"For no conscious people can live without having this the laughter of the crippled, the sick and the afflicted. "
The main character in Jens Bjørneboe's new novel The moment of freedom is a diary-writing law clerk in the unknown alpine town of Heiligenberg – in the middle of the clear, heart-cold art of art Italy and the murky and sensitive of Nazism Germany. The lawyer was born in Norway, but has wandered around Europe, forgotten the most important events in his life and finally also forgotten his name. He is no longer a bourgeois "individual" – of the type that the Liberals and Conservatives want to put both in the center and in the forefront. He has become something more: an anonymous observer of a "sick, poisoned and useless world".
The moment of freedom is thus a developmental novel for the modern man who wants to survive our sick life-threatening era: a cheerful and evil diary in which only the night pages are included.
Example: Bjørneboe depicts witty and icy Verdun battlefields by getting lost in purely kilometer and tonal considerations over the events from 1914 to 1918. How many kilos of soldiers went with? What effects has this human fertilizer had on the primeval forest?
Sentimentality is the sister of brutality.
Very important questions, fit to be answered by Europe's kind aunts whose heartbeat would be greater if they knew the mileage of their fallen sons and husbands' combined small intestines. For such hearts are sufficient for fertilizer: "Sentimentality is the sister of brutality."
Jens Bjørneboe moralizes by observing. A sick cat, a fourteen-year-old beautiful boy with a drip in his stomach, becomes the main characters in two unforgettable Italian small towns where Leonardo da Vinci's "beautiful laughter" is heard everywhere. For Leonardo, the intelligent will to live in a society that has always praised only the stupid will to live, and he is the cynical artist in a society that praises artistic idealism. For Leonardo also laughed beautifully at the courthouse where he conducted necessary anatomical studies while the victims were torn to pieces by political or church torturers. Why? How? Leonardo knew the "moment of freedom": he knew that everyone should die, and this "perfect consciousness of death" is the basis of any life-friendly culture. It is the classic smile of the barbarians who in their idealism have no idea the abysses under all feet.
President Johnson believes in the stork, the angel and thus in the bomber.
Counterexample: President Johnson probably believes in the stork. President Johnson probably also believes in the immortality of the soul. President Johnson believes in the stork, the angel and thus in the bomber. He is a barbarian and the barbarians lack the consciousness of death. They can therefore only experience the "moment of freedom" as an ordinary puritanical nuclear explosion.
Bjørneboe's thesis is that the "moment of freedom" must always come after this "moment of truth". The moment of truth is an expression in Spanish bullfighting: "the separating second" when the bullfighter stops playing with the bull and goes in to kill it quickly and coldly. The moment of truth is thus an insight into human mortality and the free late chance this moment gives us. Lack of death-consciousness is the barbarism's deep fear of reality. And as you know from psychiatry: the scared patients are often the most dangerous. Or another example of barbaric anxiety: the great Nazis in Germany all committed suicide. Hitler was a typical conservative sheep. He wanted to run last down the cliff. He was a "driver."
Bjørneboe's black humor
Bjørneboe's new novel is thus a deeply serious and cynical analysis of our Europe: partly barbarism and culture. Bjørneboe's black humor is dialectical thinking about the conditions of sentimental human dignity – related to, for example, the Polish humorist Lec and his aphorisms:
'Do not cry for help in the middle of the night. You can wake up the neighbors. "
Or: “The white spots have disappeared from the maps. They have been moved into the history books. "
Or: "I give you bitter pills in sweet icing. The pills are harmless, the poison is in the sweet. "
The moment of freedom is an easy-to-read and fun book, deeply immoral, sweet and toxic. It strikes with its cynicism the blue-eyed and decent mass murderers of the usual barbaric moral type: honorable Adolf Eichmann (whose honor cost hundreds of thousands of Hungarians their lives), ornate Truman (who should have tortured two Japanese children for fun), priest Stalin (who should have remained a priest)
- in short: the formed barbaric bandits whose evil consists in their stupidity and whose stupidity consists in their sensitivity, their «soul».
Freedom ømoment should also be read by the ordinary Norwegian idealist and world savior about whom one can say with Lec: "He has the self-esteem of those ghosts who have never shown themselves to anyone."
With Freedom moment it is clear for the third time that 1966 is a kind of Bjørneboe year in Norwegian literature. (I have many objections to the book: it is often just a draft.) Now all that is needed is for police assistant Grindhaug to go to the theater and see "The Bird Lovers" while Attorney General Aulie takes a closer look at sadism in The moment of freedom. Maybe our ambassador in Washington could also read Without a thread loud for Lady Bird and her two daughters?
That's not good to say. All these people seem to believe that they are immortal, when in reality they are just uncultivated.
Orientering 22. November 1969