Doing my memoir – in search of self

I’ve spent my academic career studying the lives and works of scientists.
Now I’m using my toolbox to investigate my own enigma.

Recent blog posts

Yet another argument for memoir writing

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Yet another argument for memoir writing: For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away? (Luke 9:25) Published on Facebook…

The life course as a process of punctuated equilibrium

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My remote FB-friend Mark Hineline came up with an interesting idea the other day. "It occurs to me", he wrote, "that the self can develop over time in the manner…

Scientific memoirs as stories of personal decline

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I still remember the day almost two years ago when I read the best scientific autobiography I've ever held in my hands. The best description of the life of a…

Episodic memory and narrative reconstruction

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In the course of this project, I've spent evening after evening recollecting memories from my childhood and school years. I have jotted down pages of notes with several hundreds of…

Att vara en när-/frånvarande far

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Det mesta av det vi sparar genom livet betyder ingenting för andra -- men kan ibland vara grundläggande för vår egen självförståelse (liksom fotot av förfadern med gitarren spelar en…

Visualization of my publication record

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Aside from some experiments with a photo memoir, most of my autobiographical work has so far only been about recalling memories, reading documents and writing texts -- words, sentences, sections,…

Är Houellebecq’s Soumission verkligen satir?

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För en tid sedan läste jag den engelska översättningen av Michel Houellebecqs Soumission (2015). Det har tagit mig nästan tre år att ta mig samman till att öppna den. Inte…

En dröm om att ge avkall på sitt barn

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Jag hade en sådan upprivande dröm häromnatten. En av de få drömmar i mitt liv som jag kommer ihåg i minsta detalj, och som jag nu har skrivit ner. Drömmen…

Vetenskapshistoria som skönlitteratur

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Jag läste idéhistoria och vetenskapsteori i Umeå 1971-1973 och började fundera över att skriva min avhandling om ekologins historia redan våren 1973, när min äldsta dotter föddes och planerade att…

Jag öppnar dörrarna till minnesrummen

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Här är min metod till att öppna dörrarna till minnesrummen: När jag väl hade insett att mitt minne är episodiskt — och primärt består av bilder av fysiska platser, byggnader…

Hur en homoerotisk dröm kan bryta en skrivblockering

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Pederastisk scen på attisk vas, ca. 480 f.Kr. München: Staatlich Antikensammlungen. År 1984 skrev jag slutmanuskriptet till min doktorsavhandling om den svenska ekologins historia. Under vintern, våren och sommaren gick…

An image that encapsulates my life

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I'm thinking about how I could use a single image to summarise my life. Think of the cover image of a book, an image that's intended to symbolise its contents.…

Insikter som varat hela livet

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Pass, giltigt 1966-1971 Emellanåt -- och inte sällan på resor -- har jag fått insikter om mig själv som varat hela livet. Som den gången på tåget mellan Paris och…

Den börjar sina med nya fakta från 1950- och 60-talen

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De senaste två veckorna har jag tittat på källmaterialet från 1950- och 60-talen en gång till. Det är fascinerande hur många intressanta detaljer som undgick min uppmärksamhet vid första genomläsningen.…

‘Diminishing returns’ i biografiarbetet

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Ett exempel på 'diminishing returns' i memoararbetet - som ändå ger livskvalitet: I maj 1969 bodde jag hos en äldre brittisk kollega under ett par veckors forskningsuppehåll vid Queen's University…

Om lukten av paradis

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Hittills har jag begränsat mitt memoarprojekt till de minnen och känslor som väckts till liv av det visuella arkivmaterialet, dvs. foton, gamla brev och dagböcker, artiklar och böcker m.m., som…

Böcker som har forändrat mitt liv – Konrad & Szelenyis Die Intelligenz auf dem Weg zur Klassenmacht

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Det är bara en handfull böcker som haft ett avgörande inflytande på mitt liv. Det här är en av dem. Den bidrog till att jag kunde lösriva mig från den…

Mina (minst) tio akademiska identiteter under 50 års tid

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Efter att jag hade postat min essä om intellektell otrohet på Facebook, så frågade Fabian Hasselblad: "Som tämligen oerfaren universitetstudent blir jag lite nyfiken av det här. Kan du ge…

Om intellektuell otrohet

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Det är med en viss ångestfylld avundsjuka jag konstaterar att de flesta forskare och akademiska lärare jag känner har sysslat med samma typ av problemställningar, vistats i samma institutionella miljö…

Question for my friends: do you throw personal stuff away?

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Question for my friends - when it comes to personal things, do you keep them for the future or do you throw them away after a while? And do you…

De två mest underbara åren i mitt professionella liv – med studier av grekisk grammatik

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Jag ägnar morgontimmarna åt att dammsuga i bokhyllorna. Det är 18 år sedan jag senast gjorde det. Som emeritus har man mer tid till att hålla dammet borta. Varje bok…

The point of museums is to play with material stuff

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(Here’s my talk at the night of discussion titled ‘What the hell is the point of museums?’ held at Medical Museion November 3, 2016 – see the program here – text in…

The muse is political — the museum is political

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In last issue of the journal Isis (vol 107, nr 2, 2016), twelwe scholars discuss different aspects of The History Manifesto from the vantage point of the history of science, technology…

What do you call events that signify a specific year on the timeline?

