robertogreco + iceland   161

Elise Hunchuck en Instagram: “An account of Iceland, an account of Berlin: hardness of water is the amount of calcium and magnesium in the water and is measured in units…”
"An account of Iceland, an account of Berlin: hardness of water is the amount of calcium and magnesium in the water and is measured in units of German hardness [°1dH, where 1dH = (Calcium (mg / l) x2, 497 + Magnesium (mg / l) x4, 116) / 17.9]. The scale runs from 0 and 4°dh (very soft) to 8 to 12° dh (hard) to very hard at greater than 30°dh. The water here in Berlin ranges from 14 to 25 °dH (pretty hard to hard). It is the reason that many people complain about calcified deposits anywhere water flows – from sinks to toilets to showers to espresso machines to our skin and to our hair. You might not notice it as first, but after a while, the deposits make their mark, changing composition and appearance everywhere they’re left. After spending a few weeks out of the country, and some time in Iceland, where the water’s hardness is less than 2, and in the Reykjavik area it is particularly soft between 0.2 and 0.6°dh, I noticed the difference in my skin and, especially, my hair. I washed it and let it dry, on its own, and it finally responded, unencumbered (for the first time in almost two years) by the minerals – that particular heaviness – of Berlin.

A small thing, you might think, until you recall, for example, as Heather Davis so eloquently wrote, “we become the outside through our breath, our food, and our porous skin. We are composed of what surrounds us. We have come into existence with and because of so many others, from carbon to microbes to dogs. And all these creatures and rocks and air molecules and water all exist together, with each other, for each other. To be a human means to be the land and water and air of our surroundings. We are the outside. We are our environment.” So, in a way, one could say I was, for awhile, becoming Iceland. And now, slowly but surely, coming back to Berlin."
berlin  iceland  water  hardness  2018  elisehunchuck  reykjavík  chemistry 
december 2018 by robertogreco
elisehunchuck [Elise Misao Hunchuck]
[via: https://twitter.com/lowlowtide/status/1052233654074654720

"what a rare pleasure, listening 2 @elisehunchuck presenting her research on an incomplete atlas of stones: ‘Trangressions & Regressions’ @tudelft #ULWeek2018

“stones help us understand how the earth moves”—@elisehunchuck"]

"Elise Hunchuck (b. Toronto) is a Berlin based researcher and designer with degrees in landscape architecture, philosophy, and geography whose work focuses on bringing together fieldwork and design through collaborative practices of observation, care, and coordination. Facilitating multidisciplinary exchanges between teaching and representational methods as a way to further develop landscape-oriented research methodologies at multiple scales, her research develops cartographic, photographic, and text-based practices to explore and communicate the agency of disasters through the continual configuring and reconfiguring of infrastructures of risk, including memorials, monuments, and coastal defense structures.

A University Olmsted Scholar, Elise was recently a finalist for the 2017 Maeder-York Landscape Fellowship at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Cambridge, US) and a research fellow with the Landscape Architecture Foundation (Washington DC, US). Her writing has appeared in The Funambulist and her research has been featured on BLDGBLOG. She has taught representational history and methods in the graduate architecture, landscape, and urban design departments at the Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design, University of Toronto (Toronto, CA) and has been an invited critic in the undergraduate and graduate programs at the architecture, landscape, and urban design departments at the Daniels Faculty and the School of Architecture at Waterloo.

Elise is also a member of the editorial board of Scapegoat Journal: Architecture / Landscape / Political Economy.

For general enquiries, commissions, or collaborations, please contact directly via email at elisehunchuck [at] gmail [dot] com."

[See also:

"An Incomplete Atlas of Stones"
https://elisehunchuck.com/2015-2017-An-Incomplete-Atlas-of-Stones
https://cargocollective.com/elisehunchuck/An-Incomplete-Atlas-of-Stones-1
https://www.daniels.utoronto.ca/news/2018/02/21/elise-hunchuck-mla-2016-presents-incomplete-atlas-stones-aa-london
https://thefunambulist.net/articles/incomplete-atlas-stones-cartography-tsunami-stones-japanese-shoreline-elise-misao-hunchuck
https://thefunambulist.net/contributors/elise-hunchuck

"Warnings Along the Inundation Line"
http://www.bldgblog.com/2017/06/warnings-along-the-inundation-line/

"Century Old Warnings Against Tsunamis Dot Japan's Coastline"
https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/century-old-warnings-against-tsunamis-dot-japans-coastline-180956448/

"How Century Old Tsunami Stones Saved Lives in the Tohoku Earthquake of 2011"
https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidbressan/2018/03/11/how-century-old-tsunami-stones-saved-lives-in-the-tohoku-earthquake-of-2011/#18355a8244fd

https://www.daniels.utoronto.ca/news/2017/06/28/bldgblog-features-incomplete-atlas-stones-elise-hunchuck-mla-2016

https://issuu.com/danielsfacultyuoft/docs/2016.04.11_-_2016_winter_thesis_rev ]
elisehunchuck  landscape  multispecies  morethanhuman  japan  iceland  tsunamis  design  fieldwork  srg  multidisciplinary  teaching  place  time  memory  disasters  risk  memorials  monuments  coasts  oceans  maps  mapping  photography  canon  scale  observation  care  caring  coordination  markers 
october 2018 by robertogreco
Skoffín | A Book of Creatures
"Variations: Skoffin; Skuggabaldur, Finngalkn, Fingal; Urdarköttur, Naköttur; Modyrmi

Skoffin

The Skoffín is one of a complex of Icelandic fox-cat hybrids with a lethal gaze, combining the cunning of the fox with the cruelty of the cat. This group also includes the Skuggabaldur, Urdarköttur, and Modyrmi, all of which are variations on the same theme; they are also linked to the “demon harriers”, foxes sent by sorcerers to maul livestock.

A skoffín is born from the union of a male Arctic fox and a female tabby cat, and resembles both of them. Its gaze is so deadly that everything it looks at dies immediately, without needing to see it. Its exact appearance varies; it may even change color with the seasons like the Arctic fox does. Reports suggest that skoffíns are short-haired, with bald patches of skin throughout.

Skoffín kittens are born with their eyes wide open. If not destroyed immediately, they sink into the ground and emerge after 3 years of maturation. It is therefore imperative to kill sighted kittens before they can disappear into the ground. When a litter of three sighted kittens was born at a farm in Súluholt, they were placed in a tub of urine to prevent their descent into the earth, and were drowned by placing turf on top of them. The entire tub was then tossed onto a pile of manure and hay and set on fire. The mother cat was also killed.

Skoffíns are irredeemably vile and malicious, and satisfy their appetite for destruction by killing humans and livestock alike. They are best shot from a safe distance, ideally with a silver bullet and after having made the sign of the cross in front of the barrel, or having a human knucklebone on the barrel. Hardened sheep dung makes equally effective bullets.

Thankfully, skoffíns are not immune to their own gaze. An encounter between two skoffíns will lead to the death of both of them. As with basilisks, mirrors are their bane. Once a skoffín stationed itself on the roof of a church, and the parishioners started dropping dead as they left the building. The deacon understood what was going on, and had the rest of the congregation wait inside while he tied a mirror to a long pole and extended it outside to the roof. After a few minutes he gave the all-clear, and they were able to leave the church safely, as the skoffín had perished immediately upon seeing its reflection.

Eventually, confusion with the basilisk of the mainland muddled the skoffín’s image, leading to some accounts claiming it was hatched from a rooster’s egg.

The skuggabaldur (“shadow baldur”) or finngalkn has the same parentage as the skoffín, but is born of a tomcat and a vixen. It has very dark fur shading to black, sometimes has a deadly gaze, and preys on livestock. It may be killed in the same way as the skoffín. One particularly destructive skuggabaldur in Húnavatnssýslur was tracked down and killed in a canyon; with its last breath, it exhorted its killers to inform the cat at Bollastadir of its death. When a man repeated that incident at a Bollastadir farm, a tomcat – no doubt the skuggabaldur’s father – jumped at him and sank its teeth and claws into his throat. It had to be decapitated to release its hold, but by then the man was dead.

The urdarköttur (“ghoul cat”) or naköttur (“corpse cat”) is of less certain parentage. It may be a hybrid, but other accounts state that any cat that goes feral in Iceland eventually becomes an urdarköttur, and all-white kittens born with their eyes open will sink into the ground and re-emerge after three years in this form. Shaggy, white or black furred, growing up to the size of an ox, these felines kill indiscriminately and dig up corpses in graveyards. It may be killed in the same way, and is attached to the same story as the Bollastadir cat. Gryla’s pet, the Yule Cat, is most likely an urdarköttur.

The modyrmi (“hay wormling”) is a canine variant, created when puppies born with their eyes open sink into the ground and reappear after three years as wretched, virulent monsters. The specifics are the same as with the skoffín.

References

Boucher, A. (1994) Elves and Stories of Trolls and Elemental Beings. Iceland Review, Reykjavik.

Hermansson, H. (1924) Jon Gudmundsson and his Natural History of Iceland. Islandica, Cornell University Library, Ithaca.

Hlidberg, J. B. and Aegisson, S.; McQueen, F. J. M. and Kjartansson, R., trans. (2011) Meeting with Monsters. JPV utgafa, Reykjavik.

Stefánsson, V. (1906) Icelandic Beast and Bird Lore. The Journal of American Folklore, vol. 19, no. 75, pp. 300-308."
cats  foxes  animals  multispecies  morethanhuman  sestracat  iceland  hybrids  skoffín  skuggabaldur 
august 2018 by robertogreco
52-hertz whale - Wikipedia
"The 52-hertz whale is an individual whale of unidentified species, which calls at the very unusual frequency of 52 Hz. This pitch is a much higher frequency than that of the other whale species with migration patterns most closely resembling this whale's[1] – the blue whale (10–39 Hz)[2] or fin whale (20 Hz).[1] It has been detected regularly in many locations since the late 1980s and appears to be the only individual emitting a whale call at this frequency. It has been described as the "world's loneliest whale".[3]"

[See also:

"The Loneliest Whale in the World?
An obscure scientific brief and a mass audience wanting to believe"
https://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/style/2017/01/26/the-loneliest-whale-in-the-world/?noredirect=on

"The world's loneliest whale may not be alone after all"
http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20150415-the-loneliest-whale-in-the-world

"52 Blue" by Leslie Jamison
https://magazine.atavist.com/52-blue

"A new hybrid between a Blue Whale, Balaenoptera musculus, and a Fin Whale, B. physalus: frequency and implications of hybridization"
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1748-7692.1998.tb00692.x
https://www.academia.edu/8638859/A_NEW_HYBRID_BETWEEN_A_BLUE_WHALE_BALAENOPTERA_MUSCULUS_AND_A_FIN_WHALE_B._PHYSALUS_FREQUENCY_AND_IMPLICATIONS_OF_HYBRIDIZATION
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/227938068_A_new_hybrid_between_a_Blue_Whale_Balaenoptera_musculus_and_a_Fin_Whale_B_physalus_frequency_and_implications_of_hybridization

"Search for the world's 'loneliest whale' who has been singing to himself for 20 years"
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2366727/Scientists-set-worlds-loneliest-whale--admit-idea-looks-like.html

"Blue whales, fin whale, and a hybrid in between"
https://www.gentlegiants.is/news/2014/06/09/blue-whales-fin-whale-and-hybrid-in-between

Documentary and trailer
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2401814/
https://vimeo.com/119997508
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XFFgoFSOG1Y
https://vimeo.com/146300750
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/lonelywhale/help-us-find-lonely-whale/

"52 Hertz Whale Sound"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6dHZqdi828E ]

[Here because:

"Icelandic Whalers Kill Protected Whale"
https://grapevine.is/news/2018/07/11/icelandic-whalers-kill-protected-whale/

"Icelandic whalers breach international law and kill iconic, protected whale by mistake"
http://us.whales.org/news/2018/07/icelandic-whalers-breach-international-law-and-kill-iconic-protected-whale-by-mistake ]
whales  animals  hybrids  nature  finwhales  bluewhales  whaling  iceland  foreden 
july 2018 by robertogreco
On the Wild Edge in Iceland | Center for Humans & Nature
"Picture a country hanging from the Arctic Circle, where at least 80 percent of the people leave room in their minds for the existence of elves, “Huldu-folk” (hidden people), or other netherworldly creatures; where wild means vast stretches of grayness: gray, craggy mountain peaks, gray gravel, and gray ash from yesteryear’s volcanoes."



"As an ecologist, I was painfully aware of the stresses that ecosystems worldwide experience from grazing, climate change, and other human-imposed factors. What I wanted to know was this: Does a forest with a history of higher levels of disturbance have a more difficult time responding to additional stress than a forest with a lesser history of disturbance?

There was one way to find out. I would impose a disturbance on three woodland sites and observe the response. My three sites were strikingly similar birch woodlands, but they had a few important differences in their disturbance histories. My Site 1 (the forest in the valley in eastern Iceland that had me believing in elves) had not seen any serious sheep grazing for about a century. My Site 2, in a valley adjoining Site 1, was remarkably similar in all respects to Site 1, except that it had never been protected from grazing. My Site 3 was farther north—a harsher climate, a shorter growing season—and, like Site 2, it had never been protected from sheep grazing. These sites were on a gradient of stress from the least stress (at Site 1) to the most stress (at Site 3). Knowing how important nitrogen is to plant survival at high altitudes (and latitudes), I would track foliar nitrogen as my clue, using it as my insight into how the woodlands were handling stress.

I didn’t know at the time that some of the ecological models concerning disturbance, ecosystem shifts, resilience (or lack thereof), and crossing of ecological thresholds were based on psychological models of human psychic breaks and breakdowns. But now it makes sense. At what point does the accumulation of disturbances become so profound that a person—or a forest—is no longer able to function?

It is important to note that the prospect of disturbing the woodland sites was not an easy one for me. I was conflicted. I was studying forests because I loved them. Was it ethical to stress my subject and push it closer to the edge, even if my long-term goal was to understand (and even promote) ecosystem resilience? My advisor, Kristiina Vogt, comforted me: the forest disturbance would be minor and temporary. The ecosystems would bounce back.

With that reassurance, I bought a lot of sugar (actually, almost half a metric ton) for my disturbance experiment. While ecologist and forest service colleagues in Iceland questioned whether I was embarking on a homemade liquor and bootlegging project, the truth was that my unusually large sugar purchase had everything to do with nitrogen. A story from one of my fellow doctoral students, Michael Booth, can help me explain how.

Michael used to begin his forest ecology presentations with a picture of a forest upside down. The roots of the trees were featured on top and the leaves down below. His point? Much of what is running the show in a forest is under our feet. In any given handful of dirt, there are millions to billions of bacteria. And these microbes can be the tail that wags the forest dog, especially when it comes to nitrogen. While these bacteria play a key role in making nitrogen available to trees and plants in their preferred form, bacteria also need nitrogen for their own survival. Can you guess what happens to nitrogen in a handful of soil when there is a significant increase in the bacterial population? The answer: The microbes take the bulk of the nitrogen for themselves, leaving less nitrogen available for plants.

I wonder if a happy, healthy forest is one that has just the right number of microbes (whether that number would be in the millions or billions, I have no idea), such that the microbial community gets the nitrogen it needs while giving the trees and other vegetation the nitrogen they need. While notions of “balance” in nature are very out of fashion, to say the least, the concept seems applicable here. Too few or too many microbes would be a problem—from the perspective of the Icelandic woodlands, anyway. At both ends of the spectrum, there would not be enough nitrogen for the plants and trees."



"At the grazed sites, perhaps the warmer soil temperatures allowed for expansion of the birch woodland into higher altitudes. While the warmer soils may have allowed the birch to exist at higher altitudes, the trees at the grazed sites are also at a higher risk for nitrogen competition (from microbes enjoying the warmer soils) and grazing (from the aforementioned sheep). In other words, the birches at grazed tree lines exist higher up on the mountainside, but at the same time, they live closer to their edge. While this may not be the safest route for the birches, it is perhaps worth the risk because the upside is pretty big: the chance at life.

It sounds familiar. Given the choice, I would rather be on the edge of human experience, certainly on the edge of human knowledge, and even tolerate the edge of emotional comfort, if it meant life. And does not history (our own and others’) show that experiences on the edge can offer important insights into both what it means to be human and what it means to be one human in particular? For me, “living on the edge” is part of the daring—and the learning—that is central to the evolution of life.

There are many expressions of Iceland’s wildness, and all these expressions depend on the presence or absence of sheep. Perhaps the most common depiction of the Icelandic wild involves Iceland’s gray moonscapes, with sheep—and not trees. However, these starkly beautiful landscapes have crossed over an ecological threshold beyond which it is very hard to return. These landscapes are wild and wooly, but if you do not know how they came to be as they are, you may not be able to put your finger on the sadness that you might sense in the haunting gray vistas.

One could argue that the lush, protected woodlands are Iceland’s most wild places, despite the fact that they are enclosed by human-made fences. These sheepless woodlands offer wild green memories seemingly borrowed from the time of the Vikings and carried into the present day by their human—and elf—protectors. On the other hand, in some places, Icelanders ask the Icelandic Forest Service not to plant more trees. The chief of the Icelandic Forest Service, Þröstur Eysteinsson, told me that in such cases he hears the complaint that trees will “ruin the view.” “They are optimists,” Eysteinsson retorts, because it is, of course, no small task to restore a whole forest ecosystem anywhere, much less in such a harsh climate.

If I were to show you what I believe to be the wildest places in Iceland, however, I would take you to the forest limit, to a birch woodland populated with a good number of sheep and enough moss to satisfy the average elf. Mind you, this place would not have too many sheep, nor too many soil microbes, for that matter. I would take you to a place where birches breathe life into a landscape shared with sheep and their people, a place where the story told by both the sagas and the landscape itself is a story of life taking a chance—on the edge."
iceland  trees  forests  brookeparryhecht  2018  elves  sheep  fences  humans  anthropocene  edges  seams  ecology 
june 2018 by robertogreco
Beasts Of Iceland: The Icelandic Raven - The Reykjavik Grapevine
"After a trip around the Golden Circle, you—our tourist reader—might be wondering: “How the hell does any animal survive on this godforsaken mid-Atlantic rock?” It’s a fair question. With a lack of vegetation, a merciless climate, and generally inhospitable conditions, Iceland isn’t an easy place for any living creature to survive.

That said, there are a number of cool fauna in the country. So, let’s meet the…

Icelandic Raven

From Edgar Allen Poe to Bran Stark, the hypnotic black eyes of the raven have captivated society for millennia. Iceland is of course no exception. In the Sagas, the birds were considered symbols of wisdom and prophecy. Even Óðinn himself had two raven bros—Huginn and Muninn (“Mind” and “Memory,” in English).

Upon first sight, the Icelandic raven, or corvus corax varius, might resemble your average run-of-the-mill creepy raven, but their feathers are actually noticeably less glossy. This is probably because, like Lancome Juicy Tubes, gloss is tacky. Icelanders are way too classy for that shit.

Beauty fades, though, while dumb is forever. Luckily, ravens are one of the smartest birds out there. Not only can they do somersaults, but they have also been known to follow fishing boats and pull up unsuspecting seaman’s lines for a quick snack—a level of avian MacGyver-ness far beyond losers like Huey, Dewey, or Louie.

