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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Iceland: Paysage Moralisé by John von Daler

                 What's an Italian movie doing in Iceland? Not that the feeling is completely like Marcello Mastroianni being smothered by pampering women, but I love the #Iceland matriarchy from the moment the Danish-Icelandic Friendship Club meets us in #Keflavik, five women strong. 
                "But aren't there any men in your club?" say we.
                "Oh", and the little woman with almond-colored hair tries to look like she is thinking, "I think one was treasurer a while back. Had to fire him."
                They take us two Danish men directly from the plane to the Blue Lagoon, an Antonioni film come to life with gray hot water churning between lava stones with ominous pipes spouting steam in the background. The sky is black, the air freezing.
                A young man attired in a bathing suit and a bow tie ushers us two into a fragile looking wooden shed. Inside are benches, some clothes hooks on the wall and really nothing else. We leave all our money, our passports, our shirts, our trousers, and finally our distrust in the shed and spring in our underwear into the dark, mythological, volcanic waters. Drinks are served. We hold them outstretched from the unfathomable water into the freezing night air like fragile small signal lights in the hands of shipwrecked sailors swimming in the middle of an ocean.
                What starts as a weird dream continues as a voyage of discovery into living myth. The ladies guide us through the Thingvellir Plain that might just as well be a mindscape of our common past with its stretches of lava and stone, the circling ravens, the looming gray sky. They show us exploding geisers and cracks in the earth that lead who knows how far down.
                We stay at Aalto's Nordic House, we drive past the home of Haldor Laxness, we send a greeting to the Huldur Clan. We meet a man who knows Björk.
                Then we play our concert for the ladies and a scattering of men. We spread Danish humor and poetry, musicians from the South we are, just this once. Throughout the concert I ponder how the islands rose to meet us with their myths and their matriarchy, and again I feel the incredible vulnerability of Mastroianni being tossed up and down in a white towel by all those women. Privileged to be the only male, yes, but dominant? In Iceland? Never.


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