The 365 Commitment


An ancient phrase, with is a now a Swedish word that means something to the effect of being “spirited away” or “taken away.” It has a connotation of being separated from society in someway, perhaps even by mental illness or some other way of being different. It is said in some mountain communities of the Nordic that people would be stolen away at night and taken to the mountains by Trolls. These abducted people, the bergtagna, would be returned in an altered state. These are the poor folk, the downtrodden, the outcasts.

In Act II of the play Peer Gynt, Henrik Ibsen writes the following tale. Peer, runs away to the mountains with a the eldest daughter of a family he meets at a wedding. He is banished from the community by this sin and he encounters three maidens being sacrificed to trolls (a very common theme in fairy tales in the Nordic countries). He gets intoxicated, runs into a rock and spends the day in lucid day dreams. In this hallucination he comes across a woman who claims to be the daughter of the troll chieftain. Peer is propositioned that if he marries the daughter then he too can become a troll. He ultimately declines, but then the troll daughter becomes pregnant and a debate ensues as to what to do.

The big question that is at heart of the play, and most likely a symbolic question that is being asked to all of us is, “What is the difference between troll and man?” The answer from the old troll is interesting, “Out there, where sky shines, humans say: ‘To thyself be true.’ In here, trolls say: ‘Be true to yourself and to hell with the world.'”

With all the craziness going on in the world, I have decided, since browsing through the english translation of this play, that I will also now be troll. I am bergtagna. I will be true to myself and say to hell with the world!

Guy Reams

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