Rambunctious Research

Bagels as Carriers of Norwegian Identity

The Norwegian Flag Colours: Europeanisation or Globalisation?

National Identity, Democracy and Constitutionalism: The 1814 Norwegian Constitutional debate on Skiing

– Thomas Aquinas (?): Whether to thank the hosts for meals received? Summa Gastronomica Q. 98 –Only remaining fragment, found by Andreas Follesdal in Immanuel Kant’s Nachlass among notes on the Transcendental Deduction of Judgements of Taste.


Bagels as Carriers of Norwegian National Identity

Bagel er en gammel norsk sirkelformet gjærbakst som først kokes for så å stekes. Bagels ble først laget av baglerne, en opprørsk pavetro folkegruppe som holdt til på østlandsområdet tidlig på 1200 tallet. Den ble lagret på kjepper og staver, derav navnet bagle — bispestav:

”Baglerne tok- eller fikk – sitt navn etter bispestaven som ble brukt i det katolske middelaldernorge. Roten er det latinske ordet bacchus, som betyr kjepp/stokk/stav. Baglerne har på denne måten felles etymologi med ordet baguette, det avlange, kjeppformede franske brødet.” Eyvind Bagle

Baglerne var herrer i Viken og Opplandene, med Tønsberg som hovedstad. Stekingen av bagels er til minne om at baglernes leder Erling Steinvegg bar jernbyrd i 1204 for å bevise at han var sønn til Kong Magnus Erlingsson.

Bagels har spilt en sentral rolle i norsk historie, men baglernes og dermed baglenes betydning for Norges historie har vært grovt undervurdert. Som kjent reddet birkebeinerne Torstein Skjelva og Skjervald Skrukka den to- årige prins Håkon, senere Håkon IV Håkonsson, fra baglerne i 1206, to år etter kong Sverres død. Birkebeinerne flyktet med Håkon på ski fra Lillehammer til Rena. De bar Håkon på ryggen, mens baglerne ble forsinket først og fremst av å bære med seg nisten på skistavene. Norges storhetstid under Håkon IV og siden skyldes altså i stor grad bagels. De sentrale politiske skillelinjer og utfallet av EU-avstemningen kan også tilbakeføres til baglernes forsinkelse i 1206:

Denne todeling i norsk politikk, på den ene side europeisk liberalisme og på den annen side en nasjonal demokratisme, den vil nok holde seg også i fremtiden. Jeg tror den bunder dypt i vårt folks kultur og historie. Man kan være frekk nok til å si at det går helt tilbake til kampen mellom balgere og birkebeinere, helt i middelalderen.

Man kan si at baglerne stod for det europeiske, som den gang var på moten, mens birkebeinerne var noe mer heimegrodde i Trøndelag og på Vestlandet, ikke i Viken som alltid har vært denne europeiske strømningens hovedankerfeste i motsetning til det som jo ved alle anledninger har seiret i Norge, som ikke er Viken.

Med birkebeinernes for landet heldige forsprang til Rena forsvant bagels som matkultur i Norge. Imidlertid forble bagels kjent i nordlige deler av Frankrike som hadde regelmessig kontakt med Norge.

Jødiske grupper brakte i sin tur bagels fra Frankrike til Krakov i Polen, hvor de beskrives første gang i 1610. I 1880 importeres bagels til New York, og i løpet av 1960 tallet blir ‘bagels and lox’ — bagels med laks — stadig mer utbredt i USA, for å tilbakeføres til Norge midt på 1990 tallet.

Andreas Follesdal March 20, 1997


The Norwegian Flag: Europeanisation or Globalisation?

The Norwegian Flag Law of 1898 states that the flag shall be

høirødt, med et mørkeblaat, og af en hvid Kant indfattet Kors, i fire retvinklede Firkanter.

The colours of the flag raise methodological difficulties that may easily be expressed in a two-by-two matrix, and hence worthy of scholarly attention. Firstly, does Europeanisation or Globalisation offer the best explanation for the development of national identity? Secondly: are the mechanisms positive, such as modelling, or negative such as aversion and yearning to express difference?

