HELIOSTAT

Ginni Manning
The town of Rjukan doesn’t realise it is going to save a nation, especially one so riven with conflict. As a place, after all, it is only small and the country in question is having a HUGE argument within itself. One of the most revered artists portrays this land as having a bloody gash of conflict right down its middle. People who consider themselves fair minded start using unfamiliar and inappropriate vocabulary to describe those who don’t agree with them. Some readers hide behind screens, others realise actual books are even better.

People go missing behind pages because they feel they have nowhere else safe to go.

Friends and relatives abroad write, some in sympathy, some not. Some point out that this country had it coming, an all-conquering approach is no longer going to cut it. Communication and the nature of words gets muddled up and twisted. Letters mount up, real and virtual, vowels and consonants, and those in charge won’t listen or read anymore. Swimmers start spending more time under water. Offices empty of people carrying goggles and towels and heading for the quiet submerged world of the nearest pool. Eye opening festivals are an absolute necessity, reassuring and alarming, but saying it like it is. The graffiti of the people. Everyone is frustrated.
 
Meanwhile the people of Rjukan are getting on with their daily life. The revered artist from the troubled nation hears of the work of another artist - something extraordinary - and so visits the small town in Eastern Norway. Until not so long ago it was in darkness for six months of every year, because of its place in a deep valley. Its inhabitants could see the light up high in the mountains but not feel it or use it. Its resident artist set up three mirrors way up on the crest of rock, reflectors that trap the sun and send its rays down to the town square for everyone to bask in. The visiting artist is overwhelmed by the simplicity of this idea and the masterpiece of ingenuity it represents. He returns to his country and spreads the word. Rjukan. It is light relief and people are united in awe, enough to get talking again. There is hope once more. No one mentions the few residents of the Norwegian town who said they preferred the shade.