"Light on the North" is the English translation of "Licht op het Noorden
", the title of a Dutch VPRO documentary about Norway, by Stine Jensen. In the following summary you can read important facets of this documentary, to learn to understand the psychology of the Norwegians. The text in the summary is an English translation of the words spoken by Stine Jensen, and those she interviewed, in the documentary.
1. Confirmation Day
In 2013 (the year the documentary was created) about 10.000 young Norwegians in the age of fifteen, promised, as happens every year, during the confirmation celebrations, to chose for what is good, and to resist evil in a world filled with evil temptations. To behave as a good human being. In total 220.000 guests are present to congratulate these 10.000 young Norwegians. These Norwegians are dressed in the traditional costume, boys and girls. Their parents also. Adults make their teenagers believe they make the first step to maturity in this day, by this confirmation.
Photo:"Konfirmasjon" day. On that day girls and boys, fifteen years young, are dressed in a traditional costume, named bunad. On the photo this bunad is covered by a white coat, because, I guess, they are in the church. After this official part the white coat goes off and the bunad becomes visible. Each region has its own colors, and design. On this Konfirmasjons-day official photo shoots, often taken in nature, by a professional photographer, belong to the agenda; also rich meals, and presents. A day with a price tag.
On this photo the bunad is visible. The boys wear an official costume, even with a tie. What the boys wear is not a bunad.
2. Nina Witoszek, research professor at Oslo University Nina Witoszek
is, because of her deep insight in the psychology of the Norwegians, also present in the documentary "Licht op het Noorden". Her book: "The origins of the Regime of Goodness", is highlighted to explain the behavior and thinking of the Norwegians. At 3:35
in the documentary starts an interview with Nina Witoszek, in English.
3. The "Angry Boy" in the Vigeland park in Oslo
in the documentary Nina explains the meaning of the cult status of "the angry boy" in the Vigeland park
Nina: "Norwegians are very reserved and restrained. The angry little boy expresses something that is deeply suppressed in them and pushed in the subconscious. People identify with this boy." (Photo: by Jean-Pierre Dalbéra
"You have the strong protestant Lutheran culture that has very much imposed the code of behavior, not only this generation, but generations before. It seems that this strong civilizing has settled very very deep within the Norwegians. There is a connection between this, and the little boy, also with "The Scream
", the painting of Edvard Munch.
This could also be the reason that people like Breivik exist. There is so much suppressed in this culture, that when it does not come out properly, it creates accidents.
In the Norwegian culture one does not get so much praise, not so much criticism either. What children hear is mostly: "Du er flink": "You are clever". That's all.
Stina Jensen: "When I walk around in Oslo, the architecture is highlighted by greyness. What people wear is comfortable, but also overwhelming ordinary. To admit: a bit dull and colorless. Attracting attention or to be(have) different is for Norwegians out of the question. In the rich part of Oslo the number of vagabonds is striking. On a normal day of the week, at eight o'clock in the morning, I see a queue of people, and I do not know what this is, why it is there."
The answer is: they are there for food, at the food distribution point. Stine Jensen: "How is this possible in the richest country in the world?" Who are they: immigrants, but also Norwegians. Mostly Norwegians do not want to be there, do not want to show they are poor.
Oslo is abounded with junks. Oslo is heroine-city number one in Europe.
5. Thomas Hylland Eriksen
Thomas Eriksen is professor of the department of Social Anthropology at the University of Oslo. He wrote a book about the consequences of the abundant wealth in Norway. Besides that he is mentioned in Breivik's manifest: Breivik considers Eriksen as the ultimate example of an evil socialist.
Eriksen about the reason for so many junks, and many other problems: "All was okay, till we found the oil." And: "Norway is so rich now that it does not need to learn anything from other countries anymore." "We are a kind of a Kuwait, a Gulf State." "Already on Thursday afternoon long queues start to be built up, from Oslo, to somewhere in the country, to the cabins. Immigrants do the work. Polish people build houses, people from Pakistan drive the taxis, Tamils are the cleaners, and Swedish serve the coffee. Norwegians are too busy with meetings and mailing."
can offer more details about his view on the Norwegian society.
6. Norway: a teenager with an identity crisis
Stine: "Norway became independent, when the union with Sweden ended. In fact Norway is an up-growing teenager, with an identity crisis. All this wealth seems to be a huge present, but it has also brought polarization and emptiness." Then scenes follow with young people, who celebrate the Russefest. I wrote a post
about it for LinkedIn. All is explained there.
7. Norway: the role of nature
In the documentary the role of nature is explained as the powerful energy, the space to be in, to stay healthy, to find the balance between the city life and the real life. To find the unity of body and soul, body and mind, not or the body or the mind, but united: whole. Norwegian writers, like for instance Henrik Ibsen, consider the theatrical city life as a threat for the authenticity of the human being.
8. Black metal
Norway is, with its thousands of music bands, the cradle of "black metal". The black metal musicians honor the gods of the Viking time, like Odin. They detest the power of the state church. It is not a political movement, but more spiritual, anti-religion. Some black metal musicians and fans agree with the burning down of churches. In their opinion the time of religion belongs to the past, and it is time to find your own inner self. In the nineties lots of churches have been burnt down in Norway, but one was saved: people are convinced that the reason for this are the drawings on the ceiling of the church: they are Viking drawings.
One of the musicians says: "Black metal is not something nice, it is related with what is ugly, the devil, it is comparable with a horror film." The inner hate is so immense that it is overwhelming him completely. A destructive power. When he is asked about Anders Breivik he says: "This is somebody who has become crazy. But where did he get his ideas from? There is not any discussion about. There is no place in the political debate to discuss about it. If so, we would have seen him on TV, and he would have been forced to talk with people who do not agree with him. If there would have been a debate, this, what happened in Oslo and Utøya, would never have happened. He would have been able to talk about it, not been alone with his problems. I recognize myself in his problems."
9. The Norwegian writer: Karl Ove Knausgård
Karl Knausgård wrote six books about growing-up and becoming an adult in Norway. He tells very detailed in his books, how he feels. His books are utterly popular in Norway. Maybe one could name this a national therapy, for a people, that has learned to suppress feelings. It is beautiful what Knausgård writes, but his openness is almost insane. He talks about secrets, family secrets, about the need to open these hidden powers, becoming unbearable to hide them any longer. He talks about the liberation of the self, when opening the cellars of all what is hidden, the need to write is bigger than the need to protect those who are involved, with his silence. He speaks about the threshold where he stepped over, and how it changed his life. He notices a transformation in Norway. He talks about the relation between the ideology of Breivik, Hitler, and himself. When reading (about) Breivik he realized there were similarities in experiences. He considers their isolation as one of the most dangerous causes of what they created. There were too few people around them who could criticize him, correct him. When happened what Breivik caused he, Knausgård, had cried the whole day, and the day after, like all Norwegians.
He is aware of the isolation of young people, now, on this moment, in Norway, who are not criticized, not corrected either.