fimmtudagur, mars 31, 2005
A man in his thirties stands with a nylon rucksack over one shoulder. A woman in sunglasses crosses the street, peering down in the direction of the expected bus. She steps onto the curb and stands by the busroute sign. Rucksack man glances over at her. She is wearing a skirt (not shockingly short but a bit over the knee) and black fishnets. He is looking at her legs and then looking away. If she sees him looking she doesn't show it. The sunglasses are opaque; who is to say where her glance falls? She might be looking anywhere. But he is looking at her legs, then at the sidewalk, then again at her legs, visible through the fishnet hose in a thousand little flesh-colored lozenges.
The bus comes into view, rolls to a hissing, air-braking halt; the woman boards and after her others who have been waiting, with them rucksack-man. She finds a forward-facing seat towards the back. He finds a backwards-facing seat near the front. She arranges her purse on her lap and crosses her legs. He swings the rucksack off his shoulder onto the floor between his feet. The bag stands on its end. A yellow jacket has been stuffed into an outside pocket. She has removed her sunglasses. Mostly she is looking out the window and away from him, but he is aware of her eyes now. He is a little more careful about stealing those intent glances down the aisle at her legs, folded, disappearing up into the black skirt.
Can he see anything of note? It is doubtful. Though the skirt has hiked up some, she has a generous sort of thigh that (even if it might afford a tactile thrill at closer quarters) occludes the line of sight to higher latitudes.
But he seems unable to restrain his gaze. He looks down at the lines in the rubberized floor, but they lead down the aisle, and his eyes keep stealing along them and up, back to the legs in the net hose, before he flicks them guiltily down to the floor again. For two miles along the road his glance goes around and around this circuit, never once resting on the rucksack at his feet and the black mesh of the outer pocket through which the jacket is visible as a hundred yellow lozenges.
miðvikudagur, mars 30, 2005
Will you propel yourself out into the evening? Cool night air has already seeped into the house. Blooms on the table and birds audible in dim domestic space. You hang lolling in the indecision, half-hoping that time will go rushing past behind your back and make it very suddenly too late, relieving you of the burden of choice. You mull on. You wouldn't want to do anything precipitate.
þriðjudagur, mars 29, 2005
In a vacuum, they vex more and differently even than Latin hospes. Guest? Host? Whichever it turns out to be, you know what is happening (hospitality) even if you do not know to whom you are speaking; be polite and it will probably work out. But with those English words you do not even know what is going on. Very disorienting.
Different once again is this Icelandic one, one I very much like:
It means sound; it also means silence. Sometimes it is best translated as hearing, as in to grant or receive hearing. It is the hush that falls when a group decides to attend to the words of someone who has yet to speak, and then into that silence---hljóð---he does speak, and the words are also hljóð, and I imagine the two senses of the one word fitting neatly and smoothly together, hands grasping each other, polished wood gliding past wood on a soaped track, a dovetail joint. It is very satisfying.
mánudagur, mars 28, 2005
A guest comes to the door. He greets her well, and she receives him courteously, offers him a seat and hands him a glass. There is wine and there is meat. The guest is very gifted in words and he has something to say about many things, those in the past as well as those now. They converse and find much pleasure in each other's speech. Each poses the other many questions and each gives the other good answers. They stay up late into the evening.
He asks her who that Haman had been that the sweet bread they are eating was named after. She crunches the blue poppyseeds between her teeth and tells about an ancient Persian King, about his brave queen, about his malicious advisor Haman and about the queen's cousin. The advisor had condemned the cousin to death and all his people with him; they were also the queen's people. And the queen went to her husband (who was stern and difficult, and did not know, besides, that his queen was of a different people) and she pleaded with him and turned his heart, and instead of the cousin being put to death (and all his people with him), the advisor was hanged high. And the shape of his hat is the shape of the sweet bread folded around the blue poppyseeds.
And they sit up talking about these and many other such things late into the night, long past the proper time for sleep, for with every word that is spoken, another seems to lack, and the moon shines in the window all the while.
