Monday, 1 December 2014


The Norwegian edition of The Local features an interview with a publishing-professor from the University of Tromsø whose latest project is assaying the notion of happiness. Of course, happiness is more than just an emotional response and an outlook and code of behaviour, but not necessarily a dogmatic one, as the author suggests, insofar as permanence and aversion to change are not the metrics that happiness for most people are measured by.
Rather than the hedonistic notion of becoming the perpetually punch-drunk gadfly that first got the author interested in the question, happiness is also to be found in change and challenge—exemplified by the Scandinavian double-barreled question how are you doing/how are you coping, “Hvordan du hard et/hvordan du tar det?” That’s a very provoking parallel construction that is not just limited to these icy climes and six months of no sun—the campus being above the Arctic Circle. On the media’s role in shaping our feelings and stance, the author also makes a very poignant observation that sensational, responsible, impassioned or neutral alike, the news and the broader entertainment industry is propelled by sponsorship, whose purpose is either to validate and reinforce opinions, loyalties that one already shares or to make one feel inadequate and uncertain about present allegiances. Sometimes that may be a good thing but I don’t think most marketers are concerned about the examined life. While this manipulation and patronage is no doubt true and important—and the author does not pose a problem without offering at least the glimmer of a solution—that pronouncement does strike me as typical Norse.