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The thought is born in the mouth Edited
Forfatter: Daniel Ginsby, Audun Lindholm
Forlag: utgitt til Audiatur forsvinningspunkt
Audiatur og Prosopopeia (Norge)
JOURNAL / Are journals as part of the literary public at risk of being erased? The probing criticism, the one that dares to be independent literature, dares to be self-referential, introspective and self-implicating.


Magazines are fun! Magazines are like mushrooms in the forest: They pop up in the strangest places and can have the strangest tastes. They can also give you a powerful and unexpected intoxication. Many of the authors have made their debut with a poem or an essay in a journal before they came out with their first book. And many writers got their first literary colleagues to argue with and collaborate with through magazine work.

Boken The thought is born in the mouth is designed as a conversation over four days of Daniel Ginsby and Audun Lindholm, where Morten Langeland and Susanne Christensen come to visit. The discussions revolve largely around how essay has been incorporated as part of the modern novel – and that it is precisely the journal that has contributed to giving the essay a place in modern literature. Audun Lindholm says, among other things: "[A]ndable essays can be in contact with an astonishing amount both out in the world and down in the library basement. And nothing can be better than if someone reads a small text and is surprised, gets an idea and is inspired. […] Eivind Tjønneland has argued convincingly that Hamsun at the beginning of his writing drew inspiration from Nietzsche presentations in journals – just as one example."


Large parts of the Norwegian avant-garde are naturally linked to Bergen, where the Writing Academy in Hordaland is located and both Prosopopeia og Vagant holds editorial office. It is perhaps a bit strange that large parts of the modern avant-garde are educated at writing schools, but considering that it is the young intelligentsia that make up the modern avant-garde, it is perhaps not so strange after all. Not least Espen Stueland, who had studied in Bergen, was an obvious prime mover Vagrant from and including 1998. This led to Vagant developing a strong Bergen editorial team.

Journal work is both marginal and central literary work. Journalis capable of pure linguistic experimentation, and this publication is probably a defense of linguistic experimentation rather than of political manifestos in magazine form.

Daniel Ginsby points out, for example, that Amund in particular Børdahls text about the Solstad novel The inextricable epic element in Telemark (2013) in Agora's Solstad issue (2023) represented an enormous essayistic Gordian knot that hides a great linguistic self-awareness. And that this form of self-awareness links both kinship and grammar.

Journals are created in community, they are created in the late, drunken hours of the night and cause arguments and sore, red eyes.

Some journals shine with a very special brilliance throughout history, such as the journal Atheneum, where Novalis debuted with his first lyrics. Magazines are created in community, they form in the late, muggy hours of the night and cause arguments and sore, red eyes. They deal with the exploratory literature, not the literature that should shine with commercial brilliance at the publishers' launch parties.

Magazine work is, in a way, a kind of underground work: There the literary moles sit without eyes and try to compose literature blindly. They dig paths that make the genres cross each other. Here the dead and the living meet. Dehydrated and blind, the magazine workers emerge into the light after weeks of cigarettes and alcohol, stagger down the street in their holey coats, go into the nearest cafe and try not to fall asleep in a chair. They try to remember their last job and wonder how the hell they managed to lose yet another opportunity for steady income.

The tyranny of intimacy

The journals are the arena for the testing literature, but not least for the testing criticism, that which dares to be independent literature, sometimes pure works of art, which decodes the predictable literature, which dares to be self-referential, introspective and self-implementing. It is not necessarily the same as being a navel gazer, it is rather like looking even further inward than the navel, into the teeming darkness of the body, seeing with luminous eyes how the entrails meander inside the body, letting awareness grow until it becomes as big as the universe.

Your opinions stick to your personality.

Today, the trend is to criticism taken more and more personally. This can only be regretted. Criticism is no longer part of 'the big conversation', but has become a threat to the individual author's dream of a career and an unblemished literary self. The tyranny of intimacy means that you cannot write a critical text without constantly imagining the author you are writing about while you are writing. The times require personal consideration. Moreover, it is no longer allowed to say that there is a difference between good and bad. In return, it has become more important to show that you have an understanding of the genre. Your opinions are also attached to your personality. A text that is freed from your own 'I' will not be understood. Nietzsche's free-flowing 'text-I' which neither could nor can be attached to his personality, as a kind of superpersonal supertext, is too advanced for today's text consumers. They want your personality through the encounter with the text.

The strongest literary voices in Norway have started in Vagant.

The thought comes into being through the mouth implies both a liberating non-committal attitude towards the language, and a higher commitment on another level, as I perceive it. The attitude is non-binding in the sense that you are free to let Languagea statement through you, rather than the other way around. This invites linguistic permutations, playfulness and breaking with the normal requirements for meaning. But it also obliges on another level: It obliges as all love obliges you to hold on to the one you love. You cannot walk away from your love for the language.


Audun Lindholm points out in this book that "[l]iterature is an art form in which complex truths can be produced. And if one devotes one's life to it, it seems strange to be obsessed with clinging to an opinion or a point of view. In my eyes, one of the most important things you can learn from reading is to analyze and think critically, to understand what perspectives and language use means for what is said and thought. No one is sitting on the full and complete truth".

I perceive this as a central insight. In particular, it is mentioned that a Norwegian journal such as Vagant has had a great impact on the development of modern Norwegian essay writing. Let me also mention that Vagant has contributed to bringing Norwegian literature closer to Scandinavian literature. When the editors moved to Berlin, there were also more European perspectives in the Norwegian vocabulary.

It is a fact that the strongest literary voices in Norway have started in Vagant, and that the literary criticism they have stood for rises high above the lax and indifferent criticism of the daily press.


The journal is under threat in our time. It is a depressing fact. Therefore, this release is very timely. It is important to make room for long, preferably self-referential reflections on everything possible, without having to worry too much about what others will think about what you are doing. It is necessary to demonstrate shameless knowledge, as the journal Agora has done throughout the years.

The journals can also be linked to a living multitude of small publishing house, which also risks being lost in the era of monopoly capitalism.

So that's why I say and write an unequivocal "Hooray!" – for a living multitude of periodicals. They help keep the public alive.

[This text is somewhat shortened online. ed.]

Henning Næs
Henning Næss
Literary critic in MODERN TIMES.

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