The next morning, the guest gone and the sun risen, she takes the bones from the meat and boils them with onions and with fennel.
sunnudagur, mars 27, 2005
Blaðið er alla vega búið að láta prenta orðið klikkaður í samhengi við manninn ummælta, en að vísu er orðabragðið haft eftir bandarísku blaði einu, Brockton Enterprise. Merkilegt hvaða varalega er farið í þessu. Fréttamaðurinn hlýtur að hafa verið með á þessum fundi á Hótel Loftleiðum 25. mars 2005, ásamt "flestum helstu fjölmiðlum heims."
Flestir helstu fjölmiðlar heims fjölluðu um blaðamannafund Bobbys Fischers á Hótel Loftleiðum í gær og öfgafullar yfirlýsingar hans um bandarísk stjórnvöld og gyðinga. Í bandarískum fjölmiðlum
er reynt að varpa á það ljósi hvers vegna Íslendingar ákváðu að veita Fischer ríkisborgararétt og kemur sú skoðun fram, að hugsanlega muni Íslendingar innan skamms sjá eftir þessari greiðvikni sinni.
Flestir helstu fjölmiðlar heims fjalla um fundinn, en íslenskir fjölmiðlar fjalla um hina fjölmiðla. Allt er haft eftir þeim. Blöð í BNA voga að gefa í skin að Íslendingar muni sjá eftir því að hafa veit Fischer ríkisborgarétt og hæli; Mogginn kemst hjá því að segja orð um þetta mál. Oss dettur í hug snilld Snorra í Gylfaginningu, þar sem hann lætur í munn Ásanna frá Tróju allar skröksögurnar sem honum er illt við að segja okkur eigin rómi. En við vitum hvers vegna Snorri gerir það. Hann er kristinn maður, mistrúaður eftir aðstæðum, kannski, en samt kristinn maður, og það má alls ekki leggja trú á sögum af Óðni og Þór. En hvað er málið við Moggann?
Á maður að hafa áhyggjur af eftirfylgjandi? Í Mogganum stendur að í Brockton Enterprise standi að:
Nokkuð nákvæmlega er haft eftir greininni í Brockton Enterprise. Þar stendur:
Fischer hafi m.a. lýst því yfir að Bandaríkjunum sé stjórnað af gyðingum og að George W. Bush, Bandaríkjaforseti, sé stríðsglæpamaður sem eigi að hengja.
Born of a Jewish mother, Fischer is virulently anti-Semitic, uttering such silliness as, "America is totally under the control of the Jews" in an interview five years ago. Fleeing Japan Thursday, he called President Bush a war criminal who "should be hung."
Vér getum ekki kvartað mikið yfir þýðinginni; hún er ágæt, þrátt fyrir það, að blaðamaðurinn hefur ekki nennt að skjóta inn orð sem sambærilegt væri við "such silliness." En hvað um það; Mogginn er yfir því hafinn, ef til vill.
Ekki síður hvarflar á oss að efnið er aðeins öðruvísi í ólíkum samhengjum, bandarískum og íslenskum. Frasinn "Bush er stríðsglæpamaður" hljómar ekki sérlega hneykslandi á íslensku, í íslensku samhengi. Bush nýtur ekki vinsæld á Fróni og hefur aldrei gert það. Og þó að Brockton-blaðið er gefið út í Massachusetts, sem kaus Kerry, hljómar "war criminal" mun öfgafullara þar, á ensku, í bandarísku blaði.
Með því að þýða þetta hugmyndapar beint yfir, tvennt sem sýnir hvernig Fischer, meinti geðsjúklingurinn, hugsar í dag, leyfir Mogginn okkur að hugsa að hugmyndirnar tveggja eru af sama tagi, jafn öfgafullar eða jafn hugsanlegar: "BNA er stjórnað af gýðingum" og "Bush er stríðsglæpamaður." Orðum á borð við "silliness" er sleppt, og allt í einu er það, að BNA er stjórnað af gýðingum, jafnhugsanlegt og það, að Bush er stríðsglæpamaður.
