We are entering dark times, if not metaphorically, at least in a physical sense. Earth is tilting, and it is not to our advantage. What good could we say about the month of November, experienced from the vantage point of Stockholm? Every morning, my bed has turned into a deep cave, from where I can’t distinguish any daylight or reason to live. My legs are made with granite and my head with jelly, or is it the other way around, and all my plans seem either ridiculous or simply not worth the effort.
A splash of cold water, a look through my calendar and that ever-mentioned coffee, and my day begins. As an old troll, typing away behind my work screen, replying to emails which I don’t have an answer to, I can momentarily forget the climatic conditions that make this part of the world uninhabitable. Christmas is looming, and although I’m not a huge fan, I know this will be a turning point, for daylight at least.
My husband (French) hates talking about the weather. Such a banal topic, the very cliché for not having anything in common. He prefers the unprecedented; technological progress is his favourite subject. Self-driving cars, artificial intelligence, life on Mars. But to me, his topics are ephemeral, interesting only in its condition as novelty. More fundamentally, they lack substance. I am after the more fundamental conditions of human condition, those we can’t tech away. This is where the truth must reside. So I confront him, how could we not talk about the weather, how could we not live with it? How is it that we expect ourselves to be so detached from the most basic premise of our planet? To me, technical advancement is an illusion: however much we try to be non-animals, the more are we sucked back into earth’s logic: seasons, death, life.
Swedish society is partly modern, partly ancient. The modern Swede is digitally proficient, a fan of innovation, feeding their children a Mediterranean diet and propagating the idea of implanted microchips. The cashless society. Digitalised interaction with public authorities. Broadband for everyone and the most efficient ways of paying your taxes, registering your children in school, bidding for property, receiving healthcare, interacting with the likeminded, swishing money. Bam.
You’d be tempted to think of the Swede as swallowed up by the digital. Rebooted to be cyber. But no, technology is just a tool, a peripheral means for getting work done. Reality still stands higher. And perhaps weather is the realest of the real. Without weather and weathering, time stands still. Seasons add a cyclical pattern, with our existence spiraling through the space-time continuum, reminding us of previous summers, of suns that never set. Swedes, like their vernacular ancestors, they navigate according to the sun, so aware of the celestial body being the very requisite for everything.
When the earth is shaking, we turn to the traditional, lured into the false security of the known. Were we happier before? 2020 says we surely were. Did we lose some vital skills when entering modernity? Is our modern world not in tune with the tilting of the earth? In the global back-mirror, the past may take the form of tradition, but I refrain. I stick to the weather.
Sofi Tegsveden Deveaux
Publisher and Editor