Someone interviewed Johan Hakelius in Dagens Nyheter the other day. He has written a new book about extravagant British ladies, none of which are alive today. Johan is known for his love for England and long gone centuries. He is also quite cynical and not at all lagom in his statements.
His British-Swedish insights made me smile.
Asked if style and traditions can give a feeling of security, he says:
”It is an old insight by Kipling, that civilization only exists, when consciously created.
Just look at the restlessness in the US. It is very seductive in the beginning, but in the end especially Europeans get sick of that constant happy belief in the future. In a society where nothing is rooted in the past, the future becomes tremendously important. You always have to be on the move. There is no need for this in a British context, where everyone is convinced things will go down the drain eventually, but work out all right until they finally do.“
I can confirm the subway system and Wifi connections reliably are disturbed whenever I am in the UK. Impressive that half of Swedens population seems to emigrate to London for a couple of years after college, taking a break from the fastidious focus on safety, order and ”noll tolerans” (zero tolerance) for about everything risky. Wouldn’t England drive them mad? Broken subways, cancelled busses, stuff that never really works? They seem to love it.
A guide to other places with high density of Swedes here.
Johan Hakelius continues his with thoughts on Sweden:
”We Swedes have a very high opinion of ourselves, but everything it is actually just the other way around. We think we are Anglo-Saxons but really, we are Germanic. We think we have en open society while Sweden is one of the most closed-up communities there are – except for possibly Finland and Japan. Our social codes are almost entirely unuttered. At the same time we are incredibly focussed on surface and form. This makes it extremely difficult for anyone from the outside to come in. We think we have eliminated class society, but we are an incredibly snobby people (…) In our culture, deviation is considered disruptive, embarrassing, a problem. This doesn’t exist in British culture to the same extend.”
I agree, it is not the easiest to break through the beautiful outer walls of Swedish society. But the obsession with form has on the other hand given the world some fantastic design.
Someone said: ”Rules are made to be broken.”
Someone else said: ”You have to learn the rules in order to be able to break them. Thats where creation starts.”
I am going to break one rule every day.
Not a stranger. A creator and nut cracker with a hell of a lot of faith in the future.