Nevermore, bitches

Unfortunately, the population of Icelandic ravens has been steadily decreasing for years—so much so that they are now a vulnerable species on the Icelandic Red List of Birds.

It’s quite a quandary. Ravens don’t taste good, nor do they make tasteful wall ornaments like tigers and lions. Why then are Icelanders so raven-ravenous? The answer, obviously, is that all Icelanders are secretly White Walkers and, like Stalin, want to control the amount of information that’s available about Iceland, globally. Don’t worry though, considering Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen just fucked, things aren’t looking too rosy for our blonde, blue-eyed brethren. Long live the raven!

Bonus: here is a cute video of a raven flying around a cat."
iceland  ravens  corvids  birds  nature  2017 
september 2017 by robertogreco
Hello World: Explore the Tech World Outside Silicon Valley With Ashlee Vance
"Hello World invites the viewer to come on a journey. It's a journey that stretches across the globe to find the inventors, scientists and technologists shaping our future. Each episode explores a different country and uncovers the ways in which the local culture and surroundings have influenced their approach to technology. Join journalist and best-selling author Ashlee Vance on a quest to find the freshest, weirdest tech creations and the beautiful freaks behind them.

Episode 1: New Zealand
New Zealand’s freaky AI babies, robot exoskeletons, and a virtual you.

Episode 2: Sweden
We explore Sweden's magical treehouses, faceswapping robots, and enjoy fika with Spotify’s Daniel Ek.

Episode 3: Israel
Learn how the constant threat of war has shaped Israel's tech industry.

Episode 4: Iceland
Iceland's punishing terrain inspires cutting-edge tech.

Episode 5: Mojave Desert
America's most passionate and daring inventors have built an engineering paradise in the middle of nowhere.

Episode 6: Australia
Bio-hackers, Internet playboys, and underwater drones have ignited Australia’s long-dormant tech industry.

Episode 7: England
Once a computing pioneer, England has struggled to remain relevant in tech. Now, a revival appears to be on the way.

Episode 8: Japan
Japan's obsessive robot inventors are creating the future.

Episode 9: Russia
Grab yourself a vodka and witness the bizarre spectacle that is Russian technology.

Episode 10: Chile
Searching for the origins of the universe in the Earth’s driest desert."
technology  video  chile  russia  japan  england  australia  mojavedesert  iceland  israel  sweden  newzealand  ashleevance 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Soulellis: Artistic Practice in 24-Hour Light Rhode Island...
"Artistic Practice in 24-Hour Light
Rhode Island School of Design
Reykjavík, Iceland
14 June – 4 July 2017

Artistic Practice in 24-Hour Light is a course for 13 students in Reykjavík, Iceland. The three-week program is modeled as an artists’ residency and collaborative creative practice, culminating in a public happening. Students will develop their own work, with guidance and support from the instructors and visiting artists. We begin with a series of open prompts, developed as a collaborative teaching tool with Sal Randolph, to bring city/landscape/place into the studio. The course encourages seeing, writing, thinking, and making, towards the development of a new work (or a small body of work).

Continuous solstice light and a vibrant artists’ community will be the context for on-site experimental making, engaging with public, and performing publishing. Our studio will be located at Iceland Academy of the Arts. This intensive course investigates new ways to make poetic work in response to place, using wild terrain, white nights, public space, the street, studio practice, the internet, and one of the world’s oldest continuously functioning democracies as our studio at large. 

With visits to Hveragerði, Snæfellsnes, Vatnasafn, and Hvalfjörður. 

The program concludes with a performative event, to be staged at Mengi on our final night.   

With guidance from Bryndís Ragnarsdóttir, DIspersed Holdings (Sal Randolph & David Richardson), guest artists, and writers. 

[via: "trying to run it like an artists' residency, with guidance but lots of freedom."
https://www.instagram.com/p/BVpR3HCnIbO/
2017  paulsoulellis  iceland  risf  reykjavík  art  design  residencies  openstudioproject  lcproject  classideas  salrandolph  happenings  creativity  writing  travel  collaboration  making  workinginpublic  thinking  poetry  artbooks  aritistsbooks 
june 2017 by robertogreco
The Book's Undoing: Dieter Roth's Artist's Books - YouTube
[via:
https://www.instagram.com/p/BVvjLT2H3p8/
https://www.instagram.com/p/BVvjG29Hiu_/
https://www.instagram.com/p/BVvjAaJn-YX/
https://www.instagram.com/p/BVvjnzVHe5w/
https://www.instagram.com/p/BVvjSrInD9U/
https://www.instagram.com/p/BVvjdJzHxvT/
https://www.instagram.com/p/BVvl6tNHHor/
https://www.instagram.com/p/BVvlnfqH3XL/
https://www.instagram.com/p/BVwf9BEnyaE/
https://twitter.com/soulellis/status/878787775641911297 ]

[See also:

"Wait, Later This Will Be Nothing: Editions by Dieter Roth"
https://www.moma.org/interactives/exhibitions/2013/dieter_roth/index.html

"Dieter Roth - Wikipedia"
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dieter_Roth

"There would be no way to translate a Dieter Roth book into another medium-the idea of the works is inseparable from their form as books and they realise themselves as works through their exploration of the conceptual and structural features of a book. —Johanna Drucker"



"In 1960 he won the William and Norma Copley Award, which included Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst and Herbert Read on the jury.[3] As well as a substantial monetary prize, the award included the chance to print a monograph; Roth declined, asking instead for funding to pay for a new work. The end result was his most ambitious book to date, the Copley Book, 1965, a semi-autobiographical deconstruction of the process of book making. In the same year he exhibited at Arthur Köpcke’s gallery in Copenhagen and at the Festival d’Art d’Avant-garde, Paris in 1960, and began an itinerant lifestyle, exhibiting and working throughout Europe, Iceland and America, a pattern he would continue for the rest of his life.

A key breakthrough in his attitude to art was witnessing the performance of Tinguely's Homage to Modern Art in Basel, 1961. The work profoundly impressed Roth, leading to a decisive break with constructivism into post-modern avant-garde practices associated with the Nouveaux Réalistes such as Tinguely and Arman, and the group of artists that were about to become known as Fluxus, including Joseph Beuys and Nam June Paik."
It [Tinguely's Homage to Modern Art] was simply a completely different world from my Constructivism, it was something like a paradise that I'd lost.[15]

Fluxus

Whilst Roth was close friends with many members of early Fluxus,[16] the avant-garde art movement centred around George Maciunas in New York City, he deliberately kept his distance from Maciunas;[17] when asked to add his memories of Maciunas to a biography being compiled by Emmett Williams, he contributed a less-than-complimentary summary;[18] He later told an interviewer;
It was the club of the untalented who made a verbal virtue of their lack of talent so that nobody could say they had no talent. The modesty that they ascribed to themselves was actually a good insight in that sense. Because they had to be modest because they were so incapable." [19]



"Roth would collaborate with his children-especially Björn-for the rest of his life.[27][28][29] In 2010 Hauser & Wirth showed one such collaboration, a selection of collage-assemblages, made from the cardboard mats Roth would place on the worktables in his studios to collect the "traces of domestic activities," such as coffee stains and Björn's childish doodles."



"In his later years Dieter Roth spoke of his typically innovative idea of an academy – an institution unbound to any one place or building or curriculum. As a passionate traveller, he realised that the best experience a young artist can have is travelling and encountering new people and situations. Consequently the Dieter Roth Academy lives there where its members live and work – on several continents. And is always on the move, having convened now in at least eight countries."

"Dieter Roth: Diaries at The Fruitmarket Gallery
2 August -- 14 October 2012"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SjnDdvqR2VU

"Dieter Roth Museum"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g19k0t8e7rc

"Dieter Roth: Staying Fresh"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FpUtsUnuDIQ

"Dieter Roth: Selves (Retrospective)"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FIfO5UYVq0k

"Dieter Roth Film - Trailer"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JEJZMC21YSI

"Dieter Roth. Balle Balle Knalle (english)"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sYuDtncXdpY

"Dieter Roth: Reykjavik Slides"
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/photography/8386314/Dieter-Roth-Reykjavik-Slides.html

"Dieter Roth Foundation"
http://www.dieter-roth-foundation.com/en

"Dieter Roth, words by Birgitta Jónsdóttir"
https://grapevine.is/culture/art/2005/05/27/dieter-roth/

"Taking the Dieter Roth train is a trip through the essence of art. All is art, everything Dieter did was an expression of art and the train trip takes you on an unforgettable trip, giving the viewer a whole new perspective on art in our every day lives. The redundant gains new life and meaning as he tilts the angle of infinite possibilities of mundane experience becoming something amazing.

The thing that impressed me the most was how one could feel the creative joy in so many of this work. He obviously didn’t take himself to seriously, an undertone of playfulness can be found in all his work, as if he must have had terrible fun within the whirlwind of his creative process."

"Loosening Up: Dieter Roth's Tragedy, by Donald Kuspit"
http://www.artnet.com/Magazine/features/kuspit/kuspit3-22-04.asp

"Dieter Roth, A film by Hilmar Oddsson"
http://www.seventeengallery.com/exhibitions/dieter-roth/ ]
dieterroth  books  artistsbooks  art  artbooks  björnroth  lcproject  openstudioproject  sfsh  classideas  ephemerality  travel  materials  iceland  birgittajónsdóttir  reykjavík  hilmaroddsson  johannadrucker  fluxus  marcelduchamp  maxernst  herbertread  jeantinguely  josephbueys  namjunepaik  georgemaciunas  ephemeral 
june 2017 by robertogreco
BBC World Service - The Compass, Where Are You Going?, Where Are You Going: Reykjavik
[via: "Simple conceit, great radio. 'Where are you going?'"
https://twitter.com/justinpickard/status/878376504064790529 ]

"Where Are You Going: Reykjavik
The Compass, Where Are You Going? Episode 2 of 3"

In the world’s northernmost capital, Reykjavik, Catherine Carr talks to a swimmer bequeathed a poignant request from a friend, to the shopkeeper who makes beautiful handbags out of fish skin; from the sister who makes an apology to a sibling with fresh pastries, to the roller derby girls walking on thin ice. These portraits capture something of the city’s DNA, its sense of isolation, mythical beauty and rugged adventure."

[See also:

"Where Are You Going: Hong Kong
The Compass, Where Are You Going? Episode 3 of 3"
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p055v3d4

In a city where East meets West and old meets new, Catherine randomly approaches a man in a taxi queue to ask him about where he is going. A funny conversation about the parcel he is taking to a friend soon leads to a riveting account of his near-death experience. Such is the currency of this series where strangers reveal unexpected details about their lives. Catherine also chats to an exhausted Philippine maid enjoying downtime with her friends, meets the “Lolita Goths” who want to feel like princesses and the devoted gay couple who wooed each other with love letters.

These snapshots of people’ lives, mixed with an evocative soundscape of the city create an audio collage which is an unpredictable and poetic listen.



"Where Are You Going: Brussels
The Compass, Where Are You Going? Episode 1 of 3"
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p054gp23

An interrupted journey is like a portal into somebody else’s life. Catherine Carr interrupts strangers on everyday journeys asks them where they are going. The encounters which follow reveal funny, poignant and sometimes astonishing details about the lives of others.

In cosmopolitan Brussels, she meets a multilingual Bulgarian translator who is mad about dancing and whose wife thinks he’s “a little bit weird” – not least because he is openly gay. In a freezing park, we bump into a choreographer who is doing his best to help a vulnerable young Romanian man. And on the cobbled streets of the European capital, a young couple on a mini-break are starting to realise they are in love."]
classideas  radio  audio  people  cities  reykjavík  hongkong  brussels  2017  catherinecarr  iceland  swimming  swimmingpools 
june 2017 by robertogreco
My life with Oliver Sacks: ‘He was the most unusual person I had ever known’ | Books | The Guardian
"Not long after I moved to New York, Michael Jackson died. O had no idea who Michael Jackson was. “What is Michael Jackson?” he asked me the day after the news – not who but what – which seemed both a very odd and a very apt way of putting it, given how much the brilliant singer had transmuted from a human into an alien being. O often said he had no knowledge of popular culture after 1955, and this was not an exaggeration. He did not know popular music, rarely watched anything on TV but the news, did not enjoy contemporary fiction, and had zero interest in celebrities or fame (including his own). He didn’t possess a computer, had never used email or texted; he wrote with a fountain pen. This wasn’t pretentiousness; he wasn’t proud of it; indeed, this feeling of “not being with it” contributed to his extreme shyness. But there was no denying that his tastes, his habits, his ways – all were irreversibly, fixedly, not of our tim"



"I learned that not only had he never been in a relationship, he had also never come out publicly as a gay man. But in a way, he’d had no reason to do so – he hadn’t had sex in three-and-a-half decades, he told me. At first, I did not believe him; such a monk-like existence – devoted solely to work, reading, writing, thinking – seemed at once awe-inspiring and inconceivable. He was without a doubt the most unusual person I had ever known, and before long I found myself not just falling in love with O; it was something more, something I had never experienced before. I adored him."



"She wandered into an upper room, and we followed. There, she showed us two custom-made instruments, a celeste and what looked like a harpsichord. Both had been modified somehow through instructions from a programme on her Mac. I could tell that O was completely lost as she explained how this worked. Yet it was then, right then, that I realised how much she and O were alike – fellow geniuses, incredibly, intuitively brilliant – while being at the same time such an unlikely pair of friends."



"“Hey doc, you ever done belladonna?” she asked. “Now there’s a drug!”

“Well, as a matter of fact, yes, I have,” and he proceeded to tell her about his hallucinations on belladonna. They traded stories. Eventually she began to figure out that this wasn’t his first book.

“Are you – are you Oliver Sacks? The Oliver Sacks?” Oliver looked both pleased and stricken.

“Well, it is very good to meet you, sir.” She sounded like a southern barmaid in a 50s western. But it wasn’t an act. “I’ve been reading you since way back. Oliver Sacks – imagine that!”

Oliver, I should note, had absolutely no idea who she was, nor would he understand if I had pulled him aside and told him.

Fashion? Vogue magazine? No idea…

The two of them hit it off. She was fast-talking, bawdy, opinionated, a broad – the opposite of Oliver except for having in common that mysterious quality: charm.

Somewhere along the way, she explained the black eye: a few days earlier, she had walked out of a business meeting at which she’d learned that she had been “robbed” of a third of everything she’d ever earned, and in a daze walked smack into a scaffolding pipe at eye level on the sidewalk. She didn’t seem too bothered by it: shit happens.

I looked up and saw that the room was empty by now but for Kevin and us.
“Well, gentlemen, I’m going downtown. Share a cab?”
“Uh, we have a car,” I said.
“Even better. Much more civilised. I’m downtown.”
How could one refuse? “Let’s go, shall we?” I said. Lauren Hutton offered Oliver an arm and we walked slowly to the parking garage. I pushed things out of the way in the back seat; she tossed in her handbag, and dove in. She immediately popped her head between our seats – the three of us were practically ear-to-ear.

Her incredible face blocked my rearview mirror. When O took out his wallet to give me a credit card for the parking, she spotted the copy of the periodic table he carries in lieu of a driver’s licence. This prompted a series of questions about the periodic table, the elements, the composition of the very air we were breathing. A dozen questions led to a dozen more, like a student soaking up knowledge. We talked about travels – Iceland, Africa – and Plato, Socrates, the pygmies, William Burroughs, poets… She was clearly intensely curious, life-loving, adventurous. In passing, she said something about having been a model – “The only reason I did it was so I could make enough dough to travel” – but otherwise didn’t say anything about that part of her life. Traffic was thick, so it took quite a while to get downtown.

Eventually, we reached her address, or close enough.

“Well, gentlemen, it has been a true pleasure. I cannot thank you enough. This is where I exit. Goodbye – for now.” And she was gone, as suddenly as she’d arrived. Oliver took a breath as we headed west and home. “I don’t know who that was, but she seems like a very remarkable person.”"
billhayes  2017  olivracks  laurenhutton  björk  iceland  companionship 
april 2017 by robertogreco
K.T. Billey: Utmost Import: Instagram & the Future of the Icelandic Language - Guernica / A Magazine of Art & Politics
[about: https://www.instagram.com/everysinglewordinicelandic/

"Futbol vikings, moonbeams, Björk—Iceland has long-since captured the global imagination, often capitalizing on foreign fascination. Tourism has been essential to the country’s post-crash economic recovery and guerrilla activities in the form of social media have emerged as a complement to ad campaigns and travel initiatives. Put simply, the posted image is the new word of mouth and Iceland is Instagrammer heaven. When cabin porn is a noun-ed phenomenon, Grade-A bragging visuals have brought hordes of visitors and money to the Nordic island. However, the influx has not been without anxiety. One Instagram account embodies the bane and boon of tourism for contemporary Icelandic identity.

Every Single Word in Icelandic, @everysinglewordinicelandic, is one of the most charming mini-galleries around. The concept is simple: pictographs break down the etymology of Icelandic words, illustrating cultural personality and the magic of language while teaching interested followers a thing or two.

Created by Eunsan Huh, a graphic designer who began learning Icelandic in New York City, many Every Single Word entries are Icelandic symbology: wool sweater, hot dog, whale (peysa, pylsa, hvalur). Others reflect Iceland’s absorption of new practices. In a shepherding country, chopsticks are called matprjónar or “food knitting needles.” Idioms also pop up—in Icelandic a tough cookie could be called a harðjaxl, a “hard molar.” The ranks of the account’s followers has steadily grown. Particularly in terms of nature and ‘folk’ attitudes, we seem collectively predisposed to being amused by Iceland the way audiences at comedy shows come ready to laugh.

The interest in Icelandic is certainly welcome. A language spoken by about 300 000 people must work to preserve itself. Reliance on importation and a history of Danish rule make Iceland no stranger to fears of foreign influence. A vital function of the Icelandic Language Council is to establish Icelandic words for new inventions. Drawing on Old Norse and Icelandic roots, the goal is to prevent an influx of loanwords—once Danish, now English—from taking over. Some borrowed words have taken hold—the use of banani far surpasses bjúgaldin “sausage fruit”—but preservation efforts have paid off in terms of language survival and intrigue. The word for television is a popular example that reminds us of how strange tv was upon its invention, as well as of the beauty of the English word. Sjónvarp breaks down into “vision caster.” Tele-vision. It may seem obvious, augljós, (auga<, eye, + ljós, light), but is there anything we take more for granted?

Perhaps one thing. The internet, whose here-to-eternity English poses an unprecedented threat to Iceland’s notoriously difficult, poetic, and odd tongue. Icelandic schooling has long included English, Danish, Latin, and various other languages, but English is particularly alluring for young people looking to participate in global arenas. Not just the online, but in technology use in general. As the Icelandic writer Sjón put it in an interview I conducted with him for Asymptote International Literary Journal,“When the day comes that we have to speak to our refrigerators in English (which I believe is not far in the future), Icelandic will retreat very fast.”

Former President of Iceland Vigdis Finnbogadóttir drew an oft-repeated distinction: Icelandic is not a ‘small language’ but rather ‘a language spoken by few.’ According to Finnbogadóttir, an active linguistic advocate (and the world’s first elected woman head of state—fewer speakers often boast when they can), there are no small languages. This rings true to anyone who has been mouth-baffled in a land of extensive compound words. It is not a numbers game, but hundreds of years of Nordic literature—an immeasurable contribution to world culture and mythology—is contingent on linguistic knowledge."



