

What do you get when you put Steven Wilson and his world class musicians on one of the biggest musical stages of the world?
       Last week I went to London with my Significant Other. Our goal for this trip was to end up in Royal Albert Hall to see and hear Steven Wilson in action. You find yourself sitting in the big round historical building, and thinking, well, that was it, I'm here...but then the music starts, and you forget time and place. I am proud to say that I have been in musical heaven, a heaven where the visual plays just as big a part of the whole picture as the audio does.
       Steven Wilson can go on stage and play whatever he wants, and I will be at the tip of my chair, drawn into his sometimes quite dark world. But it is not a world without hope. His latest album, Hand. Cannot. Erase. made most of the Monday night's concert, and it was raw musical power, presented by this humble human standing barefoot on stage. The song that moved me most from the first night was Routine. I was completely blown away by the hard to watch video running in the back, and the amazing voice of Ninet Tayeb, in divine union with the band. It was like entering another universe, where only music and images existed. At that moment it didn't matter where we were, as the scene disappeared, and all that was, was the story. How can a song feel cathartic? I don't know how Steven Wilson did it, but he did. I felt cleansed after Routine, born again...if that makes sense at all?
        I have heard a lot of people saying they love Steven Wilson, but they miss Porcupine Tree... I cannot agree with them. I feel that him being in charge of all the creative decisions have brought out the truly magnificent musician that he is. And being who he is, he can work with the best of the best. When I go to concerts, I speak of trust...weird, I know. But I have trust the musicians to be able to play their instruments, to be able to sing, and to be able to give me an as strong experience as the albums do. And you would think that this went without saying, but it doesn't always in this age of auto tune and cheating... But there is nothing fake about the talents of Steven Wilson. His voice is even, from what I can hear, getting better and better. And it was a pleasure to see him playing my favourite part on Drive Home, and the solo on Dark Matter. He is what I would call a whole musician. He doesn't just make music, he is music. And I trusted both him and his band completely.
         He doesn't always make easy to listen music, and that is ok. I don't think music should be easy accessible all the time. The music you have to work on to understand ends up being the music that stays with you for a life time. I didn't understand Watchmaker to begin with, but now it is one of my favourite songs of his. And what they did with it in Royal Albert Hall was just beyond anything I have ever seen. They rolled down a see through screen, so that we could still see them (the musicians), but on the screen they showed a horror movie. I felt like entering into a gothic novel where the monster is hunting us down sublime mountains... and just when you really can't read another word, because it has scared you to your core, you still read on.
        I am so happy to have been in Royal Albert Hall for both nights, even the songs I didn't know too well made an impression. Grace for Drowning is a difficult album, but as I said earlier, difficult is good. It means you have to make an effort, it isn't digested before it reaches you, it means that the artist trusts his fans to be intelligent enough to make that effort. Though, I must admit I had to look away for the last part of Raider II. It was 'the Beast' as he referred to it, and I see that now.
       Steven Wilson said he was humbled to be on the Royal Albert Hall stage, and I can understand his feelings. But what he should never doubt is that he belongs in this hall of legends.
       I am sure all the great musicians through the ages were sitting on the circle barrier, dangling their feet, with shimmering wings moving softly to the rhythm, and rejoicing in the genius music of this humble man. May he create a lot of music still, and many more shows, and may I be lucky enough to be in the audience again.
       So what do you get when you put Steven Wilson and his world class musicians on one of the biggest musical stages of the world?
         You get a sublime experience earthly words cannot describe. The soul transcends to a higher plane of existence, and for those two days it might see a glimmer of a higher truth only the real legislators of the world can convey...Steven Wilson, you amaze me.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

For my amazing man

Sonnets for my loved one on his birthday x

Discussing pasta whilst in hot embrace
The beautiful game makes your whole face glow
Athletic strength drives you on, sparks your grace
Not everyone knows how hard you can throw
Ancient scent hidden in memories past
Words painting pictures of Rome invading
Touching sacred stones, hours go so fast
History hums, a song for everything
Virtues were hidden for years in deep fear
Invisible eyes reaching out to see
Asking in silence to come find you here
Searching blindly, but your eyes they saw me
All that you are amaze me every day
The yellow brick road is our magic way

