ANow grew out of a recognition that contemporary media lacks a rigorous intellectual component, while academe (the social sciences and humanities in particular) is increasingly specialized and isolated; largely limited to publishing its findings in scientific journals. Although there has been a concerted effort in recent years for scholarly research and findings to be ‘applied’ and made more accessible through traditional publishing formats (namely short books and monographs written by academics for a wider audience), there is no such platform in the increasingly crowded and proliferating domain of new media.

In response to the largely insular world of academia and the intellectual dearth characterizing contemporary media, ANow sets out to be an original platform in both content and form. As a cultural and artistic initiative, ANow sets out to combine academic rigour with journalistic freedom to investigate topics and explore ideas that fall outside of academic disciplines and specialist conventions.

ANow takes the best from both worlds to develop an authentic and truly original contribution to the new media landscape.

For more information about the project, please see our About Page.


“I don’t think science is the key to understand human beings. I think fiction, literature, is the key. “

In this episode of ANOW Profile, the Danish writer and former soldier, Peter Hovmand gives a rare interview in English. Hovmand offers a glimpse into his wide literary reading and reflective intellectual character. He touches on the allure and current state of the French Foreign Legion, Ernst Jünger’s “insanely sane” account of the warfare of WW1, and the sustained importance of warfare for understanding the human condition.

Hovmand provides an interesting account on Nietzsche’s ‘übermench’ by introducing the surprisingly simple key of naming it as a project to be thought of in terms of a thousand years. He accounts for the importance to his own writing – stylistically as well as thematically in reference to his main literary influencers – Ernst Jünger (1895-1998), Ernest Hemingway and Knut Hamsun.

ANOW’s ‘Profile’ is a show format which provides a glimpse into the thought world of interesting individuals, through an interview-based conversation.

Peter Hovmand: Introduction and brief Biography

Peter Hovmand (1974-) is a Danish writer, professional soldier and photographer. He has written seven books. His literary repertoire include topics such as warfare, love, adventure. Inspired by Hemingway, Nietzsche, Hamsun and Ernst Jünger, he deals with difficult subjects and issues, such as the struggle of coming with age, suicide and the effects of post-traumatic stress and trauma.He has written a total of seven books. His debut was the acclaimed Til det yderste(1998) (Eng. To the limit), a military memoir about his service as a recruit in the French Foreign legion. He has published two essay collections: Hen over jorden (2000) and Ikke altid sådan her [Not always like this](2012). His philosophical novel Soldatens Dans (Hovmand 2003) treats the attraction and horrors of warfare from the perspective of a young man who shortly after world war 2 joins the French legion. This philosophical approach is akin to the critical literary analysis provided in the 2013 publication Knut Hamsuns oprør – a portrayal of Hamsun as someone drawing on Nietzsche’s re-evaluation of all values(2013). The novel Grødhoved (2014a) is a tragicomic portrayal of a soldier returning from Afghanistan, dealing with his recovery from a serious brain injury and the hardship of re-adjusting to life outside the military context. Hovmand has also written a travel guidebook to West Jutland called Vild med Vestjylland (2014b).

Hovmand is as to date untranslated into English. The interview with Fredrik Weibull is the first conducted in English.

Interview Highlights

Why do people join the Foreign legion?

Hovmand discusses the reasons people volunteer to go to the Foreign legion. He names romantic and idealistic aspects as his own reasons for joining: “…to be a professional soldier, also with the purpose of doing good for Europe, so it made sense in an idealistic way…” (02.40-02.55)

His memoirs from the Foreign legion, Til det yderste (1998), Hovmand suggest was meant as a “critique of the politics in Europe”, in sense that, as he puts it, “we don’t really do much for other people” (03.40-04.00), adding that the Syrian involvement has not left him impressed.

Primarily Til det yderste deals with the “training of young soldiers, and how they developed” (04.50-04.55) in the legion and the “rough” form this training takes.

The distinguishing aspect about the legion is that people come from so many different nationalities and backgrounds. He also points out that the lack of something explains why people volunteer fundamentally: “they have different reasons to go there. They all miss something in their life, that they hope to get there. (06.20-06.55)”

 Why is the philosophical question about why people wage war so important?

 Hovmand points out that a key question that interests him is the philosophical one “Why are we making war.” (08.10).

FW: “Why is war such an important philosophical theme?”

PH: “Because people don’t want to understand it. [For example], in Denmark, when something is very horrible …and people say ‘I don’t understand’, I don’t appreciate that kind of talking because we should try to understand war and why it happens”. And that is why I think it is such an important philosophical question. But I am dealing with it more psychologically in my books” (08.40-09.20).

