The sun was shining on the sea,
Shining with all his might:
He did his very best to make
The billows smooth and bright —
And this was odd, because it was
The middle of the night.

—Lewis Carroll

Sweden slides

⇒ Stockholm ⇒ Uppsala ⇒ Gävle ⇒ Umea ⇒ Vännäs ⇒ Bastuträsk ⇒ Boden ⇒ Kiruna ⇒ Narvik... Depending on the season, the train takes 16 to 20 hours to run its course from Stockholm to Narvik some 900 miles north. I dozed most of the day and night asking myself was this worth it? Copenhagen to Narvik is 1300 miles — the same distance from Copenhagen to Barcelona. Wouldn't I, wouldn't anyone, rather be in Barcelona and not undergo this hypnotic coma — the rhythm of the tracks — endless spans of desolate lands? Our geography sculpts our character, tells us what to feel: Greeks will never be as tight-ass as Germans. Scandinavians will never smile that Mona Lisa smile. So why are the Eskimo Inuits so happy?


We changed trains at Vännäs and Bastuträsk. I made the mistake of exploring the woods near Bastuträsk station. The Arctic mosquito remains ravenous during the entire Scandinavian summer. I would not encounter insects this annoying till I slept in that barn in Ireland. Thus far, my adventure had been bug free — no chiggers, no tics.


Finally, after passing over and through the mountains from Sweden to Norway, arrived in Narvik. It was late, but who could tell? Everyone was still walking around at midnight. However, there was no midnight, for there was no night. I found an abandoned caboose in the rail yard, but the sun never set, so I never slept. Mulled my thoughts instead... Up above the Arctic Circle, I was nearer to the North Pole than I had ever been. I once believed Santa Claus lived up here, or so I was told. Didn't all those reindeer prove I was getting close? If a 6-year old asks if you believe in Santa, what do you say? Well of course I do! you reply. But you know what you really mean — you mean you believe in what St. Nick represents: optimism hope generosity joy... all the goodies we all want. So what do you reply when a 60-year old asks if you believe in God? Well of course I do! you reply. But you know what you really mean — you mean you believe in what G.O.D. Greater Other Dimension represents: eternity, infinity, omniscience, omnipotence... all the goodies we all want. This journal so far seems to continually play variations on the theme of transitioning from literal religion to its deeper metaphorical foundation, and also I would hope, it is about how to obtain that deeper understanding, through both error and insight. What more could a journal hope to do than harpoon the White Whale of Being? Just call me Ishmael.