.. a unique, Norwegian version of “Tao”
March 23, 2011 1 Comment
Askeladden is no superman – he is not even a hero in any conventional sense of the word. He is a genius in the guise of a village idiot – the only type of genius that Norwegians tolerate and cherish. His laziness is a noble, respectable laziness because it can at any time yield to feats of imagination and daring. [..] He is no saint and no philosopher. His wisest and most memorable words are: “That was really something”. He is the greatest ecohumanist in the Norwegian tradition.
Most interesting for us is the way in which Askeladden performs his various tasks in contrast to the way in which they are attempted by his brothers. The implicit moral is that everything is possible if one does not try too hard. The point is staying properly attuned to Nature. Philosophically, then, the moral of Askeladden is to demonstrate the Right Way of conduct – a unique, Norwegian version of “Tao”. [..]
The principle underlying Askeladden’s behavior is wu wei, i.e. “action in inaction”, or “action in accordance with the laws of nature”. In contrast to the yu wei (forceful striving) exercised by his brothers, Askeladden practices no-striving and non-action in the Taoist sense.
– Nina Witoszek, The Origins of the ‘Regime of Goodness’, Remapping the Cultural History of Norway (2011)