WeirdSpace Digital Library - Culture without borders

About the author/site
... or 'Why I'm wasting my time with this'

Why am I doing this? I like a good story and I like the idea of preserving cultural heritages, building cross-cultural bridges, and adding something new to the Internet... Simple as that... Well... Maybe it's not that simple, when you get to the nitty-gritty parts of making it work... but my reason for doing this really is that simple.

I started back in 2003 with a basic idea about what I wanted to do. As the site evolved I started including elements that made sense to include, e.g. public domain texts and comic book indexes. As the elements started getting some bulk, they also started becoming popular. At the same time it made the general site structure messy, so after considering the pros and cons for some time I decided to split the site up in two parts. The .dk site would go back to its original idea as a historical site while the .info part would be the bibliographic/digital library site.

Making knowledge available
Making knowledge available to people is a big thing with me. I grew up in a society with a lot of well-meaning people who focused on their small society. Life was about earning money to afford a house and a car, marry the boyfriend/girlfriend from school and procreate. The general consensus appeared to be that it was bad enough that you had to go to school for nine years, when seven was sufficient. Who in their right mind would study another three years in high school and another five years or more at the university? Rural Denmark in the 1970's and 80's, and the ones not in their right mind would be someone like me, who actually wanted to see the World and have a job I actually liked, and not just work because it was some dreary thing you had to do, to make money.

The educational system reflected this general attitude. The lowest denominator ruled. If not everyone could learn it, no-one should learn it. Pupils needed to be equally dumb in the name of equal rights. Things were dumbed down so everyone could understand, sometimes to the point where it was wrong. After high school I've discovered that quite a few things we learned were wrong or had important parts left out to make it fit the teacher's political or religious beliefs. I was furious when I first discovered that the educational system worked that way. These days it just makes me a little sad and annoyed... and dead set on trying to counter some of the damages done by the various administrations since the 1970's (at least!) by continuously cutting funding to schools and libraries.

One of the steps towards improving education, anywhere, is making knowledge available. This is one of those sites. I can't predict what may be of use for anyone, and I certainly won't tell anyone what they should read or be interested in. I can only make knowledge available, so that's what I do.

The cultural elite
One of the fringe benefits of WeirdSpace has been a chance to flip the bird at what I collectively refer to as the 'cultural elite'. When I grew up there was always someone telling me that comics were for kids and the TV series I enjoyed was crap. In the gymnasium (the Danish high school) great art was plays like Man Friday about Britain being the great imperialistic Satan, or poor self-absorbed sods like the traveler in Johannes V. Jensen's poem Paa Memphis Station. It wasn't any less fiction or closer to reality than say the movie First Blood, or the comic A Contract with God by Will Eisner. Someone had just decided for me what was art and what was crap. The whole gymnasium thing at the time was in many ways an exercise in getting rid of individual thoughts, sort of like 'when we want your opinion, we'll give it to you'. Having the attitude 'Like Hell you will' I never had much success in many of the classes... and after the gymnasium that attitude has remained one of the main reasons for my successes in life. Imagine that!

I've never understood why some people feel the urge to define for others what is art and what's not, or what they should like and dislike. When I look at an Asger Jorn painting I just see some ugly smears of paint, but it's art. Why? Because someone said so. Opera is art too. To me it mostly sounds like people who are in pain and should be put out of their misery. To me it's about as interesting as watching paint dry. Paint is a little more fun as it doesn't have that annoying noise to it. But it's art. Someone said so. I have no problem with that. If you like it and think it's art, it's fine by me. No problem! What I do have a problem with, is when someone tells me that what I like is not art but some second rate crap, and their opinion has more value than mine.

My experience is not unique I'm sad to say. It's not even limited to Denmark. You can't change the minds of the bigots out there, but you can stop them from being the only voices in the debate about what is art and what's not. When someone out there tries to ram their beliefs down our throats, whether it's the Chinese government on The Simpsons, Pokemon and Mickey Mouse, the Pope on The Da Vinci Code or some Francophile movie critic who hates Hollywood, I'll be one of those flipping the bird 'Like Hell you will'. It's not an objective of the site, and I'm not trying to pick af fight with anyone either, the objective is providing information, but IMO it sure is one nice fringe benefit.


Michael Pilgaard
Copenhagen, Denmark, 2012