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December 16, 2014

Scandinavia: The Sound of Minds Opening

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Magnus Lindkvist lets his eyes wander around the room. He notes that the lights hanging above the bar counter are LED, that the video projector on the ceiling is a modern design and that his mobile phone on the table in front of him is relatively new. Other than that there is very little to suggest that we are living in the future.

“You're drinking coffee, which people have always done, I’m drinking Coca Cola, a drink that is a hundred and ten years old,” he says, and continues to inspect the premises, a bar housed in an old 1930s cinema foyer.

A roar echoes from the cinema auditorium where the 1980s Swedish band, Hansson De Wolfe United, is carrying out a sound check ahead of their comeback. Hardly the music of tomorrow.

“The chap over there,” he says pointing to a man at a table, “Is drinking fermented fruit juice and I’m eating peanuts, which people have probably done for centuries. The portrait on the wall looks quite old. No, not much is happening here.”

This is his reply to the simple question of why we are we so obsessed by the future. Lecturer and author Magnus Lindkvist works that way. Give him an assertion and he will take the opposite view. You could call him a devil’s advocate, but he is more of a sophisticated contrarian.

“Contrarianism is interesting. In the world of financial investment there is always a contrarian investor who goes against the grain. Those people made a killing when the Lehman Brothers crashed. Everybody thought their shares would go up; they thought they’d go down. That’s kind of how I work, as a contrarian,” he explains while taking a handful of peanuts.

Magnus Lindkvist deals in provocation, but not the kind that angers people. He poses a challenge to provoke people into taking a step forward. The title of his latest book Everything We Know Is Wrong feels natural in a way.

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