Mexico City, UNAM, Hunger, Butterflies

May 25, 2005, [MD]

Some tidbits:

Just saw the movie The Butterfly Effect, and I quite liked it. I’ve seen a few other movies where they use “innovative” (maybe it once was) techniques of jumping to and from in times (Memento comes to mind as a very good example), others were characters struggle with loss of memory, alternate dimensions, thinking they are going crazy - and the viewer doesn’t know which version is “real” (A Beautiful Mind is a good example). Oh, let’s not forget the seminal Sliding Doors, which illustrated nicely “what might have happened”. It was a nice movie though, and raised some philosophical questions. Fate and all that. (What might have happened if I had missed that train going to Oslo for my interview for my United World College, back in 1998? Would I be in Mexico right now?) Simple conclusion: Tiny events can have huge repercussions (The Butterfly Effect, if I remember correctly, posits that a butterfly flapping it’s wings in America can make it rain in China). However, it’s impossible to calculate what the consequences would be (as we see in this movie, where everything he does ends up by making things worse). Maybe I wouldn’t have been in Mexico if I had missed that train, but would I have been any worse off? Impossible to say. A good reason not to regret things.

On a different note, I just started listening to the classical novel “Hunger” (Sult) by Knut Hamsun. It’s a real classic, but I haven’t read many of the Norwegian classics (I am glad they didn’t force us to read much in school though, I might not have wanted to read them now). I am listening to a radio recording (published on CD, borrowed at my local library in Hamar, transferred to my MP3 and stored until now - when can I download this in public domain? I mean it was produced for the free tax-payer supported public broadcasting in Norway). So far, I quite like it. It also talks a lot about Oslo, it’s streets and houses, and I always like “place-bound” books. It’s fun, since I’ve lived there myself. I want to find some books like this about Toronto.

Finally, I am going to Mexico city tomorrow morning. Slightly apprehensive, because it’s a monster of a city (20 million people, only about 5 times my country), but excited to be seeing more of Mexico, and to see my friend whom I haven’t seen in half a year. (Of course, among my good friends, half a year counts as short time. Unfortunately.) I will be living quite near UNAM (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México), which is possibly the largest university in the world - they have 270,000 students! And 30,000 professors. Even though a percentage of these are actually high-school students, since the university also runs some high schools (as I understand), it’s still impressive. They are the only Latin American university to rank on a top-50 list of world universities (upz, PDF), of course these ratings don’t mean much, but still. I hope I get a chance to pop by, maybe listen to a lecture or just walk around. I always like visiting universities and libraries when I am in other cities.


Stian Håklev May 25, 2005 Toronto, Canada
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