At Johan Nygaardsvold’s square, there is a beautiful monument with the names of the victims of the 22 July 2011 attack written in glass. It shone beautifully on the bright September day when I visited a few days ago. The buildings around the square are boarded up and will soon be demolished, they would have been the most desolate sight if it was not for the glorious light, the leaves, the reflection.
Can reflecting bring peace and healing ?
22 July 2011 – Day of Attacks
14.36 The centre of Oslo is disrupted by a huge explosion, damaging the offices of the Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, and the country’s largest newspaper VG.
16.57 Two hours after the explosion in Oslo an unknown man, dressed as a police officer, arrives on Utøya island outside Oslo and travels to a youth camp organised by the ruling Norwegian Labour Party. He opens fire on the group of teenagers, who have gathered after hearing noises on the shoreline.
18.00 Police arrive on the island and proceed to apprehend the lone gunman, who has yet to be identified. The man does not resist arrest. Late in the evening Mr Stoltenberg, the Norwegian Prime Minster, gives a press conference in which he labels the attack upon the youth camp “especially brutal – an attack of cowardice.”
23 July Mr Stoltenberg speaks of a “national tragedy” as the death toll continues to climb. 77 people are eventually reported as having lost their lives, 69 from the Utøya shootings. Anders Behring Breivik, 32, is identified by Norwegian media as the man arrested by police. Mr Stoltenberg indicated that Breivik was part of a larger organisation, and not acting alone.
C’est la chaude loi des hommes
Du raisin ils font du vin
Du charbon ils font du feu
Des baisers ils font des hommes
C’est la dure loi des hommes
Se garder intact malgré
Les guerres et la misère
Malgré les dangers de mort
C’est la douce loi des hommes
De changer l’eau en lumière
Le rêve en réalité
Et les ennemis en frères
Une loi vieille et nouvelle
Qui va se perfectionnant
Du fond du cœur de l’enfant
Jusqu’à la raison suprême.
Mr. Death, I am pleased to tell you, there
are rifts in your long black coat. Today
Rumi (obit. 1273) came visiting, and not for
the first time. True he didn’t speak with
his tongue but from memory, and whether
he was short or tall I still don’t know.
But he was as real at the tree I was
under. Just because something’s physical
doesn’t mean it’s the greatest. He
offered a poem or two, then sauntered on.
I sat awhile feeling content and feeling
contentment in the tree also. Isn’t
everything in the world shared? And one
of the poems contained a tree, so of
course the tree felt included. That’s
Rumi, who has no trouble slipping out of
your long coat, oh Mr. Death.
My Contax was poetically described by my son, as my “Alethiometer,” from the Greek words aletheia (truth) and ometer (measuring device). An alethiometer is the compass-like device made famous in Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials.” This fictional device helps some holders find truthful answers to their questions.
These words from the French poet Paul Verlaine have been like a mantra for me: “Cache et montre au cœur qui s’étonne La vérité comme une étoile.” In English, it would read something like this: “Unto the astounded heart shows, Truth’s star now hidden, now revealed.”
That’s poetry. That’s photography.