Oss líst ekki á það, að sjá einhvern dag stóran hóp mótmælanda á Lækjartorgi, jafnstóran og þeir sem mótmælt hafa Bush einmitt sem stríðsglæpamann eða a.m.k. eitthvað þvílíkt, með fána og dót og kjörorð sem sýna að þetta fólk heldur að BNA sé stjórnað af gýðingum.
Þetta er rugl, og það ætti að standa í Mogganum að það sé rugl.
laugardagur, mars 26, 2005
Clearly, it is related to both creativity and madness, the Hat notes, and I would add too, to the rush of the early stages of a research project. I remember especially the heady quality of undergraduate inspiration as experienced at an institution with seemingly infinite library resources. The glittering web branching from the handful of facts, ideas, texts that were your points of entry was sure to hypnotize. It was always especially bright and intricate where it passed through the first half of the 19th century, a glorious period of associations still unfettered by the boundaries of the modern disciplines and methodologies. Phylogeny recapitulates ontology, the undergraduate mind is like that of an armchair scholar in about 1830, and the overlap of that stage of one's own intellectual development with that stage in the history of scholarship could produce a juvenile delirium of interconnection (o, the burning warp, the glowing weft!), a state of shamanic fever that quite overpowered sleep.
Apophenia is a Greek root. Waxing lexigraphical, I would propose an Icelandic heiti for this phenomenon. In honor of Finnur Magnússon, the peerless decoder of the inscription at Runamo, let us call apophenia Finnssýki - Finnur's disease. My friends will know that I am not sarcastic with this, I mean no disrespect. Quite the reverse, quite the reverse.
föstudagur, mars 25, 2005
Munum við sjá þig aftur við skákborðið? “Nei, alls ekki. Skákin er búin að vera, hún hefur verið steindauð mjög lengi. Það er öllu hagrætt í henni. Ég átti stóra skrá varðandi það um fyrsta einvígi Karpovs og Kasparovs en gyðingar stálu henni frá mér. Einnig geymdi móðir mín bækur og efni en gyðingar virðast hafa stolið þeim líka.”
Gyðingar, segir hann. Fischer er greinilega snar, karlgreyið, alveg fróðufellandi geðbilaður. Og fréttamaðurinn segir ekki neitt við þetta rugl. Bara þessi einkennilega ýkna hlutleysi, eða hvað maður ætti að kalla það. Spurningunni var örugglega varpað fram í sama dúr og þessari í lokin:
-Þú hefur látið þér vaxa skegg í varðhaldinu, ert eins og víkingur? “Það mun fjúka. Í fangelsi missir maður áhuga og nennu til að hafa fyrir hlutum á borð við að raka sig,” sagði Fischer að lokum.
Ég sé það alveg fyrir mér, eða heyri það öllu heldur: Ertu eins og víkingur? Arrr jú læk a wikink? Há dú jú læk Æsland? Já, þetta er grín allt saman, ekkert nema grín ... hah hah ... íslensk fyndni, ekkert slær hana.
Varla verður Fróni til sóma að þessi skákkonungur fyrrverandi kemur til landsins.
miðvikudagur, mars 23, 2005
Nonetheless I am aware in English of the non-standard construction try and do something. In fact I find here some interesting light thrown on that very construction and some similar ones. Another fellow here shows how it does not work in all tenses, which is interesting, and makes me wonder what relationship it has, if any, to forms of the present progressive. The claim that it is illogical, however, is beside the point. Rationalize grammar all you like, and it will continue on its merry, whistling way and ignore you.
The non-standard try+and+infinitive construction is all over the web. Even limited a Google search to the phrase try and see if yields an awesome 70,000 plus hits. The standard equivalent, try to see if, is more frequent, but not even by a factor of two.
What's intriguing to me is that Norwegian and Icelandic have exactly parallel constructions, and each even comes down on the same side of which is standard and which non-standard---unlike in the case of the present progressive.