The case study on flag colours also illustrate how a sound empirically grounded theory must deconstruct these general questions, and instead seek to explain “why blue rather than green?”, “why this hue of red rather than others?” The case also suggests that the alleged conflict between realist and idealist motivational and justificatory assumptions (another two-by-two matrix) may be misconstrued.

Two main issue areas illustrate the research challenges of this visio-aesthetic subject: selection of the colours – red, white and blue – and specification of these colours.

Selection: why Blue?

The Norwegian Flag Committee of 1821 chose the colours red, white and blue for the flag. The Committee claimed that red had always been the national colour of Norway. White was chosen as a colour included in the arms of several Norwegian kinds. Moreover, white was the colour of innocence:

denne Farve forudsætter Begrepet om Uskyld, som medfører Oprigtighed og ærlig Fremfærd, hvorpaa Nordmænds Bestræbelser bør være henvendte.

These two colours, red and white, were initially suggested, but rejected due to the similarity with the Danish flag. Blue was included instead, over the allegedly more “neutral” green. Why? One reason offered by some (neo-neo-realist?) scholars was the strategic need to placate the Swedish king Karl Johan by indicating affinity to the Swedish colours blue and yellow. The government apparently presented this reason to the king, who accepted. The (post-post liberal-ideational?) Flag Committee offered a somewhat different reason for endorsing this combination, namely that it illocutionarily expresses freedom. With red, white and blue

opnaaer man tillige at see andbragt de 3 Farver, der nu betegne Friheden, saaledes som vi have seet det i det franske Friheds Flag, og endu see det i Hollændernes og Americanernes Flag, og Engellændernes Union.

Note the appeals to both European and American models.

Specification: Which Red?

The definition of colours in the Flag Law of 1898 are unsatisfactory, particularly “høirødt” (strong red) and “mørkeblaat” (dark blue). The particular shade of red used in the Norwegian flag is darker than that of the older Danish flag. The Norwegian shade of red was first made from the cochineal insect (bladlus), found on cacti on the European Canary Islands and in Mexico, presumably brought to Norway through global trade patterns.

References:

Cappelen, Hans, and Peter Beck. 1987. Fakta om flagget Oslo: Schibsted.

Hegge, Liss. 1994. “Fargesprakende på folkemuseet” Aftenposten, October 6.


National Identity, Democracy and Constitutionalism

Illustrated by the 1814 Norwegian Constitutional debate on Skiing

Grunnlovsforslag om allmenn verneplikt og lovfestet krav om undervisning i skiløping for alle norske gutter:
[One of the suggestions circulated during the Norwegian Constitutional debate of 1814 was mandatory military service and legally sanctioned education in skiing for all Norwegian boys:]

Det maa blive en paahvilende Pligt for den geistlige, civile og militaire Øvrighed, overalt i Landet, at opmuntre Landets unge Sønner til idelige Vinter-Øvelser paa Skie.

[The religious, civil and military authorities everywhere in the country must be required to encourage the young Sons of the Country to partake in Winter Exercises on skis.]

Oberst (Colonel) Diderich Hegermann, April 21, 1814. President of riksforsamlingen (the Constitutional Convention) March 18-25 1814. (Den Norske Rigs-Forsamlings Forhandlinger paa Eidsvold i Aaret 1814, Christiania. Hefte 4: 37)

This suggestion did receive some spirited support:

Oberst v. Hegermanns Forslag om Indførelsen af en National-Opdragelse tiltræder jeg med en fra mit Indre sig hævende levende Følelse af Bifald. Det forekommer mig indlysende, at Opdragelsen bor tidlig meddele sin kraftfulde Næring til den Spire i den Unges Hjerte, hvorfra National-Charakteren siden kan opflyde i sin elskeligste Form. …

I Sandhed, slige Planteskoler for Gymnastiken, hensigtsmessigen indrettede, maatte vel regnes iblandt de Dannelses-Anstalter, hvorpaa Nationens Haab og Ære beroede.

