tisdag, december 26, 2006

Tanks in History

The alley leading to Pansarmuseet was an ordinary country lane tucked away in a typical Swedish landscape, relatively low, ultra flat, dotted with red wooden barn houses. "Don't worry, we are on the right path." My companion, Henrik, told me in a sympathetic voice. No street address was available for the tank museum, our final destination, in the middle of an arduous walk after we got off at Varnhem, where three Medieval pagan monarchs from the House of Eric, later Birger Jarl as well, the founder of Stockholm, and Count Magnus Gabriel de la Gardie were all buried in the well-marked historical Varnhems klosterkyrka.

Soon I found out why officially but a succinct road description existed for Pansarmuseet - because we were heading for a protected military base, in which the museum currently lay. According to a 1990 law, we were forbidden to outline the environs in verbal terms. No photos either. Once inside the museum, curiously enough, photographing was however permitted, the museum assistant rather readily assured me. As a retired military man, he was obviously delighted to see visitors dropping in. The day before, we were told, there had not been even one guest coming.

[No Picture]

Pansarmuseet was founded in 1969 by a special initiative of Rudolf Paleman, Henrik's late grandfather. An admittably young museum, it has steadily grown from a collection of 27 fighting vehicles at its inception to more than 100 nowerdays. Spending one afternoon in this treasure house would be a terrific experience for all lovers of tanks. I surely made a field day of this opportunity to be allowed close access to the tank components for a detailed view. Here every vehicle appeared in good conditions. Had it not been for lack of spare parts, they could have had us take the tanks for a real drive. The helpful guide confirmed my surmise with a yes.

Carden-Loyd Mk V, England 1928
1.4 tons, 2 men. British pre-World War II tankette. I almost mistook it for a water carrier. It was indeed reminiscent of the first tanks in history.

Renault NC 27, France 1927
8.5 tons, 2 men. Didn't work properly right from the start, the assistant said ruefully. That's quite French. lol. But does it happen to appear artistique? Like one of those animated toys in a ... Jan Švankmajer film? Héhé..

Panzerjäger Marder II ausf C, Germany 1942
Bad news for the Nazi army then, the tank motor got sabotaged in Norway in the Second World War. The Panzer eventually made its way to Sweden.

M4 Sherman, USA
Cruiser tank. Old-fashioned; but looks starkly familiar.

M3 White Scout Car, USA.
So someone painted down his belle Olga love on this patrolling car amidst the war chaos.

Churchill Mk III, England 1942
Infantry tank, a low angle view:

m/42 VKP, Sweden 1944
UN bought 15 of this type for its Indian and Irish battalions after the car went popular for missions in Congo.

m/39, Sweden
Sweden sold 13 of this type to Dominican Republic in 1958. It was reported that some of them were on the market for sale in 2004, around $30,000 for each.

m/40, Sweden (1940). Interior views:

Swedish M series on display:

Strv 103 C Sweden
Developed by Bofors AB in 1967-71. 42.3 tons, 3 men. No turret. Suitable for water operations. The fence was believed to be an innovation. Designed with the USSR in mind during the Cold War era.

Invincible tanks. Apparently they were not there in the north of Canaan, July, 2006. ;)
Judges 1:19 "And the LORD was with Judah; and he drove out the inhabitants of the hill-country; for he could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron."

While I was checking out the hulking juggernauts, Henrik's attention mostly went to the silent plastic tank models neatly lined up along the wall shelves. They were the old pastime work on display of his grandfather. "Impressive. How long did it take your grandpa to get each one done?" I asked him.

"On average, I think couple of weeks were normally needed." He paused a moment before he answered. "I was 8 years old when my grandpa passed away. When I see the tank models now, I can't help visualizing him working on these in his free time. I still have vivid family memories, but what I wished most to connect with after I became an adult person was his inner mind. Something possibly too complicated for an 8-year-old child to adequately understand at that time."

In a country with public sentiments traditionally going strongly anti-war, the points of view on weapons, or for that matter military establishment in general, are diverse and often in conflict. Sometimes it can cause formidable divergence of opinions even within a family. Henrik's father was said to hold an "orthodox" pacifist position, but down to the third generation, there's a notable curiosity from Henrik's part to appreciate more his grandfather's military background for an atavistic reversion. When I thanked him for his guidance as we departed, he responded just with visible contentment.

"You know, coming back again is a groovy thing. When was the last visit I paid here? Well, years years ago." For a throwback like him, alas, probably there won't be another time, given the fact that Pansarmuseet is going to move to a new home on the other side of the country and the present location is to close down in the new year.

I guess only a bike such as this one would remain staying there out of the same roadside obscurity.

