Recently my fellow countrymen and I have had the displeasure of reading about the wilful removal of Christian Krogh’s painting “Leif Erikson Discovering America.” The painting of Erikson proudly pointing at the coastline of an unknown land was prominently featured at the entrance of the old National Gallery. However, when the new National Museum opened about a year ago, this painting and several other prominent Norwegian artistic works were absent from the permanent exhibitions.
This previous weekend the public turned on the director of its collections when she stated that the painting had been stowed away in holding due to its “romanticized display of Norwegians travelling to America.” She also added that the picture was by its nature “colonialistic.” I’ve included a link to an article explaining the whole debacle [here].
Why did the removal and condemnation of this specific painting warrant such a powerful backlash from academia, politics, and pubs alike? Many were quick to confess this isn’t their favourite among Krogh’s many works, and it’s certainly not the most overtly political. However, I believe removing this painting attacked a depiction of a core Norwegian myth.
The Role of Myth
When people outside Norway hear of our history, it naturally focuses on the exciting, bloody parts. I want to take a moment to paint a picture of a core Norwegian archetype that gets overshadowed by TV-Shows and documentaries about the Viking raids. Of course, I am talking about the myth of the Norwegian explorer. The “Viking berserker” may grab the limelight, but the heroes hailed to this day are explorers and warriors in equal measure, if not purely men of wanderlust and wilderness.
We remember our ancestors for the far corners of the world they reached and the dangers they faced in nature far more than we remember the warriors and chieftains, and they feature prominently in our sagas. Great men such as Leif Erikson are not cheered on as colonialists who sought to conquer but as brave explorers who proved they could dare the waves of the Atlantic Ocean. The sagas hail the pathfinders and mountain men who ferried the King’s son across the mountain range to shield him from his political rivals.
We raise our Polar explorers Fridtjof Nansen and Roald Amundsen for paving the way for modern polar expeditions and eventually conquering the South Pole. Today the explorer lives on in our industry and leisure. The story and the myth of oil extractions in the North Sea tell of brave men exploring the ocean floor for liquid gold, braving the unknown as we’ve always done. Seven out of ten Norwegians hike every week, often through cross-country skiing. So, an attack on The Explorer Leif Erikson is an attack on the core of my people.
These myths are vital to any society, and they form the only connection we people in modernity have to ancient ways. They connect us to past deeds and urge us to act in the present. But, as Georges Sorel writes in Reflections on Violence, they “are not descriptions of things, but expressions of a determination to act.”
Some would say that the myth is irrelevant to any who covets power – that the proverbial Prince who wishes to maintain rule should not care for the details of the story that leads him to the throne.
“BS-BS-BS, therefore I rule.”
While the ruling elite of a society has no obligation to believe the bullshit, the quality and the compatibility of said myth are paramount to keeping order among the non-ruling elite and the masses alike. After all, the painting that inspires a man to brave the unknown and the martyrdom of a fentanyl junkie that inspires activists to topple statues are equally bullshit. One story is better than the other – if you wish to maintain a civilization.
One story leads to heroic action, the other to wanton destruction against dead men who accomplished more than the vandals can ever hope to achieve. Please note that I am not deriding the effectiveness of the modern “woke” myth. On the contrary, the bullshit is highly effective at rallying the spiteful mutants and enemies of the traditional structures. Quoting again from Sorel:
“People who are living in this world of ‘myths’ are secure from all refutation. […] No failure proves anything against Socialism since the latter has become a work of preparation (for revolution); if they are checked, it merely proves that the apprenticeship has been insufficient; they must set to work again with more courage, persistence, and confidence than before…”
Replacing traditional myths with stories of ever-increasing destruction and incompatibility with reality will produce a feedback loop that hastens our downfall. It shows in our increased incompetence and ability to maintain decent societal functions. Some of our current elites seem keenly aware of this.
Rebottling a Genie
After a weekend of flack from every corner of Norwegian public life, the National Museum has decided to place Krogh’s painting in a prominent spot for the next four weeks. Of course, this episode might be a one-time occurrence or a simple strategy of waiting for the storm to pass before quietly removing it again. Only time will tell what sort of people are in charge of curating our national treasures, though I think I’ve already made up my mind.
The myths of the west have been under constant attack by the “woke” foot soldiers of the regime for so long that many of our core operations are suffering. Bridges are starting to collapse, trains are derailing, and food stores increasingly face shortages. We laugh at the WEF videos telling us we will “own nothing and be happy” – at this rate, we might not have a choice.
Elites like Claus Schwab and Tony Blair know this. You can deride their wishes and intentions, but they are competent players in powerful positions. They see the writing on the wall for the future hard times. Call it a fourth industrial revolution or the downfall of western civilization; significant change is coming, and they want to be on top when the dust settles.
So, the “woke” has to go, at least briefly. To ensure that the trains run on time again and that we have a good base of people willing to die in their wars. The neo-myths must recede into the universities and the fringes; elites must flank the left from the right. Woke curators must hang the paintings back on their prominent spots — an unenviable task for our elites, but necessary.
Because the BS might not be true, but it has to be good.
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