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Rainy, windy, summer grey enclosing
The summers lived are never here to stay
It is not the distant warmth we're praising
I do compare thee to my beating heart
You sing the soft song that will make me whole
I do compare thee to my missing part
From your voice I heart the song of my soul
In the dark you hold the light to guide me
The strong shield between nightmare and the real
You see me as I hope that I can be
I'm feeling more than I could ever feel
When I'm with you it's summer all year round
Summer, music, deep strong love, healing sound. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Tenth Muse, publishing a modern fantasy

A while back, my debut novel was published. It is a modern fantasy about the classical old story, good vs. evil.
Michael Smith feels the world is completely wrong, and his strange dreams take him to Santorini where his adventures start.
He is fighting for the existence of creativity...at a great cost.

Publishing a novel in this time and age can seem close to impossible. And to be successful, you have to be determined and have so much patience you qualify to sainthood by the time you get your book in a consultant's hands. The most normal thing is getting a polite rejection.
I was connected to one of the biggest publishing houses in Norway for a long, long time, sending them scripts, getting them back with suggestions of what to change. But in Norway, the biggest deal are murder mysteries, and I write fantasy, so I kind of fell through (this is the story I tell myself to feel better, at least.).
In the end they told me that fantasy weren't really their thing, and I should look for representation elsewhere. I had learned a lot about the business, but not nearly enough, and I still was unrepresented. So, I felt quite lost. They had kept me on a lose leash for years and years, vague promises about a possible future release if this or that, and I believed them. I could have spent my time reaching out to agents, or other publishing houses, but I remained loyal.
My brother told me to look around for other alternatives, but the woman in charge of the writer's course I took, said I had to be loyal to one publishing house at the time. Both made sense, and both very difficult to follow.

What happened was that I just kept writing and writing. I never felt what other authors talk about, that dreaded writer's block, I still haven't met that phenomenon, but I have felt frustrated for having a million ideas, that I actually follow from beginning to finished story, and no one to share it with.

And when I tried sending them to publishing houses, no one wants them, because they weren't represented by an agent. So I felt lost in a spiral of creativity and no chances. Most publishing houses wants the scripts to be represented by agents, and that means another person, along with the publisher, takes a piece of the cake. Obviously, people have to be paid for doing a job, but as a struggling author, you feel it's an unfair business when you're out in the cold. But there is a solution... and it is what I did :)

Then, I guess I got lucky. One of my best friends live in Holland, and she said, I know this guy who is starting up a publishing house, do you want me to ask him if he wants your script? I said yes, of course, and waited his reply.
He wanted to have a look at my script about Michael Smith and his journey with the muses. I was seriously nervous, I sent him the original document, and in hindsight I might have been a bit naive doing that to someone I didn't really know or knew if I could trust. But I did, and it turned out that he, Rob, my editor, was for real.
He suggested a few changes, and if I managed to write in those changes then I would have a deal.
OMG, I was going to publish my debut novel.
Then suddenly I was on the inside, with a contract I only could have dreamed of. I have had to learn this with my publisher, as they are new to this as well, but we are getting there.
I am a fiery person, and sometimes I'm probably not the easiest client to deal with, but they can, and they do. So I would like to take this opportunity to thank them for putting up with me, and most important of all, believing in me when no one else did. I won't let you down. And I won't let me down!

If you like fantasy, if you like Shakespeare, England, adventure and dragons, then this is the book you should buy for your summer holiday. :)
And if you have a novel in you, contact Bullseye, they might be the ones to help you further on your way to reaching your goals.



Wednesday, April 22, 2015


A couple of weeks ago I was in the lovely (it actually is a nice little city) Wolverhampton to attend the second of two Marillion weekends this year.
I must admit that I thought nothing could top what I was a part of in Holland, but as usual Marillion proves me wrong time and again. The Friday night was amazing, and my favourite song, This Strange Engine, was breathtaking. And the Sunday night, when we chose to stay in the back with our somewhat taller friends, we ended up having a blast. The Civic is smaller than the tent in PZ (Holland), so we had a decent view. Minds and hearts buzzing from
Now, my partner and I had high hopes for Saturday night, as we missed the first part of this particular concert in Holland, stuck behind all the tall Dutch people...they sure are tall...And after this rather disappointing Marbles night, we were really looking forward to the UK one. We went early, and stood at the front. We had the option of getting seats, and I'm pretty sure my heels would have loved that, but my mind decided that my eyes likes to see the expression in the band's faces when they perform, so we let pain be pain, and prepared for sounds and the magnificent lights, and the out of this world music.

