Hollywood sunset – a re-construct of a recollection

During winter season, a quite large share and number of Swedes from the middle and upper classes can afford to travel to southern latitudes, particularly Thailand, but of course also other popular destinations for tourists.

Besides from actually enjoying the fun, this phenomenon appears to be largely about to showcase one’s real or expected happiness through social media channels, such as Instagram and/or Facebook. And very generally speaking, the latter is of course acceptable – rather to seem to be happy and share it with other people, than to complain about being unhappy. 

Earlier this year I have done short trips to Iceland (with friends), Vienna (with family), and Lisbon/Marrakesh (alone), and broadly speaking those were all great. No winter holidays, though, so those who are able to go: enjoy.

However, if one wants to bring some nuances into the depiction of one’s travel experiences, it should perhaps be emphasized that these do often include a lot of both pros and cons – sometimes perhaps more of the latter than one wants to admit. For instance, when I was in Malaysia and Indonesia back in 2011, I and my friend experienced a lot of practical difficulties, and I also had some kind of gastroenteritis that made me lose about seven kilograms of body weight – mostly water – in just five days (and experienced quite a torment during at least the first two of these).

Few if any trips are not just incomplete, imperfect (and expensive), but actually partially disappointing and sometimes even worse than that. These things should be mentioned too, just as both successes and setbacks – and all in between these two poles – ought to be included into the overall picture that one paints of one’s life.

But if one chooses to look at these things from the brighter side, there are still a few actual magic moments that at least appear – in our subjective minds – worth every single Swedish krona that one has exchanged into the local currency in question, and spent on airplane tickets, accommodation, food, drinks, local transportation, and enjoyments. These moments can be quite short or even instantaneous, but nevertheless absorbed as precious riches in our memorial treasure troves.

I have a number of those myself, and hence intend to share some of the less hedonistic, ego-tripping and ostentatious, and at the same time more – without being too sentimental – beautiful, or at least joyful and ‘dignified’, experiences here. Or perhaps I will share those too; at least some of them. It should also be emphasized that not of all these memories consist of purely positive elements so to speak, and these can also be remembered for some other kind of experience, which is then not really negative, but perhaps more ‘enlightening’ than joyous.

I will not do this chronologically, and hence only pick randomized things which make me momentarily motivated to write so to speak. It is not like I have an endless ocean of recollections to drink of, but I nevertheless think that individual enthusiasm is very relevant to have as a point of departure.


Hollywood Hills, October 2006
In October of 2006, I went on my first trip all by myself. I and two other friends had decided at an earlier stage that we should go to Central America together for about three months, but after they said they could not go due to their financial situations, I changed my mind and went to the west coast of the US instead, for slightly less than a month. I had been in New York City the year before, and just as many other people tend to do, I liked it as well. However, this side of the country was completely new to me.

Broadly speaking, all of the major locations that I went to – L.A., San Diego, Las Vegas and San Francisco – were all worth a visit. The stays were far from perfect, but overall I liked them, although I have to stress that what I saw of L.A. was at best only partially positive. Additionally, a day’s stay in Tijuana is probably misguiding to categorize as positive, ‘a great place’ or whatever. It is a hell-hole, the apex of human depravity. But it was interesting indeed. Almost like a movie with guys in huge hats and mustaches selling drugs in the restrooms at bars, and police patrols stealing things from tourists etcetera.

What I will particularly mention, though, is an experience that I had on Hollywood Hills – one of those magic moments. A bit earlier during the trip, I had visited Venice Beach (needless to say also Muscle Beach), Santa Monica, and some other rather interesting spots, and I even went to a film premier on Hollywood Boulevard. (If you’re about 20, look kind of cute and can behave yourself, then various people might let you into that kinds of settings for no other obvious reasons.)

These things were all worthwhile but not even close to anything ‘magical’. But if one, like me, is or has been deeply fascinated by particular popular cultural products – and especially certain elements of these – then one can make associations and create discourses of certain segments of our world which in turn make them something seemingly meaningful and important.

Psychologically conditioned discourses, which individuals produce or re-construct – often in an interplay between personal preferences, earlier experiences, and various social structures and practices – is largely about meaning-making. Meanings are not really ‘out there to be found’, but rather phenomena that one can absorb and then create or re-create, depending on various circumstances that happens throughout life. And this a typical example of that.