"Tomorrow’s folk tale might be a cautionary yarn about the Pokémon hunter who fell into Goðafoss. Purists might cringe at the notion, romantics might refuse to read it—or watch the trailer. There is much to bemoan about the evolving tension between technology and our physical and social lives: bodily detachment, fractured attention, intimate dis-ease. Worries about Icelandic are well-founded, but its speakers are aware. Gerður Kristný responded to the ‘why not write in English’ question by explaining that language has so much to do with Icelandic independence and identity, she will always write in Icelandic. It is her language. Technology looms, but pride and artistry is made of different stuff. Human obstinacy is a phenomenon unto itself.

The fate of Icelandic and other languages spoken by few remains to be seen, read, and heard. For now, as with anything, we can take the mixed bag, if we believe we have a choice. Absorbing positive resonance when we can is a coping skill as venerable as sagas. Marveling at inventions creates space for thought about how to use them well.

Rarity may protect languages via the kind of cult interest Icelandic enjoys. Print was supposed to be dead by now, or the realm of fetishized art objects and eccentric collectors. Yet book-devices haven’t supplanted books themselves. There are simply more ways to read. The internet is akin to Borges’ Babel in both threat and potential—it cultivates a browsing attitude that eats its children but also offers a place to be intentionally communicative. Never have we had such a grand chance to self-define or such an audience for our own terms.

“Orchestra” is a pertinent Every Single Word in Icelandic entry. Hljómsveit, literally “sound team.” The ancient chorus persists, in one form or another, and it is what we make of it."

[See also: http://grapevine.is/author/eunsan-huh/
https://www.behance.net/gallery/28612451/Every-Single-Word-In-Icelandic ]
iceland  icelandic  language  languages  instagram  ktbilley  eunsanhuh  symbols  symbology  history  linguistics  audio  pronunciation  translation  english  illustration  via:tealtan  instagrams 
august 2016 by robertogreco
The New Currency at the End of the World | Motherboard
[Note that this is sponsored by UBS.]

"Given Iceland’s small size, geothermal energy, and technologically literate population, the chances of Auroracoin’s success seem high. Yet, it is not clear what exactly succeeding will achieve. How will it meaningfully undermine governments? Will it redistribute wealth? Or redefine it? Or will it merely be old capital’s new clothes? "
iceland  currency  money  cryptocurrency  2016 
july 2016 by robertogreco
The American Dream Is Alive in Finland - The Atlantic
"If the U.S. presidential campaign has made one thing clear, it’s this: The United States is not Finland. Nor is it Norway. This might seem self-evident. But America’s Americanness has had to be reaffirmed ever since Bernie Sanders suggested that Americans could learn something from Nordic countries about reducing income inequality, providing people with universal health care, and guaranteeing them paid family and medical leave.

“I think Bernie Sanders is a good candidate for president … of Sweden,” Marco Rubio scoffed. “We don’t want to be Sweden. We want to be the United States of America.”

“We are not Denmark,” Hillary Clinton clarified. “We are the United States of America. … [W]hen I think about capitalism, I think about all the small businesses that were started because we have the opportunity and the freedom in our country for people to do that and to make a good living for themselves and their families.”

Opportunity. Freedom. Independence. These words are bound up with American identity and the American Dream. The problem is that they’re often repeated like an incantation, with little reflection on the extent to which they still ring true in America, and are still exceptionally American.

Anu Partanen’s new book, The Nordic Theory of Everything: In Search of a Better Life, argues that the freedom and opportunity Americans cherish are currently thriving more in Nordic countries than in the United States. (The Nordic countries comprise Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Iceland, and Finland.) But she also pushes back—albeit gently—against the trendy notion that Nordic countries are paradises.

Partanen is an unusual messenger. After all, her personal story is a testament to the Land of Opportunity’s enduring magnetism and vibrancy; she recently became a U.S. citizen, after moving from her native Finland to the United States in part because she felt she was more likely to find work as a journalist in New York City than her American husband was as a writer in Helsinki. But her time in America has also convinced her that Finland and its neighbors are doing a better job of promoting a 21st-century version of the American Dream than her adoptive country.

Partanen’s principal question is the following: What’s the best way for a modern society to advance freedom and opportunity? She explains that Nordic governments do so by providing social services that the U.S. government doesn’t—things like free college education and heavily subsidized child care. Within that big question, Partanen poses more pointed questions about contemporary life in the United States: Is “freedom” remaining in a job you hate because you don’t want to lose the health insurance that comes with it? Is “independence” putting your career on hold, and relying on your partner’s income, so you can take care of a young child when your employer doesn’t offer paid parental leave or day care is too expensive? Is “opportunity” depending on the resources of your parents, or a bundle of loans, to get a university degree? Is realizing the American Dream supposed to be so stressful?

“What Finland and its neighbors do is actually walk the walk of opportunity that America now only talks,” Partanen writes. “It’s a fact: A citizen of Finland, Norway, or Denmark is today much more likely to rise above his or her parents’ socioeconomic status than is a citizen of the United States.” The United States is not Finland. And, in one sense, that’s bad news for America. Numerous studies have shown that there is far greater upward social mobility in Nordic countries than in the United States, partly because of the high level of income inequality in the U.S.

In another sense, though, it’s perfectly fine to not be Finland. As Nathan Heller observed in The New Yorker, the modern Nordic welfare state is meant to “minimize the causes of inequality” and be “more climbing web than safety net.” Yet the system, especially in Sweden, is currently being tested by increased immigration and rising income inequality. And it’s ultimately predicated on a different—and not necessarily superior—definition of freedom than that which prevails in America. “In Sweden,” Heller argued, “control comes through protection against risk. Americans think the opposite: control means taking personal responsibility for risk and, in some cases, social status.”

Last week, I spoke with Partanen about what she feels Nordic countries have gotten right, where they’ve gone wrong, and why, if Finland is really so great, she’s now living in America. An edited and condensed transcript of our conversation follows.

Uri Friedman: You make an argument in the book that if you think about the American Dream in a certain way—if you define it in terms of opportunity, independence, and freedom—it is actually flourishing in the Nordic region more than in the United States. Why?

Anu Partanen: For a long time now, we’ve all, both in the United States and in Europe, thought that the United States is the land of freedom. For a long time, it was certainly true: American democracy was leading the way, the American middle class was the wealthiest. America was really the place where you could make your own life and you could decide who you wanted to be and pursue the dream.

When I moved to the United States in 2008, that was the idea I had. [But] when I came here, I was actually surprised [to learn that] people were very anxious. They were in many ways very dependent on their circumstances, the opposite of being a self-made woman or man. And a lot of this is related to family: if, [when] you were a child, your parents could provide opportunities, if they could offer you a life in a good neighborhood, offer you a life in a good school.

…"
culture  economics  europe  finland  us  policy  norway  denmark  sweden  iceland  freedom  independence  opportunity  denamrk  anupartanen  urifriedman  democracy  socialism  inequality  middleclass  income  incomeinequality  immigration  taxes  daycare  healthcare  health  qualityoflife  government  society  nathanheller  politics 
july 2016 by robertogreco
7 Things Nordic Countries Are Totally Doing Right, According To 'The Nordic Theory Of Everything' | Bustle
"1. Balancing Federal Budgets …

2. Curbing Income Inequality …

3. Bringing Equity To Education …

4. Closing The Gender Gap …

5. Supporting Families …

6. Aiming For True Work-Life Balance …

7. Insuring Everyone …"
nordiccountries  scandinavia  policy  socialism  equality  us  inequality  education  gender  women  families  paternityleave  work-lifebalance  well-being  health  healthcare  universalhealthcare  finland  sweden  norway  iceland  denmark  2016  government  qualityoflife  anupartanen  middleclass 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Brexit: why it may be the leftist, progressive vote. — Medium
"Ignoring the highly suspect post-vote media hysteria I thought I’d look at all the reasons why I thought, as a leftist, a vote to leave the EU was a positive step towards a more progressive world, and Europe.

Democracy.
The EU is not democratic, at least not the sense where people can actually direct it. It’s what Marx might call a bourgeoisie democracy, that works very well for the powers that be. This is set to become even more of a problem as the EU continues to move towards its own sovereignty. The 2007 Lisbon treaty also made it impossible for any member state to petition a law once it was put into force.

Austerity.
Austerity is official hard-line EU policy, that is it forcing on many of its states through various measures, punishing the most in need. Most leftists are anti-austerity. Yet a vote to Remain is a vote for the largest, most stubborn austerity campaign on the planet, that you can do nothing to change.

Visas.
You can get visas to live and work in other countries. You do not need the EU to do this. I’ve worked and lived on four different continents. I had to get a visa. The idea you will no longer be able to live and work in European countries is without any basis, especially if you hold a UK passport.

Neoliberalism.
Leftists and progressives are usually anti neoliberalism. EU is the neoliberal Prometheus. It is the neoliberal Hulksmash.

TTIP and CETA.
TTIP is a corporate assault on democracy, the environment, and the common people, yet EU bureaucrats are pushing TTIP in what has been called “open defiance of public opposition”. The leave vote mean UK has escaped any TTIP EU-US deal, but doesn’t mean UK won’t try to do its own. However, the Brexit may well have killed the EU deal dead too, something millions of signatures on online petitions was not doing. As in the words of one high ranking EU official working on the TTIP deal, “I do not answer to the people”.

Privatisation.
It may surprise UK citizens to know, but the EU is putting extreme pressure on European countries to follow the disastrous British system of privatising its rail networks, in place of the fantastic nationalised ones they already have in place.

Immigration.
Unlikely to change too much.

The Euro Currency.
It’s introduction overnight wiped out entire countries of small business owners, and is currently a failed currency, being propped up in big Southern European countries like Italy, Spain, Greece, Portugal by the North half of Europe. There is no end in sight for its demise either, as no one in Europe has any idea how to fix the fiscal dilemma in places like Spain and Italy. Rise of far-right extremist parties also closely tied to the forced acceptance of the single currency.

The Labour Party.
The Brexit vote seems to have cleared the decks of the horrible bunch of Blairites that were driving the party away from actual voters off the cliff to oblivion. Paving the way for a new party that could potentially be better, more in touch with real people, and with a direction, if all goes well.

Poor Towns That ‘Benefited’ from EU Cash Still Voted Out.
Poor towns whose very welcome signs let all people living there know that the EU were giving them money, still voted to leave. A commendable example, and tells you all you need to know about what they thought EU was actually doing for their lives.

Political Correctness and Bigotry.
Post-vote fallout has confirmed what many like me already suspected of many fellow ‘liberals’, the they are indeed some of the most bigoted, and intolerant of our society. The veneer of P.C has been shown to be a sham, as scores of proudly PC bros couldn’t wait to denigrate the old and the poor as dumb, stupid, scum, sub-humans and unworthy of a vote. PC culture has been thrown out with the bathwater, as ageism, sexism, elitism, classism, and racism has been on full display by card carrying liberals. Never again can these people pretend to be on the moral side of the debate.

Italy.
Only Zimbabwe and Haiti had lower GDP growth in Italy from 2000–2010. The country has been taken toits knees while in the EU, all stemming from the introduction of the Euro. Italy, a proudly European country, in ways that a Brit can never understand, where the EU anthem, Ode To Joy, is taught and memorised across schools, has somehow become the most Eurosceptic country in Europe.

The Environment.
I sweated over this one, and I’m still 50/50. But the Common Agricultural Policy has undoubtedly been disastrous for the environment, favouring intensive industrial farming over small farm owners and pushing up prices artificially for consumers. The climate change and renewable energy directives cost the UK upwards of £5 billion a year, but need to be kept on. The EU has done nothing to save the Polish forest, or fracking in the UK. And I believe independent initiatives and local government bodies and organisations do the most incredible work for the British environment. (also see: TTIP)

V.A.T
The EU does not allow the government to have no VAT on certain items or even lower the standard rate of VAT to below 15%. A leave vote opens the possibility of a socially progressive moves such as removing VAT from certain things (like energy bills) which would be a huge help low income families.

Internationalism.
The possibility is now there that UK may be able to allow more people from other parts of the world that are not EU be part of the country. It also makes international trade, something Britain has usually led the world in, which the EU actively makes difficult, much easier.

Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Switzerland.
As non EU members in Europe, these countries have some of the best most progressive living standards in the world. Iceland was the only country who put the bankers in prison, rather than bail them out. Norway will ban the sale of all fossil fuel-based cars in the next decade."
brexit  giggsboson  democracy  uk  austerity  pc  immigration  ttip  ceta  privatization  euro  labourparty  politicalcorrectness  bigotry  progressivism  environment  norway  italy  switzerland  iceland  liechtenstein  economics  ageism  sexism  elitism  classism  racism 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Hello World, Episode 4: Iceland's Brutal Landscapes Shape Its Cutting-Edge Tech
"Episode 4: Fish-slicing gear, space sims, and rugged turbines thrive in a punishing terrain of volcanoes and blizzards.

When the financial crisis of 2008 hit, no country suffered more than Iceland. Sure, plenty of places fell into economic ruin, with companies going bankrupt and millions of jobs lost. Iceland, though, was flat-out humiliated. Its wealthy fisherman-turned-investment bankers had spent years hurling money around like, well, like Vikings, and their moment of reckoning arrived with great speed and force. Icelanders were beaten down, laden with debt. They feared they might never emerge from the devastation, a sad state of affairs for a people who had already spent centuries eking out a living in a frozen hellscape

Travel to Iceland these days, and you’ll find a new story. Tourism is booming, with the number of visitors (more than 1 million in 2015) increasing by about 30 percent per year. The fishing business remains strong, as does Iceland’s renewable energy push. Iceland’s technology industry has thrived. Yes, some shame lingers, and people still grumble about restrictive fiscal policies put in place to try to stop Iceland from self-annihilating again. For the most part, however, Icelanders have a cautiously optimistic outlook and reasons to smile.

On this episode of Hello World,we dive into Iceland’s revival with a special focus on how the country’s land and history have shaped its innovations. I visit a company called IceWind in Reykjavik that has a new take on small, durable turbines and then head down the coast to the fishing town of Grindavik. There, the meat processing giant Marel has installed a fleet of mechanical fish slicers that make their own decisions about how to carve up cod. I follow the tourists and take a dip in the Blue Lagoon, where geothermal pools and beer wash away the fish smell. (Sort of.) After that, I go ripping across snowy volcanoes while driving steroidal vehicles built by Arctic Trucks. It’s as fun as it sounds.

Really, though, it’s Iceland’s tremendous storytellers that drive this episode. The country has imaginative filmmakers and, more crucial to the tech scene, otherworldly video-game makers.

Iceland’s blockbuster game is EVE Online, made by the Reykjavik-based studio, CCP Games. Every year, thousands of people come to celebrate this game, which is something of a space soap opera, at an event called EVE Fanfest. For a few days, I get immersed in the EVE culture and meet the players who have a near-religious devotion to the game. It was a chance to take in the richest, most complex virtual world ever created—with some of the most devious, hardest drinking gamers.

What’s truly remarkable about Iceland is that any of this exists at all. A hundred years ago, a good chunk of the population still lived in houses made of mud and topped with grass roofs. Iceland was one of Europe’s poorest nations, with an inhospitable climate and volcanoes that seemed determined to wipe out any forward progress. Even today, there are only about 400,000 Icelanders trying to make a go of it.

Still, those people are well-educated and resourceful. Time and again, I stumbled upon some Icelandic engineer who had devised a new way to weigh fish or to farm seemingly un-farmable land. Icelanders have a knack for maximizing resources and finding clever ways out of problems.

Taking this all into account, it should be unsurprising that Iceland absorbed the 2008 hit and then kept on going. These are people who seem to have a sadomasochistic streak baked into their beings. They live to suffer. And then they relish the chance to have a few—quite a few—drinks and tell you a good yarn about the suffering."
iceland  2016  technology  evenonline  ashleevance  commercialfishing  fishing  energy  helloworld  video  marel  geothermalenergy  hydroelectricity  renewableenergy  wind  turbines  windturbines 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Here Comes Hilda - The New Yorker
"It began, as adventures often do, with a trip: a family holiday in Norway, parents and their teen-agers, that seemed entirely straightforward at the time. “My imagination was really going for it on that trip—the landscape of the place stuck with me,” Luke Pearson, the British author of the Hildafolk series of graphic novels, told me. “At the time, I was reading about trolls and daydreaming, knowing I wanted to do something with that one day.”

Next, there was a map. “When I was at university, everyone who studied illustration was given a project to do an illustrated map of a country, and I was given Iceland,” he said. “I made a map of Icelandic folktales—you can still play it.” Move the digital clouds on Pearson’s “Hidden Iceland” and see, in their shadows, the giants and sprites and Viking ships just beneath that country’s peaks and fjords.

Finally, there was a girl: Hilda, now the star of four (soon to be five) comics. Netflix is planning a twelve-episode animated series, based on the first four books, for early 2018. The fifth book, “Hilda and the Stone Forest,” comes out in September.

When Pearson was still in school, in 2009, he submitted a one-page drawing to a competition run by Nobrow, now his publisher. “She’s basically wearing her outfit”—beret, scarf, red top, blue skirt, and big red boots—Pearson said, of Hilda. “She’s standing at the end of a pier, with a Scandinavian-esque city behind her and all kinds of creatures around, including a giant troll and a zeppelin in the sky.” A similar scene occurs in the third Hilda book, “Hilda and the Bird Parade,” but at the beginning Pearson didn’t have a story, just this “curious image” of a small girl with blue hair and a question: “Where is she and what does she get up to?”

What she gets up to is a string of adventures, first in the Heidi-esque hills above Trolberg, and then in the city itself—a move made (spoiler alert!) after a giant steps on the cozy ancestral cottage that she shares with her mother. That Hilda herself has long been a giant to a set of thumb-size invisible elves, living on the same patch of grass that her cabin sits on, is just another part of a life in which mythical creatures hide within mountains and behind bureau drawers. (There’s a lot of unused space in Hilda’s house, you see.)

For such a small girl, Hilda is about to get very big, and I am not at all surprised. My five-year-old daughter brought the first book home from a friend’s house, and it took reading only the first few pages, beautifully laid out, with the rich color palette of a Nordic sweater, to know that Hilda was something special. Trolberg may have a complex of bell towers (bells keep trolls at bay, we learn), but it also has a glassy downtown à la Houston. “All of these stories are riffs on folktales that are as old as time, that have taken a hard left turn through Luke’s imagination and all of these contemporary pop-cultural sensibilities,” Kurt Mueller, the executive vice-president at Silvergate Media, which will produce the Hilda series, said. (The company’s other series include “The Octonauts” and “Peter Rabbit.”) “Like the movies of Miyazaki, she feels totally of the moment, but she’s reacting to something that feels ancient and archetypal,” Mueller said. The nostalgic Northern European setting recalls Miyazaki’s romanticism, while Hilda’s communion with the conjoined natural and spirit worlds recalls San from “Princess Mononoke” or Satsuki from “My Neighbor Totoro.”

