Lars Fredriksson

Posted 2013-08-12

Why this Interest in Crickets and Chinese? (from the ce06 booklet)

Like many children I felt most at peace in nature, and from an early age I was especially facinated by insects. During my own private excursions in brush and meadow I came across many creeping, jumping and flying little fellows. I could spend whole summers trying to figure out who they were and what special habitats they preferred. I reared eggs and larvae I found and hatched and watched the development and metamorphosis of many a species from egg to imago. Later in life, when I roamed through Europe and North Africa in the sixties, trying to find the preferred habitat of my own organism, I often met with other travellers consulting the Chinese divination classic, the Yi Ching 易經 (Book of Changes) for a more secure passage. I was fascinated by the cryptic, archaic language, and intrigued by the problems of translating such an old text into a modern European language. As the Chinese script and Chinese culture had also long fascinated me, I now got to the point where I seriously started studying the Chinese language in Tangiers in 1969.

Later, in my early years as a librarian working with the Chinese collection of the Swedish Royal Library, cataloguing old books I came across a little blue book wrapper con- taining four small threadbound volumes called Sishengpu 四生譜, “Register of Four Lives”. It was a collection of four individual works, three of which described how to rear and keep live birds like the quail, thrush and siskin (yellow finch) – but the fourth work I could not make head or tail of, most likely because I was mistakenly looking for yet an- other bird.

The name used in the title was the poetic form of cricket, cuzhi 促織. This I learned only after consulting several dictionaries, and I was also given a reference from the Shijing 詩經, The Book of Odes, the oldest collection of poetry with texts dating from the Zhou Dynasty 周 (102–1 bc) to the Spring & Autumn Period 春秋 (0– bc). There it is said that in the beginning of fall, when the women hear the chirping of crickets as they are are drawn closer to the warmth of the village – getting closer and closer until finally they come all the way in under the beds – it signals the coming of autumn and reminds them to start weaving warm clothes for winter.

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Lars Fredriksson has donated many specimens of eight different species of Chinese crickets to the Swedish Museum of Natural History. He started breeding a few species of Chinese crickets to study their behaviour, and has lectured on crickets and cricket culture in many different places and to much varied audiences.

Lectures over the years

  • Lectures for the Entomological Soci- ety of Sweden, for the Herpetological Society of Stockholm, at the jazz club Mondo, and at the Department of Entomology of the Institute of Science and Technology in Bangalore.
  • Lecture in Chinese on Chinese cricket culture in the arts at the opening of the Qi Baishi memorial museum in Beijing, October 2005.
  • Lectures on sonic identity for some major public relations and media companies both in Sweden and in China.

• The jazz club Mondo in Stockholm
Lecture and concert, October 2005.
• The jazz club Mondo in Stockholm Midnight mass of the Cricket Rosary Orchestra, December 2005.
• Chinese New Year Cricket Concert in the Stockholm Concert Hall for the 2005 Year of Design.
• Kobra/SVT Footage from the concert broadcast on Swedish TV 2 (“Kobra”), with interview.
• The jazz club Bacchi Vapen, Stockholm Concert with lecture and improvisations with the jazz group Berger Knutsson Spering.
• ‘Lec-dem’ concert at the Department of Entomology in Bangalore
• Several ambient installations of both live and recorded crickets – among them a fashion show.
• Spontaneous concerts “wherever I walk as usually carry at least 5–10 crickets”.
• Ambient and sonic art exhibitions with picture shows.