What is the importance of the trio Hemingway, Hamsun and Ernst Jünger?

Hovmand once described himself as a combination of three important writers – Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961), Hamsun (1859-1952) and Ernst Jünger (1895-1998).

PH: “Hemingway is probably the best writer of short stories. Ernst Jünger is probably the best writer on war. Knut Hamsun is probably one of the vest writers in Scandinavia. One thing that people [tend to] forget about Knut Hamsun is that he wrote his best books before 1900… He was ahead of his time. ” (16.00). The latter claim was the topic for Hovmand’s book Knut Hamsuns oprør (Knut Hamsun’s Revolt, my translation).

“He developed the main [fictional] character…into something we can recognize in the modern society …struggl[ing] with the ability or lack of ability to be a free human being. And that is quite new. Another new thing is that he developed the storyteller in fiction…a very self-focused storyteller…” (17.20-18.20).

 What is the relationship between the thinking, literary world and the world of the soldier?

Hovmand debunks the perception – which he regards as a dominant one – of the ‘writer-soldier’ or ‘thinker-soldier’ as “rare”. He emphatically claims Ernst Jünger as the most important figure in this category:

“…of course we have a lot of the great writers after the first world war – they have been to the war – and the same thing after the second world war. And the most important of these is Ernst Jünger, absolutely…because he went all the way.” (19.00-19.36)

Here, Hovmand calls attention to the example of the variation in duration in each of Jünger’s first three books:

 Storm of steel, 1920, (Jünger 2003);

The battle as inner experience, from 1922 (Jünger 1980); and

Sturm (1923).

Jünger and The aesthetics of Terror

“…if you look at his first three books: the first one is covering the whole of the first world war…, the second one is dealing with a month, and the third one is dealing with a week. So he is a man who can write thick books with a special focus, and I admire that very much.” (19.40-19.57).

Ernst Jünger’s literary significance, especially concerning the topic of war, Hovmand attributes on the following:

“He is very honest, he goes into detail, and goes all the way, almost [in an] inhuman [way]. He goes really deep into …the aesthetics of terror. He has no fear. He went beyond fear… I don’t think any other writer went this far [in exploring the subject matter], even at a philosophical level. But he shows it so that it is understandable. He uses metaphors at a larger level. It is kind of scary, actually.” (24.00-25.05)

Literature’s importance: fiction and storytelling as key to understanding human beings

PH:         “Science all to itself…is very dangerous, because we are not gods. As human beings we have to try to understand ourselves. And I don’t think science is the key to understand human being. I think fiction, literature, is the key. Even philosophy is storytelling. Historical science is storytelling. Most things, one way or the other, end up being storytelling. What is the interesting thing in all of this? It is people trying to understand people…The key is to appreciate literature in a broader sense.” (31.10 – 31.45).

The declining role of the intellectual

On the twinned question “What is and what should be the role of the intellectual?”,

Hovmand offered the following:

“In most of the Western world [the role of the intellectual] is marginal…In France [intellectuals] still have some importance. Maybe France can teach the rest of us. I think Macron will try to deal with that. That is the hope, I guess.” (33.20-33.30)

Hovmand comments on the replacement of the figure of the public intellectual by the

“pop cultural figure” of the celebrity, suggesting it signals a decline of intellectualism. In this sphere of contemporary society, he attributes this new public figure’s status to wealth:

“…the main problem is the importance of money in the world we live in. People think about money way too much… The fascination with [celebrities] being rich, is a key to [understanding] the respect of celebrities. If they are earning a lot of money they don’t even need to say anything intelligent. They just need to be successful in earning money. It is a big problem in our society…because it is destroying the importance of being aware of what the problems of the world are. I think Nietzsche would say that things didn’t go the right way.” (34.50-35.18).

FW “What is an intellectual?”

PH “It is someone interested in the problems of the world and is trying to understand them, all the time, more or less. Using their spare time to get wiser [about] the problems of mankind.” (37.40-37.55).

This conception informs Hovmand’s own reason for writing. Asked “What drives your intellectual engagement? What is your fuel?” Hovmand answered

“It is to make the reader or listener more aware of themselves as an interpreter of what they see and hear. It is the same awareness that Nietzsche is trying to give the reader.” (38.00-38.22).


Hovmand, Peter. 1998. Til Det Yderste – Rekrut i Fremmedlegionen. Copenhagen, Denmark: Lindhardt & Ringhof.

Hovmand, Peter. 2000. Hen over Jorden. Copenhagen, Denmark: Lindhardt & Ringhof.