The Invisible Man was not just the first song on Marbles, and also on the concert, it was so much more. I have never heard or seen that piece of music been performed to perfection like that before. It was like being in a Shakespearean Theatre watching a play. And it was perfection in a way where strong emotions and musical brilliance danced an exotic dance.
I love Marbles, the entire album. I love every single song, even the ones that many think a bit odd. I love the fact that it's based on Peter Pan, I love the fact that it plays with words and chords, I love the fact that it holds duality, complexity, simplicity, it's possible to interpret on high academic levels (and I have...and will continue to), and I love that I was there with the love of my soul enjoying it.
For me, however, The Only Unforgivable Thing was the song I really looked forward to.

And then it started, the song I had waited for...probably being all weird and strange for having waited for that, and not The Invisible Man, or Fantastic Place, or even Neverland.
But this song is something else. It resonates on a deeper level with me, and it has since the first time I ever heard it.
The man I love held his strong arms around me most of the concert, and being there with him was such an honour. He's warm when I am cold, and cool when I freak out, and reads me better than anyone ever did. He just wouldn't let go when the song came...and I'm glad he didn't, I think I would have fallen if he did.
At first I was just looking at the band, singing along, feeling the normal Marillion magic...but then something took over, and I shut up, and suddenly it was only me and the band there. I could still feel the strong arms around me, but I seriously spaced out...on music. I could feel I almost stopped breathing, but I was, and along with the air, what filled my body was the etheric notes and words of this sapphire of a song.
I had conflicting emotions within. This is music that should be taken to all corners of the world, to heal all that is broken, inspire world leaders to do better. But then again, it's music that should be (and is) only mine, as it is so personal (People who have read Leo's book about fans will know exactly how personal), Marillion's music is my precious.
I wasn't singing along anymore, I couldn't. It wasn't just a song to which I knew the words and could sing along...it was a whisper that echoed through time, it was power, it was amazing.
I then, still alone with the band, I felt deeper thoughts beginning to rush through my mind, thoughts of how I was part of something that was on the outside of life's mundane and generic routine. How I felt blessed with senses able to perceive these high emotions...and when the song came to its end, my tears were running, but not because I was sad. They were running because I was happy. And that happiness just kept going long after the song ended. In moments like that I feel I'm reaching out of society's thoughts of reality, I feel I'm reaching out and touching an eternity with answers and truths; truths only visible through the magic of music...
I was there for the rest of the concert, but sometimes the mind has enough, and for me this was it x

Thank you, Marillion, for gracing the world with your fantasy music. It truly is epic and mind blowing. My life is richer from your inspiration and musical journeys. It is an absolute honour to be at your concerts.

I am adding here a little paragraph from my book, The Tenth Muse, where The Only Unforgivable Thing is described through the ears of a person who has been blinded and captured by the evil forces...
I think this song has an amazing duality and it is almost a novel in its complexity, and almost naive in its simplicity...

