Friday, February 06, 2009

Moment of Freedom

It was only earlier in the week that I believe I first encountered Jens Bjorneboe. Such was through Complete Review and I was interested in their approval of his Bestiality Trilogy, even more so when I discovered that our local library had the first installment Moment of Freedom. (it is odd to find so many vanguard titles of the 60s and 70s at our library. Times have certainly changed.)

The unnamed protagonist works in a courthouse, a Servant of Justice, and between binges he is composing a 12 volume study The History of Bestiality, which still reminds me of W.T. Vollmann's Rising Up Rising Down, if only in ambition not as indicative of eccentricacy. Most people in the Servant's world are divided into little bears and scholastics. Most people lack the Holy Spirit. There is something of Dostoevsky in this, likely even Cortazar's Hopscotch. I must admit that i have thought most of Malaparte while reading. Depicting "a land of Chaos" the Servant declares:

After they die Germans go to the DDR. The DDR is Germany's bad conscience. It's a place where no German can sell pornography, buy stocks, speculate in real estate, earn money on Verdun

It is in many sense that Bjornebow demands Europe admit its folly, its atrocity. Surreal parallels of pogroms and inquisitions stand in rank with observations about the oriental aspects of Stockholm and the twisted allegiances of refugees of WWII. His father's English bred propriety clashes with discussions of appropriate libations for enduring the foehn, the wind which carries sans from the Sahara to Scandinavia, causing the temperature to spike and tempers to explode. Ultimately, the Servant shrugs, drinks and ponders, "To talk about Stockholm is like digging with a fork in a wound; all that exists of flesh and nerves protests against it."

The novel progresses and the Servant discovers the gruesome secrets of town's upper class: judges, priests and businessmen alike are exposed as deviants and pedophiles. The resulting imbibing leads the Servant to ponder notes on depression he compiled in his youth in Italy. A sidebar to this could've been from the pen of Bolano:

One of my friends, who runs a charming little madhouse in Switzerland, says that if one manages to get through it by oneself it will "lead to a significant increase in one's depth of experiencing." That sounds delicious.

I prolly won't finish this one tonight but tomorrow sounds likely. It is a sincere wish to have access to Bjorneboe's other works.


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