Astrophysics defines darkness as the „absence of light“, but the fundamental truth is that darkness, from an astronomical point of view, doesn’t exist. Darkness, therefore, can be defined as the perceived absence of light. When the Sun is more than 18 degrees below the horizon, we witness the so-called astronomical darkness – but we must venture far into the plateau, into the desert or the open sea, to fully perceive it.
An Ode to Darkness explores our intimate relationship with the dark: why we fear it, why we need it, and why the artificial light we are constantly exposed to is harmful. Norwegian journalist and writer Sigri Sandberg writes about sleep, stars, black holes and the aurora borealis, but also about the laws of the skies and the global struggle for the night sky. Under the cover of the dark polar night of northern Norway, the author meditates on the cultural, historical, psychological and scientific meaning of darkness, constantly testing the limits of her own fear.

* * *

I’m not sure whether I regret coming here. Well, I’m actually pretty sure I do. Even though I’m doing this of my own free will, I’m dreading the darkness so much that I can feel it in my chest and down in my feet. It hurts. I know the darkness will envelop me, not gently, but hard. I know the big windowpanes will turn black, that the landscape will disappear, and I know I’ll feel heavier then. I can feel it in my bones, and I know me.

I know that the worst will come when I eventually close my eyes to sleep. When I need to relinquish all control. I’m not afraid of wolves or ghosts or polar bears. So what am I afraid of?

* * * 

I shuffle through the snow for hours. When I finally stop, I put my gloves down on a rock, sit down and listen. To this landscape, which only yesterday was a sea of howling and whining and white chaos. The sky is still white, but all is silent. Immensely silent. I feel compelled to whisper to myself to make everything seem more real. Nothing that profound; just normal things I’d say if someone were with me.

I take pictures, but you can’t take a picture of silence. There is a stillness here now that is almost unnerving. Is there anywhere as silent as a white winter plateau on a windless day? And how long can anyone spend alone before they start to feel, like Christiane did, as if their very being is disintegrating? A bit longer than four days, I expect.

Sigri Sandberg

  • ISBN: 978-953-369-021-6
  • Dimensions: 128x200 mm
  • Number of pages: 148
  • Cover: paperback
  • Year of the edition: 2023
  • Original title: Mørke. Stjerner, redsel og fem netter på Finse
  • Original language: Norwegian
  • Translation: Mišo Grundler