Monthly Archives: September 2017

Tracking Humans in Iceland

Like sheep, humans leave trails which express the shape of their bodies. Note how this trail leads to the summit of this hill (near Hveragerði), where humans like to perch to have an unimpeded view, but it does not quite lead there directly. It avoids the steepest bits, where humans could topple backwards, given how unbalanced the poor beasts are.Now, a prey species, such as a reindeer, would likely walk along the ridge line, to maintain a sightline the whole way up. Humans prefer to remain hidden. If this were a land with predators, though, such as bear or wolves, humans would use their strong eyesight to advantage, allowing themselves to be hidden not by a hill but by openness and distance and the mind that can work them to advantage. It’s not that way when you put them inside a dump truck, such as here near Kikjubærjarklaustur:

Put a human on that track without a big truck to zoom around in and the animal is likely to climb one of those hills to see what it can see. Without a truck as a kind of surrogate thought, roads make humans blind. That’s why they like to make more-or-less straight lines. They follow their eyes, in the front of their heads, which take in straight light, such as here at Asbyrgi, at dusk.

When they can actually see where they are going, a straight line is best.The poor things get lost otherwise.

Luckily, the brains of these creatures sort out the tangled forms of the earth into lines.And their stumbling footsteps try their best to follow. Look how at Grabrok the wind tries to blow them away.You have to think ahead to be an animal like that.

Horses, no not so much.

Magical Buðahraun

Here’s the trail for me.
It leads to Buðaklettur, and then west into the November sun.But make no mistake, it passes through the mind along the way. Imagine, walking through your deepest thoughts. When I walked here last November, it took all my strength to put one foot in front of another. I found it nearly impossible to keep walking. I wouldn’t call it being lost, or being in danger of being lost. I wouldn’t even call it being found. It sure was good not to be alone. I’ve never made a journey like this, although this was only a small part of the journey that is to be made. What that journey is, I don’t know. Well, “I” doesn’t know, but the rest of me sure does. This is the path.This is a dangerous place. A place where the path travels where wakefulness and sleep take on different forms.If you step off the path, what then?

The question is nonsensical. To stay on the path is to step off of it. To step off of it is to lose it.

Go with someone you love. Go together. Hold on to each other. You are your line back home. I’m not from Iceland, but I know home when I see it.  The wind blows there. At 45 m/s. Well, sometimes. This time.
It is a place to lose yourself, and then, as a completely different person, to lead it back home. I can’t explain it. I am only drawn there, like a beast on a line.

On a narrow path. Of blood. 

Of mind.I can’t explain it. I don’t want to.

This is poetry when it has left all words behind.

This is the Buðahraun.

Whispering Sweet Nothings in a Farm Troll’s Ear

This troll is marked on no map, yet so many travellers have found it that access has been blocked — an unusual thing for Iceland, but necessary. I leave it for you to find it yourself. Note the old house site to the troll’s left. Yeah, on the grassy slope, and at its base. People used to live closer to trolls than they do now.

Still, take a look in the troll’s ear to the right above, and then to the goofs chatting in there, as if they were on the set of a silent movie.How can you block access to what doesn’t belong to you in the first place? How can you stop a conversation that has no sound? You can’t, but you can give it space.

Seeing in the Dark

One of the great pleasures of Iceland is to walk up a remote canyon, followed by ravens hoping you will slip and break a leg, and to know that they are your thoughts.

These thoughts.

It’s a northern thing. Of course, a country where a bell rope can serve as an improvised noose is a fine place to wander, too.

Darkness is everywhere, but it’s not black. It’s red or something, like blood.

The eye touches the earth as a bodily organ, as much as it does as the hand of the mind.

The mind is as much a heart as it is a muscle. It swims in blood.

Humans can’t see darkness, I read all the time. In Iceland, this illusion just doesn’t wash.

Maybe you can’t see it, but you can touch it, and enter through it the world behind the world.

And what is there?

Why, you are.

This doesn’t work in Reykjavik.

There, under the effect of the outside world, this sense of presence is called art.

One can live there, too. Between worlds.

Trying to catch the attention of passersby. Don’t worry. The world still sees you.

And you still see past it.

The old paths still wait.

Where the Sea Speaks

Here in Reydarfjörður, the Atlantic has strewn the tidal zone with treasure. Let’s call that speech.It is the same gesture, and all North European ancestors knew it, for to strew is to speak, and what one speaks is scattered, like bird tracks on the shore, on the edge of the place where ocean speaks, the strand.

Presence can be speech.

Not All Old Technology is Thrown Away in Iceland

It’s something about reverence.

And thanks. Yeeha!Some is still very much alive. (Note as well the turf house, towards you from the house just behind the hill, and the other old buildings along the slope to the right.) When the whole country is a museum, that people live in, even the two-legged sort, it’s not a museum. It’s a place stripped of what doesn’t belong. That junk is put into second hand shops in Reykjavik, in the hope that people from far away are going to take it back with them where  it came from.

It is a very proud, and very quiet, nationalism.