Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Sea is God of the Dead: Lindqvist's "Harbor" and Childhood Fears

“This wasn't the way he had expected his life to be. It worked, but that was about all. Happiness had got lost somewhere along the way.”  ― John Ajvide Lindqvist, Harbor

The Sea takes and never returns...

Obscure, attractive Sea, which will destroy you if only you break the agreement...

The Sea is dangerous, and those who don't think so are totally mistaken. That, who knows what  power is, cannot be safe.

Lindqvist's Sea is not that pretty stuff from romantic postcards. Lindqvist's Sea is cold, strict. It takes away.

The Sea comes to our homes, it poisons our water, it makes our mind change. It asks for sacrifices.

The Sea is not some unbelievable power.

The Sea is not Evil.

The Sea in the novel is angry God. And Gods, as we all know, are immortal.  

Anders' and Cecilia's normal life end in one ordinary winter morning, when during the walk to the lighthouse their six years old daughter Maja suddenly disappears. She disappeared as never existed. But she was there, and as a prove the horrible void in the souls of her parents. Anders tries to fill the void with alcohol, while the sea comes closer and closer. People disappear, but they return. They return and disturb others, they return and think this life still belongs to them. 

From my childhood I see the same dream: I'm standing on the seashore, and watching the sea. Suddenly the huge wave comes. I  try to run, but water is behind me, water is in front of me. Disturbed, I wake up with hardly beating heart and need hours to calm down. Sometimes I see this dream every night, sometimes once a months. Sometimes I think this nightmare will never return, but months pass and it comes back ... The Sea never leaves its victims.

It's hard to understand what is real and what is the part of Anders' ill fantasy in the novel. The only reality of people living on the peninsula is the Sea. Their dead rest in the depth of the sea and later come out, sea water is in their blood and this eternal circle makes them feel special. 

When I was small, I used to talk to the Sea. I thought we could become friends and then Sea won't take me. I talked to the waves, I walked to the sea even in the stormy weather. Then I tried to break up this strange relationship. But the Sea never lets you go. 

Anders becomes the prisoner of the sea, the prisoner of his fears, of his guilt. It's significant, that author used the archetype of the sea in his novel. Except that the sea is so close to Scandinavians, the sea, the water generally, is  the symbol of life, death and rebirth (here come all those dead, drown once in the sea and then coming back); the symbol of birth-death-resurrection. I doubt whether author tried to show the life cycle, making all those people rise from dead or he wanted to say something more, something deep, something important, which lays beyond the borders of our ordinary vision and understanding. If we discuss Lindkvist's archetype of the sea, as Jungian archetype, than we have to consider, that water symbolizes the unconscious. It may be the collective unconscious of inhabitants of the island, especially because the author mentions, that the same story has already repeated before. The sea, which gives life to people living  on Domaro, but the sea also takes their lives. On the other hand, the archetypes represents the unconscious of Anders, who feels himself guilty for Maja's disappearance.

Generally, the novel is quite difficult to understand completely because of  many frustrating elements. But it definitely touches the reader and wakes a bunch of emotions, which are hard to overall. Ajvide Lindqvist's nover "Harbor" is definitely worth to be read. And... 

...and beware of the sea, which makes dead come back...

 The sea is everywhere.