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Posts Tagged ‘Karl Ove Knausgaard’


Photo: Balazs Koranyi/Reuters 
A sign warns residents of the arctic Svalbard islands in Norway of the danger from roaming polar bears. Norway is planning to expand its oil operations in the Arctic. 

Norway has a reputation for environmentalism. Unless you are talking about oil. Now some of the country’s leading lights are suing the government because of its plans to start drilling in the Arctic. A Norwegian whose writing I admire is one of them.

David Crouch reports at the Guardian, “Norway’s best-known author has lashed out at ‘the shortsightedness and stupidity’ of plans to expand oil exploration into the Arctic, as campaigners prepare to sue the government for placing future generations at risk from climate change.

“Karl Ove Knausgaard, whose bestselling memoir has been a global literary sensation, is fronting a campaign to mount a legal challenge against moves by Norway to open up the Arctic to oil companies.

“Oil and gas extraction in the Arctic has nothing to do with worthwhile goals such as alleviating poverty, Knausgaard said. ‘Norway is one of the richest countries in the world – it’s all about greed. … I never believed that my government actually would do such a thing. … It just makes me want to cry.’ …

“The campaign aims to make use of a recent change to the constitution which obligates the state to take action to ensure natural resources are managed ‘on the basis of comprehensive long-term considerations,’ including safeguarding the environment for future generations. …

“The campaign by Norwegian environmentalists aims to mirror similar legal challenges in the Netherlands and in the US, where lawsuits have attempted to hold governments to account over climate change. In April, the Dutch Urgenda foundation launched the first case in the world to use human rights and tort law to hold a government responsible for failing to reduce carbon emissions fast enough.

“ ‘Where do we draw the line if not in the Arctic?’ said Åsne Seierstad, the bestselling Norwegian author and another signatory to the petition. ‘No economic policy is more short-term than relying on profits from the very areas that are worst affected from climate change.’ ”

More here.

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Art: Caleb Cole
“The Teacher,” exhibited at a Montserrat College of Art show, is a portrait of unnoticed dedication.

Cate McQuaid’s recent Boston Globe review of an art exhibit really spoke to me. I liked the idea of portraits that have meaning beneath the surface, and I especially liked the portrait of a teacher devoting extra time to his job. Anyway, that’s what I saw here. McQuaid saw woe.

McQuaid wrote, “With portraits, the subject tries on one face, the artist may capture another, and the viewer may see something else. Your projection, my projection. It’s all dreadfully nebulous, but if it weren’t, it would be pat and dull.

“ ‘Observance: As I See You, You See Me,’ an exhibition of photographic portraits at Montserrat College of Art’s Montserrat Gallery, examines what these shifting valences tell us about identity and societal assumptions. Many of the artists and subjects, people of color or queer, have experienced the walls strangers throw up based on appearance alone. …

“Woe is a keynote in Caleb Cole’s series ‘Other People Clothes,’ elaborately staged scenes in which the artist creates fictional personae. Cole is small and balding, with a peak of red hair, like Tintin. In ‘February Is Dental Month,’ the artist, surrounded by file folders, looks down at us from behind a large desk. We can find a story here, but the expression tells more: alienation, tenderness, perhaps disdain.” More here.

As much as I like abstract art, representational art that stirs the depths can be fascinating.

My Struggle, by Karl Ove Knausgaard, does something like that. The seemingly endless minutiae of the author’s life and thoughts flow along the surface, but something compelling emerges that is hard to describe. The writing is cinematic. The author sees everything, and observing him observe everything creates a powerful connection.

Interestingly, in the part of My Struggle that I’m reading now, Book 5, Knausgaard gets a tip from a successful novelist about having the “hinterland,” or backstory, of all your characters in mind when you write fiction. As with the Cole portrait of the teacher, the observer will sense things that are not spelled out.

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Recently, I found myself trying to remember the Middle English opening to Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, several lines I had to memorize in college. I did memorize them back then, but my professor wasn’t crazy about my pronunciation even though I tried hard to imitate the Middle English record he assigned.

I wish I could remember why I wanted to resurrect Chaucer this week. It might have been that Karl Ove Knausgaard mentioned him admiringly in My Struggle: Book Two, which I’m currently reading.

No sooner had I begun working on “Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote” (“When April with his showers sweet”) than John, all unaware, sent me a John Skelton Middle English video about a parrot.

It’s hard to figure out the words, but the sound of them is lovely. And I do understand the meow, which apparently is a source of anxiety to the parrot.

If you can tell me more about the words, please do. (There is also some Latin and French, to keep us all on our toes.)

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