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Matt Willen Matt Willen | Sunday 10. May 2009

Getting In

Main Street in Isafjörður
Main Street in Isafjörður
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Got to Iceland last night. Think of a mind working in two columns, side by side. One watching what´s going on after hours of no sleep.

1) When you arrive in Iceland , you arrive in Keflavik at flugstöð Leifs Eirikssonar not Reykjavik (a common misconception), about 45 minutes by the air bus to Reykjavik. It costs about 2000 kr, about $17 US. You leave the airport, and drive through a volcanic landscape quite reminiscent of the malpais lave fields in western New Mexico. The first thing you encounter on the side of the road is a totalled car and a sign admonishing you to drive carefully while in iceland. Indeed, basalt is less forgiving than grass should you happen to swerve too far.

The road follows the south coast of Flaxflöi past a few small towns, and ultimately to the main bus terminal in Reykjavik. I caught a shuttle to the Reykjavik airport where you can take regional flights around the country via Air Iceland, the national airline. (Iceland Air, which runs in and out of Keflavik is the international airline). The flight to Isafjorður takes about 45 minutes. I was lucky to get on, as there were no flights the day before on account of winter weather conditions, so those who got delayed had first dibs on today´s flights.

Gústi and Saga Lif met me at the airport, and took me to their house. There I passed out. Woke for a couple of hours and then passed out again.

On to the second column, the meanderings of my mind

2) While in NY, Sarah told me about a book of photographs by Eudora Welty, an american writer known for her short stories and fiction. It appears that in the 1930s during the depression, Welty worked for the WPA (Works Progress Administration) in Mississippi as a publicist. She traveled with her camera, and took photographs on her own time. A white woman photographing black americans in the south. It sounded like an interesting project, so I went to the Strand in NY and found a copy. One Time, One Place: Mississippi in the Depression. The photographs are very nice, of that tradition of documentary photography that came out of the depression and organizations like the WPA and FSA. I read the introduction on the plane and it stuck in my mind:

"We come to terms as well as we can with our life long exposure to the world, and we use whatever devices we may need to survive. But eventually, of course, our knowledge depends upon the living relationship between what we see going on and ourselves. If exposure is essential, still more so is reflection. Insight doesn´t happen at the click of the moment, like a lucky snapshot, but comes in its own time and from nowhere but within. The sharpest recognition is surely that which is charged with sympathy as well as shock-it s a form of human vision. And that of course is a gift. We struggle through any pain or darkness in nothing but the hope that we may recieve it, and through any term of work in the prayer to keep it.

[...] I knew this, anyway, that my own wish, indeed my continuing passion, would be not to point the finger in judgment but to part a curtain, that invisible shadow that falls bewteen people, the veil of indifference to each other´s presence, each other´s wonder, each other´s human plight."

Indeed. Enough for today.

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