Welcome to my Inner World. I am a French self-taught artist, and these past seventeen years I have made Norway my home. Moving to the Lofoten islands was the greatest present I ever made to myself and the Arctic landscapes are indeed a true treat for any artist’s eyes. I live with my British soulmate,… Continue Reading
Today, almost two weeks since my dog passed away, I went for a walk. I was apprehensive since in 13 years, I never went for a walk without him, and I miss him so much. But it went fine. It was a lovely walk and I’m sure Loki came along, It feels like spring but don’t be fooled, there’s still a long way before we see buds on the trees. Meanwhile, I’ll soon be travelling to France and I will stay there for two weeks.
Walter Moers is my favourite author. I’m totally besotted with his works. He’s made it hard to enjoy other authors. I always had trouble finding books which were more than OK, but since Moers, it’s got worse. I’ve read his books too fast in spite of the promise I made to myself to make them last. It’s not as if there were many books in this vein out there. He’s been compared to Terry Pratchett and this guy who wrote “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”, which I couldn’t read past the third page, but I totally disagree. I searched and searched and to this day, Moers is quite unique, he’s a category unto himself. He is so inventive, so creative, daring and thought-provoking that I don’t know any other writer who can truly compete. He’s the best storyteller I’ve ever read. He could talk about anything and it’d still be interesting because his talent is such that his prose flows effortlessly. He has attained the Orm, ” a kind of mysterious force reputed to flow through many authors at moments of supreme inspiration”.
His books are so multidimensional and are meant to be experienced, they abound in descriptions of music, smells and tastes. He could make you believe anything. I love authors who call on the powers of your own imagination. He made me believe that a manuscript which at no point got quoted was indeed the best piece of literature just by describing the impact it had on the main character while reading it. Moers is a sorcerer.
Although I must warn you, many people don’t “get it”. I guess it must be a very personal thing. Not everybody likes Moers’ lengthy descriptions. Personally, I enjoy every bit of it. I just sit back and read on in no hurry.
So far, five books in the Zamonia series have been translated to English.
I’ve read all of them once and the first three twice. Now, I’ve just started reading the fourth one again, I’m reading it slowly, just a little at the time. Because it’s so rich, a little can last me a while. I won’t waste one drop of this precious elixir. And every time I close the book again, I hug it just to say thank you.
Now, a few excerpts from his books:
“Can you keep a secret?”
“Of course” Echo said hurriedly.
“Good. You wouldn’t like to hear what would happen if you blabbed.”
Izanuela subjected him to a long, piercing stare and he felt genuinely scared of her for the first time. Her eyes were incandescent with the millennial power og Ugglyism. He grew terribly cold, as if a giant shadow had engulfed him, and for one brief moment he thought he heard the weird music that had assailed his ears the first time he set eyes on her house. Her gaze was like an unspoken threat, a curse. He shivered.
Then the light in her eyes went out.
“These trees existed many thousands of years before Malaisea was founded”, she continued, squinting good-naturedly now. “Only the Ugglies realised that they were habitable, and they were also the only living creatures the trees would accept as tenants. The Ugglian oaks came to look more and more like houses as the centuries went by, until no one would have guessed they were really plants. The town of Malaisea grew up around the Ugglies’ colony, but they kept the secret to themselves and passed it on from generation to generation.”
The eyes in the roots slowly closed as if the tree were going to sleep.
“Living inside living plants isn’t a bed of roses, believe you me. They have their idiosyncrasies, their moods, their quirks, their habits. You have to be able to put up with them or you’d go mad. Things are in a constant state of flux. Walls become displaced, windows close up, roots suddenly appear where there weren’t any before – you trip over them and fall flat on your face. This tree also hums to itself at night, that’s why I wear earplugs”.
Echo looked around nervously. It wasn’t a very reassuring sensation being inside a living creature – it was like being swallowed by a giant. He now understood his instinctive fear of the Ugglies’ houses.
“Don’t be frightened”, Izanuela told him soothingly. “It’s thoroughly good-natured. At least, I’ve never known it to lose its temper.”
And another one:
“It was all too much for me. I felt a hot liquid well up inside my head. My eyes, my mouth and nose became filled with it, and my only recourse was to yield to this internal pressure : I wept. I wept for the first time in my life! Fat, salty tears plopped onto my fur, my nose ran like a tap, my whole body shook in time to my sobs. Everything else was secondary now. The encircling Hobgoblins, the darkness, the fear – all were subordinate to this mighty outburst of emotion. I wept and sobbed, stamped my little hind paws, bawled at the top of my voice. Like two miniature cataracts, the tears continued to stream down my fur until I resembled a wet floor cloth. I broke down completely.
