Location: Iceland

The island is gorgeous. It is a teardrop shape—a shape of beauty and sadness, of joy and the carnivalesque. It’s also silent—except for an odd birdcall from the south-east. It sounds like a wooden peg board, like the sort you get at school in music lessons. It also makes a whooping, taunting sound. It knows my situation.

*

Thankfully the school house, my new home, is warm. There are many windows so I cannot escape the outside. My isolation is inescapable. Where I sit, in the living/kitchen room, there are many Icelandic books, some old board games, and for some reason, abacuses. Should I get another abacus to count the other ones? Blankets are strewn about—thank God. It’s not that I think I’m going to start believing in God here, but I want to somehow transcend myself. To be less dramatic: I want this experience to alter me. Not to significantly, but enough. I want to become something I can’t be now. Solitude is something I believed in for a very long time. After this year—a year of communicating, believing in its usefulness and positive effects—to return to solitude is odd.

*

Iceland is very flat, until a fin of a mountain escapes the confines of the horizon. It’s shocking each time I see one. At night the salt and pepper mountains blend with the slate and eggshell sky until you’re unsure which way is up. But the mountains are the sky. The snow has a very short commute. Its job is to garnish the mountains, to transform them from moth’s wings to broken bone escaping flesh. This island is a slow curve of a spine. The school house is a little walk up a gentle hill. Behind it hides a fleshy patch of grass. Beyond that—who knows. I shall explore it tomorrow. I want to find out more about that bird. I shall call it the pegbird. I want to go to explore more. It is a small island but it is rich. It is barricaded on three sides by the mountains. Below them, the sea. This is what the island peeps out from, shyly observing the grandeur around it. Towards the South, just a tad more easterly from where the pegbird was, there is a thick, yellow grass covered in ice and snow. It emerges from this wintery froth like matted fur. Iceland, and this island, feels like a dead body. Terrible, morbidly beautiful, and elicits many questions

*

Virginia Woolf’s “Room of One’s Own” discusses the importance of women having their own space to work in. Today’s version would be an island of One’s Own. I am terrified of having to learn to live without the hustle and bustle of busy city life, but I am excited to rediscover my humanity. We live in a post-human world, and we are all cyborgs, but trying to view that from an outside perspective is important to understand what it’s doing to the human psyche. I have no entertainment! That’s it! I cannot be entertained here. It is this that I have wanted. Entertainment is potentially the most dangerous tool humans have developed. It’s also the greatest.

*

On the way here I spoke to a man who lives in Akureyri. His favourite football team is Liverpool FC. He was happy to hear that I live in Liverpool. But he said England is too busy for him. Iceland has a population of roughly 350,000. The population of Liverpool is 450,000. He said even Akureyri is too busy for him, with its population of 19,000. What a form of introversion: introversion not because extraverts are too much to talk to, or because you despise small talk, but the presence of so many people is overwhelming. It’s not the communication with others but the knowledge of their presence. Like when I came out of the isolation tank in march, the bombardment of reality became too much. He spends his day on a boat, with one other person. He has found his island. This island is supposedly a haven for birds. There are no natural predators present. There is no where they could possibly find shelter. As is the way of things, the birds flourish. They’re a weed. Weeds colonise to until space no longer exists. Icelanders aren’t like that. There is space, buckets and buckets of it.

*

I’m surrounded by the sea but it isn’t very windy here. It’s a held breath. I’m waiting for the exhale. I’m excited to meditate. I can already feel my brain entering that mellow, contemplative state which I usually only get if I stare at something for a really long time, such as abstract expressionist paintings or someone’s eyes.

*

There is a girl here who I can only see when she stops existing to everybody else. When she is here it’s because she is nowhere else. She serves the island for three hours, split into 1.5 pockets of time. Then she exists again—but not for me. And I only exist to her when I am here. I should wrap us both an iron and feed us a meal in an eggshell: perhaps one of us is the changling of the other?

*

That’s a remarkable phenomenon here. When the sun sets the sea glows. Is much brighter than the mountains behind it which hang like a coat. It’s a stage for no one—a stage for all those birds to sing on. The birds might also be an absence. Is this island where the spirits of birds come to rest?

*

It gets dark very fast. It was still dark at 11am and got dark again at 4pm. It will take me some time to adjust to this too. The street lights are swan’s necks, which makes sense given that this is the place for dead birds. So the street lights are dead swans. I wonder what makes swans feel the need to illuminate the streets? The swans’ spirits wish to be an infrastructure for nobody. They wish to illuminate the perpetual twilight. They seem rather absurd to me.

*

 

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