When standing on Hollywood Hills, and then at a somewhat later time driving alongside Mulholland Drive, it made me think about David Lynch’s two movies Lost Highway (1997) and Mulholland Drive (2001), and since I saw the sunset from up there, it was as if these popular cultural references merged with my own real-life experience. I think that I stood next to a quite sizzling German Weiblich too, a brunette as far as I can remember, which in turn can be associated to Renee in Lost Highway or Rita in Mulholland Drive, and who added to the experience as something even more phantasmal.

Actually, Lou Reed has made his own splendid version of Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman’s song ‘This magic moment’, which is included in the Lost Highway original soundtrack, and the title is indeed very fitting. Nevertheless, even more appropriate in this specific context is actually Barry Adamson’s enchanting tune ‘Hollywood sunset’ from the same soundtrack.

Listen to the song, look at the photage from the film (I lost my camera in Las Vegas, so unfurtunately I do not have any pictures left to show), and then perhaps realize that you may have to go there too some day, in order to create your own unique memory of your own particular experience of the same phenomena.

Under denna tidpunkt på året är det många som åker på solsemester på södra halvklotet. Inte minst Thailand men även andra platser utgör populära resmål. Själv stannar jag hemmavid, men har tidigare i år hunnit med både Wien (med familj), Island (med vänner), Lissabon och Marrackech (ensam), och är därför ganska nöjd i det avseendet.

Det verkar som att det, apropå solskenssemestrar, för många handlar lika mycket – eller ibland kanske rentav mer – om att verkligen njuta som att ge sken av att man njuter, vilket sker genom sociala medier som Instagram och/eller Facebook. Och det är förstås inte fel i sig – hellre att lyfta fram någonting positivt, reellt eller skenbart, än att klaga på allt det negativa i ens omgivning.

Dock vill jag ändå påstå att för att kunna ge en nyanserad och mer heltäckande bild av sina resor, bör man lyfta fram både de bra och dåliga sidorna. Och när man gör det brukar man inse att det är ytterst sällan som allt är ens i närheten av att vara “perfekt”.

Jag drar mig exempelvis till minnes en resa till Malaysia och Indonesien som jag gjorde tillsammans med en vän, februari 2011, under vilken vi hade alla möjliga praktiska problem, och dessutom hade jag magsjuka i fem dagar varav åtminstone de två första innebar ett riktigt helvete. Likväl finns det en hel del höjdpunkter därifrån som gör att ingen av oss ångrar det en sekund. Resan var värd varenda krona, mycket på grund av att de bästa händelserna väger upp allt det negativa. Och det är precis dessa magiska ögonblick som man så gärna vill uppleva, för att sedan kunna absorbera dem som värdefulla minnen.

Upplevelser av olika fenomen kan förstås som psykologiska diskurser – vi som individer konstruerar eller rekonstruerar händelser utifrån hur vi uppfattar dem, eller vill uppfatta dem. Det finns inget objektivt att bara upptäcka, utan omvärlden tolkas i ett samspel med individens smak, tidigare erfarenheter, referenspunkter, det omgivande samhället, och andra faktorer.

Exempelvis upplevde jag min allra första resa som jag genomförde på egen hand, till USA:s västkust – inklusive några dagar i Las Vegas och en endagsvistelse i Tijuana – under oktober och november, 2006, på ett särskilt sätt. Överlag var det en bra om än långtifrån problemfri vistelse som varade en knapp månad, och jag uppskattade samtliga av de ställen som jag besökte. Dock kan nästan inget sägas ha varit direkt “magiskt” i någon som helst reell mening.

På Hollywood Hills – och även i samband med att jag åkte längs Mulholland Drive lite senare – inträffade dock ett sådant ögonblick, eller snarare en serie av ögonblick, i samband med att jag bevittnade solnedgången därifrån. Troligen beror det på att jag associerar detta till David Lynch två filmer Lost Highway (1997) och Mulholland Drive (2001) och framför allt vissa scener ur dem. Det var som att min upplevelse blandades samman med min individuella tolkning av dessa filmer, framför allt den förstnämnda.

Förhoppningsvis kan detta få någon att bli inspirerad till att också åka just dit, och uppleva snarlika fenomen utifrån sitt alldeles särskilda sätt att tolka omvärlden. Man kan kanske börja med att se filmerna och lyssna på filmmusiken.

Two kinds of energy – don’t let yourself be fooled

When one is a bit more seriously interested in things like training, wellness, fitness and nutrition, or at least want to have a somewhat deeper understanding of them (perhaps because one dislikes them and want to be able to criticize these phenomena more factually), there are a two main industries that one has to have some degree of knowledge of and how they work.