Compare Norwegian and the phrases prøver å gjøre (try to do) and prøver og gjør (try and do). The standard prøver å gjøre gives about 9150 hits. Non-standard prøver og gjør gives many fewer, less than 30, and glancing over the list I see that the search has kicked up a couple of hits that are not actually examples of this construction. Nonetheless the non-standard form, which is exactly parallel to the non-standard English form, is out there and in use.
Icelandic has the standard phrase reyna að gera (try to do) and the non-standard reyna og gera (try and do). Reyna að gera has plenty of hits, over 3000, even though the robust morphology of this language means that the search is limited to cases in the infinitive or 3rd person plural present indicative. Reyna og gera boasts very few hits, only four, but all of them are exactly the type of usage I am talking about. It, too, seems to be in some use.
What does this all mean? Honestly, I am not sure yet, but I certain to keep gnawing on it. Try and make me stop, just try.
Jæja, auðvitað. Lopapeysa og regnhlíf. Sei sei.
mánudagur, mars 21, 2005
ater - black, dead black, dark, gloomy, eerie, unlucky or unfortunate.
Apparently it contrasts with niger, which apparently meant glossy black, though its other associations were comparable to those of ater. I had had no idea this word ater existed, never mind that the Latin color vocabulary distinguished matte and glossy black on the level of the lexicon. I am now casting my eyes about the room. The leather jacket is niger, I think, the boots, certainly so, but the radio speakers ater like the desk chair cushion, the heap of sweaters, and the dripping umbrella. And to think! My wardrobe seems suddenly 200% more colorful than before I learned this useful word.
sunnudagur, mars 20, 2005
Once one has read Njáls saga, one can never get the line about the ravens out of one's head. Njáll finally lets slip his sons---the very dogs of feud, if not war. They arm themselves and head out, and we read that two ravens flew with them all the way.
I wonder what sort of saga would feature crows among the olives, or even crows flying with olive branches. It's an image for a less extreme story, one with personalities less bent on immolation than Skarphéðinn. He champs unbecomingly, for my taste, at the bit of revenge, eager to get himself cast in a latter-day eddic-style disaster. One would think that even an above-average man in a vaguely comparable position might cut a smaller, less ill-starred figure, a crow to Skarphéðin's raven, and that he would fare out, yes, with axe in hand, to be sure, but perhaps with an olive branch in the other.
laugardagur, mars 19, 2005
English has nape, which is a good word and a good place, but hnakki is a larger domain. It is the nape, and the back of the neck, and higher up the back of the head than you expect it to be. Were you to have eyes in the proverbial back of your head, they would be on your hnakki, but if you did not, and if you were deprived of sight, as in a fog, someone (perhaps even Snorri) might say that you saw no better with your eyes than with your hnakki.
Etymologically, it is the same word as neck, of course, but unlike neck it is exclusive of the front of the head-pillar, the throat. When you lose your seat riding and fall onto the neck of your mount, it is the hnakki of the horse you fall upon. The mane sprouts from the hnakki, that muscular arch. The untried rider fearing a fall in the other direction grabs for the mane, tugging thereby at the hnakki. Perhaps in general the hnakki is where you wind your fingers in the hair and tug.
Háls is neck, the head-pillar, the narrow joiner or the constricted passage. On the body, it is both the inside, the part you might soothe with boiled sweets, and the outside, ticklish-skinned. In the mountains, high ridges connecting peaks may be called háls. So might bottlenecks real or metaphorical.
Kot is a small place, a tiny farm or the house upon it. English has the same word, though we think of the bed called cot more than the parcel of land on which stands the cottage dwelt in by the cotter. A cotter may not even own that land, no yeoman or stórbóndi he, but he has some form of leave to stay there, at least for a time.
Seeing the word hálsakot, then, you might imagine a cotter in his wee house high up on the slope of narrow mountain or near a pass, smoke rising from the chimney into the clear air. But hálsakot is the hollow between the collarbone, the crest of the trapezius, and the neck. I do not know an English word for this place.
fimmtudagur, mars 17, 2005
Then I passed nearer and heard their speech, and I heard them to be men of Lochlannoch
Apropos of which: There is the webcam at Verdens Ende, the end of the world. Have a look. Last I checked, it was wet at the end of the world. If that end doesn't do it for you, you can try Narvik. Or Stykkishólmur. Or Hveravellir.
