Gunnar Gunnarsson’s published a fascinating ghost story called Vikivaki in 1932. Iceland is still writing them. Take a look…
Ghosts, Öxarárfoss, Iceland
What’s a ghost? Why, something that’s neither dead nor alive and which brings a message from deep within your story.
As for people, they’re writing something else. Here’s what visitors to Iceland write upon the body of the land when they visit:
Troll People, Þingvellir
They just have to leave a record of themselves, it seems, using whatever is at hand.
For people who live within a landscape, language comes from the land, the water, the light and the air. Here’s a piece of just such a language from Iceland:
Language Beginning, Öxarárfoss, Iceland
Forget about cuneiform and Linear B and language starting with bird tracks in sand. There is another way. Forget about writing for purely human audience and deferring the environmental costs of turning from the earth until the future. That future is now.
Language Beginning as Art, Öxarárfoss, Iceland
Compare that to the lines in this stained glass window from the church in Reykholt, West Iceland:
Mary, The Christ Child, and Three Angels
Iceland is a country in which Christianity is uniquely bound to the soil. Unsurprisingly, Gunnar’s ghosts are a surprisingly devout bunch, called forth in a moment of nationalist zeal. This is one lesson I’m going to happily take home to Canada in 6 weeks. Sometimes the hidden people of a country can be the people themselves.
Next: I will explore these ideas further by discussing an Icelandic artist who paints with ice.