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Were we unimaginative and pretentious?

Attempt to move at the speed of darkness
Forfatter: Terje Holtet Larsen
Forlag: Oktober (Norge)
All the short stories remind me, in their own ways, that we should all die. Holtet Larsen's language is a cultivated language, an advanced language, is a language for the sake of language.


"Besides, I had a feeling that she realized that there had never been a grandparent and that what I was saying about my parents probably wasn't true either, that they had never existed, not as a family, but that I had the habit of telling such stories, simply because I didn't like being looked at in the cards. ”

These are thoughts from one of the storytellers in Terje Holtet Larsen's latest short story collection: The storyteller is invited to dinner with a colleague. The colleague prefers dinner while his wife drinks wine with the guest. The guest studies this woman, whom he sees as startlingly large, and in his strength, desirable. I think: Maybe not unlike the jotun woman Gerður from Skirnismál, who had so white and heavy upper arms that the god of fervor Frøy looked all the way up to Ásheim, and awakened his desire. Frey forced Gerður up to him, to a week or so of rape. The guest is also at ease. Not physically, but seeing the hosts intensely in brief.

The observations turn into seductive sentences of intricate and elegant syntax. So beautiful that I as a reader forget what the real visions are: How he relates to the trust of the host. Only afterwards, out of the seven short stories, out in the fresh air again, do I know how heavy it was in the head of the seven storytellers. None of them are particularly good company. Everyone is strikingly keen to see, and to look at as a whole through fellow human beings, and to formulate crude depictions of them. And they all remind me, in their own ways, that we should all die.

Golden age. The short stories are seen in what one narrator calls an "oil-blessed, socially democratized happiness". Fortunately, depictions of an oil-laden, perhaps disillusioned dessert generation are not new. Janne S. Drangholts Ingrid Winters incomparable discouragement, also depicts the "land of closure" with sting. At Drangholt as at Holtet Larsen, there is a sense of insecurity under the facade. For most of all, death. Death shares rich and poor, writer and journalist and so on.

Frog forced Gerður up to him, to a week's worth of rape 

The presence of death is something of what makes Holtet Larsen's Norwegian portrait particularly advanced. Another thing is that the book does not only depict but also practices the so-called "golden age" in Norway. It is in the language, which is an excess language. It is in aesthetics that rank above all practical-pragmatic. The storytellers are extremely linguistic. But they seem rather powerless over their own lives. Does language get in the way of happiness? One after the other found themselves in trouble because of the language usage. One manages to offend so elegantly and forcefully that he makes a bunch of peasants kill his life.

I have to ask myself a claim that I have taken too long, and certainly as a self-defense or self-deception, for good fish: "The Norwegian wealth has given an artistic golden age." Sure, world-class art is created within all disciplines. One compares the linguistic and philosophical excess in Norway today with what happened in the UK, France, Germany during their richest periods. One did not have to spare the analysis, the language and the reflections for survival. There was advice for aesthetics and meaning-building and not just pragmatics. Does one have excess transcendence? To ponder death, to time? One can also find time, as one of Holtet Larsen's storytellers, to use the excess to irritate the lipstick on their sister's teeth. Television is seen as the alternation between perspectives. It is also here that the short stories demonstrate the surplus community.

Language. Holtet Larsen's language is a cultivated language, an advanced language, is the language of the debt of the language, and the kind of aesthetics one finds in surplus societies. It also makes the language circle me in, is around me, in me, in the head, as long as I am in this book. It is no more pleasant.

So – does Terje Holtet Larsen need to continue to strengthen and develop our writing language? Do we need more languages? Or do we need to create tangible, concrete values; do we need the primary and secondary industries, and more action, a little less conversation, etc?

The answer is, of course, that we need the language. Languages ​​can enhance or reduce self-deception. It can contribute to or counteract collective self-deception. With language, one builds an air castle, and decodes them and tear them down. Absence of language may have helped to get so many fantasy money in Iceland during the boom. Practically no author or journalist puts words on the self-deception.

"An oil-blessed, socially democratized happiness land."

Castles in the air. Back to my association with Gerður from Skirnismál, who was a poet in Iceland a thousand years before what was then the world's richest country became the poorest country in the world. Right after the crash in Iceland, I sat down with Andri Snær Magnason, the poet who would later run for president in Iceland. When I confronted Andri with "toll money", he surprisingly struck back quickly against Norway. He said we did the same thing. That our air castles were the oil rigs. I argued eighteenth. So that oil is a tangible value. Well, we depend on oil, but there are no abstract and fictitious figures. But Andri insisted that the "oil adventure" is no more than a fairy tale, a fiction. And I, I demonstrated the self-deception, in the face of Andri. Although I admitted a bit, that we have not spent enough money from the oil fund to create strategies for the future, I was still in defense of the concrete in what we pick up, refine, and so on.

But oil rigs are also abstract in some ways. These are some things that are found out there in the ocean, which are their own planets. Is Andri right? Were we, except for the development of some electric ferries, unimaginative and lazy? Have we lost the opportunity we got, with the oil adventure, to jumpstart innovation, development and research on power, new export goods and industries?

I hope it is just a delay. Investing in artists will benefit the economy and industry. That investment in these creative entrepreneurs will prove profitable – in the broad sense, in the long run. But then one must also continue to stand aside and observe, comment, correct the so-called concrete production – as Holtet Larsen does.

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