Then calm descended. My tears dried up, my sobs subsided. A reassuring sensation of warmth and weariness overcame me. My fear had vanished. I even plucked up enough courage to raise my head and look the Hobgoblins in the face. They were hovering around me in a semicircle, six or seven flickering figures outlined in ghostly light, their arms and legs dangling limply like uninflated inner tubes. They stared at me in silence for a while, almost touched. Then they started to applaud.”
And another one:
” General Tick Tock had taken three days to get the Metal Maiden perfectly adjusted. Every vein, nerve and sinew had to be run in. Where the extracts flowing in the correct quantities? Was the liver functioning properly? The heart, the kidneys? Were the valves in order, the tubes unobstructed?
He began by injecting only the simplest substances as a means of checking Rala’s vital organs : saline, glucose solution, caffeine, vegetable extracts, nutrients, harmless stimulants. In accordance to his instructions, the physicians had fitted the Metal Maiden with instruments for measuring its occupant’s heartbeat, body temperature and respiration, but Tick Tock’s favourite toy was a calibrated dial that combined all these readings and showed, as a percentage, how much life still remained in his victims. If the needle registered a hundred they were very much alive and in the best of health; if zero, they were dead. The general had christened this instrument his thanatometer, or death meter.”
And a last one:
“Only a handful of true artists attain the Orm. That’s a great privilege in itself, but very few of them know the Alphabet of the Stars. They’re the elite. Master it, and you can, if you’ve attained the Orm, communicate there with all the artistic forces in the universe. You can learn things whose existence you would never have suspected in your wildest dreams.”
I had decided I wouldn’t get up today and just slip into the merciful oblivion of sleep, but in between waking up in pools of my own tears, I started to write in my head, bits here and there. And finally decided to get up in order to write “for real”.
Loki passed away yesterday and the pain is just so raw, so unbearable. We had decided that we would give him the merciful death when he began suffering. Yesterday he lost control of his legs, and to see him so intent on getting up despite the pain was too much to bear. Lately, he had deteriorated and it was really weighing on my heart. He was eating less, got more into the “drunk” behaviour, it was becoming increasingly difficult to keep him clean. He would wake me up almost every hour in the night so that he could go out and do his business, but we had to keep an eye on him at all times, he would easily get stuck in a corner, unable to back up. Who can say if it still counts as “quality of life” or not? We don’t put down disabled people and Loki hung on to dear life in spite of all the discomfort (but no pain). So, we hoped with him for an improvement. We took the risk. And he had to go through all this misery, him more than us of course. We took the risk. And we lost.
But this is not how I want to remember Loki and certainly this is not the way he wants to be remembered, either. Loki always knew when I was thinking of him. He would come to me or, if he was walking in front of me, he would sense my adoring gaze and start licking his lips as if for a special treat. He didn’t know why suddenly he was a “good boy”, but he was probably tempted to attribute this to his good looks. And how gorgeous he was, my darling dog. Through the years, I called him “mon chéri”, “mon trésor”, “canard”, “petit père” and quite puzzlingly for non-French speakers “ma petite puce” which means “my little flea”. But my companion was most inventive, he called him “Lokimus”, “Lokimouse”, “Pants”, “Mister Pants”, “Pants Head”, “Molecule”, “Pokey”, “Polecule”, “Poquito”, “Moki”, “Loki Boy”. His coat was luxuriant, especially the jabot of long white hair he proudly bore on his chest, which made him look like a dignified baron. Every move of his was was pure natural elegance. And he was amazingly flexible. I know border collies are, but he really dumbfounded me the day he went through a fence whose holes were 25×25 cm. He was very rarely tired. I took him on walks everyday, in all kind of weather, for never less than 1 hour and a half, and on top of that there’d be half-an-hour of just running after the ball, and even that was not enough. Actually, even after a three hour walk, he’d dare to ask for more. He remained young for 12 years. He was very lucky to be so amazingly fit for so long. He got to be young for much, much longer than the average dog. It’s probably also why it was so hard to see him stop playing and running. And quite abruptly. One day, he just stopped and that’s when I knew he was severely affected. Not just getting old. He didn’t get the time to get old, he just got sick.
