A White Bear on the Free Market – A Videodiary

In 1776 – the scottish moral philosopher and free thinker Adam Smith, proposed the theory of the free market. The idea was, that the free market should be able to make even the beastliest of bears within humans, work for the common good and for the wealth of the nation.

Since then crises’ of the market have come and gone, and in july 2011,  at the height of one, this inner bear, went to Smiths cradle of free trade; Glasgow, where Adam Smith lived and taught.

Here it resided in the local Contemporary Arts Centre; CCA wherefrom it ventured out to meet up with local scholars, artists, capitalists and more, and  get a new perspective on humanity, bears, money and their crises.

The history of the free market is one of letting loose ones beast. That is of course interesting for any white bear from the back of the mind.

From July 1st – 23rd, therefore, the white bear will be in Glasgow to study the history of this beastly market. A market that seems to have been invented here by the Scotsman Adam Smith in 1776.

The first entry from the white bear’s journey onto the free market. Here, the white bear goes to New Lanark, a Unesco world heritage site and a historic industrialists Utopia – where it seems that adam Smiths idea, that the division of labor can bring more prosperity to more people, was taken very literally. The white bear also thinks about boredom, Candide and the taxpayers money.

In july 2011, a white bear went to Glasgow, Scotland to study the origin of the free market, and it’s first thinker: Adam Smith.

As with any important theory, this theory has undergone plenty of misuse and misinterpretation over the years.
Adam Smith, the socalled father of Capitalism, re-edited and republished his “Wealth of Nations in 1776, 1778, 1784, 1786, and in 1789. Even after his death, new and clarifying versions kept, and keeps appearing. This is only the fourth version of a post in the white bear diary; A post about capitalism, it’s misunderstandings and about language that cannot express our intentions precisely.


On the day that a new South-Sidanese state was declared, the white bear went to the orange marches and speculated a bit about nationality, true colour and the history of “Celtic” and Rangers” – whose fans represent each their side of a complicated conflict.

The presence of “Rangers” and “Celtic” has been estimated to be worth 120 million pounds to the scottish economy.

Diary from a white bear in the free market: In July 2011 the white bear went to Glasgow, Scotland, the birthplace of the free market, that was invented here on 1776, by the moralphilosopher, Adam Smith. This post in the white bear diary is about a brief meeting with blogger John McKlintock and the economy of attention in the brave new world of 2011.

On the day of Primidi, month of Messidor, in the french revolutionary year of 219 a white bear went on a one day highland detour.

A detour away from Glasgow, the historical birthplace of the free market, that it had come to Scotland to investigate,.

On route it pondered over time-economy, decimalized money, measurements, and the
immeasurable depths of the Loch Ness.

Here it also dwelt on matters of certain knowledge mystery and monsters below the surface of even the most rational systems.

The white bear has an appointment with the furdressers and a wee chat with a professor of political theory about Adam Smiths pretty little idea about “society as a mirror”

The white bear has an appointment with the furdressers and a wee chat with a professor of political theory about Adam Smiths pretty little idea about “society as a mirror”

In 1776, the famous Glasvegan moralphilosopher, and inventor of the free market, Adam Smith wrote that:

” It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. ” Adam Smith/ Wealth of Nations,1776

But scottish dinners are not the same in 2011 as in 1776 of course – and when the white bear, in 2011, went to Glasgow to study Smiths free market, it also met up with a local vegan; Ellie Harrison, whose feeding habits could be an potential challenge to the carnivorous perspective of both white bears and Smith’s selfish butcher..

After some challenging weeks on the free market – the white bear visits the final resting place of it’s first theorizer: Adam Smith.

Here it takes a moment to quitely ponder over new beginnings, warm fur and history’s frozen tundras.

Kindly supported by:

Diary installation: Toves Galleri – Contemporary Workoutspace 19.05 – 26.05 – 2012

A year after the safe return from the free market, the economies of the world are still wobbly – and the white bear is still in doubt what to make of it.

In May 2012 nevertheless it presented it’s confusion, in a video-diary from it’s journey, and in an artgallery in the shopping arcade “Toves Galleri” in Copenhagen.

Toves galleri is a  run down, bankrupt halfempty arcade; a kind of monument of economic crisis – and seemed to be an appropriate melancholic setting for an investigation of sympathetic idea that seems to have failed in it’s mission to bring dinner to all of Scotland.



