Norwegian

Klara Hveberg: Author and mathematician


Photo: Agnete Brun

Main page
Biography
Excerpts
Interviews
Reviews
Portraits

Bonus:
Fractals
Magic trick with two Rubiks-cubes

Email: hvebergklara[at]gmail.com
Excerpts


On longing:

In order to walk away from someone you love, every organ in your body must be notified. It is not sufficient for the brain to have made up its mind. For the heart can make the body turn around. As can the lips, the uterus, the gut, the neck pit, the earlobes, the eyelids, the hollows of the knees, the toes, the hip bone, — yes, even the belly button — can make the body turn around. As can the deceitful spaces in-between, where imprints of the loved one may be concealed. The space between nameless toes. The distance between the chin and the throat. The gap between the labia. Come, my friends. Come with me now. I need you all.
And never look back.
Two lungs moving away. Four chambers of the heart, twelve pairs of ribs, thirty-four vertebrae and a tailbone. Two dimples on the lower back. Ten tender fingertips. Eight meters of intestines. Four liters of blood. Two square meters of skin. All moving away.
Knowing this: Without him I have no one. Without him I am no one. For without him I don’t know who I am. And yet you force yourself further away. The spinal cord, the cerebellum — yes, the entire central nervous system — must obey this command: We will move on. And never look back. 

On chocolate:

There are two types of confectionary lovers. Those who take their time studying the descriptions on the chocolate box in order to figure out which piece they want. And who then spend just as long looking for that particular piece, perhaps only to realize that someone else has already taken it. In that case they repeat the procedure while swallowing down their disappointment at having to settle for another piece. If the piece they wanted is still available, they then risk having set such high expectations for how it will taste that they end up disappointed none the less. The other type of confectionary lover takes a random piece from the box without even looking at it, pops it happily into their mouth, and seems to enjoy a completely carefree existence. Sometimes, people in the first category can infect people in the second through their behaviour, thereby complicating their lives unnecessarily. Jakob can no longer eat confectionary as effortlessly as he used to. It's Rakel's fault.

On the soul:

«So this is where the soul is located, between the shoulder blades,» says Jakob. «They should have known, all those who believe that humans don’t have a soul. They must have forgotten to look for it just there.» «The soul only sits there when it clumps together» says Rakel. «And where does it sit otherwise?» asks Jakob. «Otherwise it is fluid and much harder to locate,» answers Rakel. «Poor terrified little soul - we can give it a bit of heat treatment, so it can regain fluid form,» says Jakob. «But right now, I can at least kiss you, right on the soul.»

On love:

Maybe being loved is like being zoomed in on. Like someone undertaking an endless journey into you, enabling you to see all the beauty you contain. That you are an entire universe of exotic shapes, with ever-increasing copies of yourself - only with a slight twist. Like fanciful variations on a known theme, from viewpoints you never even knew existed. Everyone deserves to experience such a journey at least once in their life. It's the most beautiful thing she's ever known. Not only have new spaces opened up in her, but it's as if she's been drawn in an entirely new dimension. And perhaps one day she'll discover that this dimension is not an integer.

On mathematics:

Every complex number has a complex conjugated twin, which is inverted - a mirror image - along the x-axis, and has the same real part. Only the imaginary part is different: the equal-sized opposite. If you multiply a complex number by itself, you get a new complex number. But if you multiply a complex number by its complex conjugate, you get a real number.
So it's important to find your complex conjugated twin - and to multiply yourself by him. Then the product will be real. Although you might find yourself waiting eight years to do so.

On ferries:

Ferries crossing on the fjord. Coming towards one another, each from their own side, meeting and becoming one before they slowly slide away from each other again. Pappa calls them crossing ferries, and times how long it takes from when the ferries meet until they part ways. Had he known the length of the ferries, he could calculate the speed at which they are moving, and had he known their speed, he could calculate how long they are. Unfortunately he knows neither of these things, but he times them regardless. "Nineteen point eight seconds," he says, satisfied. Rakel calls them kissing ferries, and hopes that they will last for a long, long time.

