Robert Lyons attended Lecture For Every One at Gärde Wesslau, a lawyer’s office.
A Lecture For Every One
Gothenburg, Sweden. May 19, 2014.
A warm, overcast, sleepy Monday morning in central Gothenburg. We cross the empty Vegetable Square to a modern, fashionable office building. Linda, Tove and I are graciously ushered into the quiet, white-surfaced-with-smoke-grey-glass-paneled offices of a Swedish law firm specializing in international business law.
The airy meeting room with designer coffee-bar and large windows has a long white table running down the middle. The lawyers are all seated and ready to have their usual Monday 10 AM planning session. About thirty lawyers, men and women in their thirties and forties, smartly dressed of course, stirring their coffee in shiny white mugs, some eating open-faced sandwiches, each sandwich with a leaf of lettuce, a slice or two of cheese and a sliver of red bell pepper, a few lawyers peeling or slicing bits of fresh fruit. Smartphones and almanacs are at the ready.
The entire group politely welcomes Tove, standing at the head of the table, as she and the project are introduced. Once she gets started, the captive audience reacts to the seriousness of the subjects treated by withdrawing into themselves. One young male lawyer, sitting separately, looks off into the distance, not once during the entire event looking at Tove nor at anyone else. One female lawyer, sitting towards the back with a gentle smile on her face, takes copious notes in shorthand throughout the lecture.
The level of concentration in the room is extremely high. A deafening silence. Central questions that resound in that silence are these: ”Do you think you make more money than I do?” and ”Do you think you know more than I do?”. Twice during the lecture Tove tells anecdotes that seem to allow or encourage laughter. These are gratefully received by quite a few around the table who laugh rather heartily. At these moments they also make eye contact with one another. But quickly thereafter the introverted silence returns. The lawyers breathe as quietly as possible. They gaze with increasing intensity into their coffee mugs. At the conclusion of the lecture, Tove is rewarded with polite applause. As we leave, our host assures us that today’s discussions will all be about the lecture.