some thought about Scandinavia

No, the best quality version (ever) was here, in Chile :)


He sings the new songs so well, it's such a shame they are so shite. I can picture some bed-headed, private school educated, london fanny singing something similar. Backed by a band he created from a crowd of wasters at a union bar on a Thursday afternoon.

NME, Q, Mojo... Give me a job! I'm so insightful and witty!
 
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goinghome

Guest
"Oscar Wilde's mother, Speranza, wrote a book called Driftwood from Scandinavia which was published in 1884. It arose from her travels with her husband, Sir William Wilde, to Sweden, Denmark, and Germany, and is "a melange of Scandinavian history and legend with the author's personal observations on that society and her sustained attacks on British society in contrast". William died in 1876 so there was quite a gap in getting the finished work out. She was very often short of money after his death, in debt, though her works were popular enough. This book is still just about available, but very little information is out there about contents. Has anyone read it, and could it possibly have fed into Morrissey's song?"

Is this, what I wrote elsewhere, of relevance? http://allyouneedismorrissey.com/single/?p=583570&t=4416798

A little excerpt from this rare book -
"Random excerpt from the book:
PART IV. FROM CHRISTIANIA TO STOCKHOLM. We left Christiania at night for Gothenburg, and steamed down the beautiful fiord through the shadowy forest trees, while the moon, a great world of light, hung suspended in the purple air, and flooded all the pines with silver. Gothenburg is a fine town--the gatheringplace of the nations; for here is the starting-point of the Troelhetten Canal, the great water-way that cuts Sweden right across from the Cattegat to the Baltic. It reminded me of our Irish project to cut Ireland also right across from Gal way to Dublin, only a hundred miles, thus making a direct waterway for the American steamers from the Atlantic to the Irish Sea. But the Swedes accomplished their project, while we only talked of ours, though no difficulty was involved in the construction. The Gotha Canal, which includes in its picturesque marvels the Troelhetten Falls, the Niagara of Europe, is one of the wonders of the century. A thousand men a day were employed on the work for five years, at times working at sea-level, at others carrying the canal over lofty ridges of granite that had to be blasted at every step. By means of this stupendous work all the small lakes of the interior are now connected together, thus making a direct water-passage from sea to sea, a result of the highest importance to Swedish commerce and civilization. The transit across Sweden occupies three days, progress being slow, owing to the number of locks and the tortuous navigation through the abrupt curves and undulations of the canal. But the excursion never wearies. There is a rich and interesting country around, and a rest at every town for loading and unloading, which gives ample time to land and investigate the buildings and the people. At the locks also there is always a long delay, which one, however, can pleasantly utilize by a walk through the woods and a rest in the farmhouses. The cottagers were very friendly, and offered us brown bread and milk, and I practised Swedish tal..." -
http://generalbooksclub.com/book.cfm?id=11326
 

Qvist

Active Member
I was just listening to a live version of the, probably, album-to-be song "Scandinavia", and got quite strong associations to a kind of nationalistic theme. It starts with this dysantropic view against us northern europeans, but "then You came along" etc.
Especially I find these parts interesting:

"I kiss the soil/I hug the soil/I eat the soil"
and
"Un-protesting I'll die in Scandinavia [...] I'll be happy to die in Scandinavia"

Of course, you would reject this view claiming Morrissey being british (irish etc. etc.) but nevertheless these are connections to a romantic picture - the Soil of Scandinavia - depending on wheter you choose to interpret those parts of the song or not. I agree it definitely would be a bit heavy to call it Blut und Boden, but as we have seen in the past Morrissey tend to write about several different things, so I wouldn't rule it out.
And Im sure that this site have been through a thousand of discussions about those kinds of nationalistic aspects of Morrisseys works, but I haven't seen a specific discussion about "Scandinavia" - maybe rather reasonable since it hasn't been released yet.

Just some thoughts from a scandinavian.
Do reply and tell me if I'm insane, or if there is a chance that Morrissey describes this fascination with the Northern Soil in terms that (at least in a scared country like mine) would be seen as Patriotic (that is in a negative sense).

[I havn't been here for a while, If this topic has already been discussed, then do ignore this post - or delete it.]

Your question answers itself, and in the negative. How can someone possibly be patriotic or nationalistic about a country (or even more absurdly, a region) he doesn't belong to?
 

Cornflakes

"A bit iffy" ★★☆☆☆ - AV Club
Your question answers itself, and in the negative. How can someone possibly be patriotic or nationalistic about a country (or even more absurdly, a region) he doesn't belong to?

