"My writing comes from a need for investigation. I need to investigate why so many things are strange. Why the obvious is so difficult to see. Why the obscure is so tempting, when the disciplin of thought and clarity of language is one of the most beautiful features of being human. As a child I hated magic tricks. I hated that the sole purpose was that you shouldn’t understand something that was explicable and would be informatory to learn. I hated that the audience’s part was to passively accept, submit and then cheerfully forget. I couldn’t forget. How did they do it?
If you have knowledge, share it! If you know something, explain it! That feeling has stayed with me and shaped my outlook on life. If I first had seen the magic trick and then been informed about how it was done I would have learned something about vision, the brain, the mind and manipulation – and I would have found it fascinating. Now all I experienced was the exercise of power. And all the power was with the magician.
As an adult I became a deconstructor of all forms of attempted magic tricks, authoritarian inbalances and power relationships, not least the power of the victim by virtue of it’s appointed weakness.
Just as alienated as I felt by the magic trick, I felt when grown ups acted in front of us children and gave the impression that they knew less than us. We where to call out what the grown ups pretended to not understand. The other children happily shouted where the missing person was standing or where that lost item was. I did not understand what we where doing. Why should we call out the answer when the actors only had to turn their heads in order to find what they where looking for? I felt deceived by a situation where both parties knew that what we where doing wasn’t right, but what was actually wrong was never expressed. It was not the game itself that I was opposing, it was the adults dissimulation. They pretended to give us power – but they where making fun of us. Why did they make themselves stupid? It was not honorable."
Lena Andersson (b. 1970) is a novelist and a columnist for Dagens Nyheter, Sweden’s largest morning paper. She lives in Stockholm, where she is considered one of the country’s sharpest contemporary analysts. Limited Liability is her sixth novel.