"A soft sound started almost like a whisper, it came from the room, and it came from everywhere, it came from him, and it came from her. It was a beautiful sound that just kept on filling her soul, her mind and her entire being. She knew that was what she had been looking for in all the shops and all the people she had met in the past. This feeling of just being and listening and escaping. She felt she could let go of all the fear that had surrounded her lately. The sound was mesmerizing. And then came something that sounded like a heartbeat. She could feel it pound in her body like a strange engine. Was it her heart? Could her heart possibly sound on the outside of her body like this, as if it was coming from the universe itself? No, this was something bigger, but her heart found the same rhythm. The beating heart was mixing together with the beautiful sound from before. And for a blissful moment that lasted forever, she could feel her broken body start to fight for life. Two more elements sounded in the room, and their sound echoed everywhere, and each one of them made perfect sense. It was like a happy marriage of sounds. One sharper, stringy sound, resonating in her mind as a dichotomy to the heartbeat, making her want to open her eyes and see what could possibly produce the sounds that were making her ears and her soul feel more alive than ever before. Seconds later she heard a similar sound. Only this sound was deeper, as a mix of the heartbeat and the sharp stringy sound. She could feel that every single thing she heard right now just had to be there to make the other sounds make complete sense. And she could feel they were building up to something. Something that filled her with the most blissful anticipation she had ever felt, and yet she was nervous, because she knew it would change her. She knew that what was coming would heal her, that she would get her life back, and that she would find a truth not many people had yet. And there it was, a voice. It was soft and sharp, deep and high…It was the voice of the earth and sky, it was the voice of light. It could shake the foundations of the highest mountain, and it could bend the biggest trees like the forces from a storm. It was the voice that knew all the secrets, and at the same time it explored all the wonders of the world, searching for answers to new riddles, new questions that hadn’t even been asked yet. The words he sang reached inwards in her broken body and made the evil evaporate into his oblivion. Whatever he decided became the truth, and she would never ever doubt that fact for as long as she lived. " *

Read more here: http://www.bullseyeshop.nl/c-2490001/roman/

* The Tenth Muse, Silje Haarr, published by Bullseye Publishing 2014. 

Thank you to Phil Slessor, the amazing photographer, for finding an image from The Only Unforgivable Thing on Saturday in Wolverhampton. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Marillion Weekend in Port Zelande, 2015

Marillion weekend in Port Zelande, 2015

How in the world do you put in words the feelings a weekend of so much more than normal rock concerts set in motion? It is a close to impossible task. Sitting at Schiphol airport with Marbles on my ears, I have a caramel frappe (a Dutch creative version of my name on the glass), and five hours to kill, so I might as well give it a go.

Marillion have followed me through many hard times during the last year and a half, so to come to Port Zelande with a smile in my suitcase, my heart on my sleeve, and my soul’s twin holding his arms around me, was just amazing; I was pretty excited to experience the dense emotional dance the weekend is said to be. In hindsight, I understand now, and feel completely in awe, both over the people making the whole arrangement possible, and over Marillion who clearly and without a doubt seem to enjoy themselves so much. Amazing.
So there we were, in chalet 738, the cake chalet; we made the beds, said a quick hello and had a quick beer in the chalet, before we were off. We had 17,5 tokens in our pockets; the first night could begin.

For a non-Marillion fan, it might be hard to understand the dynamics within a group like this. We are like a big family. But I got a strange image in my head whenever we walked from our chalets to the gig tent, that we were like zombies, or like aliens being called home to the mother ship…when 3000 people move in the same direction, almost at the same time (apart from the hard core fans who queue up for hours in the freezing March air, obviously), it might look a bit religious…but honestly, I don’t care. 
For us it really is like being called home.
            We made sure we were there for Steven Rothery and his instrumental support act to the main event. He even spoke up, and that was very nice to both see and hear. He should do that more often in Marillion as well. I am not particularly a guitar connesseur, but even I get that it’s good stuff, and I really enjoyed listening to the floating, swaying, almost dreaming music that let the mind wander.
            We found a brilliant little place in the front on the left side, and we stood there with our friends. Bring on Anoraknophobia. This was one of the first h-era albums I got to know, so this was a big deal for me. I think I used the term ‘musical orgasm’ for when I heard The Fruit Of The Wild Rose for the first time, when it changes from straight up blues to keyboard magic; and the gig confirmed my theory, it is a song that gives a musical orgasm.
This Is The 21st Century always blew my mind away, and standing in the gig with my other half’s strong arms around me, knowing that it’s him and me, makes that song particularly powerful. I would sing along, in the same theatrical manner as h on Separated Out, and I certainly did. ‘Am I enough of a freak to be worth paying to see?’ Between You And Me was the closing number on the first gig I ever went to, so that is always special for me…I still see music in the sky, and I certainly have A Map Of The World… And I have no number of how many times I have had to endure my brother’s monologues of how much better clockwork is to quarts, and how you want clockwork, and not Quarts…Obviously I thought about that during this song as well. If My Heart Were A Ball is just amazing. The only ones who could turn a lovesong into a scary song are Marillion. But When I Meet God made my other half break down in tears, completely, and he said so beautifully, ‘it’s one of those moments when things can no longer stay on the inside.’ A beautiful man with a beautiful soul, I will gladly kiss away his tears when the music of our souls moves him. 
They did the album in a playing order, so me breaking this up for this blog, is purely for dramatic reasons. They played it from Between You And Me to If My Heart Were A Ball. But then, the encores….
            Both Trevor and I have had a rough year and a half, we both lost partners on each our side, and found each other in grief…and when grief turned to love, we found our home, so even though we are happy, we are still in a rather emotional place. My feel good song, the song I put on repeat to balance out the hard days is This Strange Engine; I normally update Facebook with ‘TSE on repeat’ on those occasions, so when h brought his cricket bat (it is a cricket bat, right? Well, you know the one…), it was my turn to break down, and boy did I break down. I even missed h standing right in front of me (I mentioned I was in front row…). I got hugs from my friends the next day as they had seen me totally lose it. The thing is, all of us cried, but it took ‘There was a boy who came into this world…’ and I was completely crushed. I didn’t need it on repeat, because as far as I’m concerned, it was the best I have ever heard TSE. H’s voice was on fire, he reached the horizon and everything, and it was just musical bliss, musical genius, musical magic… And for me it was cathartic. I was emotionally drained after TSE, I couldn’t cope with anything else, so when they started up Gaza and finished with 3 Minute Boy, I was almost catatonic, as TSE will follow me for weeks… For me, personally, that version of that song was worth the whole weekend…