What do you think? Are we there yet?
miðvikudagur, mars 16, 2005
þriðjudagur, mars 15, 2005
Instantly I know my choice of words is wrong. I will try again.
Seamus Heaney is truly great. Billy Collins is wonderful.
These are two of my favorite poets.
Heaney delivers poems of such pleasing proportion and startling weight, like surf-smoothed stones that prove heavier than you thought they would. Once taking them in hand, you stop and marvel at their matte smoothness and their heft. You experience a kind of vertigo by proxy, as when you are seized with the strange urge to fling not yourself but a valuable object, a dear-won ring of rosy gold, perhaps, far out across the water. You can see it in your mind's eye skipping five, six, seven times on the glittering surface before disappearing forever with same the sound that a bottle of port makes upon the first drawing-out of the thick, stained cork. The muscles of your arm tingle with this desire, but you know you will not hurl that thing, whatever it is (what is it? it is blurry when you look directly at it, like in dream). You will carry this heavy thing in an inside pocket always, feeling its weight, sometimes hearing it knock against something else - a coin, a pencil, maybe your heart - as you move and breathe.
Billy Collins is a whole other thing. He is wonderful; his poems evoke wonder. They are light where Heaney's are weighty. They make you look upward in expectation of seeing something flying at your head, not in attack, but in a feathery acrobatic way that will make you gasp and then laugh. I do not mean to say that they are easy, Collins's poems, or frivolous. But they swoop upwards at the end and take you with them. Some of them are like airships sailing by overhead, dragging lines behind them; as you turn to watch their passage, the fluke of the trailing anchor catches under your ribcage and jerks you up into the air.
mánudagur, mars 14, 2005
- Scrambled eggs
- Bread with olives
- Billy Collins
- The paper
- More coffee
- Apple strudel
iii. (fyrri hlutinn)
- Oyster mushrooms
- Torpedo onions
iii. (seinni hlutinn)
- Black spaghetti
- Dandelion greens
- Violet asparagus
- More walnuts
sunnudagur, mars 13, 2005
Snow everywhere from Jotunheim to the shore of the Mediterranean, and at the same time. It gives all Europe, viewed from above, the bright stillness felt on a winter morning when it turns out to have snowed, stealthily, silently, during the night. All is clean and fresh and cold, and no tracks as yet have marked the pristine surface of the stuff.
laugardagur, mars 12, 2005
The one gracile and black with white forefeet and long white stockings on her hindfeet, white on the soft upper lips where the whisker array sprouts and--strikingly--a white nose as if her little muzzle had been pressed into flour or paint or cream.
The other sand-colored and hefty like a full burlap bag, parked atop a wooden garden gate. Hints of tigerish stripeyness just in his face and at the end of his tail. He had a minute and a half of regard to spare and not a second more.
föstudagur, mars 11, 2005
Pity the black-clad crows, overdressed for the heat and too somber for the noonday colors. They do not make a sound all day. In fact, you do not recall having seen even one of them. You imagine them skulking somewhere in a subterranean bar drinking cold beer, telling off-color jokes and complaining about the weather.
Meanwhile you try to navigate in the swirl of color and sound, hue and cry, you think, and the pun is just another area of overlap between things that on a cooler, dimmer day would be separate and distinct. The sweet smell of blooming things pervades every pollen-prickly breath you draw. The branches on the other side of the glass are full of darting hummingbirds a-flash in the sunlight. You are thankful you cannot hear their tiny bird voices or understand their gossipy piping.
fimmtudagur, mars 10, 2005
A different city and a resumed conversation, and we stroll around agreeing how embarrassing it is all around when the well-meaning but ignorant skamrose you, when people praise you up and down for being learned and clever at your chosen subject, which they don’t even remember what is, and it is all very awkward.
