Today the sun hit the horizon in Tromsø. My whole body vibrated as if itself hit by a major electrical discharge. First I thought that it's my students. I'll have a whole bunch of them for orals next week, and I was ready to put my feeling of being zapped on account of my infallible internal radar picking on the rising curve of the students' adrenaline before the exams. At such events, we charge each other, though as I'm the examiner, this side of the table, I have more fun. When it goes well it's a win/win situation. Just before Christmas I had 14 students for orals and 12 of them scored 12, the highest grade here. The other two got the next best. The coordinator of the semester wanted to know what my secret is, giving many top grades every time. I told him that I make an effort to be present. “Which means what exactly?” he wanted to know. “Which means that I pose clever questions that make not me but the students look brilliant.” “Ah,” he said, “of course,” in a conceding tone, and then continued: “that's the art, but how do you know what students can take?" “Your presence tells you,” I said, finishing off with the Simpsonian interjection, and also implying that he wasn't too quick in his head: “D'oh!” We both laughed. He has a good sense of humor and can laugh at himself in a genuine manner without taking offense.

But it wasn't the students. The fact that my head got mentally hit by electrical discharges, rather had to do with the fact that I had just finished ordering my ticket to the Arctic. As soon as my final exam will be done next Friday, I'll be off to Tromsø – with a short stint in Oslo for the good fish at Frognerseteren. The idea of the light and the smell this time a year up there drives me nuts. In fact, this madness also made me think of the very first 'real' job I applied for after my doctoral studies, a professorship in Alaska. I never got the job. The faculty hired a tall man with a beard. An eco-critic. God only knows, I tried hard to convince them that I know stuff about eco-criticism and the North, but they said, upon reviewing my application: “nope, Shakespeare is not American, Heraclitus is an old fart, the German idealists are hopeless, theory is not eco-criticism, feminism is a French thing not a Nordic thing, and all that philosophy, by Jove, that's just nonsense. “But how about the silence,” I wanted to say, “you know, the total silence in the Arctic.” They said: “nope, never heard of it. That's a romantic idea.” I ended up wondering today how the tall guy is doing in Anchorage.

So, Tromsø, here I come. Bless me, as I bless you. The sun got over the horizon today, but if you want to see it peep through the center of the city, you have to wait until next week, when I'll be there. Right now, the mountains are in the way. The mountains are always in the way. And thank God for that. Thinking in the dark has never bothered me. Especially not when the magnetic field is so near, and when it duels with the first sun ray. It makes me bold. It makes me want to say to the ones who were astonished 8 years ago at my desire to go North that obviously adopting such a bewildered attitude is just not very smart, for the smartest question is really this one: why doesn't the whole world want to live in the Arctic? Why don't I?


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