Vigdis Hjorth

You are silent, but I am attentive and see that you see me, but is it not difficult to have such a staring eye. That cannot be closed and such a fine beak under the eye that will never peck at anything, and why do you squat like that with so many arms and legs to protect, since there is no danger here either. Are you afraid your creator will recreate you just when you’ve gotten used to yourself. Existentialists say that for human beings, existence comes before essence, and I agree with them in thinking that people, in contrast to a letter opener made to open envelopes without cutting into the contents, are not created for any singular and unambiguous purpose, that people become themselves through their choices and their existence, but you are sculpture. Created for the purpose of standing in a corner in a studio on the thirteenth floor of Oslo City Hall, under a drape until the day you will be interviewed by me, a confused woman, created for the purpose of being interviewed, what kind of fate is that. But I don’t think it’s that straightforward, because maybe a sculpture is something in-between a letter opener and a person, created for a purpose, but not an unambiguous one because a sculpture has no specific function as does a letter opener, since the sculpture’s creator doesn’t know how the sculpture will look when she starts her work and has no drawing of it, no she couldn’t have had a drawing of you, a three-dimensional drawing of you, for I see that you came into being ad hoc and are not based on a drawing and under her sometimes uncertain and fumbling but always sensitive fingers, since their imprint and warmth is on your strange and lukewarm skin and your curves and what’s it like having an antenna on your back and what does it receive and unsteady it would be if there is wind where you are, but there’s no wind where you are because you’re locked inside a room without ordinary windows but with a window in the ceiling that can’t be opened so there’s no wind, no ventilation, but you have an antenna on your back and are maybe in contact with other universes – and what’s it like to sit like a heavy bird in a corner on the thirteenth floor and like an overgrown baby bird without wings unless the wings are hidden on your stomach and can be folded out, but I don’t think you have wings or will be able to glide since you’re too heavy for that so you’re stranded here in this corner on this floor and with a face in your ass and one eye instead of a head and hands without fingers and a fishing float from your tailbone that will never reach down to the water and will never catch wild game or fish, like those who will never fly or swim, who are stranded but still lightly gliding, just as I’m stranded but still trying to do a glide.


Translated from Norwegian by Arlyne Moi

Vigdis Hjorth (b. 19 July 1959) is a Norwegian novelist. She grew up in Oslo, and has studied philosophy, literature and political science. In 1983, she published her first novel, the children’s book Pelle-Ragnar i den gule gården for which she received the Norsk kulturråd’s debut award. Her first book for an adult audience was Drama med Hilde (1987), and Om bare (2001) is considered her most important novel. Her new novel Wills and Testaments will be published in the UK and​ the​ US in 2018.