Old growth timber gets logged in Iceland.
And stacked up beside the road outside Hallormstaðir. Hawthorn City.
Count the rings. I count 23 years.
Back before the Millenia, in Old Iceland, this was a tourist place.
The tourists were Icelanders. In Modern Iceland, men brought in the heavy farm equipment.
And got at it.
When Gumnar lived at the end of the lake, just a few minutes away by car or the length of a saga by foot, there were no trees here at all. Modernity, it seems, is a return to the old world, with fun equipment along the way.
This image from North Iceland haunts me. This was once a prosperous farm, as the driftwood fence shows. In a country without wood, to have rights to pick up Siberian wood from the beach was enough to make a farm pay. Now they’re inexpensive replacements for more expensive metal posts, and not a cash item.
Speaking of economy, look at the tun, or house field in the centre of the image. It would have been manured with the manure from the winter sheep barn… just as far as a man could carry it with his strength. The point is, that was economy: this concentration of the energy of the land in such a way that it gave forth more richness in the year to come. This principle was applied after the Second World War, when the country embraced foreign modernity to maintain the old economy. In this case, the fuel tank, and a tractor that went with it, looked like a path to a bright future. Maybe it was for Reykjavik, but after 1,000 years no one lives here anymore. It’s still farmed, as a hayfield. The main field, the tun so to speak, is up against the ridge on the upper right of the image, bright green and fertilized with nitrogen fertilizer: an industrial product, that must be paid for with cash the land can barely spare. That’s where the edge of maintaining Iceland by bringing in foreign technology has lead now. Without it, there’d be no economy, yet if it had always been this way, there’d be no Iceland. This has always been Iceland’s bind. Gunnar Gunnarsons’s attempt to solve it by bringing modern German farming to the Fljótsdalur in 1939 lasted only a couple years, before he had to give it up. In fact, this might just be a universal human bind: one looks for permanency and must accept transience, yet the dream of permanency continues to exert its pull.
What it says is that we are haunted by the world as much as we haunt it.
The sheep missed a blob there on the cliff.
Don’t worry. They’ll be back to finish.
We need more rust in Reykjavik! This lovely old antique shop in Reykjavik is now a restaurant. Heck, every building downtown is either a bar or a restaurant, or a coffee shop, well, also a gift shop.
The price of this form of industrialization is history. Reykjavik is now a place where tourists go to rub shoulders with other tourists. For an industry based on sincerity, that’s dangerous.
More rust, please. Please. Save the glass for the burbs where the Icelanders live. They deserve the light.
Iceland is undergoing a tourism revolution. Everyone lives in an industrial site now.
The industrial product is Iceland, which is empty of Icelanders, even, as below, on their old farms.
Snæfells at Winter Dusk
Icelanders are now easy to spot.
They are models from New York.
The lush fields of Iceland are created by nitrate fertilizer. This is the new Iceland. It’s not prosperous. Look how it relies on old buildings in disrepair, or ignores them completely. That is the reality of survival when most everyone has gone to the city, yet still needs to eat from the land. In the image below, you can see, perhaps, the buildings of the post-war years tucked behind a hill, the old house field, the tun, that kept the farm alive in the foreground, beneath the oil tanks, and the new, industrialized fields int he distance. The old is still here.Here in the far north, the progression is even more clear: driftwood from Norway or Russia, an old turf house, the tun gone yellow with wild flowers in front of the slope where the old house once stood, a rusted oil tank, and an old fish-drying shed. The new, industrial fields are in the upper right. It’s cold here on the Greenland Sea.The pattern is repeated everywhere, as it is here at Kirkjubærjarklaustur: new barn, old barn, new industrial fields, the tun plowed over, but a gate from the 1970s, and that Siberian driftwood once again.If the Icelanders are saying their country is prospering, don’t say no. They want to stay a part of the world. It’s hard to do so. The land, however, is crying.
The modern farm is in the shadow of the mountains. The old one is in the sun.
Technology Is Not Neutral
The old one was farmed by hand.