Tag Archives: Elves

Big Things Come from an Elvish Cat

In elf country, off in Borgarfjörður Eystri, you can never be sure. Is it a cat? A mouse? A cat and a mouse? Elves playing at both? Or a whole elvish family, complete with cat and mouse, all sharing a long tail?

It was in these dells that the boy Johannes Kjarval herded sheep and slowly became a painter.

Kjarval at Work and Play

No wonder.

Tourist Herding in Iceland, a Class Act

There is an uncanny resemblance between these images. Note the object of the photo watching from within it.

Note how she looks off to the side, leaving the balancing point as white ice.

Note the reaching out and goofy eagerness, set against nature as if it were a part of it.


Note the cool self-assurance by which the non-human actors make the real statement in the scene.

Note the fragile sense of vulnerability of modernity and the troubled gaze out of class, strengthened by class achievement yet never certain.

Note the deliberate dissemination of confusion. You are being led around by people who have been herdsmen and fishermen for 1100 years, after all. As Margret told me last summer, you never know who is the elf and who is the human. You never know,.

Note how Icelanders dress as the visitors do to make everybody comfortable with these arrangements.


Funky, eh. Yeah, well, be strong.

Or blend in.

Thinking Before Thinking, a Surprise Meeting with the Elves

It’s one of the prettiest waterfalls in Iceland, twisting like hair, and blessed with elves.


Perhaps you can see their queen bathing below the pool? She will meet you on the banks of the Selfljót, under Ósfjall, if she wishes. Before there was sculpture made to delight the eye, which sorts information before it reaches the brain …

Ásmundarsafn

… there was the delight of the eye in landscape. The thinking self comes later. First, one is a body.

Of Elves and Men

Some people just don’t get it about elves, not to mention trolls and ogres, and think that these creatures have to be empirically present or not exist at all. With that kind of thinking, they just won’t see an elf or look into the other realm. However, if you go to the Buðahraun on Midsummer Night, you will find elves in every collapsed volcanic hollow, in wondrous variety.

Every is a doorway, through which the other world spills. Usually these are dangerous places, but on Midsummer Night they are full of delights, and then the worlds begin to fall out of alignment again.