Tag Archives: poetry

Poetry and Technology in Iceland

The approach of winter on northern earth is described by the angle of the earth to the sun, but look …

… is it not a story of light rather than mechanics? Here in Grundarfjörður, is it not a story of the light  …

…separating from the dark earth and so revealing it?

It is not a scientific description, and yet as the light falls the earth becomes more purely light, and more purely cold.

Light is cold, in other words. This is wisdom, too. If we’re going to beat global warming, that light is going to need the respect now given to mechanics and technology. So is the cold, because they are the same. It’s not a linear understanding; it’s a global one. It is earth-thought.

Technology is not the end to science. It’s great stuff, but it’s not the goal, whatever the goal might be, or if it is the goal, then the goal is not of this earth, and that is a judgement humans have no right to make.

These are hard ironies. If technology is the path away from the cold,  it is the path away from the sun.

Akranes

It is the path away from the earth.

Hveragerði

The knowledge and traditions of how to live with the earth are not lost. Here are two operating manuals. There are more.

The poets still know something of the earth.

Breiðafjörður

It can be read by the sun. They know how to do this: how to read the sun, the earth and themselves on the body’s face.

Breiðafjörður

They embody the sun. Fences aren’t for the light, and yet they cut it, nonetheless, …

Breiðafjörður

… until the world becomes a series of fences. These are hard ironies, but not causes for despair; they still catch the light.

Grundarfjörður

We can still follow it, but one thing remains primary. We have a right to the sun, to the earth, and to the cold.

Grundarfjörður

The cleverness of ancient methods of mediation between earth and light are a richness of capacity rooted in ancient verse forms.

Egil

Make no mistake. This stuff can be read in detailed literary ways, and that’s an important tool for entering this technology. Read more by clicking here. Still, until you can read it in the earth, you have not entered its light.

Goðafoss

Discarding this light, simultaneously of sun and earth and cold and warmth and mind, for physical technology is exactly what it sounds like: discarding them, and all their alternative forms of warmth…

… for physical technology, which is important.

But the path remains the old one.

It is to make people out of the earth. It is to bring the wanderers home.

Here’s one manual:

Here’s the obligatory legal warning to users.

Here’s another one of the manuals.

Here’s Gunnar’s quote from the title page, expanded in its original context:

He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers. John 10:1-5

Here’s its expansion:

11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. 12 But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. 13 The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. 14 

In other words, look after your sheep; look after your land; be a man about this:

Gunnar left his hireling life in Europe

… and went to farm sheep in Iceland, from this house at Skriðuklaustur …

… after writing that. Was it a mistake? Well, he didn’t last long there, but the commitment was real.

And so Easter comes.

And so light comes.Gunnar meant that poetry and the land and honour were one. It was not literature. It was not a metaphor. This is not a metaphor.

The end of tools is to erase the tools.

A Jewel on Thor’s Shield

Myth is not a literal device. Thor’s Shield is a volcano in Iceland, in Middle Earth. It is rimmed with cinder cones. What follows is wit: poets competing with kings, using words alone. It’s smith-work, just as sword-forging is: what is svart is black, what smarts, hits. There are sparks. The words are all one word. The shield is a shield. That’s the wit of it.

Knowing this was the business of kings.

 

Moods of Light in Iceland and Canada

What if the Earth were a sphere, continually focussing the sun into moods of light, like these in Breiðafjörður in November, with a very low solar angle…borgarfjordurwater

… or these in Okanagan Lake, between the Rocky Mountains and the Coast Mountains on the North Eastern Pacific Shore, in December (today!)?p1420577

To know how the planet was feeling, we would need to gather information globally and integrate it into a unified image.p1420581

With arts and sciences of dissection, we wind up talking about the arts and science of dissection, which does the planet no good at all, nor us. Let’s not forget the Icelandic sculptor Ásmundur Sveinsson, who saw his task as reducing the complexity of surfaces to elements the eye could see before the mind, and then the construction of technologies that the eye, not the mind, could think with. Things like this:

p1400680

Of course, he kept the mind busy at the same time, which is always polite. Following his principle, are two eye-poems for your eye, which I showed you yesterday. They are not word poems:

p1320741 p1320725

Jökullsárlón

And because we are hospitable here and like company, here’s something for your mind. It is not an eye poem.p1320233

Kirkjubærjarklausstur

Book poems and mind poems are different things again. Poetry, though, ah, that’s a thing of the world.

p1320175

Kirkjubærjarklausstur

It is our home, but would we not be blind to call it our own? Let us just give praise.

p1320249

Kirkjubærjarklausstur

And thanks.p1390341

Breiðafjörður

And help with the braiding …

vatn

Solheimajökull

… and the weaving of the fibres of this poem …

p1420619

Rushes in Lower BX Creek, Okanagan Lake

… together.