One is what can be labeled the fitness industry, and which consists of a whole plethora of organizations, companies, magazines, gyms, PTs etcetera, and that are in some way or another interested in making profit out of people’s penchants for training, wellness, fitness and nutrition. (This does not mean that people that are involved in these spheres are not truly interested in the lifestyle in question.)

The other is the general industry of a larger society, often easily understood as the ‘national economy’ of a specific country (which in turn is linked to, not the least, the ‘world market’ and processes of globalization, trends and economic situations around the globe). Average Jane and Joe want to become more fit and healthy, and thus general food companies do for instance take the opportunity to promote ‘healthy products’ of some sort.

These two ideal types of industry – the larger industry and the fitness sub-industry – are closely intertwined, and the latter can certainly not exist in isolation from the conditions of the former (or even exist at all). If the general ‘national economy’ is in a too bad condition, then people obviously cannot buy expensive foodstuffs, re-new their memberships at local gyms, buy subscriptions of magazines, hire PTs, compete in bodybuilding competitions etcetera.

Both of these are – in a paradoxical but economically profitable feed-back loop relationship – also taking advantage of people’s shortcomings and preferences at the same time so to speak, such as the will to be in shape and too eat junk food. As contradictory as it may seem, the fitness industry and McDonald’s are actually the best of friends.

The two of these do also use a number of strategies in order to get hold of consumer tastes. One such strategy is of course to put healthy- and good-looking people in website advertisers, magazines, TV commercials, on posters in the public sphere etcetera. They do also use slogans, well-designed covers and other things in order to catch the senses of the beholder. These are all rather old news at this point.

However, as much as there are stupid things said and done within the fitness industry, I nevertheless think that the strategies of our larger society tend to be even more ridiculous, and at the same misguiding (and perhaps even over-cynical, one cannot really tell).

Because what one can often witness is that foodstuffs, such as ‘healthy’ chocolate bars placed close to the counter, are promoted as for instance ‘full of energy’. That assertion is of course true in one regard – if a chocolate bar, even without its ‘reduced sugar’, consists of 350 calories per 100 grams, then it is unhesitatingly ‘full of energy’, ‘gives quick energy’ or whatever it specifically says on the cover.

But what the food companies do is actually to use the word energy’s equivocal meaning. The word energy, which in ancient Greek is semantically close to words like activity or operation, consists of two main meanings with regard to nutrition. One is as an objective measure of food energy, often calculated as kilogram calorie or ‘larger calorie’. [1]

The other meaning is a much less well-defined and concrete, and also more metaphorical. One can often hear that a person is for instance ‘full of energy’, ‘I have no energy left’ etcetera. It is obviously not the same thing as kilocalorie.

These two meanings are, of course, inter-related – a person needs to eat food and absorb its energy in order to function as a human being. But here is the thing, much food energy (a large amount of calories) does not necessarily translate into a large experienced ‘amount’ of metaphorical and subjective energy, or the other way around.

One of the perhaps most striking examples of this is after eating a whole pizza or a bag full of candy, let’s say approximately 2000 calories in each. Afterwards one does often feel fatigued, while at the same time being almost over-saturated. Too much sugar at the same time can lead to sugar coma etcetera.

On the other hand, after eating just, let’s say, about 600 calories of cottage cheese, fried chicken filets, broccoli and crispbread, one can feel very energetic (and hopefully partially saturated too). If you eat too few calories even of the best and healthiest of foodstuffs, then you will also feel tired. It is sometimes a bit hard to lose weight. But generally a person can eat quite a lot without gaining fat-weight during an entire day. And if it wholly or largely consists of the proper foodstuffs, then it is even more rewarding for both body and mind.

At best, (expensive) junk bars such as those described above – which are, overall, only marginally better than pure candy bars – can give some quick energy in the metaphorical sense, but in the concrete and objective way of understanding, they have seldom positive effects and should not be a part of a regular diet, since most of them consist of too much calories and a too low ‘amount’ of metaphorical energy.

So do not forget to scrutinize these two industries, especially the larger one when it comes to try to sell food products through misguiding wordplay tricks.

[1] Merriam-Webster online: calorie

När man är mer seriöst intresserad och inriktad mot företeelser som träning, wellness, fitness och näringslära, eller åtminstone vill ha fördjupad kunskap om dessa (kanske för att man vill ha en mer seriös plattform att kritisera dem utifrån), är det två industrier som man måste ha viss kunskap om och hur de fungerar.