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This photo is forever associated with the year 1973. It's a signifier for 1973 in my memory. Not unexpectedly, some events in my life stand out as more important and/or…

Objective time in autobiographical writing

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4 years old and watching the sun dial at the summer house, 1951. One interesting aspect of writing autobiography / memoir — one that I haven't thought much about before…

The memory of atmospheric smell

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My PhD student Anette Stenslund has made me aware of atmospheric smell as an important dimension in our relation to the world. @stenslund (https://twitter.com/stenslund) In her dissertation, which she defended last…

The earliest memories — the act is lost in oblivion, but the metaphor remains

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One of the earliest memories from my childhood in Stockholm is not about things I did or the outer world I encountered, but about a metaphorical image I associate with…

I can’t recall a single meal

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Högbergsgatan 11 (credit: http://www.angelfire.com) I vividly remember the house on Högbergsgatan on Södermalm in Stockholm, where I lived on the ground floor with my mother, grandmother and grandfather during the first…

Writing memoir for publication or for the desk drawer?

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Around 1950, ~3 years old. I have not yet made up my mind as to whether I shall 1) restrict myself to the process of writing about my own life,…

Moral and emotional self-spanking

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(in Swedish, see approx.  translation here) Ägnade en stor del av september-oktober 2015 åt moralisk och känslomässig själv-spanking på högsta nivå. Läste mer än 40 år gamla brevväxlingar, dagboksanteckningar, manusutkast…

Money in the archive

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My document archive is not only a source for long forgotten thoughts and events. It's also turned out to be a source for unexpected wealth. When I opened a thin…

I was a mistake

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Here are the first photographs of me. I'm "not more than a few weeks old". Somewhat blurred, out of focus. Like my life. I was a mistake. My mother was…

Dreaming about Jacques Ellul

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From my diary, Wednesday 22 July, 1981: "It's early morning. I'm about to wake up, when I feel someone is standing by, or hanging above, the bed. I cannot see…

Counter-factual autobiography

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"Who has not played the great game of counter-factual autobiography?" (Simon Barnes, Ten Million Aliens, 2014) What would my life have looked like if I hadn't taken up a vacancy…

Ethical considerations

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With my mother. Stockholm, 1947. As I explain elsewhere, this is a study of the genre of autobiography / memoir. It is not an autobiography or a memoir as such, and…

Fox or hedgehog?

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credit: http://www.abett.com/blog/2015/08/30/hedgehog-or-fox/ Are you a fox or a hedgehog? The folkish distinction between the two personality types can be found already in a text fragment from the Greek poet Archilochus,…

Canities — what’s that?

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If I were an animal, I would probably be a hoary fox; cf. Archilocus' fox-hedgehog distinction The domain name for this site is derived from the Latin word canities, meaning…

Time to take stock

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As Søren Kierkegaard once famously said, life is lived forwards, but can only be understood backwards. I was born in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1946, right after the Second World War.…

(Museums)kultur som branding- og marketingsværktøj

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Her er nogle af de nøglefraser som kommer at virvle omkring på en seminardag om "kulturen som branding- og marketingsværktøj for både kultur- og erhvervsindustrien", som Culture Nordic afholder på Nationalmuseet d.…

The making of Femme Vitale

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Pharmacopoeia artist Susie Freeman has published a wonderful blogpost reflecting on the making process of their Copenhagen piece, Femme Vitale, which was disclosed to the public at Medical Museion last…

"Anatomy, art and the body" — Copenhagen symposium on Vesalius' 500th anniversary

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To commemorate the 500th anniversary of Andreas Vesalius -- the author of the De humani corporis fabrica -- our historically interested colleagues in the Department of Neuroscience and Pharmacology here at the…

Materialitet og sanselighed — om at bryde visualitetens tyranni på museer

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Indtil for nylig har det været tekster og fortællinger, forklaringer og sammenhænge der har stået i centrum for museernes opmærksomhed. Museerne er blevet opfattet som en slags uformelle læringsrum, hvor…

Science in the Arts seminar at Medical Museion on 9 April, 1-2 pm

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On 9 April 9, the international art laboratory Hotel Pro Forma organizes a seminar discussing the connections between science and artistic process in collaboration with Medical Musieon, the Center for…

Galen som geometer og læge

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Gæsteforsker Kirsten Jungersen her ved Medicinsk Museion har skrevet en artikel om den græske filosof og læge Galens geometriske og medicinske tænkning til et festskrift for den danske klassiske filolog…

Touching The Tactile — workshop at Medical Museion, 10-11 April, 2014

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Next month, Jan Eric Olsén is co-organizing a workshop titled "Touching The Tactile" here at Medical Museion. The aim of the workshop is "to approach the sense of touch via a…

"Så tæt på hinanden som ordene Leber og Leben"

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På torsdag d. 6. marts kl. 20  kommer den tyske forfatter David Wagner til Medicinsk Museion og fortæller om sin prisbelønnede roman Leben -- en intens beretning om tiden før…

Vetenskapsmuseer och den materiella vändningen i humaniora – biopolitisk abdikation eller medborgarengagemang?

