Half adventure story, half memoir, and 100 per cent unmissable, Temporarily Insane by historian Carl Borgen reveals the stranger-than-fiction saga of an alternative creation myth, the mystic who gifted it to the world, and the dedicated team of hippies-turned-archaeologists who have spent the last three decades trying to uncover the truth.
By Gwyn Rees
Every so often a book comes along that chronicles a real-life story so colourful and crazy that you’d swear it was fiction.
Think Jon Ronson’s The Men Who Stare at Goats, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks, or Tom Wolfe’s The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. Temporarily Insane by Carl Borgen sits comfortably beside these, both in terms of the fascinating real-life story it relates, and the vivid prose that drives everything forward.
First and foremost, the book is about the Bock Saga—an alternative creation myth that emerged in the 1980s but dates back, so it is claimed, to the dawn of mankind itself.
Revealed by Finnish mystic Ior Bock, the last living custodian of the Saga, it talks of a previously unknown yet mighty global civilisation that ruled from the North Pole and seeded all future cultures with the gift of language among many other things.
This civilisation lived in an era known as “Paradise Time”, eons before our recorded history began, where all peoples were in harmony with each other and the universe.
Ultimately, geological changes on Earth—the coming of an ice age—would spell the end of the line but, according to Ior Bock, whose family were, he said, direct descendants of this first tribe and who had secretly passed down the Saga from generation to generation for more than a millennium, a temple with untold precious artefacts still existed and was waiting to be reopened.
Bock, a well-known figure in counter-culture circles, was ignored by academics but embraced by a swathe of new-age hippies who, in 1987, promptly travelled to the Bock estate near Helsinki in Finland to excavate the temple entrance and to show an indifferent world that all social problems had once been solved, and could be again. Paradise, in other words, was still within our grasp.
More than 30 years later, the small but dedicated group—which has been maintained by new recruits from around the world to replace departing members—is still hard at work at the site.
Dutch Canadian author Carl Borgen was good friends with the first generation of Bock devotees to answer the call, shovels in hand, and has maintained a close relationship with the team ever since. Now serving as an historian of the Bock Saga, he has penned Temporarily Insane to preserve their story and that of Ior Bock, while also recounting his own fascinating life shaped in no small part by the Saga’s ancient knowledge.
A unique fusion of memoir, biography, and thrilling narrative, the book begins with the author dropping out of society in his late teens to seek counter-culture adventure in the East, joining a well-established ‘hippie trail’ throughout Nepal, Pakistan and India.
His many escapades are documented in gripping, sensuous and nostalgic prose, as is his first exposure to the Bock Saga, and the profound impact it had on his, and his peers, minds.
Then begins the story of the excavations, which would make Time Team’s Tony Robinson faint.
There are tales about the hippie archaeologists using dynamite to blast clear the temple entrance, drug smuggling operations to fund the dig along with numerous run-ins with the police, the tragic murder of Ior Bock, and, above all, intense camaraderie.
Interspersed are detailed passages from, and information about, the Bock Saga myth itself.
It doesn’t matter if you believe that there really is an ancient civilisation buried under the Arctic to appreciate this book. The author, himself, is on the fence on this one.
It’s the journey, not the destination, that makes Temporarily Insane so fresh and riveting, and within a few pages you’ll be right next to Carl on his first bus ride to Goa, getting ready to enjoy a ride like no other.
Carl Borgen is one of the world’s leading experts on The Bock Saga and the first person to put Ior Bock’s story into written form. He is the author of The Bock Saga: An Introduction and new title, Temporarily Insane, which details the 35-year hunt for the Bock treasures, out now in hardcover, paperback and eBook formats priced £19.99, £12.75 and £4.99 respectively. Further information about The Bock Saga can be found at www.carlborgen.com and www.bocksaga.info.
Exclusive Q&A interview with Carl Borgen
Historian Carl Borgen has dedicated his time to recording and preserving the Bock Saga for the benefit of future generations. We spoke to Carl—whose latest book, Temporarily Insane, is out now—to find out why we should all acquaint ourselves with this alternative world creation story.
Q. How would you sum up the Bock Saga to someone who has never heard of it before?
A. The Bock Saga is the family history of Ior Bock and starts with the first two people on the planet. Therefore it is also the history of mankind. The first two people were born in a place called ‘Hel’, near Helsinki, Finland, which according to the saga was at that time the location of the North Pole.