Den ena är det som kan kallas fitnessindustrin, och som består av en hel uppsjö av olika organisationer, företag, publikationer, gym, gymkedjor, PT etcetera, varav samtliga förenas av en vilja att göra profit på människors intressen för dessa saker. (Därmed inte sagt att de som är knutna till dessa inte samtidigt kan ha ett genuint intresse för dem.)

Det andra är den mer generella industrin som är en del av ett större samhälle, ofta förenklat sätt förstått som ett särskilt lands “nationalekonomi” (som i sin tur är knutet till “världsmarknaden” och olika globala processer och konjunkturer). Nisse i Hökarängen vill bli mer vältränad och välmående, och följaktligen försöker till exempel vanliga livsmedelsföretag att göra reklam för och sälja “nyttiga produkter” av olika slag.

Dessa två idealtypiska industrier – den större samhällsindustrin och den mindre, mer nischade fitnessindustrin – hänger förstås nära samman, och den senare kan utan tvekan inte existera utan den förra. Om exempelvis Sveriges ekonomi blir i alltför dåligt skick har gemene man inte råd att köpa dyrare och nyttigare mat (även om det finns mängder av undantag för den som letar), förnya sitt medlemskap på det lokala gymmet, teckna prenumeration av ett visst fitnessmagasin, anlita PT etcetera.

Båda dessa drar också – i ett paradoxalt men ekonomiskt fördelaktigt feed back-mönster – nytta av människors tillkortakommanden och preferenser på samma gång så att säga. Människor vill i många fall både äta onyttigt och ha en snygg kropp. Hur motsägelsefullt det än kan te sig är fitnessindustrin och McDonald’s därför varandras bästa vänner.

Båda dessa använder också flera olika strategier för att tilltala konsumenters smaker. En sådan är förstås att använda sig av vältränade människor i reklamsammanhang, både på internet, i diverse tryckta publikationer, och på posters i den offentliga sfären ute i samhället. De använder sig även av slogans, snyggt designade omslag, och ytterligare andra saker för att fånga konsumenters uppmärksamhet. Allt detta torde vara gamla nyheter för de allra flesta.

Hur mycket dumt som än sägs och görs inom fitnessindustrin vill jag dock ändå påstå att marknadsföringsstrategierna som tillämpas på den bredare samhällsmarknaden inte sällan är ännu löjligare, och samtidigt väldigt missvisande (och kanske övercyniska, det är svårt att säga vad som rör sig i huvudet på alla som försöker sälja livsmedel.)

För det man ofta ser och hör är att till exempel “nyttiga” chocolate bars är “fulla av energi”, “ger snabb energi” etcetera. Detta påstående är i viss mening förstås helt sant – om en chokladbit, även efter att den har “reducerat socker”, innehåller cirka 350 kalorier per 100 gram, är den onekligen “full av energi”, “ger snabb energi” eller vad det nu specifikt står på förpackningen.

Det som livsmedelsföretaget i själva verket gör är att utnyttja ordet energis dubbeltydighet. Ordet i sig, som på klassisk grekiska ligger nära aktivitet och operation i betydelse, består av två betydelser i anslutning till näringslära. Det ena utgör ett objektivt mått på energi i mat, ofta räknat som kilokalori eller “större kalori”.

Den andra betydelsen är mycket mindre väldefinierad och konkret, och samtidigt mer bildlig eller metaforisk. Man kan ofta höra att en person är till exempel “full av energi”, “jag har ingen energi kvar” etcetera. Det är uppenbarligen inte samma sak som kilokalori.

Dessa två betydelser är självfallet sammanhängande – en person behöver mat och absorbera dess energi för att kunna fungera som människa. Men saken är den att mycket matenergi (en större mängd kalorier) inte nödvändigtvis motsvarar en stor mängd bildlig/metaforisk energi. Tänk bara på när ni har ätit en pizza eller en stor påse innehållande lösgodis, som vardera motsvarar, låt säga, ungefär 2000 kalorier. Efteråt känner man sig onekligen mätt men också seg och dåsig och inte alls särskilt energisk. Mycket socker kan leda till sockerkoma och så vidare.

Å andra sidan efter bara, låt säga, cirka 600 kalorier bestående av stekt kycklingfilé, keso, broccoli och knäckebröd kan man vara precis lagom mätt och känna sig “full av energi” under många timmar.