Pee, purification, and other filthy ideas – A white bear at Roskilde Festival


catharsis |kəˈθärsis|
noun, the process of releasing, and thereby providing relief from, strong or repressed emotions, Medicine purgation, from Greek katharsis, from kathairein ‘cleanse,’ from katharos ‘pure.’ The notion of “release” through drama, derives from Aristotle’s Poetics.

Inspired by Roskilde festival that I attended this summer, this is an entry cleanliness, written by a whitefurred beast from within, on whom dirt stick like fleas to brown bears.A beast who, for that reason, cannot seem to engage in the cleanliness discourse of this easygoing crowd.

As a beast who had to look on from a safe and clean distance, I was somewhat abhorred by the vile and uneducated ways of my beastly brothers engaging in a cathartic cleansing ritual of letting out their unpractical over-emotional steam, in vulgar music, mud and matter.

The aristotelian metaphor of catharsis is a timehonored, but perhaps outdated history of the filthy mind. From my my clean point of view it is a sadly mundane metaphor for the dichotomy of the mind and the beasts on it that I am borne of. The claim inherent in the medical origin of the term; that beasts on the mind are comparable to the the dirty bacteria infested excess fluids of the body, is just plain insulting to minds and the refined troubles on them; such as white bears with concern for their fur!

However septic..I mean sceptic I may seem towards this emotional concept, I am not an insensitive bear though – I did take note of how this raw and muddy experience seemed to nurture a brotherhood between thousands of not otherwise related dirty buggers and I must admit to certain envy when I saw them recognize themselves in the dirty looks of the next bear.

In all my books of the history of the inside that counts, I turned to Henri Rousseau who found that the cathartic use of emotion in drama was ”a fleeting and vain emotion which lasts no longer than the illusion which produced it; a vestige of natural feeling soon stifled by the passions; a sterile pity which feeds on a few tears and which has never produced the slightest act of humanity” – I find myself dwelling on the word ”sterile”. Maybe there really is a way for white bears to indulge in this emotional frenzy without staining.

Warmer weather

Comes April, comes milder weather, birds that are back from their southern havens and the ever recurring discussion that inaugurates the season of legs shaved silky smooth:

‘Tis a strange discussion; the discussion of whether or not the hair on the legs, in an irreversible process, starts growing longer and stronger once one has begun to shave it off. A discussion that is perhaps best suited for the mild mood one has on sunlit days, that makes one able to overcome the immediate impulse to despise it as folly – and despise such folly in a desperate world.

Nevertheless, this furry discussion seems to arouse some degree of passion; So much so that mothers give out fateful ill omens of irreversibility and eternity to their daughters as a warning against such seemingly desperate measures, and scientifically minded skepticists feel the need for a tint of life and death drama to their matter of factness, when they – through the fact that the strain of hair itself is dead, and that life is only in the follicles deep down under the skin – explain how unlikely it is that the hair will be able to react to being cut off.

Cosmetologists however, diplomatically accomodate both parties, and with political flair, and arguments of both feeling and fact, they politely agree on both theories. A cosmetologist would be able to tell us: that the stubble left on a shaved leg is all root, which makes it correct that the hair on the leg feels stronger than before one started on the folly of shaving it off; because roots are stronger than the tip of the hair.

At the same time every strong root can eventually grow out to become a fragile tip. Thus, the immediate feeling is not the whole truth, because over the course of time, the scientifically minded are also right in their assumptions that the hair – in the end – will once again be in just the same state as the bygone.

And what a wonderful scientific fact that is! A fact of chances not lost forever for an exhausted, stressed bear who gets lost over and over again in this world that it can only perceive through those same deceiving senses that tells it that shaved hair grows out stronger, although it knows that that is only half a truth about hair.

I wonder what kind of a beast I could be, if I would shave off the hollow transparent hair on my body that is not really white, but reflects the light of the world in such a wonderfully deceiving white way.

for more information on these subjects see:



picture taken with apple iphone

On september 8th 2009 I wrote from Beijing “…It may be that there really is no word for blllrlrlrlllw” in Chinese? If that is really so, then one would have to take everything people say seriously in Chinese – and I am sure the Chinese, like anyone else, have heard enough bullshit to be careful with that..”

