I title this picture “Nature: bored.” A bird flew into my hallway, looking for something different. The streets and gardens of Oslo offer nothing to anyone anymore.
It is July, the most hideously vacant month in the calendar, a month in which I have all the time in the world to write about the particularly torturous phenomenon of the Norwegian summer.
“Torturous?” you ask, “The time of year when Scandinavia is warm and sunny?”
It’s true that there does not seem to be an hour of proper darkness, and the night sky sometimes goes a pleasant shade of violet, but these summers can be best described as long, boring and lonely. Sleep is the best option, and I frequently rise at 6pm, to take in but a few hours’ waking reverie.
Allow me to elucidate. You readers from abroad know well that for example in an office, employees take turns to go on holidays, so that business in the office continues uninterrupted, the temporary staff absence covered smoothly. Well, in the time-honoured Norwegian tradition of everyone-doing-the-same-thing-at-the-same-time, all go on holiday simultaneously, and the country practically shuts down. This is known as fellesferie, the “common holiday” or “mutual holiday” (or in business-speak, “general staff holiday”).
Oslo, the capital city, is therefore like a graveyard, or it would be, if it got any livelier.
I am, however, unmutual. I may even be the only person impatiently waiting for autumn. That is when things will come back to life. Fall, leaves, fall!
Or let it snow!
Everyone doing the same thing at the same time is inherently wrong, as illustrated by the electrical power surge on Christmas Day when an entire society puts a turkey into an oven at the same moment. A mutual holiday can only mean one thing: society ceases to meet the needs of the individual. The hapless individual is lucky to be able to find an open shop selling food. Only the long-suffering shop assistant, who now has few customers, can smile.
Essentially, Norwegians like to laze this time of year. Even their imagination is extinguished; Norwegian artists are no different to potato farmers, and cease to create anything. In our gallery, we have been exhibiting photos by a photographer who is yes, in fact, dead. Being dead is of great advantage in July. It is one of the few ways to get through a Norwegian summer mentally unharmed. One’s other options are to go into a death-like coma, or to move to Melbourne, where at least it’s winter at the moment.