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Hvis du tilfældgvis er i Lund om eftermiddagen torsdag den 13. marts, er du meget velkommen til mit seminar på Institutionen för Kulturvetenskaper vid Lunds Universitet. Jeg skal tala om…

Thomas Söderqvists tale ved åbningen af MEDICOTEKNIK, 27. november 2013

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Her er min tale (på svensk) ved åbningen af MEDICOTEKNIK, onsdag den 27. november: Goddag allesamman, jag heter Thomas Söderqvist, jag är professor i medicinhistoria på SUND-fakulteten vid Köpenhamns Universitet,…

Prodekan Birthe Høghs tale ved åbningen af MEDICOTEKNIK, den 27. november 2013

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Her følger den tale som prodekan Birthe Høgh, Det Sundhedsvidenskabelige Fakultet, Københavns Universitet, holdt i forbindelse med åbningen af udstillingen MEDICOTEKNIK onsdag den 27. november 2013: Først mange tak til…

Er det ubetinget godt at blive ved med at være nyskabende og nytænkende?

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Overvejelser med udgangspunkt i Ragnar Granits ”Discovery and Understanding” (1972) -- præsenteret ved debatdag "Forskning og livsløb -- har kreativiteten en udløbsdato?", Medicinsk Museion, tirsdag den 8. oktober 2013. ”Bibeholdes…

Forskning og livsløb – har kreativiteten en udløbsdato? Debatdag på Medicinsk Museion den 8. oktober.

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Et af aldringsforskningens mere komplicerede emner er kompetence og kreativitet set i et livsperspektiv. Hvornår kan man “toppe” – og inden for hvad? Bibeholdes kreativiteten og energien til at tænke…

Social media, research and museum curatorship — a concrete example

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This post was originally published on the official blog of the International Congress of the History of Science, Technology and Medicine, held in Manchester 22-28 July, as an appetiser for…

The material life-course of a scientist

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I'm participating with a paper titled "The material life-course of a scientist" at workshop 'The Return of Biography: Reassessing Life Stories in Science Studies' to be held at Science Museum, London,…

Hybrid Psychiatry Room (beta version) in Medical Museion

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A couple of months ago we closed our psychiatry gallery on the 2nd floor in the museum's Academy Building. Instead we have created a smaller room -- a hybrid between…

Verdensklasse, verdensklasse, verdensklasse …

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Jeg troede den danske forskningsverden efterhånden var blevet godt og grundigt vaccineret mod at tale om forskning og uddannelse i "verdensklasse"? Ok, man kan have en dårlig dag indimellem. Være…

Is Yammer really an appropriate communication tool for universities?

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Have you heard about Yammer? If not, you are not alone. Many people, who are otherwise familiar with social media like Facebook and Twitter, haven't. The reason for the relative…

The Data Body on the Dissection Table — a joint Leonardo/Olats and Medical Museion event

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It's less than four weeks left to yet another event here at Medical Museion -- 'The Data Body on the Dissection Table' -- organised by Annick Bureaud from Leonardo/Olats together…

Guest lectures at Medical Museion: Massimiano Bucchi, Morgan Meyer and Bruno Strasser

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Just want to mention three upcoming Thursday afternoon lectures here at Medical Museion  (abstracts will be up on our seminar page soonish): * Thursday 16 May, 3pm: Massimiano Bucchi (Trento) on "Newton’s Chicken. Science in The…

Collecting and displaying healthcare ICT — are medical museums ready for the future?

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Here are some topics that medical museums need to get involved with if we want to engage with contemporary healthcare: * Ambient Assisted Living for Elderly Care * Ambient Intelligence…

Taking down exhibitions can bring us closer to the objects than building new ones (and create more fun)

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I wrote the other day that taking down museum exhibitions could be as much fun as building new ones. That was a pretty spontaneous tongue-in-cheek comment triggered by our conservator…

The colour historians were here

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We've had two specialists in colour history visting from the National Museum of Denmark. They have worked hard grinding down selected areas of the walls and doors in the museum's…

Taking down exhibitions is almost as fun as building them up

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As I wrote in an earlier post, we are now on the track of building up the new semi-permanent exhibition 'Under the Skin' in the museum's Tietkens Gaard building. In…

Human remains — constructing the 'Under the Skin'-exhibition

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We are now in the first phase of the construction of our new 3500 square feet semi-permanent exhibition here at Medical Museion -- provisionally titled 'Under the Skin' -- to…

The substance of fat – a multisensory event about fat

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Want to explore fat with pencil and pastry fork? We seem to live in a world obsessed with fat. Obesity is described as a worldwide health threat, and we are…