On the 26th I announced my idea for a change of mind, and set out to represent: “the thoughts that hadn’t been thought yet, and all the experiences beyond expression”

This confusion about what a bear can be, peaked yesterday, when Ulla Hvejsel, the head I used to be in, in hope of a whole new way of thinking, and an eloquent presentation of what was beyond expression, let herself represent by me – her inner bear; this bear that had somehow made a promise to be a living, conceivable example of all kinds of complicated otherwise inexplicable truths.

For some reason however, these truths turned out to be less wellspoken than she had dreamt of. But as we all know, the truth is on the inside, and since the bear is from the inside, even it’s blrvvvrrr or groaarrr cannot be ignored. Maybe the yet unthought thoughts are really to be found between the lines of such halfspoken sentences. Maybe there is tranformative power in clumsy phrasings.

The best danish translation for blllrlrlrlllw yet, was by the situationist Jørgen Nash. In 1963 he used this translation to answer a question from a reporter, regarding his involvement in the decapitation of the national symbol: the little mermaid. It goes like this:

“chi chi chi chyk bdyk chi chi chi svivi svi svi svivi svi chi chi ci svivi botji votji votji hø he votji tju tje vutji, tju thje vutji, vutji våtji tje høh, ss she svi svi svivi, svivi svi svi schouk, adtjiu adtji, svi vutje che svivi , svut ci – åhh chi!”

Another attempt at translating the whole profound meaning of the word blllrlrlrlllw was recently spoken by Jony Ive, Senior Vice president of Apple computers:

You know it’s true.. when something exceeds your ability to understand. It sort of becomes magical!

More than just a unwanted thought?

Today I  had a minor disagreement with the head I used to be in. I feel she reduces me to just the uglyness from within. I  can’t blame her really, it is in her culture to think that the within is made of all the ugly hidden away truths, but I will do my best to complicate matters further!

I can feel it annoys her that she doesn’t know where I am going. She calls me a concept that has gotten out of hand, and I know that she doesn’t mean well. In better times it could be a compliment.

Instead of being  the bear of all the unspoken hideousness from within, I would like to be the bear of the mind that represent all the thoughts that hasn’t been thought yet, and of all the great experiences in the heart that are beyond expression. I believe it is possible for a white bear to be so much more than just an unwanted thought!

Losing and finding myself part 7 – Losing oneself in nature and time

In China it is said, that one is not a real man before having climbed this particular peak on the great wall. There is indeed something that feels particularly real in the stunning view and in the feet that are trembling from fatigue and heights,  as well as in the the staggering yet illogical feeling that ancient history is present, even though I know that the past is the past and the now is now, that contemporary is contemporary, tomorrow hasn’t been yet, and that I am not a real man, but a bear.

Contemporary China part 1-2-3

Part 1 – Contemporary Romance:

In the middle of an exemplary image of progress and modernity, a bear gets a weird feeling of uncanny romance by the ghostly rumbling of metal, fire and hard labor,  from a no longer active pit.



Part 2 – Contemporary sunset in the rubble of the recent past:

“Contemporary” Part 3 – Yesterdays news in 798:



Losing and finding myself: part 6 -Beijing from Above and behind the lines

Tian’anmen Square, (天安門廣場)  the very center, of the kingdom in the middle was blocked from view and the access on the rainy sunday where I went there. Policemen, and restrictions indicated that something was going on that did not concern white bears.  I pulled in my claws  and strolled towards Jingshan park  (景山公园 – prospect hill)

it is always hard to find ones way around things one is in the middle of. However, in the kingdom in the middle, on a  hill in Jingshan park,  the trees  are chopped off at the top to give the best view. This huge artificial hill that gave a 360 degree view of Beijing, was built in during the reign of the Ming dynasty, from all the rubble of the excavation for the forbidden city. That makes me think that the chinese have a tradition of believing in truth from above; in believing that things can only be seen as they really are, from the distance of height. As a true white bear of literature, I must quote Heinrich Heine’s lines about being on top, from aforementioned Atta Troll:

Droben in dem Sternenzelte
Auf dem goldnen Herrscherstuhle
Weltregierend, majestätisch
Sitzt ein kolossaler Eisbär
Fleckenlos und schneeweiß glänzend


In dem Antlitz Harmonie
Und des Denkens stumme Taten
Mit dem Zepter winkt er nur
Und die Sphären klingen, singen.