My first point of comparison was Lewis Carroll’s Alice, though Pearson said that he never thought of her. But, greeted by a little girl in an unchanging outfit, who is confronted with all manner of creatures great and small, in landscapes giant and miniaturized, who else are we to think of? What’s markedly different with Hilda is the attitude with which she greets her wonderland. She does not fall down a hole but strides, prepared with sketchbook and satchel, into the wind and weather. The first words of the first book, “Hilda and the Troll,” are delivered by a radio announcer: “But tonight clouds rolling in from the east . . . temperatures remain mild . . . with the likelihood of heavy rain.” Hilda, reading a tome on trolls at the breakfast table, rushes outside her red, peak-roofed cabin to see storm clouds forming over an adjacent peak. “Mum! Mum! It’s going to rain tonight! Can I sleep in the tent?” And Mum says yes.

Pearson’s aesthetic is sophisticated for the often candy-colored world of children’s animation, and the plots fit neatly into a number of present-day parenting preoccupations. Do children need dream time or organized activities? Nature or urban exploration? Pearson himself is too young to have friends with kids, so one suspects that his sensitivity to children’s desire for independence, combined with a need for a secure nest, may stem from his own childhood. Hilda’s mum wants her to have friends, to go to school, to participate in organized activities, but Hilda is always wandering off, learning Scout lessons on her own terms. Pearson says the scenes of the Sparrow Scouts were taken directly from his own Cub Scout experiences, down to the design of the church hall in which they meet (made of Nordic wood rather than Tamworth brick).

In the countryside, Hilda runs free, but the city brings greater conflict between her and her mother—who works from home at a drafting board, perhaps as an architect or an illustrator. Pearson’s panels are filled with such suggestive details, rewarding the close and repeated reading of small children. One of my daughter’s favorite spreads is at the back of the paperback version of “Hilda and the Troll”: a glimpse of Hilda’s realistically messy desk and shelves, stocked with Easter eggs from this and future tales, allowing young readers to put a few things together for themselves. Pearson extends the respect he has for Hilda to his audience, giving it room to discover the good kind of troll for themselves.

Pearson’s utter lack of pretension keeps Hilda feeling fresh, while his reading of folktales and Tove Jansson’s Moomin series embeds Hilda in the long history of children’s stories. Spunky heroines abound, but they don’t always speak to the present day. Hilda’s dilemmas, while fantastic, also feel real: Does she throw a rock at a pigeon to fit in? Does mother know best? Can one, or both, of them draw their way out of their latest adventure? Pearson has found a lovely new way to dramatize childhood demons, while also making you long for your own cruise down the fjords."

[See also:
https://islingtoncomic.blogspot.sg/2012/05/hilda-and-midnight-giant.html
http://www.tcj.com/i-wanted-a-character-who-was-very-positive-an-interview-with-luke-pearson/
http://www.hoodedutilitarian.com/2014/09/how-to-read-hilda/
http://comicsalliance.com/learning-and-inspiring-in-luke-pearsons-hilda-comics-review/
https://thebookwormbaby.blogspot.com/2016/02/the-amazing-world-of-hilda.html ]
books  childrensbooks  childhood  alexandralange  2016  lukepearson  comics  graphicnovels  toread  hilda  nordiccountries  hayaomiyazaki  girls  heroines  aliceinwonderland  lewiscarroll  play  maps  mapping  parenting  sfsh  iceland  pippilongstocking  tovejansson  princessmononoke  myneighbortotoro  studioghibli  scandinavia  illustration  folktales  moomin  childrensliterature 
june 2016 by robertogreco
li.st: Iceland Trivia
"• Icelanders are really into the supernatural
President Grímsson: "Icelanders are few in number, so in the old times we doubled our population with tales of elves and fairies"

• Women and elf men used to be a thing
When men would come home from long travels away to find their wives pregnant, the explanation was that the elf men were so potent as to have impregnated the women in their dreams

• It is high praise to be described as a good knitter
Like Steinunn the lady whose ghost haunted Dómkirkjan when she wasn't properly buried (because she was a convicted criminal)

• Icelandic names are patronymic or sometimes matronymic if preferred (go gender equality!), no family names to be handed down
And sons and daughters in the same family have different last names, e.g. Jónsson and Jónsdóttir

• New first names must be approved by the Icelandic Naming Committee

• There's an app for Icelanders to bump their phones and know how closely related they are
So they don't accidentally hook up with relatives that are too close

• Because Iceland hasn't been involved in too many wars its cemeteries actually have wrought iron for crosses and other decorations
In other countries all that iron was used for weapons

• Speaking of cemeteries, they were a great hookup spot back in the days when families and neighbors lived in close quarters
Although I'm still not exactly sure how that worked it being nearly freezing even in summer..."
iceland  lists  tracychou 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Iceland’s Water Cure - The New York Times
"Can the secret to the country’s happiness be found in its communal pools?"
iceland  swimming  water  pools  swimmingpools  2016 
april 2016 by robertogreco
Scandi Crush Saga - Curbed
"Scandinavia’s focus on the home and family, assertions of democratic principles, and emphasis on traditional craftsmanship fit in well with consumerist ideals of the postwar period. Gordon, a staunch critic of the radical direction American modernism was taking, published a series of articles lashing out against the International Style—another name for the modernist architecture and design that emerged out of Europe in the 30s—which she referred to as "totalitarian," and those responsible for it as "dictators in matters of taste." Such sentiment played on Cold War era politics of the period."



"Today, Scandinavian design is once again riding a wave of success that many say stems from a wider fascination with Nordic countries. Kjetil Fallan, professor of design history at the University of Oslo, attributes the present popularity to the greater visibility of the Nordic lands during the period after the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009.

"When a lot of large stable economies like the U.S. were having major problems, they discovered small Nordic countries were hardly affected by it at all," said Fallan, barring Iceland, of course. He cites a renewed interest in what is commonly referred to as the Nordic model in governance and society, which is typically categorized by a strong welfare state and an emphasis on individual autonomy. Just in the past year, Sweden’s flirtation with six-hour workdays and Finland’s planned experiment with universal basic income have grabbed headlines, further piquing the world’s curiosity. Such publicity may have had trickledown effects on the design field. "There is a tendency," Fallan says, "to equate Scandinavian design as a reflection of Scandinavian society."

Nordic arts and culture, too, have become increasingly popular abroad. "I think it started with a mix of different furniture, interiors, food, music, and film," says Poul Madsen, co-founder of Normann Copenhagen, a Danish interior design brand. "Danes were announced as the happiest people in [the] world a couple of years ago and even Oprah was talking about it," he added. "Suddenly, everything we did in Scandinavia really echoed." Indeed, increased media coverage, the popularity of Danish TV in the UK, and Copenhagen’s cache of Michelin-starred eateries, like world favorite Noma, have been rolled into what Madsen describes as "one big mass of Nordic living."

Even 2009—a shaky year for consumerism in the West—was a success for the firm. Normann Copenhagen’s New Danish Modern furniture series designed and produced within Denmark included Jesper K. Thomsen’s molded beech wood Camping set, which was awarded the Good Design award by the Chicago Athaeneum later that year.

Since then, business has been booming. The company, which sells to 82 countries, has seen export markets up 45 to 50 percent per year for the past two years, although Madsen admits that their pieces are still most successful within Denmark."
design  furniture  architecture  history  materials  scandinavia  sweden  denmark  finland  norway  iceland  nordic  arnejacobsen  eeroarnio  alvaalto  pouladsen  normanncopenhagen  jesperthompsen  kristianbyrge  muuto  peterbonnén  kjetilfallan  nadialassen  olewanscher  hansbretton-meyer  iittala  kajfranck  artek  oliviaöberg  tappiowirkkala  mariannegoebl 
march 2016 by robertogreco
ADHD Diagnoses? Why the Youngest Kids in Class Are Most Affected | MindShift | KQED News
"By the time they’re in elementary school, some kids prove to be more troublesome than others. They can’t sit still or they’re not socializing or they can’t focus enough to complete tasks that the other kids are handling well. Sounds like ADHD. But it might be that they’re just a little young for their grade.

Studies done in several countries including Iceland, Canada, Israel, Sweden and Taiwan show children who are at the young end of their grade cohort are more likely to get an ADHD diagnosis than their older classmates.

The youngest students were between 20 percent and 100 percent more likely to get the diagnosis or ADHD medication than were the oldest students in the cohort, says Helga Zoëga, an epidemiologist at the University of Iceland who worked on the Icelandic and Israeli studies.

The most recent evidence comes from Taiwan, where an analysis showed the youngest students in a grade were roughly 75 percent more likely to get a diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder than the oldest ones. It was published Thursday in the Journal of Pediatrics.

Kids are generally 6 years old when they start first grade. A scant few months can span a lot of mental growth at this age.

“Within that age range there is a huge difference in developmental and social and emotional maturity,” says Dr. Adiaha Spinks-Franklin, a developmental and behavioral pediatrician at Texas Children’s Hospital who was not involved in any of the studies. “A 6-year-old is just not the same as a 7-year-old.”

And yet a first-grader might stand shoulder to shoulder with another student nearly 12 months her elder. “And the way we diagnose ADHD is we talk to the parent about the child’s behavior, and we mail the teacher questionnaires,” Spinks-Franklin says. “The teacher will be comparing the child’s behavior relative to other children in the class.”

That could lead to a mistaken diagnosis of ADHD. Zoëga says the younger the student, the greater the likelihood that student will receive an ADHD diagnosis or medication. “If you look at the [students’ age] just month by month, you’ll see that the likelihood increases with each month,” she says.

Zoëga says the only country studied so far where the relative age of young children doesn’t seem to have an effect on ADHD diagnosis is Denmark, where there’s more flexibility for when children enter school. So this could be because Danish parents with kids who are born just before the cutoff date for grade school entry choose to hold their offspring back one year.

But if you’re an American parent with children born in the months of December, November or October, that doesn’t mean a child should repeat a grade for the fear their relative youth will handicap them, Spinks-Franklin says. “There is absolutely no data to support grade repetition for maturity issues. Children who repeat a grade are at a higher risk of dropping out of high school. They are more likely to be bullied.” If the child does have ADHD or another disorder, she notes, repeating a grade will not fix the disorder.

And relatively younger children diagnosed with ADHD might really have ADHD, says Dr. Mu-Hong Chen, a psychiatrist at Taipei Veterans General Hospital. “There’s a potential for the harm of overdiagnosis and overprescription.” That would unnecessarily subject kids to unwanted side effects of stimulant medication and the stigma of the disorder. But perhaps older, more mature-looking students are just being underdiagnosed and not get help they might need, he says. The studies didn’t look into that.

The best thing for worried parents to do is just give the kids a chance to grow up, Chen says. In most of the studies done on relative age and ADHD, the difference in diagnosis rates vanished by the time the students reached their teenage years. “I think we have to wait for a while, he says. “We have to have more time to evaluate their behavior, attention and brain development.”

The data also mean that doctors should take the child’s relative age into account when diagnosing ADHD, Zoëga says. “It has a sensible solution. Just treat the individual according to his or her age."
adhd  age  children  diagnosis  2016  taiwan  canada  us  israel  iceland  sweden  denmark  adiahaspinks-franklin  attention  labels 
march 2016 by robertogreco
Unless you speak English, the Internet doesn’t care about you | Fusion
"The internet is global but it is also regional. Cats are to the U.S. and Japan what goats are to Brazil and Uganda. If you speak an uncommon language, the internet can feel downright rural. The problem isn’t just getting online, but whether there will be anything for people who get online to actually do.

“What’s critical to understand is that, with the next billion users coming online, we’re going to see a wide variety of new languages represented online,” said An Xiao Mina, a co-founder of the Civic Beat and a technologist at Meedan working to build a platform to translate social media. “We live in a world of many internets, where even if you reduce the limits of geography, censorship and connectivity, language prevents large swaths of people from connecting with each other.”

But it’s not just ‘obscure’ languages that are discriminated against on the web.

Even use of Arabic—the sixth most commonly spoken language in the world and the fourth most common language among internet users—was until recently limited on many mobile phones. In some places on the internet, it still is. To cope, Arabic speak­ers developed “Arabizi”, a combination of Roman letters and numbers that make it easier to chat. Arabizi is a essentially a transliteration of Arabic into English characters, using numbers to stand in for some of the letters that don’t have direct counterparts in sound, like 7 for ح (ha), which sounds a bit like a guttural “h.”

It’s an ingenious solution, but one that shouldn’t have to exist. When emoji exploded in popularity, developers across all platforms worked quickly to make it easily usable on their devices. Why so slow with Arabic?

Arabic Wikipedia, by the way, has just 400,000 articles. A language spoken by more than 400 million people is less represented than Swedish, a language spoken by just 9 million. The demographics of the internet have historically been very different from that of the offline world, and those colonization effects are dramatic.

Recent research has shown that speaking English is a significant factor in determining whether someone adopts use of the web. Some languages are not well represented online, but others, like Tibetan, are completely invisible, unusable on browsers, operating systems, and keyboards.

The Tibetan blogger Dechen Pemba recently wrote about the frustrations of not being able to access the Tibetan language on a phone. Google, he wrote, failed to develop a Tibetan language interface and only recently incorporated the Tibetan language font on some Android phones. (That’s one way for Apple, which does support Tibetan, to win customers from Android.)

“Given that the Tibetan literary tradition goes back to the 7th century … my pet hate is when Tibetan language is described as ‘obscure,'” he wrote. “I wonder how it is possible that the language of Tibetan Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhists, comprising of as many as 60 million people, can be wilfully left behind in terms of modern technology?”

Facebook’s Free Basics program was controversial in India in large part because it limited the internet resources the digitally disadvantaged would have access to. Would it include access to domestic violence protection programs, or would it be a walled ghetto devoted to social media and online shopping? Language barriers can also force internet users into digital ghettos, or force them to forsake their mother tongue (and its culture) to escape them.

“The fact that a lot of groups have very little local-language content is problematic because it can contribute to a global homogenization of ideas and culture, and perhaps even knowledge itself,” said Mark Graham, a research fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute.

Graham predicts negative impacts on cultural diversity if the Internet’s language is predominantly English, Chinese, and Spanish. A version of this, for example, is happening right now in Iceland, where the packaging on so many imported goods is in English that it’s becoming more common than Icelandic in every day life.

A linguistically divided internet can also lead to the creation of monocultural bubbles. Wikipedia provides a good example: one study showed that most content on Wikipedia is available in exclusively one language. Even English Wikipedia only has articles that correspond with about half the topics of German Wikipedia.

“The Chinese internet is a good example of this,” Graham said. “There are more Chinese internet users online than internet users from any other country. So, this has meant that there is a lot of content out there in Chinese. Which, in turn, means that it is easy for Chinese internet users to exist in their own ‘filter bubble’—not really exposed to different content on the broader Web.”

Mina pointed out that the web’s prioritization of mainstream languages also leaves many tools for political organization and speaking out off-limits to marginalized groups.

“If you don’t speak a top ten language, the internet you have access to is extremely limited,” Mina told me. “Imagine going to a Chinese restaurant and just trying to order based on pictures.”

Graham told me he’d like to see more online spaces like Wikipedia that are digital commons where users can contribute content in any language they like, allowing local internet users to essential built their own web. But getting those digital commons filled with content first requires creating incentives to get people online in the first place. And part of that means making content that is already out there accessible across the boundaries of language. Mina is interested in chipping away at those boundaries by creating technology that translates social media content from one language to another. Scott Hale, a data scientist focused on bilingualism at the Oxford Internet Institute, told me that user interfaces could help break down language barriers by allowing users to interact with them in multiple languages at once. Most online interfaces—Google and Facebook among them— are designed with monolingual users in mind, only surfacing content in one language at a time. Allowing people to easily toggle between languages is one way to break down the linguistic silos that online life creates.

“You can’t just put a bunch of people in the network and expect that they connect,” Mina said.

The internet was supposed to be the thing that made all of our differences irrelevant, that erased borders and boundaries by translating everything into 1s and 0s. But online borders definitely exist with language boundaries that can be impenetrable."
internet  language  languages  web  online  anxiaomina  kristenbrown  wikipedia  arabic  english  translation  homogenization  culture  swedish  freebasics  arabizi  india  iceland  technology  socialmedia  politics  chinese  spanish  español  diversity 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Cultural Landscape Photography - Marion Belanger
"Marion Belanger is interested in the concepts of persistence and change, and in the way that boundaries demarcate difference, particularly in regards to the land. She has been the recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, a John Anson Kittredge Award, an American Scandinavian Fellowship, Connecticut Commission on the Arts Fellowships, and has been an artist in residence at the MacDowell Colony, at the Atlantic Center for the Arts, at the Virginia Center for the Arts and at Everglades National Park. The artist earned a MFA from the Yale University School of Art where she was the recipient of both the John Ferguson Weir Award and the Schickle-Collingwood Prize, and a BFA from the College of Art & Design at Alfred University. Her photographs are included in many permanent collections including the Library of Congress, the Corcoran Museum of Art, the Yale University of Art, the New Orleans Museum of Art and the International Center of Photography. She was the 2007 Photographer Laureate of Tampa, FL. Her book of photographs Everglades: Outside and Within, with an essay by Susan Orlean, was released by the Center for American Places at Columbia College and the University of Georgia Press in 2009. Her current work investigates the shifting edges of the North American Continental Plate in Iceland and California. She resides in Guilford, Connecticut."



"RIVER 2013-2014

The headwaters of the Naugatuck River originate in Northwest Connecticut, where the east and west branches converge to form the main river stem. For 39 miles the river flows south where it reaches a confluence with the larger Housatonic River in Derby. Having grown up in Naugatuck, I know this river well, and I remember when it was one of the most polluted rivers in the county. The Naugatuck's pristine natural state will never be known, but in recent years vitality has reasserted itself amidst the relics of its past degradation."



"RIFT 2006-2009

Rift/Fault documents the shifting edges of the North American Plate: the eastern boundary in Iceland, along the North Atlantic Rift, where it meets the Eurasian Plate and the San Andreas Fault in California, along the Pacific Plate. In Iceland the land along the Rift is unstable and raw, as the two tectonic plate edges are pulling apart. My images portray pipes that carry steam for geothermal electricity, hot pools, volcanic remnants, homes along the Ridge, and the raw, empty landscape."



"FAULT 2008-2012

Rift/Fault documents the shifting edges of the North American Plate: the eastern boundary in Iceland, along the North Atlantic Rift, where it meets the Eurasian Plate and the San Andreas Fault in California, along the Pacific Plate. In California, the Pacific plate is sliding north relative to the North American plate, which means that eventually, in many millions of years, Los Angeles will be where San Francisco is now. While this transformative plate boundary is characterized by earthquake activity, it lacks the spectacular drama of a divergent boundary such as what is found in Iceland. The landscape is often mundane, striking in its ordinariness. The monotone housing developments built on top of the fault seem to deny the existence of the unstable earth below the surface. The ordered built environment ignores the actuality of the land, a dangerous disconnect."



"REAL ESTATE 2006-

In Real Estate, I investigate the in-between status of uninhabited interiors. Many of the spaces reveal hints that reference past occupancy and use. A podium sits empty in an abandoned courtroom; walls display empty hardware on which artwork had once hung; an examination curtain hangs in an abandoned hospital. Newer construction, defined by blank walls, suggest narratives as yet undefined. The pictures portray the inevitable transformations that define cultural spaces. They picture impermanence."