- Off note as of 2008/05/30

According to an updated SvD article, the entire tank regiment P 4 in Skaraborg, which was grounded in the year of 1631, would have to be abolished under the government's current plan. This Swedish regiment has seen action most recently in Afghanistan. Read how locals reacted here.

söndag, december 24, 2006

Outside it's dark and cold

The first time the true spirit of Sankta Lucia found me as a receptive mind was during a St. Lucia Day celebration I took part in at Svenska teologiska institutet in Jerusalem on December 13, 2002. The setting of the Holy Land rendered the original religious meaning of the holiday particularly edged. Until then I didn't even know that St. Lucy had been a martyr from Sicily and the tune of the melody Neapolitan. But the fact that the name of the saint meant "light", hence "the way of light" through "in Lucy", and the fact that the fête was around the very day of the winter solstice, when outside it's dark and cold in the far North, made the Scandinavian trait of this tradition distinctly appealing to me. As an outsider, I wished someday I could even have a personalized experience of the Nordic land.

This year I witnessed the St. Lucia procession at Habo Church near Jönköping in Sweden. The building was built entirely in wood, and was "one of four churches whose pictures were reproduced by the Swedish Post Office Christmas stamps abroad" in the same 2002. Four years have passed, my life is again at a crossroad. Again I hear "natten går tunga fjät". The night walks with heavy steps.

More photos you'll find in my gallery on St. Lucia celebration:
Click Here

fredag, september 29, 2006

Two Hands

Traveling can be a wearing experience. During my last voyage on an InterCity train, I had two big cumbersome suitcases with me, which proved unwieldy travel companions. There wasn't enough room near my seat, however, so I had to leave them down the aisle and keep an open eye. On the other hand, two merry neighbors sitting next to me seized the rest of my attention. This was more fortunate as a casual chat with them made the time spent on the journey less a pain. In the end I decided to make some fun. I asked them to be my make-shift models and got their permission promptly. As you see, in such a situation the two happy travelers were just glad to lend me a hand, or two. Literally.


I was strolling down a sidewalk in town when I passed our 2006 Youth Summer Festival scene. The voice of a local singer on the stage almost instantly captivated me, so I stopped and listened. It reminded me of that of Tori Amos. Ben oui, évidemment elle semblait avoir du chien... Luckily I remembered my camera was with me just when needed. I did a small exercise of photo shooting in the next 4 minutes and felt real good.

I was quite ashamed by the fact that I couldn't find out her name afterwards. If someone delivers me an F grade based on my lack of journalistic acumen, oh, I have to accept that.

Now only her tunes count for me, I think.

torsdag, september 28, 2006

Jewish Berlin

Recently while on a trip to Berlin, I was rereading in a night train one of Haim Hazaz's short stories, "The Sermon", which had been a subject for our discussion in a Jewish History seminar. I glanced through the pages and ruminated at some length. Repeating the platitude can be a bore. Then, all of a sudden, this line caught my eye: "The talk is over! Boys, go out and play football."

As I set off to Berlin, the ongoing event of World Cup rendered me a feel of fresh excitement. Surely Berlin was a place brimming with historical poignancy and I had expected my first-time visit to the city to be an experience delved mostly into the past. It's hard to imagine, indeed, history could be in any way eschewed in Berlin. But still, I began to sense the inexorable pull of time right here and wondered aloud how man should properly advance in a different playfield than erstwhile was the case.

Many thoughts linger on my mind. For now I share with you some snapshots of Jewish Berlin that I hope you find interesting.

1. The New Synagogue in Oranienburger Street. The main hall is no longer there nowadays. Really impressive façade at the street front. On the Kristallnacht the synagogue remained undamaged because "a courageous German police officer preserved it being burnt down".

2. Jewish Museum Berlin by Daniel Libeskind. Had a tour of the current show on Freud. What a great museum! I wished I could have more time to explore the collections inside. Libeskind's architectural statement was way too strong for me, though. I wasn't so sure I agreed with him.

3. Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas or Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. Close to Brandenburg Gate. Many football fans from the globe stopped by and appeared curious.

4. A wall painting in the middle of the city. The turbulent 1930s.

5. Jewish community house not far away from Kaiser Wilhelm Church. I didn't get in.

6. Moses Mendelsohn's tomb. I really liked the tranquil atmosphere in the area although the historical reality couldn't be more different.

7. The statues stand in the same yard as 6. I didn't manage to figure out who was the sculptor but you could easily guess what was the theme. Nearby there are two apartment houses whose walls bear several memorial plates. These two houses were parts of one same building in the past. The separation in between as we see today was due to the Allies' air raids during the war era.

8. The location for Führerbunkern (Hitler's Bunker) was just marked publicly by the city government.

tisdag, augusti 22, 2006

Reclaim the streets

Reclaim the Streets (RTS) is a term used to denote a type of political action. According to Wikipedia online, it began "in the United Kingdom in the 1990s and the idea was quickly taken up as a form of protest around the world."

Actually they call it a street party. Some others phrase this festival as an outside-of-parliament session of the Invisible Party (Osynliga Partiet), a leftist youth movement, which is said to enjoy no conventional organization. Yet members have been called up via blogging or mobile phones to start a new type of class struggle, right at the heart of the city.

This is what I witnessed in the streets of Stockholm in Sweden on the first of May, 2006. Rather a festive mood all around. Only the next day after I read the local newspaper did I know that a riot broke out somewhere else and around 130-140 persons were in police custody consequently. Two of them later were formally charged.

That the left lost in the Swedish general election of this year after having governed the country for a long period was a fairly recent event.