Atta Troll/Heinrich Heine/1843.
*see below for english translation
Furthermore, knowing how the era of these immortal words on the white bear, were mystified and inspired by the  strange faraway Empire of China, and how European parks from the era, like for instance the Parc De Buttes Chaumont in Paris  (Haussmann 1867) look much like Jinshan Park, I feel a strange kinship with China – as though I myself was born out of it.

*“Up there in the starry heavens/On the gold chair of the ruler,/Governing the world, majestic/Sits a giant polar bear.
“…”In his visage, harmony/And the silent acts of thinking/With the scepter beckons he/And the spheres are tinkling, singing”

Losing and finding myself -part 5 – disorientation in the anywhere- and the unique no where else

In 798 one you could be anywhere in the world – and yet, I don’t think there is anywhere else in the world where you would find anything like it.

In zone 798, an apprentice policewoman voluntered for an artsfestival, an artsfestival-organizer  sold his house to invite more than 150 artists  from all over the world, a dedicated audience stayed for more than 7 hours of performances for four days a week

– and in 798,  a thousand cameras made the perspectives of other apparent, and although I did not always quite understand their angle and perspectives; the why and what they were taking photos of, I got all carried away in their photographic enthusiasm, and ended up taking photos of whatever other people were shooting – maybe in the  hope that if I hade the same shot, then one day, with some future pespective of mine, I would be able to look at it, and see their intentions more clearly.

The back of a bears mind in Beijing

grooaaaauwwww!  In the Beijing zoo  the brown bears danced for crisps, and in my head I kept hearing”Atta Troll”- an epic poem by Heinrich Heine about a  trained bear, and it’ s tame melancholic entertaining of man. In the streets of Beijing”  my head manically repeated Katie Melua’s: “there are nine million bicycles in Beijing.” Not very original uses of chorus I guess,  but my stomach ached due to my change in diet, and in such conditions it can be difficult to think new thoughts. That is how the body got a say, even over this bear, that came out of a mind.



Losing and finding myself part 4 – Lost for words

At the Iberia Center of Art,  the translator had no translation for “the back of the mind” where I am from. Maybe I should not think too much of that, because then I would probably also have to think something of the dazzled look of the translators when a friend of mine wanted to indicate that she had by accident let a load of rubbish come out of her mouth by saying:  “blllrlrlrlllw”. It may be that there really is no word for blllrlrlrlllw” in Chinese? If that is really so, then one would have to take everything people say seriously in Chinese – and I am sure the Chinese, like anyone else,  have heard enough bullshit and lies to be careful with being serious, as well as with and taking everything too literally.

Enclaves and enclosures

In The Beijing Zoo, i found Chinese workers on display. Look at the smile – he is happy. I smiled back. It was a good day.

On an internet search about Beijing, I found a traveller to traveller site, with 2 listings of “artists” filed under “annoyances”. Zone 798, where I am staying in Beijing, is an enclosure of artists, fashion-photo shootings and tourists doing the V-sign in front of enormous sculptures, and other characteristic groups of people. Zone 798 is a safe haven for a white bear.

Losing and finding myself part 2 – Self-forgetful Sublime

“Colour Considered as Productive of the Sublime:  AMONG colours, such as are soft or cheerful (except perhaps a strong red which is cheerful) are unfit to produce grand images. An immense mountain covered with a shining green turf, is nothing, in this respect, to one dark and gloomy; the cloudy sky is more grand than the blue; and night more sublime and solemn than day. Therefore in historical painting, a gay or gaudy drapery can never have a happy effect: and in buildings, when the highest degree of the sublime is intended, the materials and ornaments ought neither to be white, nor green, nor yellow, nor blue, nor a pale red, nor violet, nor spotted, but of sad and fuscous colours, as black, or brown, or deep purple, and the like” 

Edmund Burke ” A philosophical enquiry into the sublime and the beautiful” 1757


I go to the restaurant – I pull in my claws, because I am strange enough as it is, I think they talk about me. I don’t like that. I feel they are saying things like: “ Is that really her own hair?” ; or whatever people say behind backs. But I don’t know, I speak no language that they can speak. I order my meal while I try to put on an indifferent ‘seen it all – bear of the world’ grimace, but I am afraid that they can smell I am an amateur..

Getting from there to elsewhere

My claws were safely stowed in the suitcase, my cold heart trembled in nervous excitement, and a couple of hours later, I was in transit in Istanbul waiting for my Turkish Airlines connection headed for Beijing, China!

