Distancing from the Frontier Myth (Them Deeper Bones design diary 12)

Details from John Gast’s “American Progress” and Akseli Gallen-Kallela’s painting of a lake.

The Magical Wilderness

The first touchstone for me is that of the forest just beyond the road being a magical place, habited by older and more potent powers. This association probably comes from tales I heard as a kid to make sure I didn’t accidentally drown or get lost in the woods, but the result is a certain reverence to the wilderness. It’s a powerful place, full of danger. But it’s not one to be bested, or bent to my will. I have to respect it and follow its rules, and I’ll be fine.

The Karelian Myth

The closest thing culturally to the Frontier Myth that I have that I can connect to as being something of “our own” as a Finn is probably Karelia Lost, or some mythical version of it. I’ll say upfront that I don’t have a direct connection to Karelia, familial or otherwise, but still personally the idea of some part of my country being lost in war before I was born has shaped how I think of what’s out there beyond the borders. We lost large land areas as part of World War 2 and when I was a kid, I felt there was a communal sense of loss about it.

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