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  • Joan Rang Christensen

Part Three: The Sea

By the end of the war lies death, and around death lies the sea.

Once a woman has been given a room of her own and has started writing, she may run into very deep water. On an eternity of velvet. The sea is the Farewell, as well as the Arrival. The sea is the kidnapping, abduction or escape from one’s own, unchristian land—a land of one’s own—and into Fort Europe. It looks innocent. But she, who enters the sea, never returns.

There are gaps in the world. The illusion of idyll or "the healing breath." The timeless space—nature—where you can release your gaze on the sea, so that it can wander and dance on the horizon and disappear into time. It is the vertical pause button of the soul. This might as well be the 19th century. Virginia could walk around the corner, over the grass. In uplifted maiden humor or dark as a fall weather and with grinding voices in his head. 1910 or 20 or later. We wouldn’t know.

Talland House, the Virginia’s family’s vacation home, was large, square and with a huge garden, that sloped towards the water. With fences and hedges divided into many smaller gardens, all at different levels.

A garden is a place where the world fades into a blackberry bush and guilt is a purple beard around the mouth. To disappear between branches. To sink away in the bushes. Seeing the blue behind the hedge is the deepest secret of the world. A crack through everything where the light comes in.

Denmark is so small. Denmark is just a tiny dot on a tiny globe, and the globe is just a spot, a fart, a short sigh, in the universe. I look at a picture of the universe, taken by NASA, and even though I don’t trust NASA, I trust the picture. A tiny image of a tiny fragment of a very large universe. The only thing I like about Earth, is that it is a tiny dot in the universe. The only thing I like about the universe, is that the Earth seems so insignificant, when you look at it in a picture taken by NASA. When I look at the picture taken by NASA, I feel calm inside. When I feel calm inside, it’s because I feel that we, the Earth and the humans, are insignificant and make no difference in the universe. When I look at the picture taken by NASA, I understand that emotions such as shame, guilt, anger, grief and fear are just details and as such insignificant. Evil does not exist. The universe operates with completely different strings and makes no use of anything of such meaningless size.

This, I write at night: When I was a child, I feared the thought of the vast universe. Now the idea of the infinity of the universe and the insignificance of the individual makes me calm inside.

Virginia says: “If you had not believed that the human nature, ordinary men and women’s thoughts and feelings lead to war, you would not have written and asked me for help. You must have made the conclusion, that men and women, here and now, are able to follow their own will. They are neither pieces in a game nor puppets dancing in a leash, while being guided by invisible hands.”

That’s the dilemma of the human race. To be led through dogmas of war and death or to control one’s own movement. All life starts in the sea. From there, it grows. When we lift our feet out of the water, we can walk on earth.

These are the color blades on Vanessa’s palette. A split Union Jack. A bankrupt Europe. A defaulted humanity. It is ending of nothing and the beginning of everything.


Written by Joan Rang Christensen, and Korean-Danish adoptee and award-winning playwright. Joan is educated at The Danish National School of Playwriting in 2004, and has had around 40 radio and stage plays produced in Denmark, England, Germany, Sweden, and the USA. Most recently, “Tonight the war comes home” (Copenhagen, 2019)—about the shootings at the Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris.

WAR DEATH THE SEA was performed by the author at museum Munkeruphus in Denmark, on August 2, 2015, in connection with Jette Hye Jin Mortensen’s exhibition "A Landscape Theater" and as a part of the exhibition “The Voyage Out” about Virginia Woolf.

Photo credit: Timme Hovind


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