It’s late. 0130. I give myself one hour to get my disjointed thoughts down in the public sphere before I decide it’s a bad idea. Be warned, the following will not be fully processed.
It’s been an inspiring day and my visionary brain circuits have been running so hot, I burned out a bit.
But let’s get started: The background for what I’m about to write is that on July 22 last year, Norway experienced two terrible atrocities on the same day – the bombing of the government’s office complexes and the shooting of 69 youth on an island. The same twisted man committed both acts.
I participated in the now-famous rose march that was put on mere days after the incident. It was an amazing event for me and it sent shivers down my spine. It felt like a truly historic moment. And still, something has bothered me about it all afterwards. I will get to that soon.
The citizens of Oslo opened up to each other in a more significant way than is normal in those few days. And yes – it was a bit different for a while. I remember being with a group of people outside a bar which had just opened. The owner was killed by the Oslo-bomb and we spoke with the bereft and hugged. It was beautiful.
And still – in that sea of people carrying roses, there was a remarkable absence of bonding. The crowd bonded as a whole, but there was no bonding of subgroups within the crowd. It was just one homogenous, well-behaved group of nice, shy people. I observed that crowd carefully, looking for signs that something had changed in us. What I saw was predictable – people were generally keeping to themselves. I addressed some people, but with little success of truly connecting. I say with some conviction that the barrier for an average Norwegian to actually speak to a stranger is enormous. I’m not fully free of that burden myself.
There was a follow-up to this rose march last Thursday in which people gathered in an Oslo square and sang together. They sang a famous and much loved song by a really nice and amiable Norwegian singer-songwriter named Lillebjørn Nilsen. The chorus of said song goes like this (directly translated) “We shall live together, every sister and every brother. Small children of the rainbow, and a fertile earth.” I like that song. It’s cute and has good vibes. And I can perfectly well understand that the international press is pretty struck by the Norwegian people’s reaction.
But this is where it gets charged. I’m not buying it. Not 100%. 77 people were killed that day. And I have not seen one public display of anger. For fuck’s sake – people died. Many people. What kind of people are we if that doesn’t evoke anger in us?
I ask myself in the quiet of my mind – Norway: what is this stuff with the roses and no anger? Is that the way it’s meant to be? Are we all supposed to be so fucking well-behaved about it? No! I judge that the anger-reflex has been so carefully extracted from us by the Norwegian educational system and socialization process that expressing public anger is tantamount to madness. Yeah sure, I see people writing online that he is the devil and that he needs to be killed etc. But I have not yet witnessed any displays of truly visceral anger. Anger that really means something – that is more than just angry words. Anger that arises from the authentic parts of us, the kind of anger which – when burned through – reveals the tender grief and psychological wisdom of an emotionally healthy person.
Hang on - there was one girl outside of the Oslo cathedral. I remember her. She was hunched over the fence surrounding the sea of roses, her friends giving her support from behind. She was crying. They were no normal tears. They were primal tears. The kind of tears that come mixed with pain so severe and a sense of anger and WHY? that they sear a human heart which hears and sees them. She was angry. I choke up just remembering her. Bless her for daring.
When asked about these rose marches and public events, the terrorist exclaimed “typical Norwegian. They’re not allowed to be angry”. And I think he is right.
I think there is a collective shadow at play here. I think it is distinctly Christian, distinctly Norwegian. The Jesus that formed Norway is a turn the other cheek, androgynous, amiable and non-threatening kind of fellow. This Jesus wouldn’t be angry. That’s not the Jesus of Norway. It doesn’t matter whether a man is Christian or atheist – he’s born into the same “Jesus-nice” as the next guy.
This day led me into Norse mythology. Norway has this enormously rich mythological underpinning to our culture that has been discarded on the junkyard of history. These rich stories are now seen as little more than cute peculiarities. So in the absence of our mythology, we have nice Jesus and consumerism. BUT - we lack the emotional nuance and richness of soul that is present in a pantheon. The very purpose of mythology is to provide human beings with mirrors. Mythology reflects universal truths about our nature and we find ourselves united by those myths. It is the purpose of them. And they also open in a man the richness of emotion that gives him the space to be truly powerful.
The very reason crazy neo-Nazis and Satanists are so drawn to the Norse pantheon, I believe, is that they have become enormously cynical in the face of the modern straight-jacket of “nice”. In the absence of truly powerful men who see them and their capacity for destruction, but also for true good and authentic service, they start getting tarnished at the seams.
The argument I’m starting to build with this ramble is that this entire July 22 affair is laying painfully bare for any with eyes to see the nature of the Norwegian shadow. When a man – a people – is forced to be nice and have only nice Jesus and Calvin Klein to mirror their human experience, they become limited human beings. We live only on the light side over here. We cling to our naïveté like a child clings to his parent. For what if the world was actually dangerous? What if there were people out there who were authentically evil? We can’t have that! For if that were true, that would have implications for us. We would inevitably be forced to face our own capacity for destruction and evil. Displays of anger – such that would only be natural and healthy given the situation – would put us into too close proximity with these very realities we are desperate to avoid.
Rose marches are beautiful. Yes, they are. I’d be the first to agree. But given that our human experience as Norwegians is so limited by our religious and cultural background, I don’t believe it’s ultimately what is truly healing. I think what this country really needs is an arena where people are allowed to be viscerally angry, to come face to face with the parts of ourselves which are indeed capable of murder and evil (which cases like the Stanford experiment more than indicate we all have in us).
I’m not calling for a lynch mob or public violence. What I’m calling for is embracing the totality of the human psyche, to embrace the essence and richness of the mythology which Christianity conveniently assimilated in its efforts to domesticate the men of the kingdom. For only than can we, I believe, find it in ourselves to deal with what has happened in a way which will give us the golden nugget of learning that is hidden in this mound of shit. And then, we can be better armed to prevent it from happening again.
Real love does not exist in a man who is not powerful, carry he roses or not.
I hope something of this made sense. It’s 02:30 and I need my bed. Rest assured – these thoughts will return in more coherent forms later. And I will allo