Tag Archives: island life

Shipwrecked in the Beauty of the Northern Sun

As the sun sets over the Skagafjörður and the peninsular pillar of Þorðarhöfði, the waves bring it onto the black sand beach of Gardssanður with a promise of dawn.

And not just of dawn but of eternity. Maybe it’s not definable otherwise, but it sure is here: Eilíifð, roughly translated as “eternity,” better as the “living on”, in the sense of survivors (such as settlers in Iceland, in the midst of such a sea.) Such is the haunting pleasure of islands.

Going Around in Circles in Iceland

Volcanic crystals plus water equals islands everywhere.
Well, OK, wind and sand, too. In that case, they make water and the stones in water. These are deep patterns.Even volcanic gasses and earth. In that cases, there are islands of air.Life follows the same patterns.So do dwarf stones.And humans? Well, look.

Even when you don’t expect it, there it is. You can never hide in Iceland.

Island Life

This is Iceland. It’s not so friendly to human life, really, but it is sold to tourists, who want “real experience.”

The image below, made out of the experience above, is “art” in Reykjavik. It is sold to tourists, who want to be warmly received (and want to stay warm in a place not so friendly to human life.)

That’s the art of Iceland: remaining hospitable. It is a kind of mercy. Art and beauty are reduced to a line of thought here, in a language of “eye” and “body” but not so much of mind, and that line is reduced to gentle gestures, lest the bodies of visitors scare.The language of mind (below) might just scare them off.

I’d love to see Iceland market it. Such beauty lies there.

Why aren’t shipping containers, repurposed as homes, sold in souvenir shops in Reykjavik? I think it’s because Icelanders want to give people the experience they came for. They’re generous like that.

Not that there are polar bears in Iceland, but what the heck. The practice speaks to a tremendous self confidence, and the secrecy of all islanders: everyone is the island.

All who come remain within the gesture of arrival, until they choose to either leave or stay. Everyone gets to decide for themselves. No one will help you… unless you get lost. Then you will be brought back and warmed up, and will be once again within the gesture of the island itself. It’s the same if you try to leave. You might find  yourself leaving and staying all at the same time.

The island is the one doing the speaking here. Humans are almost speechless in its face.

The Thing About Being an Island

On an island there is only the sea and an eye in the midst of it. Things wash up on the eye. They are magical emblems of a distant world. It doesn’t matter what they are, their magic haunts you. Purses….pursereligions…maria

… cheap junk from China.p1330196

It is all the same. By displaying it, you become part of the world, through display. Each piece is an amulet that calls forth the notion of travel, which, because you are an island, you can only achieve by standing still.


Soon, you dress yourself in these amulets, and the style with which you disguise yourself, just enough so you aren’t completely hidden, becomes your ‘self’. In this way you are revealed, as if you are naked.p1330206

You are. Deep down, you are an island, where the idea of human occupation is just another piece of driftwood washed up on your skin, and everything you do will not erase the foreignness of the world, not even 1100 years of improvisation.


It becomes your voice, as you drag whatever home you can, thinking, “Ya, I bet I can find a use for that someday…”


or “Hmmm, I could wear that.” p1030097

One can make combinations, for example. p1050949

Really, anything goes because everything is equal. Everything comes from the world.This is an island. It is not the world. It is a place of finding land, and, slowly, being found by it.


And then being the land on which others land.


Here, every window is the sea.