Tag Archives: map-making

Non-Human Maps and Great Story-Telling in South Iceland

I hope these two images from show how before there were roads, making a human map of the landscape…

Near Hellisnes by Fjaðrárgljúfur

…there were lavas and rivers …

Skaftá

… making a map at once spiritual and far beyond the human. Traversing them, each journey is its own map, or, to put it another way, every journey is a story, passed on as story. An ideal writing conference in Iceland would go to the heart of this kind of storytelling. All else follows, or leads away.

Icelandic Trails Are Improvisations in 5-Dimensional Space

Here at the head of the Hvalfjörður the old trails leap off across country. The old cairns remain, to still mark the way in bad weather, or good. As you can see, there’s a chasm between cairns. No amount of scrambling is going to make that worthwhile. You’re likely to break a fetlock, or worse.

Reading these cairns is not a matter of following straight lines. Obviously, the rock, the cleft and the sky are part of the trail, too, and the reading is a way of orienting oneself in multi-dimensional space, not map space. If you’ve ever read an Icelandic novel, you’ll recognize the pattern!