member of:Observers of the Interdependence of Domestic Objects and Their Influence on Everyday Life

This group has been active for a long time and has already made some remarkable assertions which render life simpler from the practical point of view. For example, I move a pot of green color five centimeters to the right, I push in the thumbtack beside the comb and if Mr. A (another adherent like me) at this moment puts his volume about bee-keeping beside a pattern for cutting out vests, I am sure to meet on the sidewalk of the avenida Madero a woman who intrigues me and whose origin and address I never could have known...
--Remedios Varo

(Slideshow is of Artwork by Remedios Varo)
By believing passionately in something that still does not exist, we create it. The nonexistent is whatever we have not sufficiently desired.
--Franz Kafka

Thursday, May 20, 2010


All the photos in this post are by Flickr user Aki, whose talent has convinced me that Iceland is, in fact, paradise...

Lundadrangur, Dyrholaey
"Island with the Hill Door"
photo by Aki

The island is, of course known for its volcanoes, not only the most recent one, but also the much worse, world-changing eruption of Laki in 1783. One really beautiful thing that results from such eruptions, though, is the creation of new life, like the island Surtsey. Surtsey is one of the youngest islands in the world, and it became a part of Iceland when it rose from the depths of the ocean through near-continuous volcanic eruptions in the 1960s. For five years, the island grew in shape through the underwater explosions, until finally the fires settled. Even now, no one is permitted on the island except for scientific study of new life formations....However, puffins began colonizing in 2004.

This little island got its name from Surtr, a Norse mythological Giant or "fire Jötunn." In the epics, he arrives with a flaming sword to do battle against the god Freyr, and after that battle, it is told, "that the world will be consumed in flames, yet afterward the world will resurface anew and fertile, and the surviving gods will meet again" (Wikipedia). A mini-performance, then, was the creation of the island Surtsey.
Wikipedia says about the word Jötunn that it "might have the same root as "eat" (Proto-Germanic *etan) and accordingly had the original meaning of "glutton" or "man-eater", possibly in the sense of personifying chaos, the destructive forces of nature." A good volcano god, then. Later these Jötunn evolved into the nature spirits known as trolls (a name which means "magic").

Gullfoss Waterfall "Golden Falls"
photo by Aki

It is not just volcanoes that Iceland is "unusually suited for," however. It also has many very powerful waterfalls.

Gullfoss, by Aki

photo by Aki

And here is Reynisdrangar, which is made of basalt sea stacks:

photo by Aki

According to folklore, these sea stacks used to be trolls, until they were caught outside in the light of dawn. Many stones with human-seeming features in the Scandinavian countries are said to have formed this way. Trolls can be tricky, and if a man allows himself to be lured by one the elegantly-dressed females wandering around in the forest, he may only return decades later, with no memory or direction. Often, insane...

And for those of you who love blue as much as I do...

photo by Aki


  1. First of all, I love your blog. It is a wonderful record of curiosities, oddities and eccentrics- all attributes which attract me. Secondly, yes, Iceland is paradise. I just hope that its beauty stays intact and most of it remains untouched by human civilization forever....

  2. I would love to go to Iceland one day! Such stark, but lovely photos. And I really, really enjoyed reading about Surtr!!!

  3. Amazing post, dear zoe. These photographs are breathtaking, and the stories of Scandinavian mythology are fascinating. Thank you for this beauty!

  4. Really wonderful photos, with a suggestive atmospheare!!It seems like the places belong to another planet or, to another reality! :) Very interesting tales about the Scandinavian mithology: as usual you link something material to something immaterial, like a legend or a bilief.
    I really enjoyed your post, Zoe. Thanks :)

  5. I used to live and work in Iceland, those beautiful pictures are just a tiny glimpse of the wonders there.
    My favourite memory is of standing atop Mt Esja, and watching whales dive in the clear water of the fjord below.