#Knausgaard on happiness and place

When… I stopped at the top of the hill and saw the town [Bergen] beneath me, my feeling of happiness was so ecstatic that I didn’t know how I would be able to make it home, sit there and write, eat or sleep. But the world is constructed in such a way that it meets you halfway in moments precisely like these, your inner joy seeks an outer counterpart and finds it, it always does, even in the bleakest regions of the world, for nothing is as relative as beauty. Had the world been different, in my opinion, without mountains and oceans, plains and seas, deserts and forests, and consisted of something quite different, inconceivable to us, as we don’t know anything other than this, we would also have found it beautiful. A world with gloes and raies, evanbillets and conulames, for example, or ibitera, proluffs and lopsits, whatever they might be, we would have sung their praises because that is the way we are, we extol the world and love it although this is not necessary, the world is the world, it is all we have. 

So as I walked down the steps towards the town centre on this Wednesday at the end of August I had a place in my heart for everything I beheld. (Karl Ove Knausgaard, Some rain must fall)

land use York from Minster 707 4.JPG(York from the minster, 2007)

I don’t think I agree with what Knausgaard says about the bleakest regions of the world. I experienced a lasting increase in beauty when I moved from south to north London, back in the day. I know people who moved from Kenya to Rwanda and experienced the same. South London and Kenya are not bleak; but we don’t find the same beauty everywhere; and I think there are objective correlates for this.

Published by

Paul Hodson

Head of Unit "EnergyEfficiency" at European Commission, Directorate-General for Energy

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