The Ibsen Factor Part II: The Ibsen Patriarch – a recurring type in 21st century Finland

When I first moved here, there was a certain type I’d meet repeatedly, provided he was from Ostrobothnia. Based on that fact alone, I should try and locate that elusive green farm house / inn there. Clearly, not all people from the same region are a carbon copy of their neighbor, but for a while it seemed that the ones I met had all conspired to team up together and come out in droves for my first couple of years in Finland. As though they all wanted to say, seeing how much you love Ibsen and would like to act in one of his plays, why don’t you try living in one now that you’re here. It was, to say the least, an eye-opening experience. I promptly christened them collectively The Ibsen Patriarch and alternated that with Second Son Syndrome. They did all seem very superior in their knowledge that their way (and their,way alone) was right. Yet, at the same time, they seemed livid that being the second-born (only sons merited a rank, girls didn’t even figure in the grand scheme of things, never mind a paltry ranking system of children who -rightfully or not – deserve their father’s land), they had pretty much inherited nothing and were thus forced to leave the land of their ancestors, even worse, forced to live in the Big Bad City, where Sodom and Gomorrah were not a myth but all too real.

That these guys were in their mid-to-late-twenties, did not help matters either. If they already eschewed everything new, because what they had learned on the farm was infinitely better, at that age, what would become of them when their potbellies started growing along with their age.
I’ve known people like that all my life, none of them are farmers, and they come from a decent variety of places. But to see the type so close to Norway, speaking a language that could even be mistaken (by the untrained ear of course) for Norwegian, and have them come from what one friend confirmed could have been straight out of Ibsen, I think it really made me look for the Ibsen factor I mentioned in the last post in my surroundings. For the time being at least, Finland was close enough. I’m honestly not even sure how much of it was down to my imagination after the fifth encounter. But it took a lot of restraint not to go seeking for a decent costume designer, invite them all to the same venue, have them change into their new outfits there. And then stage a living tableau. Perhaps that’s actually not even such a bad idea for a boring January night . . . Perhaps you might just want to watch this space.


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