Stinne Storm: Edens

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Edens is a book by Stinne Storm published in 2012 on Forlaget Virkelig. I previously reviewed another book by Storm, namely Fastland. Edens is less minimalistic in style but likewise composed of relative short, thematically interrelated texts. As in Fastland, Edens contains references to objects and actions related to hunting, and embellishing the front cover is a detailed pencil drawing by Sara Katrine Thiesen. Edens is composed of three sequences of texts entitled en ø; stalking; midsommer. In stalking, we find descriptions of different types of hunting, for example:

 

gemsejagt foregår ved at vekslerne for gemse spærres. gemse finder

sædvanlige veksler spærrede forvinder sig ud på klippespidser og

afsatser hvor ingen udvej for redning findes (…)

 

A gemse is a chamois, belonging to the goat-antelope subfamily. And the poem explains the way that chamois are caught.

If we reflect upon the title Edens/of Eden in relation to hunting, it suggests that the hunter is in the Garden of Eden. One interpretation of the myth of Eden is that it is a myth about the inability of humans to not try to know, it is apples hanging on the tree of knowledge that Adam and Eve are prohibited to eat. From a Judeo-Christian perspective there are negative consequences to this yearning for knowledge. It leads to the violation of a prescription by God, and entails that we become like God in one respect: by eating the fruit, we, like God, come to posses knowledge and can never again return to the innocence of the pre-fall state. For this we are expelled from the place He originally assigned for us. So the expulsion from Eden is the shadow hanging over the  human longing for knowledge, the price we have had to pay. Likewise there is a shadow hanging over the hunter’s practices, which might be exactly the killing of another sentient being. Remember that in Eden, Adam and Eve did not have to kill the animals to stay alive. Thiensen’s drawing nicely illustrates the ambiguity of hunting: the beautiful structure and feathers of the wing, and similarly the violence of a wing torn off. With the title in mind, one almost cannot help seeing the wing as having belonged to a dark angel.

The last and most lengthy sequence, midsommer, describes nature in the absence of hunting. In this sequence we find lines full of joy and serenity. The first poem goes:

 

højsommer hjortehoveder op over korret der rør sig i vinden

and i want to havrens bjælder paa i want to havrens bjælder gaar

and i want you i want you i want to release you

 

I read this as an ode to nature itself. Here the narrator is fascinated, is attracted to nature, just like the hunter, but contrary to the hunter the narrator refrains from interrupting nature. The narrator does not want to capture, domesticate, or kill the deer, but to release it. And the best way to do so is to abstain from interference; the release becomes a release from human interference as such. The poem that follows the above begins:

 

en ensom bioson står sin plass mot ulver for å overleve …

 

A lonely bison is a bison left alone. But a bison which acts in order to survive, similarly to the strife of all animals regardless of whether human beings interfere or not. This is the lesson learned by the narrator as the text proceeds, namely that nature is in conflict with itself and that we are part of nature and so also part of the conflict:

 

det er du ikke. du går i skoven du er inde i skoven du skjuler din form i dag ser du ingen statuer i skoven. de kamuflerer sig. du får til havnen du ser havet skifte farve.

 

The subject also makes use of camuflage, and so does the ocean. In the last few texts the subject appears to be in harmony with the fact that animals can, so to speak, die a natural death.

 

din krop synger i vandet er der smårejer og krabber du ikke vil træde på

slatne vandmænd i strandkanten de tørrer ind ved lavvande i tangen

 

I find Edens to be another interesting book by Storm and I like how it touches on some deep issues concerning our relation to nature in a broad sense of the term, while the poems as such remain simple and beautiful. Furthermore, knowing that Edens would still be a pleasure to read with or without the more philosophical musings of this review makes the book even better.

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