The Bock Saga describes what we call the ‘Paradise Time’ in great detail. It tells about a pre-historic time where a global culture was maintained and that had as its goal the harmonious continuation of human living together with nature. Mankind followed a plan that was encoded in the first language, called the ‘Root’. After the planet was populated not much changed and time seemed not to exist. But it did. Paradise came to an end and the ice age started. This time was called ’Altlandis’ (“All the land ice”) or simply ‘Atlantis’. When enormous glaciers melted and scraped Scandinavia bare to the bedrock, thereby causing big tsunamis along the Atlantic coasts, a new era started.
In the Paradise Time mankind lived as one family. The global family was, however, ripped apart by the isolating ring of glaciers that formed during the ice age. The people in the north lost contact with the ones in the south. After the ice had melted they met their now-distant cousins again. Nordic people went to the south and mingled with the Romans, the Hindustanis, the Chinese, and so on—creating new races and languages. Often, lands and family lines were contested and led to war. This situation, sadly, continues to the present day.
During Paradise Time artefacts in the form of majestic gifts were collected by the Bock family. These are said within the Saga to be hidden in a cavity in the Earth’s crust, of which the hidden entrance is located behind the Bock Family estate, near Helsinki. Since Ior started telling his Bock Saga, his friends, whom are dubbed the “Temple Twelve”, have been trying to open up this place and to share the knowledge of the distant past with everyone.
Q. Why would you say it is important for us to be aware of the Bock Saga?
A. It is interesting to know the history of mankind. Until now, historians, palaeontologists, and DNA specialists have tried to reconstruct our heritage but many gaps are left and much of the evidence is not conclusive. Here, in the Saga, is a story that starts at the start. Much of the clues and evidence from the scientific world seems to affirm Ior’s story.
Q. What, to you, is the most profound element of the Bock Saga?
A. There is an underlying, almost mathematical, structure to the Bock Saga that is embedded in the first language of mankind, Root. Like the numbers 0123456789, in one sense, tell the story of the structure of the universe, so the Root alphabet tells the story of mankind. The Bock Saga is logic to its extremes.
Q. Can you describe what sort of person Ior Bock was?
A. He was a friendly guy who saw it as his duty to tell the Bock Saga. He had no clue about politics. He was not interested in power, money, and all those things, as some outsiders have suggested. The Bock Saga was, for him, very interesting, as it is for anyone who studies it. But it was also a burden. Because he felt he had to tell the Bock Saga, which took him the rest of his life after 1984, he had to give up almost everything he had, and which he was. He was a happy hippie, doing yoga on the beach. He liked parties, liked social life. He had a job as a tour guide in Helsinki. He had a girlfriend, with whom he made many exotic travels. He lost all of that and, later, even his life when he was murdered in 2010. The Saga was very tragic for him. I think he knew what was happening after he started to first tell the Bock Saga and the first problems began to emerge.
Q. What originally attracted you to the Bock Saga?
A. In the beginning, 1986, I was not open for it. I thought it was another guru-style thing where you had to follow somebody’s crazy thoughts. I suspected it was something religious, which usually means all kinds of taboos and stuff that you cannot eat.
My friends at the time, however, really went for the Bock Saga and told me about it over the following years. I realised I had been wrong, but still didn’t want to commit my life to it. Their commitment was directed mainly at opening the treasures said to lie in the temple. For me, the treasure was the Bock Saga itself. Apart from that I had other things to do in my life. I had a great burden of a family saga myself, and that was more than enough!
It was only when we sat down to record the Bock Saga that I fully understood its greatness and its value. It is much more than a nice, captivating story like The Lord Of The Rings.
Q. You have another two books coming out next year about the Bock Saga. These will, however, be novels as opposed to non-fiction. Can you tell us more about them?
A. The first is titled the ‘The Squatters Gang’ and it is about a group of 1980s (sub) urban kids who try to find their way in life. What they don’t know is that they are being manipulated by the gods of the Bock Saga. Because these Gods are only human themselves—in contrast to most other gods—they make mistakes too. They actually don’t know very much about how to handle the situation, and how to save the planet and the human race from itself.