Hovmand, Peter. 2003. Soldatens Dans. Copenhagen, Denmark: Rosinante.

Hovmand, Peter. 2012. Ikke Altid Sådan Her. Copenhagen, Denmark: Forlaget Patagonien.

Hovmand, Peter. 2013. Knut Hamsuns Oprør – Hamsun, Nietzsche Og Oprøret Mod Det Moderne Samfund. Copenhagen, Denmark: Forlaget Patagonien.

Hovmand, Peter. 2014a. Grødhoved. Copenhagen, Denmark: Forlaget Patagonien.

Hovmand, Peter. 2014b. Vild Med Vestjylland – Anderledes Ture i Det Vilde Vesten. Copenhagen, Denmark: Forlaget Patagonien.

Jünger, Ernst. 1923. Sturm. Hannoverscher Kurier.

Jünger, Ernst. 1980. “Der Kampf Als Inneres Erlebnis, 1922.” In Sämtliche Werke. Band 7., 9–103. Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta.

Jünger, Ernst. 2003. Storm of Steel [In Stahlgewittern, 1920]. Translated by Michael Hofmann. London, UK: Allen Lane.


Oriana Fallaci, Writer, Writing, Peter Hovmand, warfare, Foreign Legion, Soldier, Korengal, Afghanistan, Syria, Hamsun, Hemingway, Ernst Jünger, Veterans, freedom, Literature, George Brandes, Strindberg, terror, aesthetics of terror, storytelling, literature, Karen Blixen, science, Macron, awareness,

Further reading

Ernst Jünger. 2017 [1933] The worker : dominion and form

Translated from German by B. Costea and L.P. Hemming. Evanston, Illinois : Northwestern University Press.

Hamsun, Knut. 1890 Sult [Hunger]. Oslo: Gyldendal.

Hamsun, Knut. 1894 Pan. Oslo: Gyldendal.

On Ernst Jünger’s third book, Sturm : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sturm_(novella)


Oriana Fallaci interview, on Charlie Rose https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tJdG7lQnevY


The Hurt Locker (2008), Kathryn Bigelow. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hurt_Locker

Korengal (2014) , Sebastian Junger,

Restrepo (2010), Sebastian Junger,

Hamsun (1996), Jan Troell. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hamsun_(film

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“The fundamental form of tennis is aristocratic… it is pure character!”

 In this episode, Pete Watt and Fred Weibull discuss why they think tennis is the perfect game.Along the way, they uncover why Serena Williams’ style is aristocratic, Pete Sampras was democratic and Federer is boring.

In doing so they submit their analytical gaze to an important aspect of contemporary popular media culture: sports analysis and commentary. However, rather than extending this line of journalistic analysis, they look at tennis as something more than a mere sport, but rather a ‘dramatic event’ in which some key cultural, political and philosophical issues are performed, explored and resolved. They begin by positioning tennis as something more than a mere sport or game, but rather an activity with its own intellectual history with a range of writers, artists, and philosophers turning their attention to this wonderful game. After positioning tennis in relation to its rich intellectual context, Pete and Fred attempt to locate why tennis has received such considered attention. In doing so they focus on the character, form and dramatic quality of tennis in relation to, ‘technology’, ‘national styles of play’ and ‘sex’.

References / Further Watching/Reading

73 Questions with Anna Wintour – YouTube. (2014). Vogue. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MhXwO_mkdzQ

Amis, M. (2009). Tennis, My Beautiful Game. The Guardian.

Deleuze, Parnet, Boutang L’Abécédaire de Gilles Deleuze, 1996

Dyer, G. (2017). Line judge: where are the great tennis books? Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/jul/03/great-books-tennis-tennis-winmbledon

Foster Wallace, D. (2016). String Theory. Library of Congress. Retrieved from https://loa.org/books/504-string-theory-david-foster-wallace-on-tennis

Gustafsson, Lars. 1983. The Tennis Players. New Directions Publishing Corporation.

John M. Hoberman (2007) The sportive muse: Lars Gustafsson’s Tennisspelarna, The International Journal of the History of Sport, 4:3, 360-364, DOI: 10.1080/09523368708713638

McEnroe, J. (2002). Serious.

Sullivan, J. J. (2016). David Foster Wallace’s Perfect Game. The New Yorkerhttps://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/david-foster-wallaces-perfect-game

Sharapova, Maria. 2017. Unstoppable: My Life So Far. Penguin UK.

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“Do something that matters!”

In this episode Fred Weibull interviews the Finnish entrepreneur and sociologist Jyri Engeström.

