NORTH #2: 2500 MILES ON THE NORWEGIAN COASTAL STEAMER
Well, I enjoyed writing this so much that I've been gagging to do some sort of follow-up.
Copped a copy of this the day before the Polar mags:
Now, this was printed in Norway in English and I think it's meant as a tourist-guide to accompany cruises on the Bergen Line in the Sixties, tho my copy has a hand-written date of 1972 on the inner-cover and the name 'Margaret C. White.' There are some beautiful photographs of Norway in the 60s that make me want to drool and weep at the same time...for, surely, these places have since no doubt been bespoiled and genericised like everything else seems to have been. I hope they haven't.
I confess my favourite bits are the marvellous prints dotted thru-out the book that are blessed w/ a sort of stylised reductive beauty that you don't see any more...well, at least not in this era wh/ seems so hung-up on so-called 'realism'. They give an unexpected glimpse of a seascape possessed by a rare, mythic beauty; a land very much alive with ancient spirits and accreted meaning:
Plenty of so-called 'hauntological' ammo present here...but why am I so fascinated by The Unknowable, the Unreachable...why should I take spiritual comfort from photos of 1930s Norwegian herring fleets or old fishermen repairing nets in dreary waether conditions...I tried free-associating and the phrase 'a less complicated era' kept coming to mind, which might quietly speak volumes about my own mentality or state of mind. Has the Past now become some vast teddy-bear for me to cuddle, a thumb to suck.
Still, for me, the nicest bit about buying this was the sweet lady in the shop (in her 60s) who asked me if I'd ever done this cruise...I told her I'd hadn't, but it certainly looked wonderful and I tried to explain (without sounding too weird) that I'd been quietly possessed by an unassailable desire to visit places and times that I knew I could never reach...but I quite fancied visiting Finland LOL. The years peeled away from her as she told me that her daughter had gone on the internet and was trying to sort out a Norwegian Coastal Cruise for her, as it was something she'd longed to do her entire life.
That, for me, was worth the price of the book alone. And I hope she soon gets the chance to fill in her own personal version of this: