“There was also a special box about Martin Beck, ‘the well-known detective and Chief of the National Murder Squad’, but when Martin Beck reached the words ‘Sweden’s Maigret’, he threw down the newspaper in the empty chair beside him.”—from Cop Killer, by Maj Sjöwall & Per Wahlöö
What about the cop shows? Cars are continually swerving out of control, crashing, and catching fire. The police are always good and they always win. Do not ignore that point: The police always win. What a lesson that is. You should not fight authority, and even if you do, you will lose. The message here is, Be passive. And—cooperate. If Officer Baretta asks you for information, give it to him, because Officer Beratta is a good man and to be trusted. He loves you, and you should love him.
So I ask, in my writing, What is real? Because unceasingly we are bombarded with pseudo-realities manufactured by very sophisticated people using very sophisticated electronic mechanisms. I do not distrust their motives; I distrust their power. They have a lot of it. And it is an astonishing power: that of creating whole universes, universes of the mind. I ought to know. I do the same thing. It is my job to create universes, as the basis of one novel after another. And I have to build them in such a way that they do not fall apart two days later. Or at least that is what my editors hope. However, I will reveal a secret to you: I like to build universes which do fall apart. I like to see them come unglued, and I like to see how the characters in the novels cope with this problem. I have a secret love of chaos. There should be more of it. Do not believe—and I am dead serious when I say this—do not assume that order and stability are always good, in a society or in a universe. The old, the ossified, must always give way to new life and the birth of new things. Before the new things can be born the old must perish. This is a dangerous realization, because it tells us that we must eventually part with much of what is familiar to us. And that hurts. But that is part of the script of life. Unless we can psychologically accommodate change, we ourselves begin to die, inwardly. What I am saying is that objects, customs, habits, and ways of life must perish so that the authentic human being can live. And it is the authentic human being who matters most, the viable, elastic organism which can bounce back, absorb, and deal with the new.”
The smell of floor wax and disinfectant filled Kapak’s nostrils. It was the smell of governments, the smell of the physical power that dragged people in who were dirty or bleeding or vomiting and made them invisible in some cell or interrogation room, and then cleaned up the mess. It was a reminder that the government was big, its surfaces hard and enduring and polished, and that human beings were small, soft, dirty and weak. Thousands of them could be herded through her and there would be no sign of it, not even a human smell.
When the protesters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square managed to set up a PA system, their newfound sonic dominance of that space sent a message at least as powerful as the words they transmitted. Indeed, the medium was a message: new voices, amplified.