Online and Real world Communities: Survival of our society

By emphasizing his sociological background Jyri (a recurring aspect in his narratives[1]) Jyri draws attention to his long-running interest and concern for communities, both online and off-line. Here he concerns himself with the long-term survival of societies, invoking a classical economic scarcity argument and suggesting a historical positive correlation between equality and long-term survival (c.f. Jared Diamond’s book Collapse (Diamond, 2005). He said:

“The societies that tend to survive more long-term are the ones where you have a community that is able to organize itself and anticipate long-term survival. If we look at our society today it is arguable that there are things that people are involved in, for example on the internet, that are comparable to digital versions of the Easter Island heads” (08:15-08:52).

Critique of Silicon Valley and Start-up Culture: Work on stuff that matters

Jyri suggest what should be done with the principle “work on stuff that matters”[2], an admonition attributable to Tim O’Reilly (O’Reilly, 2009a, 2009b), Founder and CEO at O’Reilla Media. Three of the main principles O’Reilly outlined in a blog post in 2009 were

1.’Work on something that matters to you more than money.’

2.’Create more value than you capture.’

3.‘Take the long view.’ (O’Reilly, 2009b).

Jyri draws on this message and offers it to “Silicon Valley and Start-up Culture” as a basis for a critique, saying:

“Do something that matters. This is a criticism of Silicon Valley and Start-up Culture for not focussing its efforts on the things that make a difference for our long-term survival as a collective. What we need is for the current generation, who are studying, including at Hanken School of Economics is to really take that to heart.” (10.30-11.20).

The historical shift from a ‘Hacker Ethic’ to a ‘Start-Up Ethic’ and the ‘Boy-King’

In relation to this Jyri diagnoses the status of the contemporary tech world as entwined with what he names the “boy king” – a particular form of the figure of the entrepreneur. Reflecting on the developments in the past decade or so, Jyri suggests that there has been a shift from a ‘Hacker Ethic’ (Himanen, 2001) to a ‘Start-up Ethic’. The former involves, he says, “…an open source ideology, where computer code should be freely available, modifiable and different forms of copyright should apply to it through for example the Creative Commons framework where intellectual property is allowed to be shared more freely”. The ‘Hacker Ethic’ is “aligned”, Jyri suggests, with “a more equal, level platform, from which to go forward”. To Jyri the shift away from this ethic entails a cause for concern which potentially undermines O’Reilly’s suggested direction:

“I worry that ever since the rise of social platforms like Facebook or Twitter or Snapchat what started off as the Hacker Ethic… has been replaced by a ‘Startup ethic’… At some point, maybe in 2007, the Hacker Ethic went out of fashion and instead …it was replaced by the Entrepreneur, the “boy-king”, the young white guy in a hoodie, who’s a billionaire before he has graduated from school. For the last decade or so we have had a cohort of people growing up around those values. ” (11:22-13:40).

Jyri says that the main risk is that this fosters division and inequality in our societies.

There was an Academic/Intellectual presence on the Helsinki Entrepreneurial scene, 1995-2005

In the course of a decade entrepreneurship has come to approach a hegemonic status not only in business culture, but increasingly as part of that of mainstream society. Although a ‘Silicon Valleyfication’ might be a familiar story in most entrepreneurial centres around the world, the episode entertains the particular ‘scene’ of Helsinki. Around year 2000 technological promises drew together – perhaps somewhat conspicuously – creative people from the social sciences and humanities.

Jyri’s suggestion is that sociologists, anthropologists and philosophers were drawn to ‘tech’ because they saw in it a promise to bring about social change. The central watchword, according to Jyri, was to bring into reality an online “community”.

Jyri Engeström: Brief Background

Jyri Engeström is a Finnish Entrepreneur and sociologist. He founded the microblogging service Jaiku (sold to Google year) and the location-based social tool Ditto (subsequently bought by Groupon year).

Trained in sociology at the University of Helsinki, he pursued doctoral studies at the department of Organisation, Work and Technology at Lancaster University Management School (LUMS), UK. There, he was supervised by recognized sociologist Lucy Suchman and organisation scholar Frank Blackler. His doctoral research focused on the relationship between the social construction of technology (SCOT) and innovation in hi-tech corporations.

From the 1990s he has been an important figure and respected member of the Global tech scene. Jyri also a well-respected on global tech scene. During the early 2000s he brought interesting and acclaimed people together through talks, seminars and conferences through an organization called Aula.

As a contribution to re-building local communities during the summers he runs a café outside Helsinki called Kavila Siili (kahvilasiili.com). Together with Katerina Fake he also recently launched a new venture fund called Yes VC (Yes.vc). 

