Order the spring issue here

In duel with Kjetil Rolness

This week the essay collection was published The little life by Steinar Lem. Ny Tid brings here an excerpt from the chapter "The smooth and shiny thing", where the author meets Kjetil Rolness and Erling Fossen in Frognerparken.


Not everyone worries about commercialism, about youth, about the decay of morals and aesthetics. The writer Kjetil Rolness is an elegant and fearless gentleman. He is just a little unlucky with his modern views, his coquettish vulgar taste and his sense of smooth surfaces. There is a lot of honesty in that. We've been arguing in the newspapers. He has challenged – as it is called with an American cliché – my view on consumption. Now I challenge him to a duel.

We meet in Frogner Park. Not at sunrise, then we have to get up too early, and at sunset the mood is too gentle, covering tolerant and dialogue oriented. We meet at 12 o'clock, in a quiet corner not far from the outdoor dining area, as one of us must expect to survive.

Rolness is dressed as Elvis at a far advanced stage.

I myself am more casually and tastelessly dressed. Rolness has Erling Fossen as second. A marvelous choice. Not because Fossen thinks long-term and is worried about the small life, but because he prefers leading roles. Maybe he hopes that Rolness will be dying again, and that a popular public niche will have to be filled. It is quite possible that I can help Fossen there.

I wanted my wife as a secondary. But a female secondary breaks with the genre. Women are too eager to prevent blood from flowing. They are conflict-averse. Should it absolutely be murdered, they prefer poison. I have therefore chosen a second who is not afraid of blood, who is a wild animal, a killer – that is, the cat Lionesse, a master of deadly strategies and with a dignified, festive appearance.

Unfortunately, she does not thrive on foreign lawns. She therefore has a second self – my wife, who keeps the fighting animal in check because it tries to sneak away unseen.

The falls drink from a beer glass.

Rolness is challenged, and will fire the first shot:

"The end-time pro!" It smacks sharply.

"Reality deniers!" I fire back.

A little smoke. No significant damage. One second strides toward her husband, the Elvis figure, the other reluctantly drawn to me in ribbons, so the firearms can be recharged.

"The problem, Steinar Lem, is that people like you look at consumption as if it had only one function. One must be able to discuss the cultural and aesthetic aspects of consumption, without thinking about the rainforest. "

Rolness speaks New Norwegian? A smart move to confuse me.

I hesitate a dangerous second. Maybe it has to do with the fact that he once said this to the New Norwegian newspaper Dag og Tid. Most people repeat themselves. Therefore, I also repeat myself and shout that no one has ever heard Rolness worry about the rainforest.

Here the seconds should have stepped in again. But Erling Fossen has lost interest, as he has not let go himself, and is on his way to the outdoor cafe. My second has discovered a dog and has therefore crawled into his box.

Rolness still fires loose, quickly. He may notice that I am out of balance: «(...) The concern about media violence and computer games, which systematically downgrades youth culture; criticism of consumption in which ordinary people (especially women) are portrayed as brainwashed victims of the forces of market forces. "

I recall that it is irresponsible to rule out the possibility that entertainment violence affects some young people. That brainwashing is tendentious language, but that man is a creature that can be influenced.

Propaganda for violence can be thought to work. Propaganda for consumption works. Propaganda for sharing the earth or behaving non-violently might also have worked?

Rolness: «You and Dokk Holm represent the simple, convenient condemnation of others' selfishness, greed, buying disease and life deception. You yourself have seen through the lies and will lead the people out of the temptations with your information scriptures.

This will be a success in line with Lars Sponheim's campaign against the Harry trade (...) Cultural Conservative complaints. "

It is certainly easier for Rolness to lead people in the direction they are already marching: Into the temptations. In the great battles before modern warfare, it must have been the strategy of the successful generals; to give orders that what was still about to happen should happen. I shout angrily: "You only touch on the connection between consumption and ecology with a few kicks to the 'end-time prophets'.

If FrP and Kuwait are wrong, and climate scientists are right, it is extreme to ignore the fact that the rich world's rising energy consumption will spread death and destruction beyond our imagination, especially in poor countries. At least stand out with your view that high energy consumption is harmless, as there are historians who deny the Holocaust. "

The Elvis figure becomes more energetic:

"I have to laugh when you compare me to a Holocaust denier because I do not talk about energy consumption every time I talk about consumption."

Now Elvis and Rolness have probably talked about as much about energy consumption. I answer subdued and deadly, I think to myself:

"The aesthetic aspects appear in a fundamentally different light if consumption does not harm anyone – or if it is a first-rate threat to poor people today, and their own descendants."

It hit, hit excellent. The outspoken pop man occupies a clumsy defensive position. He seems flawed as he twists against a background of solid vigeland bodies,

which unlike him is made for eternity. Yes, he hesitates, staggers: "Voices that question an absolute, biased anti-commercialism or take part in the spectacular supply of goods or media in defense (even mere pornography) are readily branded as right-wing ideologues, market fundamentalists. or cheering for the winners of society. "

If you look at it. I have pushed forward tendencies towards self-insight in men! I answer with heavenly calm that "Yes, I have called Kjetil Rolness and Marianne Gullestad the new right-wing ideologues". And that I have justified the term really well.

