Monday, February 1, 2010

Answer #27 - Reykjavik

40 pages in to The Importance of Being Iceland, and I'm hooked...  An American essayist steeped in what appears to be the coolest (and possibly contentedly drunkest, but like I said 40 pages in) culture ever. Although the author is an alcoholic poet that doesn't drink at this point and so might be more, er, sensitive to such things than, say, others...   I may have to emigrate to there - it looks to be a perfect combination of heaven, hell - ice and fire... and, despite melting glaciers, an expanse of beauty that is beyond breathtaking.

And, from the country that spawned Bjork, the most untouchably cool performance artist of the generation, art seems to ooze from every crag and cobble.  And that's just the natural world - the geysers, glaciers and volcanic leavings.  "Lava is everywhere here.  Like an ominous clock that has stopped.  Iceland's dark grey sweater is everywhere covered with bright green lichen.  These landscapes folding all over the country (I almost said planet) say what's churning underground, what's running things.  Unsteadiness is the country's deepest force."  The human art component appears to have permeated the whole of the culture as well, in an unbounded and flowing mess of call and response.  This is a world where snake-handling and church might mix nicely... Wild, dangerous, darkly beautiful...

If you've ever read or listened to anything I've ever written, I think you can see clearly the appeal that unsteadiness as a country's physical foundation might have for me.  Everything else is illusion.  I could really get behind a place that deals a bit more in reality than we Americans like to.  We have nearly hysterical machinations that the flag itself could float us out of any great flood...  maybe not so much in Iceland.  No such certainty.

I'll have to go there at some point not too long from now.  The Icelandic economy is in tatters, but whose isn't?  I'll have to go because I'm pretty sure this writer, Eileen Myles, is my lesbian soulmate, and if she loves it this much, I'm bound to.  Didn't previously know I had a lesbian soulmate, but now I do.  I should have known who she is for all of my adult life, but, well, as the Yin to her Yang, I'm oblivious to cultural cool.  She seems to define it. Yin and Yang.  For example, in as much as I tend to overuse of comma and punctuation (dorky), she nearly utterly neglects it (which is cool).  Despite the run-on and runaway stream-of-consciousness of some of her writings, it's an adventure I'm utterly unwilling to miss and is strikingly similar to my own leaps and distractions when conveying ideas.  So I'll, just, throw, in extra commas, to make up, for, her, lack.  Because, like I said, I think she's my soulmate.

So, Where can I get the best Putrified Shark Fin in the World?

On the downside, I've read previously that putrified shark fin is a common dish consumed in Iceland, accompanied by an extraordinarily strong liquor.

This gives me pause, but I've eaten sugared, dried squid in Seoul accompanied by Soju in kool-aid.  So I'll do what I have to do.  For both of us.  And I'll keep you posted.


  1. You will need to make friends with one Icelander. Perhaps Bjork herself, or Mugison's girl. Or one of the women who run those cafes along Laugavegur that, after closing late afternoon, burst open again without tables after dark reborn as nightspots with live bands stuffed into one corner. Someone with a car, who parks at daring angles, front wheel on the sidewalk, who'll take you out into the countryside into the two-fold consciousness, above and below ground, the crust of bread above, the oven of fire below. They still bake bread in the mountainside rocks near Eldfell above Heimaey. Yes, you'd love it there and the backdrop would make for more of your great cover shots. Have you seen Heima by Sigur Ros? It's on youtube. Blessbless. DL

  2. Yes "Heima" is a must! love the band but the broad panoramas they filmed shows the love these boys have for their native land. There is a section where they just let the glaciers speak, cracking and popping ice flows..

  3. Halldor Helgason won Snowboard Big Air at this year's Winter X games. First Icelander to win (any medal, I think) Gold at the X games.


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