Posts Tagged ‘Lofoten’


Site Visitation and Ad Hoc Conversation with Dr. Traci Speed: Geography of Established Landscapes (or, the “nature” of exotic spaces).

It is difficult to drive through Lofoten with its majestic landscapes without referring to a few passages from Nina Witoszek‘s analysis on nature and culture in nineteenth century Norway (ch.2, Origins of the Regime of Goodness). “The mountains are, in the last instance, our best Norwegians”, citing Henrik Wergeland, Norway’s romantic poet, as a way for Nina to describe nature and nature-related imagery as a totemic possession of Norwegians.downtown

Unlike nineteenth century Romantics elsewhere, for whom imagination, mystery, and miracle, were linked to worlds of madness synonymous with thraldom, a loss of the self in the uncanny eternal forces (p. 36), Norwegian nature was reasonable:

hillsidebeach“[Nature] is the rational element (in man) which we must believe to have been innate in the soul from its beginning [and] was the work of an Author who is himself ‘rational’; [whereas] the non-rational element is not properly called ‘natural'” (Tertullian cited in Witoszek).

nansenNotably, this conversation would be truly amiss–if the point was not further supported by the fact that reason, nature, and scientific rationality continue to play an important role in Norwegian cultural reason today.

As evidence, for example, consider the importance that Norwegian scientists place on the imagery of nineteenth century ecologist, explorer, and cosmopolitanist, Fridtjof Nansen, as he appears here on the left, in a life-sized oil and canvas portrait that, today, hangs within the institute that bears his name, in Lysaker, outside Oslo, and run by the distinguished Arctic social scientist Arild Moe.

And again, in a speech by marine biologist and scientific leader, Paul Wassman, as seen below, during his lecture at the Norwegian TransAtlantic Science Conference held at Rice University, Houston, in late 2012.nansen nansen2

Well, anyway.

What was really on our mind as we gazed over the spectacle, indeed, was whether or not the issue that captivated us–was perhaps an element of exoticism having to do with specified labor practices attributed to a geography that, in fact, has no basis for present conditions in reproducing the way people today live on the landscape.
there What we simply could not arrest from our thoughts was the possibility of seeing a landscape in which the total organizing potential refers to an entirely different form of labor than what is now possible through careerism, and thus, making it impossible for us to comprehend nature outside of an exotic framework.

Stated more simply: Who lives by organizing their entire social, political, and economic energies via cod fishing at high latitudes of variable weather patterns established by the Gulf stream?

It is a wonder to behold.
seagrass Inevitably, our pondering required caffeine and of course, aestheticized interiors, whether enjoying the comforts of a climate controlled automobile or the visible interactions of cafe society down in the Lofoten chain.
gummy shoptea

Additional shots by Traci Speed (!):



cola jello



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