Wounded animals and people can become desperate. Rolness: "The crucial difference in the consumption debate does not go between the right and the left (forecast: in the next parliamentary election, you, Lemmy, Dokkis and I will vote for the same party)."

I'm hurt too. Wounded at Rolness' inferior method – Americanization and Swedishization of names, in his spirit, and perhaps even kindly meant, while I hate this slag that so easily settles in Norwegian and shows who we admire.

The mighty Americans rightly, reasonably, but the Swedes! The pain bothers me and makes me less accurate.

I have received another wound: He is right, right in that consumption cultivation has grown strong also on the left – grown in step with consumption. What is the point of democracy and political debate when the view of economic development hardly separates the wings? The left wants more of the consumption growth of its people, of the people – the Norwegian, of course, the Norwegian people, of course – but more. Still, the pop man is wrong in his prediction, for the same reason.

I do not vote for the same party as him. I will not vote for a growth party. If Kristin Halvorsen talks about climate policy, she thinks about the indoor climate in kindergartens. Not unimportant, but nursery kids

and the animals they love need a well-functioning climate when they come out as well. Consequently, I am currently refraining from voting, a position which triggers a great deal of anger, and which I therefore, for the sake of convenience, try to keep quiet about.

I want to move on, fight for my good cause, but it's too late. The battle is over, all weapons fired, even the seconds are bored. This is how it has been in the era of media flicker – you never get time to bring an argument to an end. Under an open parasol, Fossen waves at Rolness, even though Rolness is dying.

Lionesse pulls on the unnatural and inhibiting band and is going home. I'm hurt, but not fatal. I won, I won magnificently. Consumer grower Rolness is stripped of his vulgar elvish clothes, and is left with nothing but the pity that always falls to the loser.

Now I discover that an audience has gathered around us. I nod in victory. It's almost a buck.


But it is strangely slow. My wife claps. My second milling machine. A few others, I think, clap too, I barely see them. That's understandable. I have destroyed my opponent, and you do not like to clap in front of corpses. In the moment of defeat, Rolness must meet a kind of quiet respect for his honesty.

Kjetil Elvis Rolness also bows, much more politely. Immediately there is a resounding applause from a partly invisible audience that is around us on all sides, an applause that does not seem to end.

The text is reproduced with permission from Cappelen publishing house.

Give an answer

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment is processed.

Capitalism's reality and beyond

NEOLIBERALISM: Capitalist realism is a term for the late capitalist world, where it is not possible to imagine a different and better world – it is what it is. Did neoliberal capital take the form of a wall-to-wall ideology and constitute an affective regime? And was the 'end of history' nothing more than a class project?

less is more

PHOTO ART: Over the course of thirty years, large museums have gone from being underfunded, sleepy places to audience magnets and economically important tourist attractions. We find a counterweight in small museums – such as those mentioned in this essay from Greece. What you choose to present to others matters less than where you choose to do it.

The fear of the end of the world

FUTURE: For the first time in its long history, humanity is – possibly inevitably – facing an increasing and real risk of extinction due to the reckless activities of Homo sapiens. The effects of greed, violence, ignorance, fanaticism, political short-sightedness, overpopulation and over-exploitation of all available resources are the prerequisites for an expected disaster.

Society on the brink of a nervous breakdown

PROSPERITY: Is there even a way back to our society as it was before? According to Stephan Lessenich, capitalism and prosperity in the West is a result of the exploitation of colonized peoples. But according to him, to abolish capitalism would be to abolish our democracy at the same time.

Where 97 percent of the population lives on the threshold of starvation

AFGHANISTAN: Zarifa Ghafari is on the BBC's list of the world's 100 most influential women. This Afghan mayor knows very well that she is a symbol – but perhaps most of all an attraction.

New European security architecture

UKRAINE/RUSSIA: The authors of this book believe that the European countries should loosen their ties with the United States in order to achieve constructive results in what can be considered a European security problem. Two parties can only achieve security together with the other party – not at the expense of it.

The caricature and the role of satire in information warfare

VISUALLY: Graphic satire has become a weapon. The first 'caricature war' arose between Protestants and Catholics. Caricature is about – also in Ukraine and Russia – increasing morale in one's own ranks by ridiculing the enemy with all possible means and stereotypes – and praising one's own side.

This long farewell to the parents

PENSIONERS: More of us are getting older, and there are fewer people to take care of them. In Norway, there are now over one million old-age pensioners. And what happens when the caring roles are reversed?

Warfare by many means

COMPETITION: The weapons are sanctions, subsidies, dumping, hostile takeovers and theft of industrial secrets. The goal is simple: to weaken a country's economy so that it cannot offer political, economic or military resistance.

What tricks does the Catholic right have to resort to in order to define itself as the center of Europe

THE WEST: European culture is "characterized by a melancholy feeling due to its alienation or inferiority to a source that evokes a nostalgic feeling". Really?

Advantages and disadvantages of plastic

ECOLOGY: On the one hand, plastic replaces more polluting building materials. On the other hand, we have enormous amounts of plastic waste. We have produced 7 billion tonnes of plastic as of today.

When it's really on fire out in the world

EU: Europe has never become an adult and responsible player in a multipolar world. And a common foreign and security policy has never gone beyond the sketch plane. Will it happen now?
- Advertisement -spot_img

You may also likeRelated