I bästa fall kan kaloristinna bars som de som nämnts ovan – som i många fall bara är marginellt bättre än rent chokladgodis – ge “snabb energi” i den bildliga meningen, men i det objektivt mätbara avseendet bör de inte vara en del av ens diet.

Så glöm inte att granska dessa båda industrier, kanske inte minst den störres knep som används för att sälja skräp.

Neither a beast nor a god

He who is unable to live in society, or who has no need because he is sufficient for himself, must be either a beast or a god.
– Aristotle

Sometimes so called individualists tend to forget that they (we) are always – more or less – dependent on other people. One wants to feel strong but is in fact mostly quite weak if standing alone. Not just in the sense that all of us are being part of a larger society, which hinges on economic, moral and other main conditions, but also because sometimes we need direct and indirect support from people in our surroundings. Perhaps Christmas is the right time to come to think of that.

Hence, I want to give my sincerest gratitude to all who are supporting me in virtually everything that I do and aim for, almost regardless of the concrete results. That is, of course, particularly my family and a small number of close friends, but also a number of new ‘becoming-friends’ and acquintances (sometimes the lines between these categories are somewhat blurry, partly because it is a continuous process rather than relationships being static).

Since this year – like last year, although with more emphasis upon academic perspectives in 2014  – has been quite much about the Korean wave in my case, I think that this live version of ‘O Holy Night’ by Tae-yeon from 소녀시대 is appropriate to put into the end of this blog post. Especially since I visited a pleasant advent concert in the Skeppsholmen church today (with good company), which honored me a bright feeling of life and existence, although without this particular, very famous song which instead is included here.

Ibland glömmer så kallade individualister bort att de (vi) alltid är, mer eller mindre, beroende av andra människor. Man vill känna sig stark på egen hand, men oftast är man faktiskt inte det. Inte bara såtillvida att alla är del av ett större samhälle, som betingas av ekonomiska, moraliska och andra huvudfaktorer, utan för att man behöver direkt eller indirekt stöd av andra i ens omgivning.

Därför vill jag passa på att särskilt tacka alla som har givit mig support under det gångna året, oavsett hur det går med saker och ting. För min, och många andras, del innebär det förstås i första hand familj och ett fåtal nära vänner, men även så att säga en del nya vänner och bekanta är också betydelsefulla (gränserna är flytande och relationer är inte statiska). Julen är kanske en särskilt passande tidpunkt för att påminnas om det.

Nedan ett liveklipp med Tae-yeon från 소녀시대 , som framför ‘O Holy Night’. Eftersom den koreanska vågen har spelat så stor roll för min del under det gångna året, liksom det föregående, så är det passande. Tidigare i dag var jag också på en angenäm julkonsert i Skeppsholmskyrkan och fick därmed den rätta julstämningen. Dock framfördes inte just denna sång, varför det även därför är ett lämpligt låtval i det här sammanhanget.

Hallyu seminar in Stockholm

Recently, I participated in a seminar about Korean culture and Hallyu [1] here in Stockholm, which was arranged in collaboration with the South Korean embassy. As one can notice on the picture below, an ambassador said a few words before the event begun.

The reason for my participation is that Hallyu and comtemporary Korean culture is something that I have chosen to focus on, not just on a personal-preferential level, but primarily as a scholar. I have a master’s degree in the history and social scientific studies of religion (Uppsala University, 2012), so even though my perspective is multidisciplinary, I look into these things from that kind subject viewpoint.

That is also the main reason why I do study Korean at the moment. It is far from easy to get a Ph.D. scholarship for a project that you, more or less, have suggested on your own, and therefore I have to participate in events like this, produce articles – both peer-reviewed journal articles and popular scientific material of good quality – and do other constructive things that may increase the probability of getting funding by and at a particular department at a specific university. It is a continuous process but also about concrete results that can be incorporated into one’s CV.

Since I have chosen to this instead of being a upper-secondary school teacher or full-time personal trainer, I do never complain about working part-time in parallel with full-time studies of Korean. However, if I will not get a scholarship in 2015 or 2016, I will probably (have to) get back into regular teaching on a full-time basis. On the other hand, since I have invested time and effort into this particular area, I will somehow use it in the near future and hopefully spend a considerable amount of time in South Korea – regardless of the degree of academic success (or failure).

