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Latenight: Still waters

Scandanavian culture has always intrigued me.  There’s a certain fatalistic stoicism about the Norwegian bachelor farmers of Garrison Keillor’s Lake Woebegone.  The concept was reinforced in the quirky film Kitchen Stories where a cool detached Swedish statistician is assigned to study the kitchen efficiency of-  the Norwegian bachelor farmer.  For anyone who has never seen this hillarious movie, don’t let the subtitles intimidate you.  Words are few and almost all of the comedy is visual.  

But the odd thing about Kitchen Stories as well as some of the literature I’ve read, such as anything by Sigrid Undset, is that Scandanavians are anything but cool and detached.  They are roiling with passion beneath that calm exterior.  The statistician’s grand experiment is jeopardized when he inadvertantly becomes the subject and by the simple acts of kindness he and his subject share, crossing the boundary into biased interpretations of data.  The desire for human contact and friendship overwhelms the demands of science.  

Undset’s characters are medieval men and women struggling with their duty, honor and the impulsivity of the adolescent sex drive.  Lust, murder, infidelity leads to lifetimes of heartache for the few moments of stolen ecstasy.  Penance, pilgrimage, forgiveness and self sacrifice are needed to repair the broken soul held hostage by the weakness of the flesh.  After an Unset saga, you come to see that the only thing cool in Scandanavia is the winter.  

Commenter B, from Sweden has dropped in from time to time to offer support and solidarity and with her keen insight, recommends this song for the intensity of the PUMA movement, watching, waiting, ready to be released.   

Set’em up, Joe.  I need to quench this fire.