Hélène Grimaud 音樂會

Hélène Grimaud除了是鋼琴大師, 另有特別處:

1. 她給Vogue做過模特。

2. 她養狼, 對, 你沒有看錯, 她家的寵物是... 狼。

3. 她去年出版的書"Leçons Particulières" 裡談音樂感受居然引出我們的《列子.湯問》


Le vrai classique du vide parfait, Lie Tseu

«Ce n'est pas à bien pincer les cordes, ni à obtenir de beaux sons. Ce que je cherche, je ne l'ai pas encore trouvé dans mon cœur. Comment l'instrument pourrait-il me répondre à l'extérieur?»

4. 據說, 她還是聯覺人。 能感受音樂中色彩。 聯覺(synaesthesia)乃跨越感官的能力, “統計上來講,平均兩千人之中才有一個具有如此這般在不同的神經感覺之中出現交錯現象的人。”

5. 好象還有, 想起來再補充。

onsdag, juli 05, 2006


今天再讀唐朝韓愈寫過的一篇“原毀”, 不禁生出些題外的感想。 韓愈從待人、對己兩方面作對比, 探究毀謗歪風的由來。 我捫心自問, 若以言詆毀他人的行為吾未曾有之, 是否可以說本人就無需自責了呢? 非也, 韓愈文章點出寬以待己, 嚴于律人的源頭最終在一個“怠”字。 其實懶惰的想法在凡人的頭腦裡大都或多或少萌生過, 這不奇怪, 只是潛在的危險在于“怠者不能修”。 產生不平衡後, 于是給自己找借口保護自己, 自然是其中的一種手段了。 根源仍然是本身不追求上進罷。 君子之道, 在自尊, 其是之謂乎。

引文 - 《全唐文/卷0558》

“原毀”節錄 (韓愈)

今之君子則不然。 其責人也詳, 其待己也廉。 詳, 故人難于為善; 廉,故自取也少。 己未有善, 曰: “我善是, 是亦足矣。” 己未有能, 曰: “我能是, 是亦足矣。” 外以欺于人, 內以欺于心, 未少有得而止矣, 不亦待其身者已廉乎? 其于人也, 曰: “彼雖能是, 其人不足稱也; 彼雖善是, 其用不足稱也。” 舉其一, 不計其十; 究其舊, 不圖其新。 恐恐然惟懼其人之有聞也, 是不亦責于人者已詳乎? 夫是之謂不以眾人待其身, 而以聖人望于人, 吾未見其尊己也。

tisdag, juli 04, 2006



以色列Batsheva舞團指導Ohad Naharin今年三月份被邀請到現代博物館參加“文化無邊界”現場討論,看著滿場在坐觀眾, 他開始提議道, 大伙不妨都跟他站起來活動下身軀。 “動之悅”, Ohad同時解釋他的舞蹈理念, “無非如此而已。 想象衝澡時冷水剛打到身上那刻的反應... 感受到了麼?”

Ohad的Furo首演在編舞上我沒有看出更多的特別處。 好比早晨的淋浴,雖以求清爽, 到底仍不過是每天重復的功課。 但他長于再構舊題材, 通過細節的另處理表達出新意。

Furo 的動畫部分取自年輕的日本藝術家Tabaimo五年前的作品“公共澡堂”。 曾經讀過Tabaimo的訪談錄, 她自述小時便有才氣,中學在校成績卻是急況愈下。 後來醒悟作一介常人, 似乎也因此找到自身的藝術方向。 日本傳統社會的有序外表下,維持常態的努力成為她發揮幽默的源泉。 “公共澡堂”的例子極典型 - 像市郊到點的火車站, 映出社會運轉獨特的縮影。 日本人進“”,意在泡澡, 搓、擦、洗全在入池前。 還有那些要注意的條條框框, Tabaimo的調侃沒有把外國人驅趕出來, 相反,把背景本不同的都本能地吸了進去。

其中最精彩的一場: 公共浴室裡的青年被顯示脫下衣服後, 觀眾都以為賣點結束。 冷不妨他繼續拉開他的皮膚拉鏈, 一層接一層三分鐘沒停下來。 爆笑後,馬上能立即感覺到在現實世界掩藏真實身分的隱義。 印象深刻。


和Ohad Naharin一樣, Virpi Pahkinen在專注舞蹈之前是音樂生。 在台上最初一瞥, 我突然懷疑她來自未來。

或許這是一個信號, 未來的音樂是神秘主義的音樂。

今年音樂界的保拉獎得主之一是來自俄羅斯的Valery Gergiev, 一位俄羅斯經典音樂的全球大使, 零七年起倫敦交響樂團新的首席指揮。向他致敬的一台“白夜之星”晚會週末在

斯德哥爾摩上演, 和聖彼得堡市正開場的年度音樂節相呼應。 Virpi Pahkinen的獨舞是其中的一部分。 當晚詩和音樂佔了重份,這從Brodsky, Mandelstam, Akhmatova v.s. Shostakovich, Prokofiev, Stravinsky

的一排名字可見。 最有趣的發現則是投影到音樂廳頂的綠色章魚錄像和著Isaac Grünewald的壁畫, 有創意的古典與現代的會聚。