The other is called ‘The End of Paradise’ and this is set in the Paradise Time of the Bock Saga. In this period actually not much happened until at the end when the Earth axis shifts and life on the planet changes with the coming of an ice age which brings disaster and destruction to the harmony. It is kind of a fairy tale/fantasy novel with dragons and elves. But, in Bock Saga style, no laws of nature are broken and the dragons are people who drag-on, the elves are the eleven brothers of the All-father and so on. It is a story about normal people of that time in extraordinary times trying to do the best. They succeed and fail, like we would do.
Q. The followers of Ior Bock who have been excavating the Temple of Lemminkäinen have yet to discover the Bock treasures. What challenges have they faced, and do you think the Bock Saga will ever be proven?
A. Digging in granite rock is a logistical challenge. It is specialised work and it needs a lot of money. My friends, who were hippies and punks from all over the world except Finland, were not up to the task. It took them a long time to understand that nobody from the authorities and from the national historic organisations would help them. Actually, these turned out to be working AGAINST the project. There was considerable hostility from the government and official sides. The Bock Saga was not what a country like Finland, that had been the battle ground of two warring neighbours for over a millennium before finally securing independence, wanted to hear. They are still ridiculed as we speak.
I think, however, that in the end it will be proven. I’m not sure if the Saga is wholly true or just partially but I have seen the rectangular, stacked granite rocks in front of the entrance of the temple. They were not natural but put there by humans. That was a recognisable sign of human work.
Another way of proving the Bock Saga is to study the story very well, and especially the part that describes the language and the structure of procreation. In our DNA there is plenty of proof that it seemed to have happened as Ior told us.
Actually, I never put much thought in the true/not true question. The main point is that the Bock Saga is a way to understand our cultures and, through that, receive answers to pressing questions of global scale. Even if it would not be true, it would be nice to know the answers to problems like pollution, debt, climate change, and so on.
Q. Why did you feel that the Bock Saga needed to be recorded for posterity, and why now?
A. After my father died I was about to write down the story of my life as he and generations before him had done. I didn’t know how, so I started to make a list of anecdotes that occurred in my life. “Oh, yes, there was this strange Bock Saga”, I remembered. It is a much more interesting story than my own. I called my friend Michel Merle, who knows the Bock Saga probably the best of everyone, and proposed him to help write it down. He refused. He said the Bock Saga is an oral story and should stay like that. I proposed to make a recording of it. He refused. Every year I proposed the same to him. I told him: “You are getting older. Our generation will die and then it is lost forever”.
One day I called him. He told me he was in the hospital and that he had broken his foot and would be on the couch for the next six month. “Perfect!”, I told him. “I will buy chocolate and pass by to do this Bock Saga!”
It still took five years and the help of many others to complete the task.
It was now or never. Ior had already died. His close friends had been listening to the Bock Saga for many years, but there was no one alive who knew it all. That generation was getting old. It was the last chance to record this important history of mankind.
Q. You have been close to the Bock Saga since the 1980s but in researching it fully for your book you must have discovered new elements you had never heard of before. What, for you, has been the most significant revelation to emerge?
A. That our alphabet is actually a song called the “Alfarnas Beten”. All sounds/letters have a meaning. All together they tell a story. This story is one of the leading underlying principles of the Bock Saga.
The other thing is that this ABC is not man-made. Just like a duck says ‘quack’ and a frog says ‘kwaak’, humans say ‘ABC’ in all languages. It came natural to us. The alphabet has a meaning and a plan. Since we are already far into this plan, it also contains our history. That was quite a revelation.
Q. The Finnish Government has always been frosty towards Ior Bock and the Bock Saga. Why do you think this is?
A. Finland was never a country of its own until recently. It was the battle ground for many wars between Russia and Sweden. Swedish was the language of the oppressor. The Bock Saga tells us, however, that this language was the first one on the planet. The Finnish Government wanted to get rid of it. People in Finland with Swedish-sounding last names had already changed them into Finnish-sounding ones.
I think they were slightly scared of what the Bock Saga could unleash. They like order and the Bock Saga sounded like disruption.
But, to be fair, the Bock Saga sounds very outlandish when you are brought up in a traditional way. It is only when you are open to divergent ideas and have the urge and courage to give alternate realities a chance that you can appreciate the Bock Saga. It is for that reason most of the people that were deeply interested in the Bock Saga had little in their brain before they came into contact with it.