He was 13 years old and he was born on a 4th of July, when all the meadows on the Lofoten islands are just endless waves of pink, white and yellow flowers. He came from a farm where the mother lived in a doghouse in the garden. She was a working sheep dog and her name was Tina. Loki was the only puppy who had ochre eyebrows, but it was very difficult to choose among the three males. We didn’t know that the owners wouldn’t find homes for the two remaining ones and would dispose of them. We were very sad when we learned this. After two months, it was time to go back to the farm to collect Loki, but I had to change tone when the family pleaded to keep the puppy for a month longer “for the children”. I’m glad I stood my ground because when we finally went to get him, he was the only puppy who hid. He was very shy and, later on, we discovered he was very anxious around children. My theory is that children played with the puppies unsupervised and got too rough with them. This is probably why he became a very nervous dog, sometimes barking at his own shadow on the wall. He was also very sensitive to noise. On top of the usual fireworks, there was also the noise of sheets of snow falling from the roof which would make him rush in the middle of the night to the safest place in the house: my sleeping head. I can’t say I enjoyed waking up suffocated by a dog’s bottom, but I felt really sorry for him. Only last year did he calm down. Also because he had become deaf.
People around us thought he was a quiet dog, very well behaved, and were really amazed by his ability to walk without a leash along the side of the road without rushing into the wheels of passing cars. Actually, he loved racing with the cars, but from a safe distance. He was so funny when he went into a running frenzy and was very much convinced he could outrun the car. Drivers, when realising what his game was, often laughed. But he was not a bad loser, he loved the sheer joy of racing. He loved chasing seagulls as well. And oyster catchers. But whenever he was getting close to his prey, he would just stop. He was never interested in catching anything, except the ball, or the stick. That was part of his infinite sweetness. When he was little and I played with him like a puppy, he would sometimes be a bit too rough with his teeth and no amount of “NO!” would make him understand. Until one day, after he hurt my hand, I faked crying. He tilted his head, looking at me with big sorrowful eyes, and from that day on he was much gentler.
He was also a very serious dog, very obedient and responsible. It sometimes gave him a kind of austere look. He was not so much the clownish type of dog, but we still laughed at him sometimes (which he enjoyed because it was perceived as a sign of attention – and adoration). Some people would be a bit puzzled by his lack of jumping-all-over-the-place enthusiasm. If you gave him a treat, he took it very delicately with the tips of his lips. He was reserved. There was only one way for a stranger to make instant friends with him and that was to throw the ball. I remember once walking along a field where some big guys, as I noticed too late, were playing football. He rushed for the ball among the surprised players. Unfortunately, I was laughing too hard to be able to call him back at once.
We went on some fabulous adventures in the wilderness, he and I. Most of the time never meeting anyone. The wilderness was our domain. For every picture you will see on this blog, there was this dog nearby. Sometimes right in front of the camera. Because from an early age, he had learnt to associate the camera with having to pause for me, he had perfected this art. Actually, often, as I wanted to take a nice shot of some beautiful foliage on the ground, he’d move out of habit into my field of vision, trampling the foliage.
He loved bathing, but never went so deep that he had to swim. I’ve never seen him swim. But every surface of water we encountered, he had to break. It was a bit problematic if I wanted to take a shot of some mirroring lake for example. I had to rush for my camera before he got the chance to break the perfect reflection.
On some rough mountain sides, I sometimes had trouble going forward, he always stayed by my side to make sure I was all right. He did the same with my companion. But generally he was never far away. If he disappeared, he would come back no later than one minute. He trusted me and I trusted him.
He had a soft heart for little dogs and puppies. I trusted him entirely with them. He was patient and tolerant. But he was very afraid of German Shepherds because he had too many bad experiences.
He had only one lover. I searched for him an entire evening, he had followed her during our walk. She was… very old. The typical mama’s boy that he was. I wish he had more but we were never contacted by any potential breeder. Apparently, Loki’s father was lazy but Loki himself would have made a good shepherd. He herded his toys, gathering them in one place, herded us when going for walks in numbers, and occasionally herded some bemused sheep we encountered during our walks.
I miss him so, so much. The pain of his loss twists my heart in an unbearable way. It’s just too horrible. Although the frustration of not being able to interact with him in a physical way is maddening, I believe he’s still here. He discovered other paths which I won’t tread – yet- but he still lingers and watches us. He wants to be seen.