"REGENCY COVE 2006-2007

Regency Cove is sited on a strip filled with gas stations, chain stores and traffic. There are few remnants of the wildness that once defined this land and despite being within the city limits of Tampa, there is virtually no visible urban integrity. Yet once inside the security gate of Regency Cove, the ceaseless flow of traffic gives way to a quietness that belies the banality outside. This is waterfront property - Old Tampa Bay, invisible from the road, defines the inside boundary. In many ways the current economic difficulties have protected Regency Cove from opportunistic developers and a city eager for tax dollars. For now, the homes sit, as if frozen in decades already past. Commissioned by the City of Tampa."

[via: http://architectureofdoom.tumblr.com/post/138421389108/calamitaa-marion-belanger-rift ]
marionbelanger  art  change  persistence  boundaries  faultlines  nature  geology  geography  us  iceland  california  connecticut  everglades  landscape 
january 2016 by robertogreco
BBC - Earth - We went hunting for trolls and found a deeper truth
"BBC Earth's Melissa Hogenboom travelled to Iceland to search for trolls. It did not go quite the way she expected."
iceland  trolls  elves  myth  myths  folklore  melissahogenboom  2015 
october 2015 by robertogreco
They covered a 800-year-old song. It went viral on YouTube. Of course. | Public Radio International
""This is just something we do when we’re in a place with great echo," Pestka says. "We were just enjoying the space and we didn’t know we were being recorded at the time. Afterward our friend took their iPhone recording and we were like ‘ah, we don’t know if this is a tune, if we should put it up.’ But we did, and we we’re very glad we did."

And what did they sing? — a 13th century Icelandic hymn that according to Ólafsson, is very dear to the Icelandic people.

"It’s just the perfect example of the Nordic melancholy," he says. "We love the feeling of sorrow and sadness. The lyrics are very dramatic."

Dramatic indeed. The author of the song, called "Heyr Himna Smiður ("Hear, Smith of heavens)," was dying. Pestka says the songwriter had just gone out into battle and he’d been mortally wounded when he composed the hymn.

While some some musicians don’t pay any attention to classical music, Árstíðir is a band that pulls from classical as well as the pop world.

"I think we pay attention to all the categories," Ólafsson says. "That’s sort of the premise of the band. We came from different directions and brought something to the table."

Pestka adds that some members of the band have more of a classical background while others come from pop.

"We coalesced in sort of a sort of amateur college choir," he says. "We all love singing, that’s what unites us.""
2015  iceland  music  history 
july 2015 by robertogreco
Iceland put bankers in jail rather than bailing them out — and it worked - Vox
"Yesterday, Iceland's prime minister, Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson, announced a plan that will essentially close the books on his country's approach to handling the financial crisis — an approach that deviated greatly from the preferences of global financial elites and succeeded quite well. Instead of embracing the orthodoxy of bank bailouts, austerity, and low inflation, Iceland did just the opposite. And even though its economy was hammered by the banking crisis perhaps harder than any other in the world, its labor didn't deteriorate all that much, and it had a great recovery.

How great? Well, compare the evolution of Iceland's unemployment rate with what happened in Ireland, the star pupil of the Very Serious People:

[chart]

Or compare it with the United States:

[chart]

How did Iceland pull it off?

Let the banks go bust

For starters, rather than scrambling to mobilize public resources to make sure banks didn't default on their various obligations, Iceland let the banks go bust. Executives of the country's most important bank were prosecuted as criminals.

Reject austerity

[chart]

Iceland was nonetheless hit by a very serious recession that caused its debt-to-GDP ratio to soar. But even after several years of steady increases, the government didn't panic. It prioritized recovery. And when recovery was underway and the ratio began to fall, the government let it fall gently.

Devalue and accept inflation

[chart]

There's no free lunch in life, and no country recovers from a severe recession without some bad things happening. But while most developed countries have gone through years of grindingly high unemployment paired with super-low inflation, Iceland did the reverse. It let the value of its currency tumble, which naturally brought about higher prices.

But as a result, the country's export industries rapidly gained ground in international markets. Unemployment rose, but maxed out at a modest 7.6 percent before falling steadily to a very low level. In the US and Europe, the priority has been on low inflation to protect the asset values of the wealthy. Iceland prioritized jobs, and it worked.

Impose temporary capital controls

In the context of bank defaults and a plunging currency, the government felt it was necessary to impose an additional measure — capital controls, regulations restricting Icelandic citizens' ability to take their money out of the country. This is a serious violation of free market orthodoxy. More importantly, it can be a major hassle to ordinary people's lives and an impediment to starting new businesses. In some countries, like Argentina, capital controls become a breeding ground of corruption and mischief.

That leads some to believe that no matter how well heterodox policies work economically, they're ultimately doomed to political failure.

Iceland shows that's not the case. Getting policy right is difficult, but it can be done. And the upside to doing the right thing — devaluing the currency massively, then imposing capital controls to contain the fallout, then ending the capital controls once the economy recovers — can be enormous. Iceland has had a rough time over the past seven or eight years, but so have a lot of other countries. Things are looking up there now because the country's leaders had the wisdom to reject elements of the self-satisfied conventional wisdom that have proven so harmful elsewhere."
iceland  banking  greatrecession  austerity  finance  2015  economics  matthewyglesias  unemployment  employment  labor  policy  politics  regulation  capitalcontols  currency  devaluation  inflation 
june 2015 by robertogreco
The future of the Icelandic language may lie in its past | Public Radio International
"But is it true? Has the language really not changed? Yes and no.

“If the people of Iceland create their own myth that this is the same language that we had in the old times, it’s going to be perhaps borne out,” University of Iceland linguist Kristján Árnason.

If everyone buys into the idea that the language isn’t evolving, then it won’t evolve. Or at least, you can put the brakes on it.

You can form committees to retrieve words from the past and recycle them in modern usage. So the language does evolve — but with a guiding hand.

That’s been tried elsewhere, usually with a heavier hand. Government-appointed scholars insisting on keeping their language old school — no modernizations, no bastardizations. But, of course, the people often ignore them, they speak how they want to speak.

In Iceland, the scholars are more like practitioners, knitware store owners and the like — they are the people. And nearly everyone buys into it.

“The idea of a language which is a treasure, something that we have to preserve has been very strong in Iceland,” says Árnason. “And with this comes purism, trying to keep the language pure.”

Ok, so the word ‘pure’ can be creepy. Flip the conversation from language to, say, ethnicity — and it can become the rhetoric of racism.

But most Icelanders believe that purity of language should be valued. The tongue they speak, they believe, has advantages over the likes of English, which has adopted foreign words, and maybe lost something along the way.

This policy of linguistic purity amounts to a refusal to lose words — or rather, the loss is temporary, thanks to the knitters, and all those other committees that are unearthing all those long-forgotten expressions.

“I thought it would be so difficult, that it would take us weeks to find one good word,” says knitware store owner Henttinen. “But when we started talking about it, good words emerged. So it was surprising to me how easy it was.”

Not so easy really — but that’s how Icelanders use their language to maintain of an intimate connection with the past."
iceland  language  icelandic  2015  linguistics  purity  history 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Don’t do away with the fairies: we need to relearn our sense of the magical | Sara Maitland | Comment is free | The Guardian
"Woods are magical. Throughout northern Europe they are deeply linked to older ways of being, to what we might now like to dismiss as superstitious, childish nonsense.

But we cannot so simply wipe this out. Woods are our original home. If we do not populate the woods with imagination, with stories, with wonders, we will destroy them, or limit our own flourishing – or both.

I believe that most of us have a deep yearning for the magical, for a secret “otherness”, for an environment flowing with abundance – not just with nature but with super-nature too; with a rich background of stories and concepts and images, to inform our individual imaginations and give them actual material to come to grips with.

We know that our children are growing up richer and safer, less likely to die in childhood than ever. We also know that they (and their grownups ) have increasingly poor mental health, with higher levels of depression, anxiety, attention deficit problems and eating disorders. There are lots of reasons for this, of course; it is complex and complicated. But in 2012 a survey suggested that more than half of Icelanders believe in, or at least entertain the possibility of the existence of, the huldufólk – the hidden people, the elves. Iceland ranks well above the UK in social stability, equality and most noticeably happiness (ninth in the world, compared with our 22nd). Is it possible that there is a connection? And would we lose anything by assuming that there might be?"
nature  forests  woods  children  imagination  creativity  fantasy  iceland  magic  mentalhealth  environment  hiddenpeople  huldufólk  depression  anxiety  otherness  trees 
march 2015 by robertogreco
The American Way over the Nordic Model? Are we crazy? - LA Times
"In my long nomadic life, I've been to both poles and most countries in between. I still remember when to be an American was to be envied. The country where I grew up after World War II seemed to be respected and admired around the world.

Today, as one of 1.6 million Americans living in Europe, I instead face hard questions about our nation. Wherever I travel, Europeans, Asians and Africans ask expatriates like me to explain everything odd or troubling about the conduct of the United States. Polite people, normally reluctant to risk offending a guest, ask pointedly about America's trigger-happiness, cutthroat free-marketeering, and "exceptionality."

Their questions share a single underlying theme: Have Americans gone over the edge? Are you crazy?

At the absolute top of the list: "Why would anyone oppose national healthcare?" Many countries have had some form of national healthcare since the 1930s, Germany since 1880. Some versions, as in France and Britain, have devolved into two-tier public and private systems. Yet even the privileged would not begrudge their fellow citizens government-funded comprehensive healthcare. That so many Americans do strikes Europeans as baffling, if not brutal.

In the Scandinavian countries, long considered to be the most socially progressive in the world, a national (physical and mental) health program is a big part — but only a part — of a more general social welfare system. In Norway, where I live, all citizens also have access to free education from age 6 through specialty training or university; low cost, subsidized preschool; unemployment benefits, job-placement and paid retraining; paid parental leave; old age pensions, and more. These benefits are not a "safety net" — that is, charitable payments grudgingly bestowed upon the needy. They are universal: equally available as a human right, promoting social harmony.

In the Scandinavian countries, long considered to be the most socially progressive in the world, a national (physical and mental) health program is a big part — but only a part — of a more general social welfare system. In Norway, where I live, all citizens also have access to free education from age 6 through specialty training or university; low cost, subsidized preschool; unemployment benefits, job-placement and paid retraining; paid parental leave; old age pensions, and more. These benefits are not a "safety net" — that is, charitable payments grudgingly bestowed upon the needy. They are universal: equally available as a human right, promoting social harmony.

This is the Nordic Model: a balance of regulated capitalism, universal social welfare, political democracy and the highest levels of gender and economic equality on the planet. It's their system, begun in Sweden in the 1930s and developed across Scandinavia in the postwar period. Yes, they pay for it through high taxation. (Though compared with the U.S. tax code, Norway's progressive income tax is remarkably streamlined.) And despite the efforts of an occasional conservative government to muck it up, they maintain it. Why?

They like it. International rankings cite Norway as the best place to grow old, to be a woman and to raise a child. The title of "best" or "happiest" place to live on Earth comes down to a neighborly contest among Norway and the neighboring Nordic social democracies, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland.

All the Nordic countries broadly agree that only when people's basic needs are met — when they cease to worry about jobs, education, healthcare, transportation, etc. — can they truly be free to do as they like. While the U.S. settles for the fantasy that every kid has an equal shot at the American dream, Nordic social welfare systems lay the foundations for a more authentic equality and individualism.

These ideas are not novel. They are implied in the preamble to our own Constitution. You know, the part about "We the People" forming "a more perfect Union" to "promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity."

Knowing this, a Norwegian is appalled at what America is doing to its posterity today. That top chief executives are paid 300 to 400 times as much as an average employee. Or that Govs. Sam Brownback of Kansas and Chris Christie of New Jersey, having run up their state's debts by cutting taxes for the rich, now plan to cover the loss with money snatched from public pension funds. That two-thirds of American college students finish in the red, some owing $100,000 or more. That in the U.S., still the world's richest country, 1 in 3 children lives in poverty. Or that the multitrillion-dollar wars of Presidents George W. Bush and Obama were fought on a credit card, to be paid off by the kids.

Implications of America's uncivilized inhumanity lurk in the questions foreign observers ask me: Why can't you shut down that concentration camp in Cuba? Why can't you stop interfering with women's healthcare? What is it about science and climate change you can't understand?

And the most pressing question of all: Why do you send your military all over the world to stir up trouble for all of us?

Europeans often connect America's reckless conduct abroad to its refusal to put its own house in order. They've watched the United States unravel its flimsy safety net, fail to replace decaying infrastructure, weaken organized labor, bring its national legislature to a standstill and create the greatest degree of economic inequality in almost a century. As they see it, with ever less personal security and next to no social welfare system, Americans are bound to be anxious and fearful. They understand as well why so many Americans have lost trust in a national government that for three decades has done so little for them (save Obama's endlessly embattled modest healthcare effort).

In Norway's capital, where a statue of a contemplative President Franklin D. Roosevelt overlooks the harbor, many America-watchers think he may have been the last U.S. president who understood and could explain to the citizenry what government might do for all of them.

It's hard to pin down why America is as it is today, and — believe me — even harder to explain it to others. Some Europeans who interrogate me say that the U.S. is "crazy" — or "paranoid," "self-absorbed," or simply "behind the times." Others, more charitably, imply that Americans are merely "misguided" or "asleep" and may still recover sanity. But wherever I travel, the questions follow, each suggesting that the United States, if not exactly crazy, is decidedly a danger to itself and others."
2015  annejones  us  healthcare  healthinsurance  socialsafetynet  scandinavia  norway  germany  uk  europe  inequality  equality  americandream  progressivism  socialism  capitalism  politics  policy  parentalleave  pensions  universality  nordiccountries  sweden  denmark  finland  iceland  individualism  equity  education  obamacare  affordablecareact  fdr 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Place and Displacement: Sjón on Surrealism and Folk Stories on Vimeo
"Icelandic author Sjón talks about the connection between Surrealism and folk Stories."
sjón  folklore  iceland  surrealism  folktales  storytelling  2012  place  displacement 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Sjonorama | The Information Site about the Icelandic Author Sjón
[See also: http://sjon.siberia.is/books/ ]

"Born on the 27th of August, 1962, in Reykjavik, Iceland, Sjón began his literary career at the tender age of 15 when his first poetry collection, Sýnir (Visions), was published in 1978. He was one of the founding members of the neo-surrealist group Medúsa and early on acquired a high profile on the Reykjavík cultural scene. He has published numerous poetry collections and seven novels, as well as written plays, librettos and picture books for children.

In 2005 Sjón won the prestigious Nordic Council’s Literary Prize for his fifth novel Skugga- Baldur (Schattenfuchs in German) which has been sold to publishers in 21 countries. In 2009 the English edition of Skugga-Baldur was nominated for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. Sjón’s latest novel Rökkurb!snir (From the Mouth of the Whale in English/Gleißen der Nacht in German) from 2008 has recently been published to much acclaim in German by S. Fischer, in Spanish by Nordica Libros, in English by Telegram Books, among others. In 2013 The Whispering Muse (Argóarflísin) was published in the USA and Canada by Farrar, Straus & Giroux gathering great reviews on both sides of the border.

His latest novel Mánasteinn – drengurinn sem aldrei var til (Moonstone – The Boy Who Nevere Was) was published in October 2013 and has won every literature prize there is in Iceland. It has been sold for publication in the USA, Germany, France, The Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and the Czech republic.

Sjón’s poems have been translated into more than twenty languages. and have appeared in anthologies and magazines as well as in separate editions in French, figures obscures (Cahiers de Nuit), German, Gesang des Steinesammlers (Kleinheinrich), and Macedonian, Anatomija na gladniot (SPV). His latest collection of poems söngur steinasafnarans (the song of the stone collector) was nominated for the Icelandic Literary Prize in 2007.

During the academic year 2007/08 Sjón held the Samuel Fischer Guest Professorship at the Freie Universität in Berlin. He was the guest of the DAAD Berliner Künstlerprogramme in the year 2010/11. Sjón resides in Reykjavík with his wife and two children.

Currently Sjón is writing the final volume of a trilogy started in 1994 with Augu “ín sáu mig (De te yeux, tu me vis in French, Tus ojos me vieron in Spanish) with the two earlier books already published in several languages, most recently in French.

Alongside his work as writer Sjón has taken part in a wide range of art exhibitions and music events. His long-time collaboration with the Icelandic singer Björk led to an Oscar nomination for his lyrics for the Lars von Trier movie Dancer in the Dark.

The Blue Fox, the English translation of Skugga-Baldur, was nominated for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize and shortlisted for the International Jan Michalski Prize for Literature. From The Mouth Of The Whale (Rökkurbýsnir) was shortlisted for both the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize."
sjón  iceland  literature  poetry 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Sjón, Happy Nihilist - The Reykjavik Grapevine
"It is understandable, then, why Sjón would be so excited about our own great moment in history.” We are torn,” he says. “On the one hand we have created technology which demands we use our potentials more fully, and on the other hand we have used technologies to devise our own demise.” The theme of the extinction of the human race lurks throughout our conversation like a hunter stalking his prey. Albeit less quietly, like an unseasoned hunter, crashing through the woods raucously, swinging a machete and screaming. But the idea is no less intense than it is real. Which is precisely why Sjón turns to the fantastic. Specifically, to the myths.

“Myths are always about the ‘big’ realities we are facing. All the ‘big’ questions can be found in mythology,” he says. They are yet another tool that Sjón wields in the face of the “here and now,” another platform to stand on and observe things in their entirety. He elaborates: “The myths allow us to think about these things on the scale they really are. They place man in the universe, they bring us down to scale. For an author, the myths are really an amazing tool to work with.”"
sjón  iceland  literature  2014  nihilism  history  climatechange  myth  myths  mythology  storytelling 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Icelandic Author Sjón on Myths and Crackpot Theories - Publishing Perspectives
"The Icelandic writer Sjón, whose international breakthrough came with his novel The Blue Fox, is a renaissance man. Sjón started his career as a poet at age 15, and took part in Reykjavik’s cultural explosion in the 1980s when “there was no hierarchy in the arts.”

He was a member of a neo-surrealist group called Medusa. “We then all became anarcho-surrealists,” he added.

It was during this period that he met singer-songwriter Björk and began his collaboration writing lyrics for her that has lasted until today; Sjón has three songs on Björk’s newly released album Biophilia. In 2000, one of his songs for Björk was used in the Lars von Trier’s film “Dancer in the Dark” and nominated for an Academy Award. Sjón went to Hollywood for the ceremony. “That was one of the experiences in my life that I can truly call surreal,” he said.

Sjón is not foreign to the world of film as he also pens screenplays. He wrote a screenplay for a film that made the rounds of horror film festivals several years ago entitled “Reykjavik Whale Watching Massacre.”

“It’s a nitty-gritty splatter film, a dark comedy about innocent tourists massacred by disgruntled whale hunters,” he commented.

The Blue Fox, a story about a priest hunting for an enigmatic blue fox, won the Nordic Literary Prize and has been translated into 21 languages. Sjón is currently finishing his eighth novel, which is the last volume of a trilogy that he began in 1994. His UK publisher, Telegram Books, has world rights to his works in English. Besides The Blue Fox, Telegram has published From the Mouth of the Whale and next year will bring out The Whispering Muse (working title) that was published in Iceland in 2005 and has already been translated into six languages.

