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An Ode to Darkness

Sigri Sandberg

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Biography: science, technology & medicine

A charming meditation on our relationship with darkness, translated from the original Norwegian

When did you last see the stars?

'Look at a satellite image of the Earth. Where it was once as dark as night, it is now lit up like a Christmas tree. If you zoom in on a city, you'll see floodlights, neon lights, car lights, and streetlamps. If you zoom in even further, to your own bedroom, you might see lamps and TV, tablet, and phone screens.

If you live in a city and look out of the window, there will be a grayish yellow haze between you and the Milky Way. Even if it is night. Even if it is winter.

Humans have always struggled with the dark, but isn't it light enough now? What is all this artificial light doing to us and everything else that lives? What is it doing to our sleep patterns and rhythms and bodies?

I live in Norway, the land of the polar night. I have a cabin in the mountains in Finse. Darkness and stars can still be experienced there, particularly now during the darkest months of the year. I pack my bag and head up there. To seek out natural darkness, knowledge, and the night sky - and to see how long I dare stay.

Because, paradoxically, I am afraid of the dark, and that fear is all-consuming, at least when I'm completely alone...'

AN ODE TO DARKNESS explores our intimate relationship with the dark: why we are scared of it, why we need it and why the ever-encroaching light is damaging our well-being. Under the dark polar night of northern Norway, journalist Sigri Sandberg meditates on the cultural, historical, psychological and scientific meaning of darkness, all the while testing the limits of her own fear.

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