[I support Colonel v. Hegermann’s suggestion regarding the introduction of a national education, with a live feeling of acclamation emerging from my innermost being. It appears to me obvious that Education ought to convey its powerful nourishment to that germ in the heart of the young, from which the National Character can flow forth in its most lovable form… Truly, such Greenhouses for gymnastics, prudently constituted, must be regarded among those arrangements of Character formation upon which the Nation’s Hope and Dignity depends.]

Jørgen Aall, May 14 1814. (ibid., Hefte 6: 107-9)

The suggestion was not accepted, receiving 9 votes in favor, 99 against (ibid, Hefte 4:85)

Reference: Olav Christensen: Skiidrett før Sondre: Vinterveien til et nasjonalt selvbilde. Ad notam 1993.



Thomas Aquinas (?)

Whether to thank the hosts for meals received?

Summa Gastronomica Q. 98 – Only remaining fragment, found by Andreas Føllesdal in Immanuel Kant’s Nachlass among notes on the Transcendental Deduction of Judgements of Taste.

Objection 1 It is said that it is wrong to thank the hosts and hostesses for great meals of celebration. This is a heathen custom known only ultima Thule – at the northern ends of the Earth, beyond the fringes of civilisation.

Objection 2 Furthermore, at celebrations the food is typically delicious, and there is too much of it. We easily yield to temptation, and sin by eating too much.

Objection 3 Furthermore, though we should often give thanks, we must do so to the proper causes of joy, for instance to the primary author of a treatise. Also, some others may also be thanked. Thus, when an author relies on sources, they may also be praised — as Didicus Stella notes, a dwarf standing on the shoulders of giants sees further than the giants themselves. Such giants may always be praised. But the hosts have only provided the food, which is not the cause of celebration but its means, and means that are now gone. Besides, the hosts may not always have made the food themselves.

On the contrary Solomon says: This seemed to me good, that man should eat and drink and make merry on the fruit of his toil. (Eccles. V, 17). Expressing gratitude for goods received is rendering to hosts what is them due – the virtue of justice.

I answer that offering thanks to the hosts of great meals is in accordance with natural law. “Man has a natural inclination to … live in society, and in this respect, whatever pertains to this inclination, belongs to the natural law.” As the Philosopher says, (Nic. Ethics IX), in order that man may do well, whether in the works of the active life, or in those of the contemplative life, he needs the fellowship of friends. The custom of offering thanks to the hosts for such great occasions of friendship and celebration is right and fitting and a great honour for those entrusted with the task. Indeed it is their right, regardless of ability.

Reply to Objection 1: (Of pagan roots) The fact that this practice is not known by European experts yet flourishes among peoples to the north is no objection. To the contrary, this shows how all peoples have the ability to know the truth of natural law ( I lib. de Coelo, lect. xxii; II Sent., D. xiv, a. 2, ad lum). With St. Augustine (II De doctr. Christ., c. xl), we may hold that whatever truths are discovered among the pagans should be adapted by peoples elsewhere (Sum. theol., I, Q. lxxxiv, a. 5).

Reply to Objection 2: (Of eating as sin) Eating in splendour is no sin if it is in proportion with the occasion of celebration. Rather, it is appetite in accordance with reason. “One such act does no great harm, and certainly not for the whole of anyone’s life.” (q. 154, a. 2, ad 6.) For magnificent singular occasions such as the creation of doctores, proportionality requires exuberance, joy and lavishness among friends.

Reply to Objection 3: (Of only thanking those who cause the objects of celebration) Among the proper causes to be thanked are not only the agent himself, and those great predecessors he relies on, but also those without whom he would not have made his great achievement. Thus when a spouse has supported him and made sacrifices through long ordeals, she has also contributed greatly to the cause of celebration. Furthermore, the parents of both agent and spouse have brought forth and fostered witty children with good souls (Wis., viii, 19). Surely they too are causes of the causes of achievement and worthy of great praise. Just like the giants, spouse and parents have also offered shoulders, but not for the agent to stand on, but to lean on. It is thus right and fitting that they are doubly thanked as hosts, both for assisting the agent in achieving his great end, and for providing the means of celebration.

Translated by Andreas Follesdal June 1997