“It’s the story of an 80-year-old guy, a former editor of Fish and Culture magazine that focuses on the Nordic race and its consumption of fish. He is invited on the maiden journey of a ship exporting paper pulp from Norway to Russia. One of the crew members claims to have been on the Argo with Jason. They begin to tell each other tales,” said Sjón.

Sjón’s inspiration has always come from melding ancient Icelandic traditions with the avant-garde. “I go into pockets of Icelandic history . . . I love to bring diverse cosmologies alive on the page. I mix myths and crackpot theories together with my need to tell a story.”

Working with 17th century Icelandic texts is also a motivation for Sjón, who said he enjoys managing “the peculiarities of the Icelandic language and its twists and turns.”

This is not easy for his translators, he acknowledges, but because of his excellent grasp of English, he has been able to work closely with Victoria Cribb, his English translator. In other languages Sjón said, “of course I can’t know if the translation is good but I can tell if the person is a good translator by the questions they ask. I am open to working relationships with translators and always find a way.”

At Frankfurt, Sjón said he was enjoying meeting some of his foreign publishers for the first time from Serbia, Portugal, Lithuania and Turkey, where The Blue Fox was published last week. His experience with foreign publishers has taught him that, “it’s better to go with small publishers who are truly dedicated.”

Sjón is currently working on an adaptation of his novel The Whispering Muse for opera (his wife is a mezzo soprano) and is putting the finishing touches to his eighth novel.

In the end, said Sjón, “Man is a narrative animal.”"
sjón  narrative  iceland  myths  mythology  literature  storytelling  belief  myth  2011 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Inspiration Information: “The Whispering Muse” - The New Yorker
"At the beginning of my novel “The Whispering Muse,” the two main narrators meet for the first time in the mess room of a freighter on its maiden journey from Denmark to the Black Sea. As the octogenarian racial theorist/fish enthusiast Valdimar Haraldsson sizes up the ship’s muscular second mate, a man of the hesitant, storytelling type, he is surprised to see that his rival uses a primitive gadget to help him tell his tale:
Before embarking on his tales the mate had the habit of drawing a rotten chip of wood from his pocket and holding it to his right ear like a telephone receiver. He listened to the chip for a minute or two, closing his eyes as if in sleep, while under his eyelids his pupils quivered to and fro.

When the ship’s captain sees how flabbergasted old Haraldsson is by the second mate’s pantomime with this piece of wood—which looks like nothing so much as the rotten driftwood that used to wash up on the shores of his youth, “bored by worms, gnawed by insects, polished by wind and water, hammered by rocks”—he leans in and whispers, “That’s where he gets the story from … ”

The chip of wood turns out to be a splinter from the bow timber of the great ship Argo, the famous vessel steered through the Mediterranean Sea by the legendary Jason, the son of Aeson, and powered by his crew of heroes, the Argonauts. Because the bow of the Argo was fashioned from one of the talking oaks of Zeus, the splinter keeps a spark of its old power, a whisper of its original voice. It carries across the millennia the tales of its travels and the adventures of its crew:
At first it is wordless, like crooning over a cradle, then it swells into a song. The singer is a woman.

Just as the second mate relies on his instruments of wood and words to inspire his narration, so did I use a handful of metaphorical whispering devices to inspire and inform my writing of the novel: five books made from tree pulp, their pages sprinkled with letters.

The first of these was “Innan lands og utan” (“Home and Abroad”), a suspiciously boring book of travel stories written by my great-grandfather, Matthías Þórðarson frá Móum, an avid but forgotten author of books about the fish trade and himself. In it, he tells three stories: the first about his return to Iceland from Copenhagen after years abroad; the second about a visit to the Setes Valley, in Norway; and the third about a sea journey in the late nineteen-forties from Copenhagen to the Mediterranean.

Each story has its particular charm. In the first, he describes how happy and honored his countrymen were to see him again after all his years away; in the second, he is captivated by the traditional costumes and rhymed poetry of the Setes Valley people, their pale skin color, ruddy cheeks, and fine body postures; and, in the third, he is more occupied with the inside of the ship than anything that happens outside it—even when he steps ashore, in Morocco, and visits one of its Grand Bazaars, the narration falls flat compared to his enthusiastic descriptions of his cabin. It was this third story that caught my eye as possible material. Its “anti-narration” had the flavor of modernist writing in its main character’s insistent refusal to engage with what is supposed to be noteworthy in a story. Yet it wasn’t enough to sustain a whole novel.

Then I came across a two-part essay that my great-grandfather published in an Icelandic journal in 1936. It is called “Fiskur og menning” (“Fish and Culture”), and, while I read it, the image that I had had of him as a rather amusing but boring old fart got both weirder and darker. In the essay, he proposes, in all seriousness, a theory about the relationship between fish consumption and the superiority of the Nordic race. With its overt agenda of genetic purity, it’s quite an unsavory piece of writing. I figured that enough shadows had now been added to the old man’s character to keep a writer and his reader busy for at least a hundred and fifty pages. But the thought of being locked up for weeks on end on a ship with my fish-obsessed, racist great-grandfather instantly brought on an intense feeling of suffocation. I had to find a way to make it bearable.

Aboard his freighter, my great-grandfather had mentioned a crew member who continually told stories. He could be my ally against boredom! But, because my great-grandfather had found the sailor’s tales too cheap and dirty to record, I had to look elsewhere for tales from the salty seas. Two years earlier, at the annual used-book market in Reykjavík, a book had caught my eye by virtue of its ridiculous cover. It was garishly bedecked with photographs of a sturdy man in situations that clearly showed that he had sailed the seven seas, had feasted in many a harbor, and flexed his muscles both fighting and embracing. Of course, I had brought it home. The book, “Enn sigli ég minn sjó” (“More Life on the Ocean Wave”), was the seafaring memoirs of Hrafn Valdimarsson, and it was a horn of plenty when it came to tales of hardship on the seas and adventures in faraway lands. To my joy, I soon discovered that it was the sequel to “Ég sigli minn sjó” (“Life on the Ocean Wave”), in which the events described so shamelessly were even more delectable.

I had definitely found a figure strong enough to counter the lectures on racial superiority and seafood. But, as I started pitching him against the old man in my novel, who by now had acquired the name Valdimar Haraldsson, I realized that even these tales left no bigger mark on my fictional character than they had on my great-grandfather. I needed something that would clash like a titan’s shield against the overwhelming banality of one of the poorest excuses for a myth in modern times: the myth of the Nordic Übermensch.

The year before, I had traveled to Greece to be at the opening ceremony of the 2004 Olympic Games, in Athens, where Björk sang the song that she and I had written for the occasion. The lyrics had been inspired by the Greek myths, with their cycles of metamorphosis and their complicated interactions between man and the superior powers that surround him, and so I made a point during my stay to visit the ruins of the great Temple of Poseidon, at Sounion. There, I discovered that Poseidon had never left the dilapidated temple, that in fact he still lay, in his magnificent blueness, at the bottom of the cliffs that supported this structure that men had so long ago built in his honor. With the memory of that year’s Indonesian tsunami fresh in my mind, I knew that, although he was calm and beautiful on the day of my visit to his temple, Poseidon remained an uncontrollable, unpredictable force. He and his fellow gods from Mount Olympus had not forsaken us, even if we had forsaken them.

Now I turned to them for help.

After a short search through my library that included quickly rejecting the Odyssey (for the obvious reason that it has already been used with good results by diverse novelists and poets, such as James Joyce and Derek Walcott, to name but two), I found a story, a setting, and a character that matched the journey I had already set out on. The story was the Argonautica, by Appollonius of Rhodes. It was a story that I thought I knew well from repeated viewings of the Ray Harryhausen film “Jason and the Argonauts” at the Sunday matinées of my childhood. But now I discovered an episode in the original that takes place well before the Argo sails through the Symplegades in search of the Golden Fleece, a tale of how the fearless captain and his crew of mighty heroes become trapped on Lemnos, an island of women who take the Argonauts on as lovers/sex slaves while they repopulate their nation. It is a gem of a seafaring tale—the germ of a tale—that has been told in an endless variety of ways ever since. And it was a tale that I knew a sailor like Hrafn Valdimarsson would have loved, and would have loved to tell.

From the crew list of the Argo (as it is proposed by Robert Graves), I hired a little-known hero who, I believed, brought the most interesting point of view on the situation of a group of men held captive by their lust for womanly flesh: Caeneus, who had been born a girl but metamorphosed into an invincible man after being raped by Poseidon; after life as a soldier, he transformed into a bird in a battle with the centaurs. Now he could take on the unlikely guise of the second mate aboard my novel’s merchant ship.

That is how an alliance was made between the ancient hero Caeneus and the Icelandic seaman Hrafn Valdimarsson, how their voices, their fates, were joined to fight the intolerable drone of my great-grandfather. But even great men like those two need an amazing tool to help them to tell their tale: a talkative, rotten chip of wood that came from the great ship Argo itself. At the end of “The Whispering Muse,” the old man does indeed learn a lesson, but the cost to his rival storyteller is dear.

My great-grandfather died in 1959, having completed his magnum opus, “Síldarsaga Íslands” (“The History of Herring Fishing in Iceland”). It is said that Hrafn Valdimarsson spent his last years in Greenwich Village. Caeneus is eternal and flying around the world on his seagull’s wings.

As I walked through the Village during my stay in New York for the World Voices Literary Festival, I heard a seagull’s scream: “ARRK! ARRK!”

That is a tale for another day, but now you know where I got my story."
sjón  2014  iceland  writing  literature  howwewrite  research  storytelling  odyssey  ancientgreece  combinatorywriting  fish  culture  history  argonautica  appollonius  rayharryhausen 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Interview with Sjón | The White Review
"Q: THE WHITE REVIEW — Where are you from? And how did you come to write?

A: SJÓN — I was born in Reykjavík in 1962. From the beginning I read everything, from children’s books to newspapers – whatever printed material came into the house. At the age of 8 I discovered Icelandic folk stories, which is when I truly started waking up to literature. A year later, I discovered poetry. In school we were given a big collection of poetry, which was to last us throughout our school years, and I started reading this book for pleasure at home. I was reading detective novels, Icelandic folk stories, and Icelandic romantic poetry from very early on. Early reading teaches you the different possibilities of text.

When I came into my teenage years I became a huge David Bowie fan. To be a David Bowie fan in Iceland you more or less had to teach yourself English – to translate the lyrics, to be able to read the interviews in NME. My infatuation with Bowie prepared me for my discovery of modernist poetry, first in translation. At the age of 15 I found a book of Icelandic modernists from the end of the Second World War. That’s when modernism came to Iceland – and they were very much influenced by the surrealists. Somehow, I was bitten by the bug. It simply fascinated me that you were allowed to use the Icelandic language in this way, to create these incredible images and metaphors, and to present such ideas with the Icelandic language. I felt like I should be a part of it. So I started writing poetry and in a few months time I had written enough poetry for a book. I published my first book of poetry the summer I turned 16.

Q: THE WHITE REVIEW — You speak of an early interest in the various kinds of text, and your own writing is not easily assimilated into any single textual mode. As a writer, lyricist and poet, you move in and out of these different formats. What do you classify yourself as first and foremost, if anything? How might this resistance to categorisation link in to your interest in surrealism?

A: SJÓN — I’m a novelist who occasionally writes poetry. I write librettos, lyrics and children’s books but these are all collaborations that I do in between working on novels and poetry. One of the wonders of the novel is how easily it absorbs diverse texts. Everything that is written, whether it is non-fiction, old archives, newspaper articles, lullabies – somehow it can always find its place in the novel, and for that reason the novel became more important to me than the poem.

The novel is encyclopaedic: all of the different manners of expressing oneself in words can find their place there. In the Eighties my friends and I formed a group of surrealist poets called Medusa. Surrealism brings so much with it and one of the first things I realised when I became excited by surrealism was its link with folk stories. Surrealism is always non-academic, always looking for the source of human activity, looking into the back alleys and the darkest clearing in the forest for excitement. Somehow it was always very natural for me to bring all these different things together in what I was doing.

Q: THE WHITE REVIEW — Your novels are hybrids – a crossbreed of narrative fiction, historical fact, myth, music…

A: SJÓN — I like my novels to be made up of different parts, realities, states of consciousness. I now see my work as realist because everything I write is grounded in at least the experience of the character, here, in earthly life. The strange things that happen in the books are what happens in people’s minds, what they experience as truth. That of course creates a hybrid, when your standard is something normalised and accepted as the only way to experience reality.

Q: THE WHITE REVIEW — Music is a great part of this assortment – you’ve mentioned Bowie as an influence, and you have collaborated with musicians such as Björk. Do you think that words can achieve the condition of music, which has a much greater immediacy and is far less freighted with multiple meanings?

A: SJÓN — I think it’s very important to be open to influence from diverse artistic forms and forms of expression. I have been very much influenced by music and one of the routes I took to literature was through the music of David Bowie. I have worked with musicians in all fields – contemporary composers, pop artists – and I’ve worked with very diverse styles of music. But there is a huge difference between words being sung, spoken or read. The emotion that the singing voice brings to the world when sung out loud is something you cannot recreate on paper. I don’t think you should even try.

Q: THE WHITE REVIEW — You have spoken of realising that ‘you could take the classical string quartet as a model for the composition of THE BLUE FOX’. How did you achieve this?

A: SJÓN — I think the fact that I can take the form of the string quartet and use it as the basis of a novel is another proof of how dynamic the novel is. I’m sure that a composer writing a string quartet can learn something from a movie or the structure of film. It was music that gave me the idea of constantly breaking up the narrative. THE BLUE FOX would be a completely different novel if it were chronological. In it, there are constant cliff-hangers and repeated refrains – I’m playing with the element of two melodies that come together but never fully, only in the end finding a solution. It was very interesting that the first people who commented on the book were composers. They said it was very clear to them that I was always playing with volume of information versus text, which is the same thing they do – volume of tones versus time. You can take a melody and stretch it over five minutes, or compress it down to three seconds. They were very much aware of how I was playing with text versus information.

Q: THE WHITE REVIEW — Does your involvement in the world of music, and the musicality of your novels, betray some sort of frustration with the limits of the written word?

A: SJÓN — No. I am in the position where I can move between those different ways of writing. For me, it is a celebration of the many possibilities given to an author. I play no instruments, my only involvement with music is in collaborations with people who know how to do it. It is a privilege to be working with these musicians and to be allowed to bring my words to their work. To hear the words sung is a wonderful present from these people."



"This view actually went against everything that I had been taught in school. The Reformation is presented in Icelandic history books as something very benevolent and it was convenient to ignore that in the first decade after the Reformation life was very difficult for the common man and for scholars. The Methodist church became very dogmatic, and everything that had to do with the old Nordic religion, with old wisdom or old medicine, was banished as sorcery. He is the only historical voice that we have speaking against this. It was an opportunity to put a seed inside somebody’s skull, and take a walk through those times with his eyes."



"The reason that I felt it right to enter this world, this state of complaint against a world going to pieces, is because he lived through the period when the Catholic Church, the only socially responsible institution, was all of a sudden taken away. In Iceland, it is a fact that the Catholic Church was the only welfare structure in the country – we had no king, no dukes, we had no one to take over the social responsibilities when the Catholic Church vanished overnight. All the monasteries were closed down, all the orphanages, the old people’s shelters – everything, overnight. And the duty that the rich had – to keep the livestock alive on behalf of the religious priests who fed the poor – that vanished too.

Jón Guðmundsson is unique in that he is the only one who wrote about this. He bore witness to a world in which man had been relieved of his duty to show charity to his fellow men. This is very much what the last decade has felt like, at least in Iceland, if not many parts of the West. With the deregulation of the economic system, social responsibility was thrown out of the window and all of a sudden the rich became richer and they had no duties any more. This is something that happened with the fall of the Eastern Bloc – the message that we were told then was that capitalism had won and communism was the dark art. The Left lost its voice, at least in Iceland. The centre Left – the social democrats – they decided to start playing along with the capitalists, which is what you would call New Labour here. The real Left was all of a sudden presented as the losers of history, even though these people had been in opposition to the totalitarian regimes in the East for decades. All of a sudden everything that began with the word ‘social’ was a dirty word. The social contract that was established in most of the West after the Second World War, was dealt the final blow."



"In times where grand narratives are needed we look to the grand narratives of our culture. In our case it is the great myths, and sometimes it is to give name to something like the panic after September 11. Myth always puts man down to size, and man realises he is just this tiny figure moving from one meal to another on his way to the grave.

Q: THE WHITE REVIEW — Oral tradition is very much a part of myth. Is this something that can still exist today?

A: SJÓN — You have a whole continent, Africa, which has so many languages that have still not found a written form. There are places that have an unbroken tradition, stretching thousands of years back, of telling the same stories over and over again. Mostly here in the West we have lost the ability to protect our culture orally, and maybe we are in danger. What will happen when all the books have flared up and all the Kindles lost their battery power?

Q: THE WHITE REVIEW — Literary translation and the rise of world … [more]
sjón  2012  interviews  iceland  poems  poetry  novels  literature  writing  music  björk  reality  collaboration  surrealism  existence  humans  storytelling  davidbowie  mogenrukov  dogme95  life  living  perspective  curiosity  translation  africa  diversity  myths  myth  mythology  charity  catholicism  history  capitalism  economics  society  collectivism  interdependence  individualism  insignificance  folklore  nature  reformation  religion  magic  mysticism  enlightenment  catholicchurch  9/11  oraltradition  ebooks  books  words  coldwar  socialism  communism  jónguðmundsson  sorcery  songs  posthumanism 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Sjón & Hari Kunzru — Work in Progress — Medium
[video: https://vimeo.com/72354976 ]
[Björk introduction: http://www.fsgworkinprogress.com/2013/08/bjork-introduces-sjon/
more: http://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2013/05/16/sjon-bjork-and-the-furry-trout/ ]

"Sjón: It writes me. I’m better sticking to being visual when I write. No, but for me, to go in that direction, I actually do think most literature is visual arts."



"Sjón: I think we were typical second-wave punks. I mean, obviously, the generation that started the punk movement in England, the first punk bands—The Clash and The Sex Pistols and the Buzzcocks and all these bands—these were all kids that were quite a bit older than we were. They were born around 1953, ’55, so they were all about the anger, and they were all about … I think Johnny Rotten said it came from the liver.

We came to it as teenagers, and it’s interesting that while you can clearly see similarities between punk and Dada, this absolute nihilism, and you can say that the punks were actually fulfilling one of Tristan Tzara’s battle cries where he said, “Musicians, break your instruments on the stage.”

Just as Surrealism followed Dada, something happened when you had seen all this raw anger leading to nothing but raw anger, maybe good old Surrealism became the good and right remedy to all that anger. Like Björk said, it really felt like it fit together, and we were really looking for the revolutionary, the rebellious aspect of Surrealism.

Hari: The idea that it’s sort of dreaming and an escape from reality can be rebellious and revolutionary?

Sjón: As a good Surrealist would say, an escape into reality through dreaming. Ah!