Back to the actual seminar, it included two interesting lectures: one by Dr. Hyunsun Yoon, senior lecturer at the School of arts and digital industries, University of East London, titled ‘Korean Wave: Past, Present and Future’ (in English); and another by Elin Mellerstedt and Johanna Stillman, ‘Hallyu and K-Pop fans’ (in Swedish).

The former, in her earlier research, has focused on European media reception and discourses on Hallyu, particularly K-pop, as a gradually emerging global phenomenon. Overall, many journalists tend to be unbalanced and/or ethnocentric in their depictions of, for instance, ‘the invasion’ of K-pop in England. She did also offer an overall description of the history of Hallyu, but emphasized that her work could not contribute to any predictions about this phenomenon’s probable future.

The two latter have written a reportage book on K-pop fans and the scene in general, as it was constituted ‘pre-Psy’, Loverholic robotronic: En reportagebok om K-POP, fans och Sydkorea (2013), which they of course used as a point of reference.

Even though a quite large part of the contents in these two lectures is ‘old news’ for me, they still included interesting details and percipient comments and observations, particularly about the fandom of K-pop. This is not one of my main sub-areas of research but still relevant to know more about, since many of the different aspects of Hallyu overlap each other. When one is taking part of material made by people with a lot of knowledge of a particular subject – whether it is scholarly or more journalistically oriented – you always learn more things which in turn add to a body of already existing knowledge.

Personally, I am a fan of both particular K-pop groups and artist,  K-films, and K-dramas, but have never been a part of the fan culture of any sort. It is not being part of my personal inclination, so to speak. With that said, one has to give credit to all the fans who have translated, created, distributed, and/or re-elaborated different kinds of Hallyu-related material, especially on YouTube, during the last years.

[1] The term is generally understood as ‘The Korean wave’, refering to that in 1999 (or perhaps a couple of years earlier according to some sources), some Beijing journalists identified the rising popularity of South Korean popular cultural products in China. They labeled this phenomenon ‘hallyu’ (romanized from Hanja), which more literally means ‘flows of Korea’. In Han’gul (Korean), the term is 한류, and you can find equivalents in other countries where South Korean popular culture has become widely known, such as Japan.  Somewhat later, the term has come to designate contemporary South Korean (popular) culture in general, but many people – both fans, scholars and journalists – tend to use specific labels such as K-dramas (South Korean TV dramas), K-pop, and K-literature in order to specify which kind of category one has in mind.

Nyligen deltog jag på ett seminarium om hallyu, den koreanska vågen, här i Stockholm som anordnades i samarbete med den sydkoreanska ambassaden. En ambassadör på plats inledde med ett kort anförande.

Anledningen till att jag deltog beror på att det, utöver det personliga intresset, är det jag inriktar mig mot i akademiskt avseende. Det är också därför som jag läser koreanska på heltid, parallellt med deltidsarbete och även en del forskning om det aktuella ämnet.

Det var ett föreläsningsbetonat seminarium, och de två föreläsningarna var båda intressanta och dessutom lagom långa, ungefär en halvtimme vardera. Dr. Hyunsun Yoons – senior lecturer vid the School of arts and digital industries, University of East London – bidrag var betitlat ‘Korean Wave: Past, Present and Future’ (på engelska), och det andra, av Elin Mellerstedt och Johanna Stillman benämndes som ‘Hallyu and K-Pop fans’ (på svenska).

Det förstnämnda behandlade ämnet ur ett medieperspektiv och bygger på tidigare forskning av Yoon. Fokus var på hur stora europeiska publikationer, som Financial Times och The Economist, har betraktat den koreanska vågens inträde i Europa. Ofta har det rört sig om grova överdrifter av vågens omfattning (“invasion av fans” och liknande) och/eller nationalistiska eller etnocentriska perspektiv. Vissa koreanska medier – om man likt Yoon växlar till det perspektivet – har överdrivit spridningen av K-pop till andra länder som ett led i en nationalistisk diskurs, medan europeiska journalister har framställt sig som storögda över det faktum att en del européer gillar koreansk populärkultur.

Yoon beskrev dock även hallyu i allmänhet och hur företeelsen har vuxit fram historiskt, men ville dock inte sia om dess eventuella framtid. Hon betonade dock framför allt fansens roll i sammanhanget och det är kanske framför allt de, i egenskap av “aktiva konsumenter” (min term), som avgör framtiden för sydkoreansk populärkultur, oavsett om det rör sig om tv-serier, musik, mat eller någonting annat.