References / Topics of Discussion / Further Watching/Reading

Diamond, J. (2005). Collapse : how societies choose to fail or succeed. Viking Press.

Engeström, J. (2017, December 5). How to Be Happy. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h30LklqU-xI

Himanen, P. (2001). The Hacker Ethic and the Spirit of the Information Age. New York: Random House.

Loizos, C. (2018, January 24). Founders Caterina Fake and Jyri Engeström make it official with a new venture fund, Yes VC. Techcrunch. Retrieved from https://techcrunch.com/2018/01/24/founders-caterina-fake-and-jyri-engestrom-make-it-official-with-a-new-venture-fund-yes-vc/?ncid=rss&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TechCrunch%2FMattBurns+%28TechCrunch+%C2%BB+Matt+Burns%29

O’Reilly, T. (2009a). “Work on stuff that matters.” Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hc7Z5gmwXOg

O’Reilly, T. (2009b). Work on Stuff that Matters: First Principles. Retrieved from http://radar.oreilly.com/2009/01/work-on-stuff-that-matters-fir.html


[1] The importance of Jyri’s sociological background also notably transpired in an interview with TechCrunch, where his partner Katerina Fake commented: “Jyri and I both came from humanities backgrounds. We’re not engineers. We’re not CS people. I studied English Literature.” (Loizos, 2018)

[2] Engeström also invoked this point at a Talk at Slush, 2017 (Engeström, 2017).

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In this episode, Pete Watt and Fred Weibull submit Johnny Depp to a cultural analysis. They begin by unpacking Depp’s haunting mystique, assumed authenticity and extensive curriculum vitae through a series of questions related to his career and celebrity.


The seminar uncovers a key aspect of Depp’s character and cultural significance, which appears to be a curiously conspicuous expression of his relationship and commitment to the legacy of the late Dr Hunter S Thompson. For reasons discussed, this relationship explicates Depp’s propensity and desire to move beyond his craft of acting to other ventures. They discuss how this desire constitutes a will pervasive in contemporary Hollywood for actors to be and appear more than a mediation of their craft: actors in and outside Hollywood increasingly appear to want to be more than humble servants of the film-maker and script-writer, but place an increasing emphasis on backing political and philanthropic causes, become moral figureheads, and/or artists in their own right. Conclusions are drawn around the nature of Depp’s reliance on Hunter S Thompson’s own personal and literary genius, leading us to describe a pervasive conundrum faced by actors to seek association, support and recognition from individuals outside their domain. In the final segment, we consider whether this trend in Hollywood for its actors to seek success and impact beyond the virtue of their craft speaks to a pervasive vice in contemporary celebrity culture.

Top 5 Takeaways:

  • Depp should be recognized for the great cultural deed of bringing the personal and literary genius of Hunter S. Thompson to the popular imagination.
  • Ironically, this deed undermines Depp’s own talent and cultural contribution as an actor and opens him up to the accusation of charlatanry.
  • There is a trend among the Hollywood elite to seek association, acclaim, and role models outside of their craft.
  • This imperative for actors to reach outside of their craft towards political, philanthropic and entrepreneurial endeavours is a vice which undermines the virtue of their craft and personal talent.
  • The fact the Hunter S. Thompson creates monsters out of all those he touches is testament to his power and genius.

References / Topics of Discussion / Further Watching/Reading

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998) – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120669/?ref_=tt_rec_tti

Breakfast with Hunter (2003)http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0367565/?ref_=tt_rec_tt

For No Good Reason (2012) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2112152/

 Buy the Ticket, Take the Ride: Hunter S. Thompson on Film (2006) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0775438/?ref_=tt_rec_t

Gonzo: The Life and Work of Hunter S. Thompson (2008) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0479468/?ref_=tt_rec_tt

The Rum Diary (2011) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0376136/?ref_=nv_sr_1

Doug Stanhope’s guest column in support of Johnny Depp: https://www.thewrap.com/johnny-depp-is-being-blackmailed-by-amber-heard-heres-how-i-know-guest-column/

More on this: https://www.thewrap.com/amber-heard-gives-statement-to-lapd-to-set-the-record-straight-on-johnny-depp-abuse-allegations

Where the Buffalo Roam (1980)http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0081748/?ref_=tt_rec_tt


  • Stanhope published his letter in The Wrap, not The Wire.
  • The film-adaptation of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas was released in 1998 not 1993
  • The myth of the figure that flew too close to the sun was Icarus, as represented in Pieter Bruegel’s Landscape with the Fall of Icarus (1558). Ovid’s treatment in his Metamorphosis can be found in Book VIII: 183-235, ‘Daedalus and Icarus.’

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