Saturday, January 19, 2008

Land of Ice - 2

It's Saturday afternoon and I have let myself sleep in. Today we are apparently hitting some art openings and some of us are going to check out the local night-life. What I am really looking forward to, though, is a car trip we plan on taking tomorrow through Sunday night which will include a trip to some extinct volcanic ground, the northern lagoons, a visit to the phallus museum (bizarre, eh?) and then a trip to a small town named Holar to visit a friend I made on the plane over here..... P., a marine biologist who just moved here to do her PhD.

I have received quite a few requests for pictures. So just to let you know, after this trip we take on Sunday I'm going to get H. to help me figure out how to upload some images..... there should be a good selection come Monday or Tues.

But in the meantime, let me fill you in on the last couple of days. One of the most spectacular events happened on Thursday night. Leaking and dancing out of the mountain summit just behind where I'm living was a cool green display of the Northern Lights. H. and J. discovered them on a walk home from a late-night snack run and called me out in my pajamas. We stood in shivering silence, moved to Oo's Ah's and Oh!'s as a faint stream projecting out in a long line, barely visible would begin to ignite and sway and spark, widening and bursting new flames, to eventually subdue again and build up for the next blaze. So simple and so enrapturing! The colder and clearer it is, the better they will get, and I think we may have a shot at more of the same and perhaps even more spectacular this weekend.

It really augments my desire to get out more into the land. As my friend N. from back home pointed out on the phone last night, Iceland has a similarity to Canada in the way that it's culture is largely in the land itself, and so while here I need to find as many ways to get out into it as possible. Prohibitive costs has made this a bit difficult, but I think the feeling is quite mutual especially between H., J. and I that somehow we need to make this happen anyway. So, I look forward to telling you about our first big excursion tomorrow.

Yesterday, we came to the end of our second week in the theatre. Fridays are a day when we "show" where we are to the rest of the group. It's not really about re-doing something worked on, more opening each of our rehearsal processes to the group. There's been a lot of swimming in the soup, and it's been curious to see how the insecurity of not really knowing where we're going or what we're each here to do hits different people at different times. The epitome of this yesterday was H.'s presentation of having nothing to show, so he brought in an onion cake that he baked based on him mother's recipe (in the spirit of "why am I here" and that at it's essence referring back to his Mom). We also showed some very silly video-footage of the three "hunch-backs of Akureyri".... something that developed out of walk up a very slippery hill a few days ago and then blossomed into late-night silliness up at the army-barracks..... J., H. and I have certainly bonded in our seclusion up here.

In general, life is much more all-the-time social here than usual for me. It is both comforting and sometimes overwhelming, being often a bit of a loner in my life at home. But it also seems like an important survival mechanism when in unknown territory, and something I'm sure to miss when I come back home. The lines of work and living seem completely blurred, which makes it hard to tell when I or even if I have shut off the work-mode. I finally returned to meditating this morning, and that feels like a good thing in terms of negotiating that line.

I don't really know what to say about my own process. As usual, it feels like many stabs in the dark. I'm glad I've got my video camera, so that I can see that something is actually happening. I am allowing myself to follow whims that I might not usually, like including as part of my research visiting a group of scientists at the Institute of Arctic Studies or taking underwater shots of swimming fully-clothed in the pool. There is apparently a character I'm moving towards creating, though the full shape of what that actually means to me, is not apparent yet. I have a lot of unanswered questions about how the arctic experience of Iceland relates at all to the experience of the Canadian arctic.... mostly on a social level. There are no indigenous people here. One could almost call Icelanders a first nation people. I realize that when I think of the Canadian north, there is the whole notion of "the other" and the ways both now and historically that we deal or don't deal with that and all the ensuing repercussions. There really aren't those kind of issues here, it seems. In a way, these scientists are still voyeurs of the Arctic. And well, it really makes me wonder how we define "Arctic". They claim to be the success story of the Arctic, but perhaps as C. (or he now wants to be referred to as Mr. X) would say, they only have Arctic-envy.

All the more reason, it seems, to go out on the land. The land, in general and especially in Canada, has always been a feeding source for my soul. I'm not sure exactly how it figures into my work, but perhaps it's something unseen but necessary. Somehow my feeling here is that it is a missing piece of information in what we do here. It doesn't interpret. It just is.

More soon with pictures!


Blogger Mum said...

Hi, 2nd try. I really love your word pictures & that you're getting out & about. xoxoxo, Mum

3:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

northern lights!?!

oh, man, if there's one thing i would be willing to freeze my ass for, that'd be it.

drink it all and ask for more, my friend!!

10:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Iceland has not changed much since I was last there, then (is Tuesday still the television-free night?). Still, I never made it to Akureyri, as I spent most of my time in the northwest, up to Isafjordur. Should you go down to the south coast, I have a good friend in Eyrarbakki who would likely make you cocoa.

4:30 PM  

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