Morrissey may not be the song's narrator.
 

Qvist

Active Member
Of course, but in that case he also is not automatically associated with the attitudes he describe.

In any case, the song plainly describes how someone who absolutely abhors Scandinavia acquires an adoring attitude to it (as expressed by the quoted lines in the OP) through falling in love with a Scandinavian person. How would one squeeze that into a nationalism-centred interpretation? And more to the point, why?
 

Bigmouth

Scandinavian
Of course, but in that case he also is not automatically associated with the attitudes he describe.

In any case, the song plainly describes how someone who absolutely abhors Scandinavia acquires an adoring attitude to it (as expressed by the quoted lines in the OP) through falling in love with a Scandinavian person. How would one squeeze that into a nationalism-centred interpretation? And more to the point, why?

I hope you havn't misunderstood me.
This is - as you said - my interpretation of the song, and therefore I might have to give a direct answer.
Iam simply making a remark that the lines in which "I" (whoever that might be) kiss the soil, hug the soil etc., is very vitalistic - by which I mean the worshiping of the earth, light, blood etc. (sometimes connected to fascist blut und boden tradition in germany)
And the final lines is almost a copy from the last lines of the swedish national anthem: "jag vill leva jag vill dö i norden" ("I wan't to live and die in the north [scandinavia]").
BUT, this is my thoughts, it's just my speculations.

We have had to other good answers in this thread which connects "Scandinavia" first with Brecht (which would of course be the opposite of blut und boden), very interesting indeed. And then the parallell to Wildes mother, which would also be an interesting perspective since Morrissey have read a lot of her sons work.

The most fascinating thing is the turn, from hate to love.

Then WHY would I make this incomplete analysis?
Because it's justified to always look at different perspectives of the song, you always interpret it, depending if you choose to focus on the parts you find or ignore them and follow up the classical morrissey-working-class-smiths-persona which, I would say, is gone now. He is a vegetarian, but I can't see a lot of social engagement recently.
Anyhow, this demand of interpretation does, obviously, not mean that the person who wrote it must be a political extremist, on the contrary I think Morrissey tend to be ironic quite often - to quote the swedish artist Stina Nordenstam:

I do like Morrissey, but I am almost a bit - not ashamed exactly, but I don't think we have that much in
common. The big difference is that he is extremely ironic all the time. That's the number one thing he's doing.
It is an English characteristic. Swedish people have a more direct contact with dark things

Yes we do, we commit suicide instead :)
 

CrystalGeezer

My secret's my enzyme.
Because I am poor and tied to an invisible 600 mile radius chain to Los Angeles, the closest I've ever been to Scandinavia is Solvang, CA. But I guess that's fitting, being all mystery solution oriented, solving. :p

Ta dum cha!

I'll get me hoodie.
 

Qvist

Active Member
I hope you havn't misunderstood me.
This is - as you said - my interpretation of the song, and therefore I might have to give a direct answer.
Iam simply making a remark that the lines in which "I" (whoever that might be) kiss the soil, hug the soil etc., is very vitalistic - by which I mean the worshiping of the earth, light, blood etc. (sometimes connected to fascist blut und boden tradition in germany)
And the final lines is almost a copy from the last lines of the swedish national anthem: "jag vill leva jag vill dö i norden" ("I wan't to live and die in the north [scandinavia]").
BUT, this is my thoughts, it's just my speculations.

We have had to other good answers in this thread which connects "Scandinavia" first with Brecht (which would of course be the opposite of blut und boden), very interesting indeed. And then the parallell to Wildes mother, which would also be an interesting perspective since Morrissey have read a lot of her sons work.

The most fascinating thing is the turn, from hate to love.

Then WHY would I make this incomplete analysis?
Because it's justified to always look at different perspectives of the song, you always interpret it, depending if you choose to focus on the parts you find or ignore them and follow up the classical morrissey-working-class-smiths-persona which, I would say, is gone now. He is a vegetarian, but I can't see a lot of social engagement recently.
Anyhow, this demand of interpretation does, obviously, not mean that the person who wrote it must be a political extremist, on the contrary I think Morrissey tend to be ironic quite often - to quote the swedish artist Stina Nordenstam:



Yes we do, we commit suicide instead :)

Well, my point is simply, even if you can interpret a lyric in a certain way, why should you? A statement like "I kiss the soil" is not inherently either here nor there with regard to Blut und Boden. It can just as well be a purely figurative expression of a deep and personal experience. It all depends on the context you choose to put it in, and that context cannot simply be inferred from the associations a few words might conjure up in a listener. For an excellent illustration, try translating the lyrics of Queen's "One Vision" into German, and see what that reminds you of. :)

If instead you infer the context from the lyric as a whole, there are several elements in it that strongly resist a context such as the one you raise - to the point that I for one would see it as far-fetched even considered as an element of vague ambivalence.
 