Hari: I was thinking about Jonas Palmason in From the Mouth of the Whale. He goes to Copenhagen, and it’s this huge city filled with more things and people than he’s ever seen before. He imagines that he’s in an ancient version of the city, and I was trying to square that kind of dreaming with this revolutionary dreaming. Are they the same thing? Are they different things? Is the visionary Sjón also an escapist dreamer?

Sjón: One of the first things I learned from Surrealism is that it’s not fantasy, that Surrealism makes a very clear distinction between fantasy and the marvelous. You’re always looking for the marvelous in reality, and that’s where poetry happens. It happens when you hit upon these incredible moments in your reality. In Reykjavik, we had a city of rather small size to go walking around, but this idea of walking around, getting into the spirit, surreal spirit, and awaiting the poetic to manifest in a marvelous way in your reality—that’s very much what I’m looking for."



"Sjón: No. [Pause.] I’m really interested in how people become obsessed with ideas and how they become obsessed with certain cosmologies, and how the obsessed mind starts finding proofs of its truths. How it looks for the manifestation of these truths all around it in reality. This happens all the time—that things start to manifest if you’ve got them on your brain. They start manifesting all around you.

Hari: That’s there in all your fiction, this sense that a certain kind of attention is repaid by this. You start seeing the visionary aspect of the world.

Hari: You’re fond of mythic explanations for things that maybe other people wouldn’t use that for. I saw an interview where you started riffing on the idea that maybe 9-11 was something to do with the power of the great god Pan.

Sjón: I am actually absolutely sure that the great god Pan slipped through some sort of a gateway into our world, on that day.

We’ve been living in panic ever since. Actually, when we were in Athens for Björk’s performance of our song at the Olympics in 2004, I had direct experience of one of the gods there: One day, I was in a group that went down to the peninsula south of Athens, and there is a great Poseidon temple sitting there on a rock. As we came closer to the temple, we saw better and better what a sad state it was in. Obviously, this used to be the place of great sacrifices, 500 bulls sacrificed and burned in one day and all that, and the crowds coming to bow in front of the image of Poseidon.

I thought as we got closer, “Oh, look at you, great Poseidon. Look at the sad state you’re in.” This is how the Icelandic poet’s mind works. That’s how we think when we’re traveling.

We came to the temple and started walking around and looking at these sad ruins, but then I walked to the edge of the cliff. Who was there, who hadn’t moved and left his temple, but Poseidon? The whole ocean stretched out from the cliffs. Poseidon was still there, even though man had stopped sacrificing to Poseidon, Poseidon was still there. Then, Poseidon, of course, feeling a little bit annoyed that people were forgetting him, he moved just a little finger, his little finger a tiny bit, and we had the tsunami in Indonesia.

The myths are really about man confronting the fact that nature is always bigger and stronger.

Hari: It seems that in Iceland, there’s this particular kind of negotiation with nature that has to go on, because it’s a very unstable place, geologically if in no other way. I always think of the island of Surtsey coming out of the sea in the 1960s, and suddenly, you’ve got a new southernmost tip of Iceland that’s been generated by an undersea volcano. Is this sense that things are capable of shifting and that even the ground under your feet could potentially change, do you think this has any link to Iceland’s notorious belief in hidden folk and that sense that the landscape is actually populated with forces that are beyond our immediate understanding?

Sjón: Yes, I think we experience nature as a living thing, and a part of it is to go to the extremes of actually believing that nature has a character, or if not character, that it can manifest itself in different forms. We have folk stories about the hidden people, Huldufólk, who live in rocks and fields and cliffs, and they look exactly like us except they’ve only got one nostril. Apart from having only one nostril, they always lead a much richer and better life than those of us who have to survive above ground. They’re having musical parties all the time. They dress in silk, and whenever an Icelander gives a person from that nation a helping hand, he is rewarded with a cloth of silver or a goblet of gold. We know that the earth is rich, and we know that it’s more powerful than here, so I think when you live in a place that is obviously alive, you tend to populate it with different creatures.

For example, Katla, is this great volcano that possibly will explode fairly soon, and Katla is a woman’s name. It’s the name of a giantess. It’s more than likely that it will wipe out all the habitat that is sitting there on the beach. Man’s existence is—

Hari: Precarious."



"Sjón: I’m interested in the language of faith, and I’m interested in the literature of faith. In Iceland, like in so many Lutheran countries, the translation of the New Testament into the local language was a big moment. The church defined charity and love and all these terms.

I’ve always been interested in religious texts, not only because of the language but because I see religions as cosmologies, and I’m interested in cosmologies, and I’m interested in obsessed people and where to look for obsessed people. The best place is in religion. I think I’ve really taken advantage of the language of religion just in the same way that I’ve taken advantage of the language of myths and the world of myths.

For me, these are all attempts at explaining the same thing, which is to try to answer the question, “Is it possible that in the beginning there was nothing, and now we’re here sitting on these two nice chairs here in this Scandinavia House?”

We know that our cosmology will become obsolete, and it’s really amazing that the biggest given fact of our time is that cosmology, which is the hard science, is so unstable. I love it.

Hari: You take a real aesthetic pleasure in cosmologies, don’t you? What’s the joy of a big system, a big complicated system with lots of moving, whizzing, parts?

Sjón: My joy is the joy of the Trickster. It’s the joy of Loki. It’s the joy of the Coyote, because I know it’s an unstable system, and it will be overthrown, no matter how majestic it is. With the right little tricks, you will have an apocalypse. You will have the twilight of the gods. The gods will fight the last battle, and there will be a new world that rises up from it, and the Trickster can start thinking of new dirty tricks to topple that system."



"Audience Question: You were talking about how you enjoy cosmology and I wondered how you reconcile that with science and with your own art.

Sjón: Well of course it’s the scientists who are destroying each others’ cosmologies all the time. It’s very interesting that most people today live with a cosmology that absolutely ignores the theory of relativity, for example. Most people live as if the theory of relativity never happened because nobody understands it really.

It’s amazing how unaffected we are by these wonderful amazing things. We just continue. That’s one of the ways of overturning cosmologies: just keep brushing your teeth no matter how they say the universe was made."
sjón  iceland  harikunzru  2013  interviews  literature  poetry  davidbowie  surrealism  writing  escapism  punk  reality  björk  fantasy  fiction  nature  myth  mythology  trickster  greekmyths  obsessions  ideas  cosmologies  perspective  science  learning  unlearning  relearning  collaboration  translation  howwewrite  language  icelandic  loki  faith  belief  anthropology  hunting  geology  animals  folklore  folktales  precarity  life  living  myths 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Björk Introduces Sjón | Work in Progress
"Sjón was the leader. I remember liking him a lot. But also one of the first memories I have of him is debating with him in a bar about André Breton. Breton was his idol. I was probably about seventeen at the time. I felt André was all theory, style — cold — seeing things from the outside, not the inside. He was all about intellectual theory versus the things I preferred, like impulse, emotion, instinct. Then Sjón started introducing me to books: Georges Bataille’s Story of the Eye, Jo Imog’s Demon Flower, Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita, and I guess he somehow showed me the more impulsive, raw, and feminine side of surrealism. As you can imagine, this planted strong stubborn plants in me, which I build my work on, all the way until today."



"I feel Sjón and I have many mutual roots. Even though our work is very different. We both had to develop some D.I.Y. punk spirit to survive, publishing poetry and music from the age of twenty.

Iceland of course formed us both: the isolation and having only 300 thousand people in an island a little smaller than New York State, a lot of space and a strong, strong silhouette! Reykjavik is small enough to be a village but is still a capital in Europe.

We also have in common a strong relationship with nature. Both Sjón and I know that you don’t have to choose between nature and civilization. These two can coexist. And in this way I feel we are better equipped than some of the urban areas in the world to imagine a hopeful twenty-first century. Both in reality and in fiction."



"Sjón’s books are unique. I feel he has managed to take the thread of classic literature and continue into the future. Connect with the roots of authentic old Iceland and then bring it in a streamlined way into the twenty-first century. Take on Iceland’s strong relationship with nature and make it shake hands with the modern times. But more importantly he has managed to unite intelligence and the heart.

Because, for me, Sjón has always been first and last about the heart."

[See also: https://medium.com/work-in-progress/sjon-hari-kunzru-3e3f40e2a6b5
video https://vimeo.com/72354976
more: http://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2013/05/16/sjon-bjork-and-the-furry-trout/ ]
björk  sjón  2013  iceland  poetry  music  literature  writing  surrealism  harikunzu  civilization  nature  posthumanism 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Is it time to cut adrift from island thinking? – Libby Robin – Aeon
"Island-mindedness is born in island places, but the islands of the mind have a broad appeal. Is this hard-wired? Recognising an island of safety and refuge might have enabled our hominin ancestors to find stepping stones out of Africa in times of environmental stress. The concept of the island has long been prominent in literature and useful in science: biologists and geographers, national park managers and archaeologists, linguists, geneticists and evolutionary theorists have all turned at times to the model of the island. Yet it might no longer be a great model for the new needs and concerns of our rapidly globalising century."



"An island is as much metaphor as it is physical place. Nature and wilderness reserves became the real nature for quantitative biological theorists. They could ignore the complex stuff of urban development and human communities. An island could stand for the Garden of Eden, in an age when wilderness was the highest ideal for conservation.

Islands are also devices for thinking mathematically, for simplifying the real world and leaving out messy variables. MacArthur and Wilson were conscious of the complexity of the processes they wished to explain quantitatively – processes such as dispersal, invasion, competition, adaptation and extinction. An island-based theory, they acknowledged, left out ‘many of the most troublesome – and interesting – problems’. Ecological principles need sound theories and statistical significance if they are going to attract support from governments and policymakers. Ultimately, they argued, islands and continents need to be understood together, but the island was the basis for mathematical certainty – for laws – in the management of nature. Their final chapter, ‘Prospect’, argued that biogeography was mature enough to ‘be reformulated in terms of the first principles of population ecology and genetics’."



"The island had seemed an ideal field for ‘experimentation’, but island biogeography did not take sufficient account of time and history, and the assumption that the island’s ecological future was heading steadily towards some sort of ‘balance’ was misplaced. In 1986, the Finnish philosopher-ecologist Yrjö Haila argued that the equilibrium model had ‘ossified into a simple formula that began to suppress creative thinking instead of stimulating it’.

Haila advocated ‘a broader, pluralistic appreciation of the role of theories in general’. But ecologists have found it difficult to let go of the elegance and parsimony that equilibrium theories embody, and to see the way life works afresh without theoretical assumptions. In 2006, the ornithologist and oceanic island specialist David W Steadman argued: ‘Data that fail to support an ‘elegant’ model are often regarded as noise or the exception that proves the rule. Elegant models made by deified people die hard.’

Wilson’s fame gave the equilibrium theory a longer life than its data supported. The balance of nature was attractive beyond science, and it has a romantic following, particularly among conservationists and nature lovers who support the national parks and ‘wilderness’ ideals. The US Wilderness Act is now 50 years old, and things have moved on during the Great Acceleration of change in the same period.

Even as the theory of island biogeography was gaining supporters, the critique of the balance of nature was gathering pace within ecology. National parks and nature reserves management took for granted that nature could somehow heal itself, if protected from humanity. Experimental ideas about islands drove – and at times limited – the conservation agenda, because managers still indulged the idea that nature could be fenced off, or isolated from the threat of humanity. In the past half-century, during which the human population has more than doubled, theories for protecting nature from our overexploitation have proliferated. Biological extinctions have accelerated unabated."



"In the ‘post-national’ 21st century, borders are no longer as fixed as national jurisdictional law suggests. Australia has, at times, excised itself from its islands to handle the politics of asylum‑seeking. Would-be migrants, seeking refuge in Australia, are held on offshore islands until their status is legitimated or denied. By this means, successive Australian governments have deprived vulnerable people, including children, of basic human rights. For the sake of domestic political convenience, the nation of the plastic stencil sometimes defines itself without the islands where refugee boats land. The fact that people abandon nations and passports because of global pressures, because of the impossibility of being at home where they were born, is part of what is changing the nature of nations in a global world. People are no longer from where they came from. They become citizens of where they wash up, or the world. Island-mindedness – the separation of places from other places – is no longer an option.

In this global world, it is flows and circulation, rather than land parcels, that are important. Just as Google maps and GPS have become widespread, territoriality is changing. Flows are about land-and-sea-and-sky-and-people – a collective consciousness that is hard to represent on a 2D map or a phone app.

The island-minded idea of nature, separated from culture, has also changed. Some say we are at the ‘end of nature’: there is now a human signature on all the global flows: the biophysical system is also cultural, as the new epoch of the Anthropocene is imagined. To rework the poet John Dunne, no island-nation is ‘entire of itself’, nor can any island-nature be other than ‘involved in mankind’. Perhaps the bell now tolls for the last island: the blue marble of planet Earth, an island in the infinity of space."



"Surtsey is still bleak and black, but mosses and lichens, windswept grasses and stunted shrubs now soften its edges. All its creatures still live as much with the global systems of winds and storms as on the precious fragment of land that erupted 50 years ago. Surviving on such a remote island is, paradoxically, a mark of cosmopolitanism. Only plants and animals that travel easily will flourish there."
libbyrobin  via:anne  2014  iceland  islands  science  isolation  cosmopolitanism  judithschalansky  picoiyer  surtseyisland  peterveth  charlesdarwin  alfredrusselwallace  galápagos  alexandervonhumboldt  newzealand  australia  bali  lombok  ecology  biology  life  robertmacarthur  edwardowilson  ecosystems  discreetness  nature  wilderness  complexity  extinction  dispersal  invasion  adaptation  competition  biogeography  geography  lordhoweisland  yrjöhaila  equilibrium  conservation  adrianmanning  jakobvonuexküll  flows  circulation  borders  people  humans  separation  anthropocene  darwin 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Episode 587: Jubilee! (?) : Planet Money : NPR
"There's an idea that dates back at least to biblical times. There should be a moment when debts are forgiven. Its called a jubilee.

The jubilee has not gotten a lot of traction in the modern world. You may remember after the financial crisis, some of the Occupy Wall Street protesters were calling for a jubilee. But it basically ended there.

Today on the show: the story about a country that is actually trying a jubilee. Iceland."
iceland  debt  finance  policy  jubilee  debtforgiveness  2014  economics  debtslavery 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Fieldwork.
"An artwork by John Rogers & Amy Tavern, created in GoogleMaps, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter & IRL."

[Sample posts (process posts) from the Tumblr:
http://fieldworkk.tumblr.com/post/88959021965/the-found-object-photography-is-pretty-much
http://fieldworkk.tumblr.com/post/88073405985/grouping-processing-remembering-arranging
http://fieldworkk.tumblr.com/post/89365968975/this-crashed-dc-3-us-plane-lies-crumbling-4km-out
http://fieldworkk.tumblr.com/post/89084694735/starting-on-the-installation-for-tomorrows
http://fieldworkk.tumblr.com/post/88107086145/finding-the-right-light
http://fieldworkk.tumblr.com/post/88211918200/a-surprise-whilst-photographing-found-objects-for ]
[See also:
https://twitter.com/fieldworkk
http://instagram.com/fieldworkk_

http://fieldworkk.tumblr.com/
http://fieldworkk.tumblr.com/about

"Welcome to Fieldwork, a collaboration between artists John Rogers and Amy Tavern.

The project is a multidisciplinary “fieldwork”, presented online & IRL, that incorporates ideas of space, movement, memory and technology; place, image, experience and object.

The “findings” of Fieldwork are presented in an array of formats, with internet and social media explored and reconfigured as art spaces, creating a flow of content and an expression of information generated by moving through the world.

This includes a map that uses GPS coordinates to accurately place photographs, found objects, videos and other media into an ongoing online presentation. As well as the “facts” of these travels, the map will collate the artists’ experience of the journey and the project’s development, via accompanying texts and process documentation.

Fieldwork will also be shown IRL, drawing together these strands with projections, arrangements of objects, exhibition of images and videos, and the artists present and working in a constructed art-lab-gallery-studio environment.

Presentation #1 takes place in Reykjavík, Iceland, on June 18, 2014 at the SÍM basement, Seljavegur 32, Reykjavík 101. The presentation will also be open June 19 and 20 from 2-6pm each day.

Begin exploring Fieldwork via the map, which can be found here.

You can add Fieldwork on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and Tumblr to watch the project evolve."
iceland  johnrogers  amytavern  googlemaps  instagram  facebook  twitter  tumblr 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Pirates Propose Guaranteed Basic Income - The Reykjavik Grapevine
"Pirates have proposed a congressional statement, directing the Welfare Minister to implement a guaranteed minimum income, what in recent years has also gone under the name of universal basic income or citizen wage.

More precisely, the proposal, made by Halldóra Mogensen, Jón Þór Ólafsson and Birgitta Jónsódttir on Monday, would instruct the Minister to form a team to “map ways to ensure an unconditional minimum income for all the country’s citizens, with the aim to support economic and social rights and eliminate poverty.”

The minimum income movement has risen and gained grounds in various countries in recent years. As cited in the exposition, Switzerland will vote on an implementation of the idea in 2016.

‘Liberty, Equality, Efficiency and Solidarity’

The proposal’s exposition states that in 2013, over 42 thousand people in Iceland, 13,7% of the population, subsisted below the low-income benchmark and/or in danger of social exclusion.

The exposition says that guaranteed minimum income differs from the conditional minimum income common in European welfare systems, by being paid to individuals rather than households, by being independent from other income and by not requiring the individual to have been employed or to be willing to take on any job available.

The authors cite guaranteed income experiments in the USA and Canada between 1968 and 1980, where such programs were found to have little effect on the job market, but ‘considerable effect’ on the physical and mental health of participants. The MINCOME program implemented in Manitoba, Canada between 1974 and 1979, for example, is said to have reduced total healthcare costs by 8.5%.

Authors referred to in support of the proposal include the 18th century English-American revolutionary philosopher Thomas Paine and the 20th century philosopher Bertrand Russell, who suggested such an arrangement as early as 1918. The authors say that fundamental underlying notions include ‘liberty, equality, efficiency and solidarity, the earth as a common good of all its inhabitants’ and more.

Facing Future Challenges

The authors of the proposal also cite the 2013 Oxford University report ‘The Future of Employment: How Susceptible are Jobs to computerization?’, where 47% of all jobs in the US are said in danger of extinction at the hands of technological progress. The fields of transport, communication, office work, administration and production are all predicted to be heavily affected. “It is clear,” states the exposition, “that the current social security system will not be able to handle the costs of this immense technological progress.”

The current social security system, composed of conditional income guarantees, unemployment benefits and municipal financial support, is said to be complex, costly and incoherent, while involving massive information gathering and surveillance. An unconditional guaranteed income may, according to the proposal, thus reduce public expenditure on multiple levels."
iceland  universalbasicincome  economics  policy  pirateparty  2014  solidarity  equality  inequality  poverty  efficiency  politics  labor  ubi 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Surgere on Vimeo
"¿Cuando comienza a gestarse esta “crisis” ? ¿Quienes son los responsables? ¿Se beneficia alguien de esta situación? ¿ Puede servir lo ocurrido en Islandia para entender lo que esta sucediendo en el Estado Español ? surgere.org "
spain  españa  iceland  2014  crisis  eeconomics  towatch 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Iceland grieves after police kill a man for the first time in its history | Public Radio International
""The nation was in shock. This does not happen in our country," said Thora Arnorsdottir, news editor at RUV, the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service. 