At the University:

The university's Abel building has twelve floors; two hundred and fourteen steps. Rakel has always been fascinated by staircases. L-shaped, U-shaped or S-shaped; helical, spiral or straight with a landing. Escalators. When she was small, she would pretend that the steps were piano keys; take any stairs she encountered by playing songs with her feet. «Nøtteliten» on the way up. «Kjerringa med staven» on the way down. If the staircase was a long one she would have to play several verses to get all the way to the bottom. She played «Fløy en liten blåfugl» too, but the last note was scary. She'd have to jump five full steps at the end.
(…)
Not many people whistle as they take the stairs of the Abel building. Rakel wonders whether Jakob Krogstad is a whistler. And which key he walks in. When she was little, she had imagined that all people walk with a particular tonality - some in a major key, others in a minor one. She had mostly walked around in a minor key - like the violin sonata by César Franck. Only when she decided to play the piece herself did she discover that it was actually called the «Sontata for violin and piano in A major». Despite the fact that it was so sad. Imagine misjudging your own key like that.
(…)
The mandatory philosophy lectures will be held in auditorium 2 in the chemistry department. On the tour they were given by the students in the year above, they'd been led down into the basement of the physics department. A labyrinth of corridors wound their way to auditorium 2 in the chemistry building. Afterwards, she had tried to walk this same route alone but ended up getting lost. She only just made it out again, the same way she'd come in. She'll have to do what Hansel and Gretel did - sprinkle breadcrumbs after herself along the corridors so that she can find her way out. And should she still get lost, she can think of something funny. Until the cleaning lady eventually finds her.

At the book store:

Rakel stands in the basement level of the student bookstore. She's just tried to stack the twelve volumes of In Search of Lost Time in such a way that she'll be able to carry them up the stairs to the cashier and pay for them, and she's just discovered it's impossible. She can't carry all the books at once. They're on sale, the hardback editions, at 49 kroner per book. It's a bargain, and there's a risk the book will be sold out if she returns to buy the rest of the series later. She starts to count how many copies remain of each volume, so she can buy the volumes there's fewest left of first and ensure the greatest chance they'll still have the ones she needs when she comes back. In the middle of her calculations she gets the feeling that someone is looking at her, amused. She glances up to catch sight of Jakob standing there, watching her. «Shall I help you carry them, so you can buy all the volumes at once?» he says. But then he adds: «These books are absolutely wonderful.» His eyes well up as he says it. She's always thought the word 'wonderful' too big to be used. She'd felt queasy when Ibsen's Nora told Helmer everything was 'wonderful' in Norwegian class in high school.

On music:

Pappa's hands. Rakel loves to watch them as they fly across the piano keys, filling the living room with Bach. Her favourite is the chorale prelude called "Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ". She gets to sit on Pappa's lap while they play Bach's two-part inventions. Rakel plays the hight voice with her right hand, while Pappa plays the low voice with his left. It's as if their hands are talking to each other; are in agreement. Saying almost the same thing - first Rakel with her high voice, then Pappa with the deeper one. Then they talk over each other, but are friends all the same. This is the part she likes best, because their hands move closer to each other. There are butterflies in her stomach. First she runs down after Pappa to tickle him. Then she has to run up again, so that he won't be able to catch her. It's almost as if they're playing a tickling game on the piano. Afterwards, it's the other way around. Pappa's voice that says something first. Then Rakel answering almost the same, only with a slight twist. As if she's teasing him a little.
(…)
But the best thing about the notes is that they are never alone, even though it might sometimes sound that way. Pappa lifts the lid off the piano so she can see this for herself. When he plays a low C, there is a little hammer that hits the C string inside the piano, so that this string begins to vibrate. But Rakel can see that the high C string an octave higher up starts to vibrate a little, too. It seems it simply cannot help itself. Pappa explains that the high C vibrates twice as fast as the low one - that's why they work so well together. And the G vibrates three times as fast. These are what are known as overtones. It's so nice that the notes are linked together in this way. That you're never as alone as you might think you are, here in the world.



Shorter quotes:

— Some of the best things in life are a result of misunderstandings.

— Perhaps medical students don't get taught what love looks like on a cardiogram.

— She can't be connected to someone at just a single point. She needs to be connected to the other person all the way.

— It's impossible to have an entirely dark view of existence while one's neck is being kissed.

— Before he leaves her, she needs a weight transfer.

— Once you've started to consider your options, it becomes difficut to stop.

— If you don't have friends among the living, you have to seek company among the dead.

— In the arithmetic of the heart the difference between one and two equals the difference between one and infinitely many.

— While writers are poets in the universe of language, mathematicians seek poetry in the language of the universe.

— Perhaps she can write the difficult second novel before she has started the first?

— To impale one's heart on love is also a form of suicide.

Copyright © 2019 Klara Hveberg