Bigmouth

Scandinavian
If instead you infer the context from the lyric as a whole, there are several elements in it that strongly resist a context such as the one you raise - to the point that I for one would see it as far-fetched even considered as an element of vague ambivalence.

I look forward to the album as a whole to make a “final” judgement. :)

Until thenn, I do understand your point.
And generally, I agree that it, in most cases, would be bad to adjust the "meaning" of Scandinavia just by developing a certain theme – which perhaps doesn’t exist, or isn’t reasonable etc. There is a danger in those kinds of interpretations. Umbero Eco claims: we can always find room for an interpretation, but this does not mean it is plausible. Interpretations create facts, not the other way around to argue against Nietzsche etc. etc. It is crucial

But on the other hand, the difficult thing seems to be that both alternatives are possible, maybe unlikely, that depends on the listener. The specific swift from hate to love is striking. You wrote “It can just as well be a purely figurative expression of a deep and personal experience.”
Indeed. And the context is important. For instance, my own experience of the song is defined by my circumstances being “bored in a fjord” in Bergen right now.

Still [when you said: “that context cannot simply be inferred from the associations a few words might conjure up in a listener” ] I have to disagree. The effect upon the listener, the experience so to speak, is the first thing one meet, it is fundamental.
It would be nonsense to ignore a feeling, since it is important to how we react to an aesthetic phenomena, in “Reader meet author” I feelt a kind of critic against the medias view on class-struggles etc. Afterwards, this interpretation might have some evidence, I don’t know, but the first impression is important.

Would you, say that you have another view on the song, if so – I’d very much like to hear that subjective theory/view, instead of this discussion. How do you, herr kvist, interpret Scandinavia?
 

123xyz

Well-Known Member
Subscriber
As an aside , I remember reading somewhere that a medieval cure for vampirism was to eat the soil from the grave of one's attacker.
 

Qvist

Active Member
Well, your fart is all very well, but I counter with a burp.

And thus the days passed, while all lived happily in the land. In the mean time...

Still [when you said: “that context cannot simply be inferred from the associations a few words might conjure up in a listener” ] I have to disagree. The effect upon the listener, the experience so to speak, is the first thing one meet, it is fundamental.
It would be nonsense to ignore a feeling, since it is important to how we react to an aesthetic phenomena, in “Reader meet author” I feelt a kind of critic against the medias view on class-struggles etc. Afterwards, this interpretation might have some evidence, I don’t know, but the first impression is important.

Yes, certainly. But what is it important to? It's important to you, but in many cases it is not of much interest to anybody else, depending on how subjective the impression is. For instance, the line "Oh mother, I can feel the soil falling over my head" might invoke an immediate association to boiled cabbage, in a person who first discovered the song whilst eating that. All sorts of subjective experiences impinge on our interpretation of art, but that does not mean they have a direct and unproblematic application. I am not arguing for any absolute distinction between objective basis and subjective experience in interpretation, but I do think the structure of the lyric as a whole does constitute a meaningful point of reference for interpretation, and that interpretation ought never to be merely and wholly personal - if it is, then it ceases to be communicable. The ideas and associations the lyric evoke in you is not the interpretation, just a starting point for it - and not the only one.


Would you, say that you have another view on the song, if so – I’d very much like to hear that subjective theory/view, instead of this discussion. How do you, herr kvist, interpret Scandinavia?

I haven't really given it any great thought, but the key point in the lyric seems to me to be the transformative and redeeming quality of love and of the personal, which transforms the narrator's feelings about Scandinavia from one of intense contempt to one of equally intense adoration. Nothing is said either about what exactly he (the narrator) despised so much about S prior to this personal experience, nor what it is that he likes so much about if after that experience. The strength and nature of the feeling itself seems to be the point. The sense I come away with is hence primarily about the force of love, and about how we experience other broader phenomena (such as places) through our relation with other people. In other words, it is people who matter - a fairly classic Morrisseyesque theme. Which is also the case with how extreme and uncompromising the terms are in which he describes his feelings for Scandinavia, and which underlines the basic point of how love transforms everything, utterly.
 