De två senare har i sin tur skrivit en intressant reportagebok som handlar om K-pop och K-popfans så som dessa tedde sig innan Psy slog igenom 2012, Loverholic robotronic: En reportagebok om K-POP, fans och Sydkorea (2013). Denna användes förstås som ett slags referenspunkt i anförandet. Man betonade bland annat att fansen inte är så fanatiska som de ibland framställs som, men också att det finns skillnader mellan koreanska fans och fans från andra länder och regioner. Medan K-popfans i andra länder brukar gilla ett flertal artister och grupper, har koreanska fans oftast fokus på en enda artist eller grupp som de ger support ungefär som ett fotbollsfans som håller på ett visst lag. Dessutom åtnjuter de så kallade idolerna en helt annan status i Sydkorea än i de flesta andra länder. Utanför Sydkorea, och möjligen även Japan och enskilda andra länder i Öst- och Sydostasien, blir K-pop mer av en subkultur och niche market inom musikindustrin, medan det i Sydkorea rör sig om omfattande kändisskap.

Mycket av detta är gamla nyheter för mig, men jag lärde mig definitivt en hel del nytt, inte minst om fankulturen.


5 benefits with a fitness lifestyle

1. Physical aesthetics is postmodern art at its best
As I have briefly asserted earlier, physical aesthetics, particularly the body type which dominates the fitness field at these times, i.e. Men’s physique (or a body resembling that kind of physique), can be considered as ‘postmodern’ or late-modern art in one of the most interesting regards that one can come to think of. Why? Because you sculpture your own body through a continuous pattern of training, nutrition and recovery, and you do also apply a number of simple yet scientific principles within the frames of this process.

Additionally, the ideal – even if it is partly changing over time and space – has a history of close to 2500 years, which makes it into a phenomenon – irrespective of people’s general opinions about fitness and bodybuilding – which is closely linked to Western cultural history. Over the years, I have noticed a number of athletes who have emphasized this dimension but it should be done even more so, because it is a truly unique thing.

Moreover, it may help people to see things more objectively and to face reality. This is being done by for instance to evaluate one’s body in comparison to other individuals, but also with regard to the main factors which underlie progress (or regress), such as genetics, training, nutrition and rest.

2. It tests one’s inner character
The other phenotype, that is mainly one’s own body, does of course constitute the main part of the concrete results of continuous training, dietary habits and recovery, but as I have likewise stated before, this is always related to an inner mentality. As Aristotle has said:

Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.

Apart from habituation, to cut body fat to the extent that one does only have 3-6% left tests the internal character to an even larger degree. (As an example, look at these two successful competitors and think about the extent of their perseverance.) To prepare for a competition is as much about the on-going process towards this particular set goal as it is to showcase on stage, even if the latter is regarded as the highlight of this route.

3. Yes – girls and women do generally appreciate a well-sculptured body (no matter what most of them might say)
Regardless of what girls and women may say in public – even in private – or through social media channels, most of them do actually appreciate a more or less muscular and well-defined body over average body types. Of course most of them might be truly honest when they assert that they do not like the extremes, such as having two per cent of body fat and/or to look like a heavy-weight bodybuilder, but very few persons constitute that kind of peripheral phenomena, and hence it is a quite irrelevant remark.

This is not the same as to stress that it is the most important factor in this regard, and among for instance social status, behavior, personality, level of income, age, fashion and looks, some factors tend to be more important than other.

One can in turn highlight and give some context to this by an instructive example. For instance, it is widely known that girls and women do generally prefer taller than shorter men, but does that mean that Tom Cruise (up until his 40s at least) cannot, or could not, date tall super models (or virtually all women) regardless of their height and level of beauty? Celebrity status does almost always seem to beat other factors such as looks and even level of income.

However, all other things being equal, a well-shaped (and taller, if he would have been) Tom Cruise in his 20s or 30s is, or was, preferable than him being in his 40s or 50s. Analogously, for Average Joe, it is always better to be in good shape than in dull shape.

A good physique – i.e. to have a quite low percentage of body fat and some considerable degree of muscularity – does have at least two positive features in this regard: one is direct and is that it makes one look better in the eyes’ of most beholders, and the other is indirect and is that it tend to increase one’s confidence, which in turn is a very important factor within this area and increases the probability of meeting someone who might be interested.

4. A fitness lifestyle can be combined with many other constructive things – and it may be quite cheap
To train, let’s say, five or sex times a week is of course somewhat time-consuming, but it does only steal about 10 hours – and that does generally include the time which is eventually being used in order to go to the gym, probably shower afterwards, and get back home – of one’s free time.