I passed the time in pleasant conversation with a distinguished Chinese businessman, who gave me some good tips for my China experience, and also found a translation for ‘contemporary art’ on his pocket translator.

Encouraged by this conversation across barriers of language and culture,  I showed him the book I had brought to prepare myself, which was a chinese lovestory, but as he said, “who needs books when you have the internet? “Well you know, just for the plane” I said, thus agreeing with him, that books are outdated, which was, I feel, going too far for the sake of being polite, for a book-born bear.

I think maybe my intention at the time was, to return the civility he had shown, when I accidentally an unpolitely had compared the Chinese leaders with the ancient emperors. That, he had only commented with an uneasy giggle.

(The airport in Istanbul was also packed with moslem pilgrims (I think) in white. That gave me yet another chance to ascertain, that there are so many nuances of the white color, that I have a birthgiven interest in, and even more ways to wear it.)

Almost in Peking..

” Major: Allright Marines – we’re almost in Peking – the Capitol city of China – This is an ancient and highly cultured civilisation – So don’t get the idea you’re any better than these people just because they can’t speak english – A few words of chinese will go a long way – repeat after me – the word for yes is: xie / soldiers: Xie!  / Major: The word for no is Poh Xie / Soldiers: Poh Xie! Major: Remember it’s just the same here as anywhere else in the world. Everything has a price – Now pay your money and don’t expect any free samples! Soldiers: Yes, Sir! ” Major Matt Lewis (Charlton Heston) to his men in the movie 55 days at Peking – / Samuel Bronston Productions/ 1963

A western beast

There are apparently high hopes in me, and such great expectations can make a creature want to do it’s best, but I do feel I have remind you, that I am but a western beast – the selfindulging bear that Dostoyevskij saw in the eyes of the free men in western Europe- the beast of the dualism of freedom against good manners.

I will do my best to do what is expected, but do forgive any errors, and please remember how difficult a job it can be, to meet people as a polite and interested brother, when one has been trained as a beast for so long – and taught that glorious freedom depended on my ability to roar. I look very much forward to this first task as a new bear, and I hope that my efforts will encourage other bears to venture out of the mind and into the big world where they are but little critters.

A white bear in China, brotherly love, and Fyodor Dostoyevskij (posted by Ulla Hvejsel)

“Try and set yourself the task, not to think of a white bear, and you will see that, the cursed thing comes to mind every minute.”

This was written by Fyodor Dostoyevskij in “Winter Notes on Summer Impressions”, a critical report of Dostoyevskijs encounters in western Europe, where he had travelled to consult western doctors on his epilepsi.” (this sentence has since then become an iconic psychiatric example of the uncontrollable mind)

Dostoyevskij reproached the selfcontradictory western notions of brotherhood and of liberty, that did not seem to him to go well together, and it does seem plausible that: liberty to carry out what is on ones mind, will eventually impede the liberties of ones brother.

However, if this mind also has the happiness of on ones brother on it, then we may not have these logical difficulties with understanding them in the same revolutionary sentence, but Westerners, Dostoyevskij felt, did not possess the mind, the tradition and ability to have that, so for the sake of brotherly love, the freedom of a westerner, would have to be a selfdelusional, freedom from the mind, rather than a freedom to carry it out and speak it. In other words: for brotherly love a westerner will have to learn the freedom to “not think of the white bear “.

For the sake of brotherly love, I will follow Dostoyevskijs method, and set myself the task of getting the gruesome white bear out of my mind. When it is out, it will travel with me, from Copenhagen to China, where I, like Dostoyevskij, am travelling for some other purpose. We will nevertheless, hope for a succesful biproduct of insight, and we will regularly share our progress on this site.

In 1862, Dostoyevskij had to apologize his small empirical grounds for analysis, and this bear will probably have to learn to apologize too: First of all for the lack of full knowledge, as it will only have too short a time and too little a geographical span to know everything about an enormous place, and secondly for it’s naturally crude behavior that it is still struggling to control.

However, in it’s frock of violent grandeur, the white bear will go out of it’s own mind, to try and learn and understand, about it’s famous vegetarian brothers; the great bears of China, and from it’s similarly huge bear perspective make an attempt at the impossible task of sorting out what this gigantic place, that seems to be a new superpower, is about.