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Culture

Cream of the Crop

 Row after row of steep but flat-topped mountains, interspersed with deep fjords. There’s barely enough land in between to make up a coastline, let alone farmland. But on the green patches between the cliffs and the waves, there are still more than a handful of farms dotting the landscape. The Westfjords have always been isolated, […]

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Culture

Material World

When Canadian media theorist and philosopher Marshall McLuhan wrote that “the medium is the message,” he did not mean that the content of all emails is somehow the same, given their common encoding as emails. Rather, he meant to critique the idea that communication is like a parcel service: we pack down messages into their containers, send them off, and they are received by their recipients in just the same state as when we sent them. Just as all language is not the same: a short “hey” can, depending on the situation, mood, interlocutors, volume, and so on be a greeting, a warning, a verbal touch on the shoulder.

The medium is not a neutral space through which a message passes, untouched. Rather, the medium plays a constituting role in the creative process, and when we interpret the artwork, we must pay just as much attention to the technologies, processes, and materials that made the work of art as the ideas and forms that shaped them.

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paganism iceland
Culture

Pagan Poetry

Ásatrú Society, how may I help you?” This was neither the voice of a gruff metalhead nor the voice of a wizened mystic, interrupted in

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Culture

Mad World

“Exceptionally rudimentary software” On Friday, November 11, I attended an appointment with a psychologist in Reykjavík. For weeks leading up to the appointment, my wife had encouraged me to “see someone,” for my moods were vacillating, my fuse was growing increasingly shorter, and I was prone to habitual crashes. I didn’t, she observed, seem “all that […]

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Culture

Staying Power

Elsa Pálsdóttir was doing what she loved most: Deadlifting. As she rested between sets, she chit-chatted with a man of Polish extraction, who was likewise availing himself of the equipment in the snug Massi gym in Njarðvík. When their conversation came to a close, Elsa’s interlocutor turned to another gym patron, an older Icelander, and observed, “that […]

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Culture

Disaster on Dark Seas

U-300On the morning of November 20, 1944, a single U-boat cruised silently at periscope depth beneath the rough waves of the North Atlantic, lurking just a few kilometres off the Northwest coast of Iceland’s Reykjanes peninsula. The lone periscope was virtually invisible in the turbulent grey ocean waters. The German submarine, type VIIC/41, designated U-300, […]

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Culture

Getting the Word Out

The Icelandic Literature Centre awards grants to some 80-100 translations from Icelandic to other languages each year. The number of applications for translation grants has been steadily increasing. Icelandic books have been translated into around 50 languages. Three recently published Icelandic to English translations:Three recently published Icelandic to English translations:Quake (Stóri skjálfti) by Auður Jónsdóttir (trans. Meg Matich).Salka Valka […]

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Culture

The Right to Bear Arms

I’m sitting in a hotel lobby, scribbling some last-minute notes in my notebook before the interview. I look up and notice Guðmundur Felix Grétarsson entering so I raise a hand to let him know I’m here. He waves back, and I get up to greet him. He shakes my hand, and I introduce myself before he points to a small room where we can chat undisturbed. Nothing about this exchange feels remarkable to me, but Guðmundur Felix has a different perspective.

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Magazine

There and Back Again

“I’m eager to tell you about him.”  Everyone loves a good story, especially tales of adventure featuring a dogged, tenacious and sometimes tragic hero. In our day, thanks to more objective research and unflinching writing, heroes have lost much of their shine. Where we once unquestioningly celebrated aviator Charles Lindbergh, there is no denying that […]

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Culture

Home cook

“We serve cod skin as snacks. The cod skin is salted, dried, and popped, sprinkled with angelica.” Up. Down. Up again. A fleeting moment of calm at the highest point. Down again, tourists whooping as the boat rolls in the waves. I, on the other hand, wasn’t enjoying that lurching feeling in my stomach as […]

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