Hence, many persons may still have quite a lot of time left to do other things, and if one consequently invest less time and money into eating out and partying, being drunk and hung-over, it creates free ‘time-spaces’ in one’s schedule that can be used in order to do constructive things such as for instance to learn new languages, and in parallel with that process save money in order to be able to travel.

The good thing is that regardless of personal inclinations, a fitness lifestyle may be constructive for many, although of course not all people, so that if one is a nerdy person one can read books, and if one is more extrovert, then one can let’s say focus more on the dating market and/or to extend one’s social network. (Or both, to some extent). It is quite flexible with regard to the time that one does not spend in the gym. And that is – even for fanatics – most of one’s available free time.

However, if one does have a family – especially younger kids – then one has to make a lot of priorities and cannot expect the same results and same amount of time for oneself. It almost goes without saying. But even the busiest father or mother can eat vegetables, tuna and quark.

 5. It does generally improve one’s health
A life full of fruit, vegetables, protein, amino acids and weight-lifting cannot safeguard from neither common colds, nor any other kind of disease, regardless of category. However, understood in a broader way, it still does have a lot of benefits in this respect, and might at least decrease the probability of catching a common cold or a number of other diseases and ailments.

A fitness lifestyle makes one stronger, healthier, more energetic – and perhaps even somewhat smarter.

1. Estetisk fysik är postmodern konst när den är som bäst
Som jag kortfattat har förkunnat tidigare: processen som det innebär att bygga en estetisk fysik, manifesterar ett slags “postmodern” konst i och med att man skulpterar sin egen kropp med hjälp av träning, kost, och återhämtning, samt applicerar ett antal enkla men alltjämt vetenskapliga principer i och med detta.

Dessutom utgör det ett nästan 2500 år gammalt ideal att ha en lagom muskulös och samtidigt väldefinierad fysik. På köpet får man också en mer objektiv syn på orsak och verkan, och vad som leder till resultat, till exempel när det gäller sådant som gener, träning, progression, sömn och kosthållning.

2. Det sätter ens inre karaktär på prov
Det är det yttre som utgör de synliga resultaten av denna ständigt pågående process, men detta är alltid sprunget ur en inre mentalitet. Vanebildningen är därför särskilt viktig, vilket Aristoteles skrev om redan på sin tid. Det viktiga är därmed det man gör generellt, inte undantagen. Att missa ett träningspass och/eller slarva med kosten bör således vara temporära avvikelser.

3. De flesta tjejer och kvinnor uppskattar en bra fysik – oavsett vad de ibland säger
En bra fysik, det vill säga att ha relativt låg fettprocent och en ansenlig mängd muskler, har både direkta och indirekta fördelar i det här sammanhanget: man ger ett bra intryck hos många, samtidigt som ens självförtroende ökar.

Det är dock inte detsamma som att säga att det är den viktigaste faktorn i sammanhanget, utan sådant som beteende, personlighet, socioekonomisk status, och social status är minst lika viktigt eller viktigare. Allt annat än lika är det dock fördelaktigt att vara vältränad (och oftast längre, för övrigt), även för superkändisar som till exempel Tom Cruise.

4. En fitnesslivsstil kan kombineras med andra konstruktiva saker – och är dessutom relativt billig
Även om man tränar så mycket som säg sex pass i veckan återstår fortfarande ganska mycket fritid till att exempelvis förkovra sig i litteratur eller vara social och träffa andra människor. Om det dessutom leder till att man nästan enbart äter en viss typ av livsmedel och skär ner på sådant som utekvällar och bakfyllor, kan det även leda till en förhållandevis billig livsstil som öppnar upp möjligheten för att spara pengar till resor.

Som småbarnsförälder är det snart sagt omöjligt att kunna hålla på med detta i samma utsträckning, men även för den mest upptagna mamman eller pappan är det i praktiken möjligt att äta kalorisnål, protein- och näringsrik kost, och kanske också att åtminstone träna några gånger i veckan.

5. Det förbättrar överlag ens hälsa
Ett liv fullt av frukt, grönsaker, naturell kvarg och tonfisk kan inte hindra en från att bli förkyld eller för all del mer allvarligt sjuk, men det har likväl många bekräftade fördelar i detta avseende och kan åtminstone minska sannolikheten för att drabbas av diverse sjukdomar och krämpor.