Monday, 27 September 2010

the capture of spectularity

three days spent on grimsey afforded not only the crossing of the artic circle and a futile hunt of some puffins that didn't leave but also an exchange of the various books one transports in a backpack on iceland. we shared the little hostel with a german woman who packs even more excessively than i do: but her five books in iceland provided some good insights into hiking routes and various other bits.

the book that really got me was one with a chapter titled 'nature equals kitsch plus x', by wolfgang mueller. what a marvellous equation. it provided and still does provide plenty to mentally chew over. again and again when you just stare around you and there is just no way of doing anything else other than staring.

m, the woman with the five travel books sat downstairs in the kitchen and each morning declared: 'wow - i can't get over this change in the photo wallpaper over there' - pointing to the icelandic mainland in some 50 kms distance in ever changing light, cloud and snow formations. 'how come they put a new one up every couple of hours?'

the evening before we walked to the northern tip and while i happily snapped away with the camera, every click was futile. it froze in time and single viewpoint all that what could not be frozen.

it seemed ridiculous to try and capture in image something that once capture would be pure kitsch. photography and painting/drawing as completely futile. and then i read about above's equation. the equation, so mueller, renders visual arts in iceland virtually impossible, and land art doesn't even need a consideration to start with.

what a fabulous starting point of my little landart, nature, landscapism module: failure. utter failure to deal with where you're at and what you see. there are possibly some caveats to this:
- what is there to turn to if visual representation is utterly meaningless?
- the romantics tried to romanticise -- make abstract and thus more beautiful -- the landscape. what if it cannot be made any more beautiful?
- sightseeing spectacularity makes you numb and blind; but, relatedly: how do you ordinarily live with such spectacularity?

thus, while taking futile photos, trying to sketch some of the many horses, catalogueing the various colour changes in boiling mudpots, ignoring the clouds above as any sketch would be only considered not real enough and contemplating the folds that thick lave flow makes, i am working my way through the above.

maybe next: some colour schemes, of mudpots and arctic forests (i.e. blueberries, cranberries and crow berries) in autumn beauty. but first a bit more failure. fresh from grimsey:

Sunday, 26 September 2010

it smells

unmistakenly in front of us, the municipal rubbish dump. we are walking towards west into the valley and the wind is just heading our way. raven and the usual mix of various gulls circle not above a fishing boat but the waste. right to the side is a smaller heap for green cuttings. they have so many trees here that they even cut them.

of course iceland smells. in 5 degrees c it doesn't approach anywhere near a good whiff of central berlin in high summer, but rubbish stinks here too.

we knew there as an 'unimpressing stretch of 1-2 hrs of road if you don't have a car to get straight to the car park'. so... if you don't travel by car you need to deal with the smell.

earlier in the morning i outlined the 5-10 options for the last stop before returning to reykjavik. and, while outlining realised that i'm not that far away from my friend who hates decisioning as there is invariably a worse option than the one she may chose. not long ago i declared: nope, don't have that problem. but: here i most definitely do. the choice (omitting various suboptions):

- a highly attractive eastfjord village with norwegian buildings; or:
- a functional service centre with a lack of cheap accommodation.

the decisionmaker: public transport, and due to the lack of it: too little time.

so, as we clambered up sulur, west of akureyri and its rubbish dump, the dilemma, once seen with a bit more colour scheme and view to the sea towards the arctic unmasked itself as yet another one of the:

how many sights can you cram into one week or a weekend even, with its appropriate sections in any english speaking travel guide. can it be shorter? more exciting? riveting even? another vulcano, another glacier, more hot springs, more exciting lava formations?

we decided rather clearly: this is a pseudo-dilemma. no point in chasing highlights. a walk is a walk and the light changes make any functional service town in grass, heather, moss settings rather spectacular.

more on the latter, next... if i get access to inet and computer again...

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

ps... the sound of time travel

is this. my ghost of time by petra vergunst

Saturday, 11 September 2010

more on time travel

the ghost of time has been with me throughout the last year. it has become a structuring device. an organizing framework for sense-making. it allows me to time travel. so I did last Sunday night – my neighbour’s loud and evident love at 4 am for put me firmly at a table, at the entrance of the t-keller with some rioja and him, some time in 1999; and as the associations tumbled along, it was a year and one day that I sat in the kitchen of the white room and suddenly had words for that restlessness in my body and my heart. a restlessness intermingling with fear. not the ordinary fear of the world outside but the ordinary fear of the world inside. in fact, the fear of that restlessness. that there would only ever be restlessness. that at all crucial moments in time, these would be inscribed by restlessness. those sensations that travel from my gut up to the back of my throat, shedding adrenaline through my body, making it tingle everywhere.

high alertness and yet nowhere to move.

the ghost of time as expression of a past as it inflected on the future in the very present. it is my specific time travel: backwards and forwards and then let it all collapse into the now. has noone ever thought of this before?

once the words were written at the kitchen table while it was getting dark outside, they took concrete form. rather than another pdf on my hard drive, they called for moving further, onto paper, into print and illustration. that transformation of the bodily sensation into external document was deliberate. as I had written about taking pictures to the framer and thereby externalising them, giving them their own subject being – one so much less owned by me, so was this.

it was a gift, a memento (and so much mori), to him, but even more so to myself. psychoanalysis has probably clearly defined terms for such externalising of loss and grief. it becomes material and thus separate from the self.

looking back at the traces on the blog I am surprised how it also became intimately tied up with my departure – a physical and a mental one during October and November. looking at the posts I don’t remember several of them – if the presence is so full, I find that it leaves little space to be remembered in detail later. so while I was leaving and yet staying, the ghost of time did precisely that: it ghosted my time in absence. marked out a space of loss in the present that was past while I was practising the future. looking back at this I feel intensely grateful. for having taken it so serious for all those years. those years were important. and for this departure.

so, the ghost is alive. it has a name, a cover and a blue dust jacket. in all this he’s circulating – circulating without me, on his own. as much as there is continuity in the memory of loss, there can be other continuities. I am aware of how they are wilfully productive: productive of all kinds of conciliatory and soothing emotions. as if the world operated as a tit for tat.

I was going to write some more about the sense-making of one’s experiences by others. but, as often, i. has provided me with good questions which in the process reveal much more about my own sense-making than that of others. inspiration can work through all sorts of ways and produce all kinds of resonances. it is not as such an indicator for trying to trace authenticity. it only serves a reminder to myself who the ghost of time will always be for me. a moment in the past that restructures all possible futures in any present.

so, why not have some more of this. another glass of wine?

Wednesday, 8 September 2010


... just turned into a doing word.

don't quite know why. but viewing weather forcasts is generally an integral part of my vorfreuding. so, i just looked out for this one:

and then remembered that one:

not that much difference between them, is there. only thing is that the top one is heading towards autumn - more rain, less warmth and the bottom one towards spring. och well... autumn seems a good time to visit. forcast number one will be in presence in just over ten days.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

more movement

... in poses and on paper. human form this time and no chickens in sight.