Theater of Cruelty

Revolutionary knowledge

When the present changes, so does the past. Just not in Norway.


[revisionism] It is discussed whether we need a cannon in Norway, as if there is not one already. From Snorre via Petter Dass and Henrik Wergeland to Dag Solstad. In anthologies, awards and television programs – their unwavering position is confirmed daily in public and, more subtly, in school curriculum. Once you have been canonized in Norway, it takes a lot to lose the halo. Take Dag Solstad. He has retained his iconic status thanks to the 68's ability to reproduce people who love cyclists who tackle aquaplaning and lecturers who kill umbrellas because Henrik Ibsen is no longer valued in our time.

Our national canon will remain unchanged because literature plays on a team with the historians' guild. Put another way; as long as the 1800th century in the history books is described as a century that was about the fear of foreign influence, Wergeland and Bjørnson will stand as flagpoles. «Camilla Collett: how does she shed light on the issue of women in the middle of the 1800th century in Amtmandens Døtre? Write 500 words by next Thursday. » «Alexander Kielland's Gift from 1881 – a settlement with Latin or European formation lessons? A few words, thank you. " Especially Solstads Gymnaslærer Pedersen… (1982) is as created for style writing about the Norwegian political spirit from the 1970s. Therefore, he will remain standing.

If we need a new canon, history writing must be revised first. Here the old radicals can look at their old model of China. In the latest school curriculum in Shanghai, Mao has been reduced to a footnote. Literally. Farmer rebellion is a tenet, socialism a joke. Almost everything hurts and wrongs have been thrown out with Mao in the Yangtze River, in favor of a China characterized by a protracted globalization process of technological innovations and foreign trade. Marxist and nationalist have been replaced by knowledge that "prepares students for global discourse," according to a Shanghai professor in the New York Times. Before we smile at the Chinese "yes to the free flow of capital, no to the free flow of truth", it is worth noting that the Chinese here have yet to understand anything historians in Europe: that China's technology and trade for centuries was a prerequisite for European growth.

Reducing the cultural revolution to a parenthesis is more than revisionist. But the change of ham emphasizes at least one vital realization: History exists for the sake of the present, not the other way around. Here at home, we also need modernization, but the new textbooks generally confirm that each nation is an island, and Norway a separate planet. For a long time I thought it was the authors' fault, until I asked a textbook editor why the historical works were so navel-gazing and xenophobic. They had tried to make the material more international, but the teachers did not want it, he replied. Why not? He looked at me, smiled indulgently and whispered: "You have to remember that a lot of teachers are well over 50 years old". Implied – they prefer the status quo.

That is not a good thing, since the education system is designed for the old to teach the young at all times. But if there is a change, I will bet my bike that tomorrow's teachers will choose the future optimist Jan Kjærstad over the contemporary pessimist Solstad as the foremost representative of the time. Quality has nothing to do with the matter.

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