For twenty-five years, you have bravely fought against all kinds of attacks, hypocrites, moralists, priests, idiots, conformists, all who have labeled you a demon, a provocateur. And you have defended yourself against all these charges in a thousand different ways.

You have said that your writing is an examination of society’s boundaries, of the way morality functions. You’ve said that you want to shake up the reader, reveal ambivalences. You have said that you fight against prejudices and fixed attitudes. You have said that you want to change the world and change us. You have said that you write to purify yourself and the reader to the point of a catharsis that will leave us refined.

But you lied.

Your critics were actually right: you are a demon. You don’t know why you really write. You just can’t stop. I think that your defense, your insistence that you’re actually a kind person, is an attempt to hide a fundamental fact: Like all writers, you hope to destroy the world and annihilate us.

You write to tear us to pieces. You are Sophocles: there’s no point to Oedipus’s suffering, incest, eye-gouging, eternal suffering. You are Dostoyevsky, minus the painful afterword to Crime and Punishment. This is literature where everything has simply gone to hell with such a great force that we are utterly crushed. 

It’s often been said that you are interested in good and evil, in what is moral. But you yourself have written that “the dichotomy of good and evil might be humanity’s greatest bluff since the Ascension of Christ.” Evil is the thing that essentially and quite vulgarly inflicts pain, what aches, what makes sure that it stings, throbs, and feels sore. Nothing hurts more than when tenderness conceals a sharpened knife. 

The hypnotic chanting in your monologues make us defenseless, allowing you to strike. You lie in wait in the dark and you knock us out, you tie us up in the cellar and torture us, you force yourself on us with an almost psychopathic, monological calm that arouses within us a terrible sense of dread, but also a terrible love. 

Your monologues hurt. You try to touch our unprotected hearts. You are vicious. Your writing is total destruction, a natural catastrophe. But what sets you apart from most authors who poison this hell on earth otherwise known as the “publishing industry” is that you recognize writing for what it really is: annihilation of the cosmos.


To read the entirety of Carl-Michael Edenborg's essay on Stig Sæterbakken, purchase your copy of Music & Literature no. 5 . . .