After the gig we went over to the market dome to listen to Stephanie’s specially selected prog rock songs, and we were not disappointed. Genesis, Pink Floyd, Rush, more Genesis, and it was just brilliant. We even danced, though at this point my feet were killing me… so we found our chalet mates, and got back for a bacon sarnie, a bit more music, and just enjoyed being with great friends. I had to crawl up the lethal stairs, stairs for which there should be a safety harness, but in the end I managed to calm down enough to close my eyes. With the arms of my wonderful man around me, I found some hours of sleep. But not many, as the first gig was buzzing in my mind. I still, as I am writing this, feel overwhelmed by the gig on Friday night. It was a musical master piece.

So, waking up to the Saturday was a day with expectations. Trevor and I had been picked to go to the signing at three, and we both felt quite nervous.
Make up on, check… weird hairdo, check…Vinyl of Marbles and Anoraknophobia, check… and pens, you know, just in case Lucy and Stephanie hadn’t thought of that… as if ;) I brought one more thing , a fantasy novel that I wrote. It is a fantasy about creativity, and what our world would be if this was taken away from humanity. And one of the key characters is loosely based on someone we all know. So I put my creative visualisation to work, and told Trevor that I’m going to be the first one in, and I’m going to give h his signed copy of my book. It really works, people, don’t be afraid to believe in your own abilities. Now I’ll visualise that he reads it, and hopefully likes it.
I got my Marbles vinyl signed by all the band members, thank you. And I had a nice little chat about writing with h. Thank you so much to Stephanie and Lucy for letting us do this. Even though we were nervous…meeting our heroes and all…it was an honour. 
            Ok, as a sort of come down from the emotional and almost spiritual high, we headed over to the Fun Factory for the last moments of the quiz, and our friends won. How great is that? We now had a clear mission on Sunday, cheering them on. I must admit, Paul, Adrian, Brett, Neil and Joanne, that on the Sunday I cheered for the band, I felt a bit sorry for them… You kicked their butts anyway 
            The Swap the band – session, still on Sunday, was just so much fun, and I’m pleased we forced our feet to have an extra couple of hours standing, jumping, cheering, as it felt relaxed and awesome. BUT, it was Marillion doing their Marillion magic, and to miss out on that, would be wrong indeed. Martin totally rocked the place with his version of Assassin…just there as a fan…yeah, right…
The same Martin told us that it would be wise for us to stay in the back for Marbles night, and we took his advice. The only problem is that we’re both very short (though, Trevor is taller than me), and people around us seemed to be over two meters tall…a human wall from a shorter perspective you might say, so we ended up seeing a bit of light, and nothing else. We didn’t even see the screen with the new beginning to Invisible Man, so we felt the gig hadn’t really started. We decided to move to where we were last night, and managed a bit of a view…but the gig didn’t really start until Fiona Trewavas and her friends let us in front of them. I even missed out on one of my favourite songs of all times, The Only Unforgiveable Thing (I’ll plan ahead, and catch it properly in Wolverhampton). But after Ocean Cloud, we had a great spot, at the front, to the left. And the gig could start for us as well. I’m one of the ones who always thought Angelina was a fantastic song, and that it shows off h’s voice brilliantly. And I’m pleased to say that live it’s even better.
I think the high point of Marbles night was the story about how Drilling Holes came into this world. How Marillion didn’t wrote the book about Alice and her adventures in Wonderland, I’ll never know, because that was basically it…
Neverland is never anything but a success, and I must say that as musicians and performers they impress me. Even though we understood things weren’t quite right…and h had to run off stage to get ‘his medication’, as he put it, they just played on, and gave us all an amazing show. King was Out of This World (see what I did there?) and Sounds That Can’t Be Made is a very powerful ending to a powerful show.  

