Dan Ringgaard’s sense of place

Dan Ringgaard is a lecturer in Nordic literature at Aarhus University. He is author of Litteratur in the Tænkepauser series (review) and has undertaken some broader formidling aka public engagement, but as is typical in dansk highered doesn’t blog or tweet.

In an interview from 2013 with Limfjordlitteratur (a little gem!), annoyingly divided into numerous teeny tiny segments, he comes up with the rather fab:

sted = lokalitiet + menneske –> mening, fortællinger

place = a locality + man –> meaning, hi/stories

He also talks about the “national places” found in Danish literature during the 19th century, such as Axel Sandemose’s portrayal of Jante (aka Nykøbing Mors) and its småbymentalitet and Johannes V Jensen’s Himmerland, how place is represented (eg by description, by its interaction with character and plot etc), the resonance of places you know well and the sense of wonder at new places , seeing familiar places in a different light, provins as in umodern vs udkant, and other weighty matters. Good stuff!

He was also at the helm of the section on Litteraturens steder from Litteraturens Huse (dunno; adult education resource? most now locked).

As well as all this we have Stedssans (2010; eReolen | review | another; won the Georg Brandes prize), made up of 19 essays on three themes in five sections (too complex, Dan!) concluding with Ti teser om stedet, the whole thing based round a critique of Heidegger’s Bauen Wohnen Denken:

2015-06-30 16.18.01

Ringgaard’s Ten theses about place

There’s a bibliography (aka Litteratur) but no index. It’s all a bit elitær again, with some travel writing but largely based around litcrit rather than an approach friendly to your average Guardian reading flâneuse. Here’s a gallop through the chapters from the outlines at the start of each (plus I’m going to give it another go shortly) an overview from my second shot, where I didn’t give up until page 112, although it increasingly felt like an effort for very little reward. Maybe I’ll dip in again at some point via eReolen.

We start with a section entitled Pausen (a stop, or maybe rest), mainly concerning det gode sted. Four chapters:

  • Paradisisk begyndelse –  concepts of forundring and resonans as seen through a journey to Brasil (palmeøen), Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday and VS Naipaul’s An enigma of arrival; see Stephen Greenblatt’s essay on wonder and resonance (and New Historicism)
  • Heideggers Hytte – discussion of Bauen Wohnen Denken (summary | Heidegger’s topology), a lecture Heidegger gave in Darmstadt in 1951 to a symposium of architects, plus Paul Celan’s poem Todtnauberg, which some interpret as Celan’s wish for Heidegger to apologise for his behavior during the Nazi era (the eponymous hut/chalet is in the Black Forest and is where Heidegger wrote much of Sein und Zeit; Celan visited on 25 July 1967 and the two went for walks in the woods, with Celan writing the poem a week later in Frankfurt); the chapter also discusses inter alia Lefebvre and Edward S Casey…my head hurts; just who is all this aimed at?
  • Maigrets Ekstaster – place in crime fiction; skipped
  • Efterretninger fra Greeneland – ie Graham of that ilk, focusing on the exotic and exile; skipped

On to Kloden (the globe), three chapters concerning the historic foranderlighed of place in the face of globalisation, which has moved place from the vertical axis where it is relatively selvhvilende and connected with jorden and history to a horizontal axis where place is a knudepunkt for global kredsløb:

  • Transit, tourist – airports as ikkesteder (Marc Augé’s non-places), namehopping at a pace with not more than a couple of paras per reference, a deeply odd style, touching on inter alia JG Ballard and Alain de Botton; offered up Night mail – not Auden’s but a collection of eight essays by Jens Christian Grøndahl from 1998 on Europe in the 1990s, split between globalisation and nationalism (on eReolen); see also Hjemme i Europa (2015); known as a difficult writer, and I’m pretty sure I started one of his novels back in the day…
  • Globalt talt – Foucault, Calvino…a ‘global perception of place’; more of the same, skipped
  • Fra en stol i Minas Gerais – more Brazil, seen from inside and outside via a reading of Henrik Stangerup and Joao Guimaraes Rosa (eller omvendt); ditto

Kroppen:

  • Byens fortælling, byens puls – the big city: Salvador, Brasil
  • Byvandringer – NB, but still litcrit
  • At holde et landskab gående – Morten Søndergaard and AN Other
  • Palimpsest – pot pourri

Rejsen:

  • Rejsebrevprovinsbyen
  • Rejsens Sted – Thomas Boberg
  • Stedets VidneCarsten Jensen (closest DK gets to travel lit but old style), and others

Kortet (the map):

  • Kort over Boipeba – palm  island, again
  • Litterær kartografi – Michael Chabon + the usual suspects
  • Korttegnere – novel by Per Olov Enquist
  • Landmålere – Lykke-Per and others

Finally, Ti teser om stedet, see image above.

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