I came back from Egypt yesterday (tourist resort El Gouna, certainly not El Alamein), having learned of the death of Stig Sæterbakken the day before. Stig was a writer, poet, translator, critic, editor and an aesthetically ruthless literate who mentored a host of young writers, Erlend Erichsen on this list and yours truly among them. He was the first to introduce me to Lafroaig whisky, I believe, to martial industrialists Rome, and probably also to the Swedish enfant terrible writer Nikanor Teratologen. Always interested in going further, in discovering and mediating new music, new literature, new brands of whisky, Stig taught us, the young literates on the nightside, to challenge ourselves – by his own example, to raise our standards. Stig always wore black, including black sunglasses when the sun was up, having his full, dark hair combed back. Stig was a man of the night – melancholy at heart, but always there to listen or to talk. Of all my colleagues, I think he made me laugh the most. I loved his black sense of humour.
The Siegfried Order was founded entirely in his spirit, in Oslo last Fall. Being a loner, he chose to abstain from the founding ceremony – he also followed Third Rebel for a short while. E-mail lists drove him crazy, in principle.
It was Stig who, as a literary advisor to the Norwegian Festival of Literature, made Ulver play live for the first time in 2009. He enjoyed listening to black metal, to my knowledge Gorgoroth was one of his fave BM acts. He badly wanted to book Sturmgeist to play at the festival in Lillehammer in 2006, but we had to settle with a G.U.T. concert in May 2007.
Sæterbakken caused a huge uproar in Norway when he invited the Holocaust denier David Irving (formally declared a racist and a liar by the High Court of Justice in London in 2000, after the Deborah Lipstadt case) to speak about truth at the same festival, with «Truth» being the festival theme that year. The idea quickly became too much to bear, so Stig stepped down from his position, however with his head held high. The year after, he once wrote me, everybody who succumbed to the moral panic in 2008, had suddenly changed their mind. On March 25th, 2009, he wrote: «Jeg holdt forøvrig et foredrag i Bodø sist torsdag, på årskonferansen for Norske Festivaler, med delvis utgangspunkt iIrving-saken, og det er i grunnen nokså patetisk: nå er det som de kappes, alle mann, om å støtte ideen og å mene at det var forkastelig at den ikke lot seg realisere (jeg spør meg selv, hvor de var, oktober 2008).» In brief: Solitary to the end (despite having scores of young followers).
His books recently sparked international interest, with Dalkey Archive Press having undertaken a translation of his entire bibliography. In Sweden his close friend and follower Carl-Michael Edenborg published him through his publishing house Vertigo.
To Stig Sæterbakken (1966-2012): Friend, colleague & brother in arms at Cappelen Damm. A genius passed.
Integrity. Dedication. Standing alone. Fighting further even when doomed.
(A note sent to the Third Rebel e-mail list, a subdivision of the Art Militia/ 3rd Inhuman Music Regiment Berlin, today, January 31st, 2012)
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