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goinghome

Guest
Bigmouth has seeded and opened up this discussion in a stimulating and inviting way. There's something about the song that might be similar to Well I Wonder which fed off the underlying emotion of Elizabeth Smart's book, In Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept. It's difficult to identify Scandinavia's source or sources of inspiration. The comment about vampires: "a medieval cure for vampirism was to eat the soil from the grave of one's attacker" - brings to mind the author John Ajvide Lindqvist who confesses to drinking from the warm flow of Morrissey's genius. He wrote Let The Right One In. The Brechtian comparison is interesting. I don't know where the violent images - people burning, children dying, blind asylum, stabbing - come from. Of course they are relevant anywhere in the world, our shared human history, but probably something more specific is in mind. Qvist's sense of what the song's about is broad but sends spirit soaring:
The sense I come away with is hence primarily about the force of love, and about how we experience other broader phenomena (such as places) through our relation with other people. In other words, it is people who matter - a fairly classic Morrisseyesque theme. Which is also the case with how extreme and uncompromising the terms are in which he describes his feelings for Scandinavia, and which underlines the basic point of how love transforms everything, utterly.

Bigmouth quotes Swedish artist Stina Nordenstam: "...The big difference is that he is extremely ironic all the time. That's the number one thing he's doing..."

A recent summary of some organisational research on leadership elevates a certain type of irony to the highest and rarest position.

...Thus, leaders with a more complex meaning-making system seem to have access to enhanced and new capacities that others do not. This appears to strengthen their ability to respond to complex, ambiguous, and sophisticated challenges....
...The Ironist focuses on being as well as on witnessing the moment to moment flux of experience, states of mind, and arising of consciousness. ..
and
...These include the ability to: take a systems view and even a unitive view on reality; simultaneously hold and manage conflicting frames, perspectives and emotions; and deeply accept oneself, others, and the moment, without judgment. Research on these stages also suggests that such individuals have a deep access to intuition and perceive their rational mind as a tool, not as the dominant vehicle to understand reality. They appear to deeply tolerate uncertainty and even collaboratively engage with ambiguity to create in the world. Finally, they are subject to frequent “flow” and “witnessing” states of consciousness...
-
http://integrallife.com/member/barr...s-leadership-sustainability-executive-summary

Something about the bringing together of otherwise irreconcilable opposites with a transcendent satisfying result that also seems to be going on in the song. As Oscar Wilde said: "The well-bred argue with others. The wise contradict themselves!" ; )
 

bhops

Last of the famous international screw ups.
If it helps this discussion at all, well...I just farted.

Easily the most sensible and insightful comment in this thread. Honestly the amount of esoteric pompous bullshit knocking about in this thread is truly mind boggling.

And despite the attempts at high brow and intelligentsia much (most) of it really is a steaming pile of garbage without a point. It's like that old philosophical argument, if you put a monkey in a room with a typewriter and left it alone for infinity would it eventually type the complete works of Shakespeare? It's like that argument but with some fancier words.

So what does the song mean? It's about Morrissey falling in love with a someone of a Scandinavian persuasion and then alluding to anal sex again with a few rubbish lines about eating dirt and being in a fjord thrown in, probably because he couldn't think of anything else to write.

Done, case closed, next please.
 

Qvist

Active Member
Easily the most sensible and insightful comment in this thread. Honestly the amount of esoteric pompous bullshit knocking about in this thread is truly mind boggling.

And despite the attempts at high brow and intelligentsia much (most) of it really is a steaming pile of garbage without a point..

As if you'd know.
 

bhops

Last of the famous international screw ups.
As if you'd know.

I know enough. I have been through University, I have my Masters in English, I have consumed quite few philosophy and politics papers over the years. I don't claim to be the next Bernard Levy but I could, if I chose to, write with the same overblown highbrow, head stuck-up-my-ass pomposity, that you do. I'm sure I could manage it. In fact I suspect plenty of people on these forums could.

But most don't. And why? Oh because it wreaks of some kind of academic elitism. That and it's really boring to read. Like a couple of old musty duckies sitting in crushed velvet smoking jackets jockeying for position as to whose navel they can gaze into the deepest.

What's funny is Morrissey himself would take one look at these solipsistic overwrought ramblings and piss himself with the pretentiousness of it all.
 
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