Also we note that we both use this construction that we know how incorr... that we know is incorrect in English, but we won’t give it up because it is useful and we like it. Despite our sticklerish proclivities for using datamaskin instead of computer and were he in place of if he woulda, in this we steam along recklessly. Shifting the conversational engine between gears, slamming back and forth from Danish to English, we churn up a frothy wake and then cross back over it for the pleasure of feeling the craft toss on the choppy, white-capped grammar of our own creation.
miðvikudagur, mars 09, 2005
Farm girls in the high Norwegian summer meadows, minding the goats and not yet married off, were also vulnerable to being stolen away by fairies, vulnerable especially to the attentions of the young otherworldly men (though who knows how old a young-seeming huldremann might be - these are very strange ancient beings after all). There was some herbal concoction, foul-smelling no doubt, that could be smeared on their braids to keep any demon lover away and prevent a fairy marriage—bryllup—in the old sense of brúð-hlaup—bride-pursuit—in which the suitor simply seized the woman and rode away with her faster than anyone could stop him. Fairy mounts ran swift indeed; no village plough horse would ever catch one.
Sigurðr was blessed with a horse of otherworldy stock; Grani’s sire was Sleipnir, and his sire was Svaðilfari, the horse of giants and the draught beast whose doughtiness at hauling nearly cost the gods everything. With such a grandsire, Grani had the mettle to dare the flame wall when Gunnar’s horse quailed, and Sigurðr, for friendship’s sake, rode the flame in disguise to win Gunnarr his chosen bride. It was to be an arrested sort of bride abduction by proxy, then. The rider would burst in and extract a promise of marriage, but there would be no immediate carrying-away or consummation. And indeed, true to the plan, still in disguise as his friend, Sigurðr showed his comradely loyalty that night by laying his drawn sword between himself and Brynhildr.
The Freudian interpretation is an obvious one, and if you like it, you will be pleased to know that other versions bear that symbolism out inasmuch as they record issue from that night in the form of a girl-child named Áslaug. But I am not talking about those versions. I am talking about the one with the drawn sword.
I imagine Sigurðr this way: he sees her, this disgraced valkyrie, and when her eyes open and flick over his face he swallows hard and thinks again about his errand and his role in this story. Then he draws the longest iron knife he has and places in his own bed before he dares close his eyes to sleep.
mánudagur, mars 07, 2005
The mind is still puzzling at this when the surface tension gives way, the film of the water ruptures, and the cool morning air shocks all things back into into the places they are accustomed to holding in the waking world. The books are in the case, the words are in the dictionary, and the features of the blinking face are distorted only for a moment by a luxurious waking yawn. Then they settle.
sunnudagur, mars 06, 2005
laugardagur, mars 05, 2005
No violence took place in the kitchen, of course, only beets. Still, it always feels slightly taxidermic to squeeze the little boiled roots out of their skins, set them naked in a bowl, heap the empty skins on the board, set the bowl in the refrigerator with incriminatingly carmine hands. Turning back and seeing the long red tails hanging from the board's edge I feel like the farmer's wife with her carving knife. I scoop up the wee, sad, vegetable fells and slide them into the garbage, but for the rest of the day I move through the house like Lady Macbeth, and the wooden cutting board looks like a crime scene for a week.
föstudagur, mars 04, 2005
They are not alone. The pantheon is out there too: Brage, Heimdal, Njord, Balder, Byggve, Frigg, Sigyn, Skirne, Hod, Loke ... the list goes on and includes places (Åsgård, Valhall), objects (Draupnir, Gungne), and trusted steeds (Grane, Gullfaks, Sleipnir). The orthographical variation is an interesting distraction, but the overall implicit message is clear: having backed out of the sagadebatt, Norway has shifted the mythological signifiers of national selfhood to the deep wells of black liquid wealth and flickering blue flame that fuel contemporary society.