After Saturday night, we couldn’t take any rocking, so we went to bed… And we woke up ready for the final night, a night we at this point knew nothing about. The theories were many, far fetched, and full of wishful thinking. But we now know that Chris came the closest with his singles theory.
            All the wiser from last night, we showed up early, and got amazing spots, much thanks to Chris again, who kept a place at the front for a short person, and then we came along. We had a little glass of wine, can’t drink too much, no time for loo breaks…
            They started off with eight Fish-songs, and the tent could almost take off from the excitement. I still remember a certain stunt in Wolverhampton two years ago, during Garden Party, so I wasn’t sure I dared to look, but they are all fine, and the tent rocked without anyone falling from the sky...
            The beautiful version of Sympathy was particularly moving, and again a proof of just how good h’s voice is now (I know a bit about singing…not to blow my own horn or anything, but I’m classically trained, and I’ve always been amazed at how great his voice truly is…my ticket in to the Marillion way of seeing the world, to the better way of life…). But the best moment for me from Sunday night was when they did A Man Of A Thousand Faces. I had never heard it live before, and of course it is one of my favourite songs. It was magic. And this time I didn’t break down like I did when they played TSE on Friday, this time I just felt so incredibly happy. I am truly blessed to be a part of musical bliss like this. And when the crowd continued to sing, they started to play again…and the untrained ear might not have noticed that the crowd had dropped a few notes, but the band certainly did. This is true musicians, people, they followed us, and not the other way around. And the ending of the show with Hocus Pocus by Focus, did again confirm how an amazing singer h is, and just how great his voice was this weekend. That’s some high notes in there, and they were spot on…(I have a musical condition called allergy of notes out of pitch). So like I said in a Facebook update after the signing, cloud nine is in sight from cloud ten. To say we felt elevated and amazing is an understatement.
            We headed, buzzing with post gig joy and smiles, over to the Rockaoke, and just danced our asses off. Felicity has a rather good voice, most of the rockaoke performers had. It was such a blast. H turned up and rocked the rockaoke and did three songs, but by then we had danced over the market place
J on to the chill zone in the Marked Dome where we got hugs and kisses from friends form around the world, plus a burger, which was not wrong at all.

So, how in the world do you put in words the feelings a weekend of so much more than normal rock concerts set in motion?
I don’t know if I did, but I gave it a good go. I am a lucky woman who gets to be a part of this. I owe Marillion so much, I can’t even start to list everything…But one thing is certain, this is so much more than just a weekend with three gigs. This is a better way of life.

Silje Haarr


Anoraknophobia (the full album)

3 Minute Boy (with the longest scream ever)


Marbles (The full double album)

Out Of This World
Sounds That Can’t Be Made


Market Square Heroes
Garden Party Kayleigh
Heart Of Lothian
Warm Wet Circles
Sugar Mice
Hooks In You
Uninvited Guest
No One an
Dry Land
Great Escape
Lap of Luxury
Man Of A Thousand Faces
80 Days
These Chains
See It Like A Baby
Thank You Whoever You Are
Whatever Is Wrong With You
Hocus Pocus

Some images from our amazing weekend x