I cannot think of a better description of glaciers than in Adalbert Stifter’s novella Bergkristall, where two young children, on their way home to their alpine village, get lost in a storm on a glacier.
The glacier becomes a symbol of frozen time, and hence death.
Here at Sólheimajökull, however, the abstract purity of Stifter’s glacier is contrasted by layers of ash, like many glaciers in Iceland.
Thus the glacier seems to transport time, much like it does in the glacier poems of Paul Celan.
This image of an expecting woman should make it clear that trolls are not as close to extinction as some try to make us believe.
Of course they are hard to find. Not only are they well camouflaged by all the lava rocks, they are also in constant migration, like here a small family, with the child being carried piggyback.
But not only trolls roam Iceland. This large bird should rewrite a chapter of the theory of evolution.
Then there are the giants, always watching.
In Óskar Jónasson’s film Reykjavik-Rotterdam, a painting by Jackson Pollock plays a marginal but hilarious role.
The pictures in this post are inspired by drip-art and action painting.
They are not quite up to Pollock’s standard, but I must say I like them.
Of course they are not paintings, but landscape closeups taken off the coast of Westman Islands.
The artist? Hard to say, but at least partially responsible are the doves.
We usually think of a crack as a blemish. A cracked window needs to be replaced. The cracked patina of old paintings is reluctantly accepted as a proof of age. In The Fall of the House of Usher, Edgar Allan Poe has turned the crack in a wall into a bad omen of the worst kind. Roman Polanski did likewise with cracks in concrete in his film Repulsion. Are cracks really that bad?
In geologically active regions like Iceland, cracks happen more often than elsewhere, and on a much larger scale.
The cracked wall above is from a house on the Westman islands that was half covered by the lave flow from 1973 and is kept as is as a monument.
Cracks appear everywhere. In individual rocks,
in the ground like here near a lava tube,
vertically, splitting entire mountains,
or here, where the crack is literally between the American and European continent.
This post is the first of many trying to put the 2000+ images I took this summer in Iceland in some unconventional order.
Let’s begin with the simplest aspects of the landscape. In contrast to Hamlet, very often there are fewer things in heaven and earth than you would expect. In fact, you might just see a flat gray plane all the way to the horizon, and above it a similarly gray sky.
One travels in this landscape on roads that dramatically increase the complexity.
What is striking is that all this must have been moved and put in place at some point. Enormous volcanic eruptions
have covered this landscape with lava and ash.
Slowly growing moss patiently tries to withstand the ubiquitous erosion, caused by wind and meandering rivers.
It is hard to believe that most of Iceland was covered with trees, until the Vikings needed the wood for their boats, houses, and fires.