She was referring to a 59-year old man who was shot by police on Monday. The man, who started shooting at police when they entered his building, had a history of mental illness. 

It's the first time someone has been killed by armed police in Iceland since it became an independent republic in 1944. Police don't even carry weapons, usually. Violent crime in Iceland is almost non-existent.

"The nation does not want its police force to carry weapons because it's dangerous, it's threatening," Arnorsdottir says. "It's a part of the culture. Guns are used to go hunting as a sport, but you never see a gun."

In fact, Iceland isn't anti-gun. In terms of per-capita gun ownership, Iceland ranks 15th in the world. Still, this incident was so rare that neighbors of the man shot were comparing the shooting to a scene from an American film. 

The Icelandic police department said officers involved will go through grief counseling. And the police department has already apologized to the family of the man who died — though not necessarily because they did anything wrong.

"I think it's respectful," Arnorsdottir says, "because no one wants to take another person's life. "

There are still a number of questions to be answered, including why police didn't first try to negotiate with man before entering his building.

"A part of the great thing of living in this country is that you can enter parliament and the only thing they ask you to do is to turn off your cellphone, so you don't disturb the parliamentarians while they're talking. We do not have armed guards following our prime minister or president. That's a part of the great thing of living in a peaceful society. We do not want to change that. "

Update, August 20, 2014: We checked back in with the Icelandic Police to get an update on this shooting in December. The superintendent says the police have not used firearms since."
police  iceland  2014  2013  lawenforcement  violence  firearms  weapons  guns 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Skrímslasetrið Bíldudal
"Tales of sea monsters have played a colorful role in Icelandic folk culture for centuries and thousands of written accounts can be found all around the country. Today, these elusive creatures that still appear in Arnafjordur have been given a worthy home at the Icelandic Monster Museum, located in the north-west cost village of Bildudalur on the shores of Arnarfjordur fjord, proclaimed to be one of the most prolific centers of monster activity in Iceland.

Visitors to the Sea Monster Museum watch these remarkable creatures brought to life through a lively mix of words, images and videos, an action-packed multimedia display that culminates in a spectacular interactive plinth, the first of its kind in Iceland. First-hand accounts from eye-witnesses are joined on-screen by academic theories on the nature of sea monsters, while a variety of relics and artifacts relating to this mysterious branch of zoology appear throughout the museum as tangible evidence for their existence.

Comments from visitors: Multimedia screens and quirky, dark lit rooms create a unique atmosphere where the history of sea monsters in Iceland and Arnarfjördur is conveyed in an eerie manner. The museum is truly a well worth a visit when you travel to these parts because afterwards you will look differently at what you see in the fjord. It will add a new dimension to your imagination—one which points towards the shore and the sea. Picture this tale of horror. A foreign trawler is fishing illegally in Arnarfjördur fjord in the West Fjords in the early 20th century. In comes the trawl net with something big and squirmingly alive. When the fishermen try to open the trawl the creature viciously fights back and sprays something slimy over them. When they finally manage to cut the net and drive the creature overboard a few of the crew are seriously burned and have to be treated. No one aboard knows what this terrifying beast was. There is something supernatural about Arnarfjördur fjord. It looks prehistoric on the map, resembling an eagle claw. In fact it is named after an eagle, Arnar means eagle’s, fjördur fjord. In reality the fjord is deep and wide with an abundance of shellfish, shrimp and reportedly other murkier life organisms. And after a long day you build up a mysteries appetite, the museum restaurant offers the most tasty monster catch of the day and a range of light refreshments and snacks.

The Icelandic Sea Monster Museum is open daily from 10.00-18.00, June 1 – September 10.

Guests aged 10 years and younger must be accompanied by an adult."
iceland  museums  creatures  monsters  seamonsters  bíldudalur 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Mythical Icelandic Creatures: Skoffín | Iceland, Defrosted
"Over the next few weeks, I wanted to feature a series of mythical (or are they?) Icelandic creatures. I was inspired by a visit to the Sea-Monster Museum in Bíldudalur a couple of years ago. Since then, I’ve kept an eye open for anything on the folklore and legends of Iceland’s strangest beasts. If you have any further information on them, or I’ve made an error with your favourite oddball animal, please just let me know!

Are we ready? Then I shall begin. With the Skoffín. The Skoffín is the fierce, dreaded offspring of an Arctic Fox mating with a female cat. The other option (male cat, and vixen) would produce a Skuggabaldur; a different beast altogether.

Skoffín are partially hairless, with formidable teeth and claws.

Skoffín are supposedly able to kill humans simply by looking directly into their eyes. I have met girls able to do something similar. Anyway, avert your gaze if you come across a Skoffín.
A newborn Skoffín is likely to disappear quickly, and may not return to their place of birth for up to three years, when they will feast on any nearby animal.

Most Skoffín are killed before they get to maturity, but if they do reach adulthood, killing them is not so easy. You’ll need some silver bullets, or the potentially risky strategy of using another Skoffín against the one you are trying to dispose of, in a kind of fatal staring competition. Steer clear of the Skoffín, I say."

[See also: http://www.allbordercollies.com/forums/index.php?page=Thread&threadID=4193 ]

[More creatures: http://griffinworldgeo.edublogs.org/2013/12/08/icelandic-mythical-creatures/
http://forteanzoology.blogspot.com/2009/04/g.html
http://imagehost.vendio.com/a/35092550/view/Iceland.2010.Creatures.SS.jpg
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=irRk4mKYH08
http://icelandreview.com/news/2008/07/18/meet-icelands-monstershttp://books.google.com/books/about/Meeting_with_Monsters.html?id=P65WcgAACAAJ http://www.fauna.is/pagee.asp?lysing=publications

http://grapevine.is/mag/articles/2008/09/26/more-monsters-and-mythical-beings-thorgeirsboli/
http://grapevine.is/mag/column-opinion/2008/10/10/more-monsters-and-mythical-beings-miklabaejar-solveig/http://grapevine.is/mag/articles/2008/09/03/more-monsters-and-mythical-beings-skoffin/
http://grapevine.is/mag/articles/2008/09/12/more-monsters-and-mythical-beings-utburdur/
http://grapevine.is/mag/feature/2009/02/13/monsters-and-mythical-beings-tilberi/
http://grapevine.is/mag/articles/2008/07/29/hugleikurandmonsters/
http://grapevine.is/mag/articles/2009/04/03/monsters-and-mythical-beings-nabuxur/
http://grapevine.is/mag/articles/2009/05/08/monsters-and-mythical-beings-gryla/
http://grapevine.is/mag/column-opinion/2008/11/06/monsters-and-mythical-beings-the-worm-of-lagarfljot/
http://grapevine.is/culture/art/2008/12/10/the-christmas-cat/http://grapevine.is/mag/articles/2009/01/12/monsters-and-mythical-beings-x-the-hidden-people-as-depicted-by-hugleikur-dagsson/
http://grapevine.is/travel/traveling-on-your-own/2008/05/09/chasing-monsters-in-east-iceland/

http://grapevine.is/travel/traveling-on-your-own/2011/06/24/you-will-believe-in-bildudalur-visiting-the-sea-monster-museum/
http://www.skrimsli.is/

http://galdrasyning.is/ ]

[from http://stamps.postur.is/en/desktopdefault.aspx/tabid-387/523_read-2648/522_view-590/

"Icelandic legends abound with tales of strange creatures on land, in air and sea. There is an entire genre of legends involving “beings in lochs and sea”. Skoffin is said to be the offspring of a cat and a fox. Beachwalker, a creature of the sea, posed danger to sheep in the mating season. Shellmonster was a multilegged creature, rusty brown and hairy, which made a rattling sound when it moves. There was the poisonous Reverse-Fin Trout with all fins turning forward instead of backward. Iceland Post has issued a sheet with ten stamps featuring an artist’s conception of some of these creatures. Among them are the Horse-Whale, the Ghoul Cat, Sea Cattle, Seal Mother, Mouse-Whale and Red-Crest. A recently published book, “Meeting with Monsters” covers the best known of these legendary creatures. The book is available in Icelandic and English and can be ordered from Postphil Iceland." ]
iceland  myths  mythology  animals  monsters  skoffín  skuggabaldur 
july 2014 by robertogreco
skuggabaldur - Wiktionary
"skuggabaldur m (genitive singular skuggabaldurs, nominative plural skuggabaldrar)

1. (mythological creature, mythology) a creature from Icelandic folk belief who is the offspring of a tomcat (a male cat) and a vixen (female fox) or a bitch (female dog)

2. an evil spirit

3. an evildoer who anonymously commits outrages or evil deeds; a sneak"
myths  iceland  animals  mythology  monsters  skuggabaldur  skoffín 
july 2014 by robertogreco
The Blue Fox (novel) - Wikipedia
"The Blue Fox (Icelandic: Skugga-Baldur) is a 2003 novel by Icelandic writer Sjón. The book was originally published by Bjartur and first published in the United States in 2013.



The book takes place in Iceland in 1883. It opens with a priest hunting a blue fox, then jumps backward to the days following up to the hunt. An herbalist buries the recently deceased woman with Down syndrome that he rescued from a shipwreck. It details their life together before returning to the present. The priest shoots and kills the mysterious blue fox he is hunting, but the sound from his rifle causes an avalanche. While trapped underneath the snow in a glacial cave, the priest starts to go insane. The fox comes back to life and argues with him about the invention of electricity and the priest kills the fox a second time, this time skinning her and wearing her fur. He then transforms into a blue fox himself. The book ends with a letter from the herbalist, who explains the girl with Down syndrome was the priest's daughter, whom he sold into slavery several years before the herbalist rescued her. [1]"
sjón  books  animals  iceland  novels  skuggabaldur  skoffín 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Did politics ruin ‘the world’s coolest mayor’? | Toronto Star
"In his own words

On his childhood learning disabilities:
In reading, general knowledge and telling stories I was one of the best, but when it came to writing and arithmetic, I was worse than mediocre. My letters were either upside down or back to front, my spelling was haphazard, and it was impossible for me to fit the words neatly on a line. The letters I wrote home on summer vacation were often passed around at family gatherings, where they were a reliable source of amusement. I was 15 before I could really write.

On coming up with the idea for the Best Party:
I’m often asked how I actually came to found the Best Party. The answer is that I simply came up with the idea. And an idea is born when two ideas have sex with each other, and a third idea comes into being. But in this case we should perhaps describe it rather as group sex, as to begin with there was a whole bunch of ideas in play until they eventually gave rise to this idea.

On why he wore lipstick to meetings:
When my mother died, I went through a severe identity crisis. It was as if something essential, part of my inner being, had suddenly been cut out of my life. I not only lost contact with my “roots,” but also with a part of myself that seemed to have died with her. When we started going through her belongings, I absolutely wanted to keep her makeup stuff. And in the weeks after her death, I kept having the sudden need to put on her lipstick and use her nail polish. A few times, I even popped into a meeting or a City Hall debate with painted lips and painted nails — many people recoiled at this or thought it was inappropriate. But for me it was a completely natural expression of how much I missed Mom. Eventually, I realized that it was actually the other way around: Not a part of me had died with her, but a part of her lived on in me."
jóngnarr  2014  iceland  reykjavík  government  politics  anarchism  bestparty 
june 2014 by robertogreco
We can't leave politics to politicians, says ex-Reykjavík mayor | Q with Jian Ghomeshi | CBC Radio
"Icelandic comedian and former Reykjavík mayor Jon Gnarr joins Jian to talk about how his audacious "joke" political campaign became very real, transforming the satirist into a bona fide political force in his country. 

"It's so easy to have an opinion when you don't have to take any responsibility," says Gnarr, who jokes about all the "boring things" he had to learn after his surprise election. 

"Responsibility changes everything, and the thing with responsibility is that it is it's not popular. Nobody wants it, nobody likes it." 

Democracy is about all of us

Alongside light-hearted quips, Gnarr shares several serious lessons -- perhaps most importantly, that ordinary people -- especially young people -- are losing interest in democracy. He argues that career politicians have had a real hand in turning them off. 

"More and more people would never dare to go into politics, and that's wrong -- because democracy is about all of us," he says. "We need a more variety of people to get involved in politics." 

Watch Gnarr's musical platform (with subtitles) below and tell us: do you agree that democracy is too important to leave to "professional" politicians and "alpha types"? Would you like to see more unlikely leaders take office?"
2014  jóngnarr  reykavík  politics  bestparty  anarchism  democracy  participation  politicians  iceland  class  empathy  peace  punk 
june 2014 by robertogreco
More punk, less hell! - News Ausland: Europa - tagesanzeiger.ch
"Nothing in Gnarr’s youth pointed to good fortune or success. He was the late progeny of a bitter couple: His father was a policeman and Stalinist: «Pravda» came in the mail and the current head of state and party of the Soviet Union hung on the wall, albeit the wall of the broom closet. Gnarr’s mother was a conservative.

As a communist, his father never received a promotion. His endless monologues at the dinner table awakened in his son a deep aversion to politics. Gnarr also had other problems. At school, he struggled from the start and doctors declared him mentally retarded. He was short, skinny and had ADHD and migraines. He learned to write only when he was 14 and he was 16 before he could recite the months correctly. By that age, he had already made two suicide attempts and a tour of homes for troubled youths behind him.

Everyone, including himself, thought he was stupid. So when he was 13, he made three decisions: he became a punk, he became the class clown («better a clown than a dummy») and he gave up on learning at school. From then on, he read privately. And read he did, extensively: on anarchism, Bruce Lee, Tao Te Ching, Monty Python and surrealism.

Gnarr became a psychiatric nurse, taxi driver, bassist in the punk band Runny Nose, a father at 20 and at some point realized that he hated music, but liked to talk to the crowd between the songs. The impromptu speeches got longer and longer. Eventually, the side gig became his profession. Gnarr started a career as a comedian – telephone gags on the radio, stand-up, columns, sketches, TV shows.

Being a comedian was not a normal profession in Iceland. In the early days, kids at school asked his sons if he was mentally disturbed. As people became accustomed, he became famous. («Although being famous in Iceland, with 300,000 inhabitants, means very little,» as he says. «You buy a bottle of milk and presto, you’re famous».) Later, during the campaign, his competitors reminded people of his gags: such as the parody in which Gnarr portrays Hitler imagining the schmaltzy CD ‹No Regrets›. Or his success as a bald-headed, egotistical, yet touchingly awkward Stalinist on a TV show. The characters, they implied, illuminate the man.

And Gnarr shone in the roles. Professionally, he manifested a certain preference for bold hairdos and ridiculous clothes, such as a one-piece bathing suit. His conversion to Catholicism was still fresh in people’s memory as well. For months he had tried the patience of Reykjavik’s newspaper readers with enthusiastic columns praising the Pope and the church hierarchy before ultimately deciding to remain an agnostic.

On the other hand, he was a father of five, the author of a book, a comedian and an established TV star; a calm man with a wild smile – still a bit chaotic, but with a smart wife. And he had a long road behind him."



"And then came the video [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xxBW4mPzv6E ], perhaps the cheeriest in the history of politics. A reworded version of Tina Turner’s ‹Simply the Best› sung by the candidates, the song included a brief, rousing speech by Gnarr that began with the words: «Fellow citizens, it is time to look into your hearts and decide. Do you want a bright future with the Best Party? Or a Reykjavik in ruins?»

The video was «not a major deal», as Proppe said later. «We’re pros when it comes to music videos.» And yet it’s the most delightful political video ever made: watching it will put you in a good mood for two hours. It excited people and attracted them. Two weeks before the election, the Best Party was polling at 38%.

That was the moment when Gnarr thought of quitting. He was exhausted and not himself. The politicians irritated him: before and after the debates, they made small talk, but in between they attacked him. He realized that although he had no idea about the issues, he had begun to act as if he did. It scared him.

After days of depression, he was lying in the bathtub when two ideas came to him. The first: «The Best Party was an idea. It had grown up, so I had to follow it. Even against my own interests. It was bigger than me. I had become a player in my own play. My freedom was gone. I was trapped. But also curious.» The second thought that persuaded him was a joke.

The final debate took place the next day. Gnarr went to the lectern and said: «We at the Best Party have always said that we would keep going as long as we were having fun. Everything has now become very serious. I hereby withdraw my candidacy for the office of mayor and the Best Party from the elections». A protracted hush fell over the room. The audience sat in silence, the other politicians looked at each other. And then Gnarr said: «Joooooke!»"



"One of the projects of the Best Party was to change the political culture. What was lacking was common decency. Gnarr says: «In the beginning I thought that the people who yelled at me in parliament were actually angry, but they’re not. As soon as the cameras are off, they want to have a beer with you». Proppe: «There are two languages: one for the public and one for behind the scenes. You can’t do that in any other workplace.» Örn: «Let me put it this way, I didn’t find any friends among the politicians. With friends, I talk about hobbies. But the politicians’ hobby is politics».

«It’s a bit disingenuous,» comments journalist Karl Blöndal, second-in-command at the conservative paper Morgunblaðið. «They see politics as theater, but then they are shocked by the theater in politics.»

In the political battles, the Best Party employed a concept from the Tao Te Ching – ‹wu wei›: never fight back, but let the attack miss its mark. And express your respect for your opponent."



"An assessment of four years of anarchist rule yields a rather surprising conclusion: the punks put the city’s financial house in order. They can also look back on some very successful speeches, a few dozen kilometers of bike paths, a zoning plan, a new school organization (that no one complains about any more) and a relaxed, booming city – tourism is growing by 20% a year (and some say that is the new bubble). In speeches, president Grímsson no longer praises Icelanders’ killer instinct, but their creativity. Real estate prices are again on the rise and the Range Rovers are back too. In polls last October, the Best Party hit its high-water mark of 38%. Shortly thereafter, Gnarr announced he would retire and dissolve the Best Party. His reason: «I’m a comedian, not a politician.» He added: «I was a cab driver for four years, a really good one even, and I quit doing that as well.»

«My question was always: ‹How do we fuck the system?›» says Örn. «And the answer was, we show that non-politicians can do the job as well. But quitting with a certain election victory within reach, that’s truly fucking the system!»

Others will keep going: they have founded the Bright Future party. Proppe has since become a member of the national parliament and Björn Blöndal, the prince of darkness, now moves in political circles like a fish in water. «It’s a lot of fun when you’ve learned how you can make a difference and you slowly get good at it. Politics is a craft.» Blöndal led the ticket for the Bright Future party in the Reykjavik elections. He and Dagur Eggertson vied to succeed Gnarr. For long stretches the polls were inconclusive, but in the end the Social Democrats won handily. Without Gnarr at the helm, Bright Future halved its result to take 15%. Eggertson now heads a four-party coalition that also includes the Pirates and the Left-Greens."

[alt link: http://mobile2.tagesanzeiger.ch/articles/10069405 ]
jóngnarr  iceland  2014  punk  politics  anarchism  democracy  ephemeral  pop-ups  taoteching  wewei  bestparty  agnosticism  dropouts  unschooling  deschooling  politicians  surrealism  comedy  catholicism  belief  religion  hierarchy  hierarchies  autodidacts  reading  self-education  reykjavík  ephemerality 
june 2014 by robertogreco
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