Clash of Civilizations in Norway

A country is torn apart and the rest of the world, confused, can do nothing but stand aside and wonder how it will all play out.

Can the menace be contained to just one country?
Can the menace be contained to just Norway?

If you are Norwegian, you may as well stop reading now. I have learned how sensitive this topic is to your people and how it can result in uncontrollable fits of rage directed at the opposition. I would hate to rehash a topic already covered by the NY Times about which you have undoubtedly formed a zealous opinion.

While Americans continue to debate the fundamental role of government, god and guns in our lives, Norwegians are divided by the nuances of stacking and burning wood. Yes, firewood. The most recent outbreak of discourse is rooted in the publication of Lars Mytting’s book Solid Wood: All About Chopping, Drying and Stacking Wood — and the Soul of Wood-Burning.

The book, which is currently atop the best seller list in Norway, inspired a television show watched by some 20 percent of the country. Considering that two-thirds of the program’s twelve hours consists of footage of a log being burned, the show stands as a testament to the dedication and emotional commitment on the part of Norwegians to their wood chopping, stacking and burning heritage.

While violence has miraculously been kept to a minimum, there is no telling what may happen in this Scandinavian tinderbox. The television program has set off a flood of angry text messages arguing, in Liliputian fashion, whether wood stacks should have the bark facing up or down. Coastal folks claim the bark up protects the wood from constant rain. Inland folks claim that the bark down helps it dry from the more regular snow. At this point, no one can be trusted.

Although the factions seem to have no traditional political or religious affiliations, scholars are only beginning to understand the difference between these “archetypes” as put by Mytting. The posers stack their wood high and in plain sight, as monuments to their way of life. The hoarders fill their yards and garages in anticipation of an apocalyptic future without wood. The careful types are scared of the chaos that may ensue if thing were to “tip over”. And then there are the artists. Even Norwegian wood stacking scholars do not understand artists.

At a recent book signing, when asked “What’s so special about this book?” a local woman responded “There’s lots of facts about firewood”.

Yes, lots of facts indeed.


5 thoughts on “Clash of Civilizations in Norway

  1. “Isn’t it good, Norwegian Wood” Yes it is!
    And the Lilliputian reference… good thing you requested all Norwegians to “may as well stop reading”

    Lilliput’s neighbour and Big Brother to the east also has stacks of Myrring’s book. Big think Little Brothers are soooo brisk and healthy in their outdoorish way of life, writing chopping wood-books instead of crime stories.
    Big is jealous. Big time.

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