Even among all these other platforms, Troll stands out in memory. I recall when the handover went through in 1996 and the televisions were full of the massive Troll A and the booming voiceover: verdens åttende underverk ... gass til Europa og olje til Norge ... vær så god, Norge --and a blonde and be-bunad-ed lass bouncing in slow motion towards the camera waving a norsk flag. This every fifteen minutes, it seemed. TROLL. There was no ignoring it.
Just as, if one is a forward-thinking type, there is no ignoring the finite nature of the resources being tapped. What will happen when these so evocatively-named and powerful items of engineering are not longer linked to the actual source of Otherworld wealth?
This fellow Morten has a genialt notion of what to do when Troll A runs out of oil and is left derelict. He suggests that the whole 656,000 tons of it be moved to Bessvatn in the highland district of Norway called Jotunheim. There it would stand next to the fabled ridge Besseggen, the one along which Peer Gynt rode the reindeer buck headlong. Morten writes:
Troll A vil da på samme tid stå i sitt rette element (vannet), men likevel fullstendig malplassert (midt i fjellheimen). Samtidig vil det være en grusom betongbauta over den forakt for naturen og dobbeltmoralisme som mer enn noe annet har preget Norge siste tredjedel av 1900-tallet og fram til i dag. Det at Besseggen er blant Norges mest besøkte naturområder, og at den spiller en rolle i nasjonalhelligdommen Peer Gynt bidrar bare til å øke symbolikken.
Troll A would stand in its correct element (water), but also it would be totally mis-placed (in the middle of the mountains). At the same time it would be a gruesome concrete monument to the criminal disrespect for nature and hypocrisy that more than ever before has characterized Norway [from] the last third of the 1900s up to day. That Besseggen is among most-visited natural areas and that it plays a role in the national treasure Peer Gynt only serves to increase the symbolism.
It is good to see Norway has not yet drained its reserves of irony dry. One does worry sometimes.
I think this is a great idea, in its lunatic way. I can see the slogan already: Troll heim! Jotunheim! Where else should Norwegian trolls be sent than up in Peer Gynt country, up in the land of giants? It's repatriation.
Or viewed from another angle, the end of oil and gas is nothing if not Ragnarök, and wouldn't then the whole system of non-reciprocity between gods and giants then reverse itself, the gods losing the monopoly on acquiring items of value from neighboring realms? Don't the jötnar then march on the homes of the gods and carry off engines of wealth production to their mountain fastnesses? Either way, it all makes perfect, perverse sense.
fimmtudagur, mars 03, 2005
I do know enough to smile at the fanciful philology in the book. It is all very well done. For example, in the course of some troll-related research the protagonist runs across information about the "rollikoira or troll hound," and I appreciate the cluster-busting, Fennic T-dropping coinage there. The doctored natural history and legend texts are also nicely executed.
I wonder what is being glossed with the word troll. Perhaps stallo? Part of the reason I dislike the American title is the glaring word troll there. It brings to mind kitchy Norwegian tourist goods, Kittelsen, and eventyr. And I am a Kittelsen fan. But the trolls in this book are less of that sort and more tröll in the old norrönt sense of supernaturals. They are more huldrer than troll, and uncanny huldrer, not the bunad-wearing sort. They are more stallo than anything else I can think of.
None of the English-language reviews I've read of the book so far have evidenced any grasp of the fact that this story and its apparatus of faux sources is in dialogue with a non-fictive literature of recorded folklore, Kalevala-meter verse, religious tracts, and geographical and topographical descriptions of the North. I like to think that Leea Virtanen might have appreciated being included in this work as the authority on Finnish folklore she truly is. It was published a couple of years before she died, so maybe she did get to see it. What the long-dead Mikael Agricola and Lars Levi Læstadius might have thought we can only guess. But these figures are not commonly known so far afield, and this can only have contributed to some reviews being negative and many others being off even when they are positive.
But in Finland it got the Finlandia Award. And for my part, I was charmed ... bergtatt.
þriðjudagur, mars 01, 2005
I know exactly who would most appreciate hearing of my discovery---just her thing, really exactly her kind of thing---but I also know that I could turn the house upside down and still not find her address.