Monday, October 13, 2008


In a fit of melacholy, I watched the Sigur Rós DVD Heima again Friday night. I've posted about it before, seeing it again with the events of the last few weeks in mind, I had an even deeper appreciation for what it was- a vivid portrayal of their music played out on a background of the country and the people who had nourished it. If you would like to broaden your cultural horizons please do; it's available on Netflix.

I've been distraught these last two weeks concerning the crisis in Iceland's financial system. In a world of increasingly more homogenized culture, of compromised artistic visions, I've found (as regular readers will note) liberating voices from this isolated rock in the northern Atlantic. A vibrant and eclectic music scene, challenging movies, and a mature and provocative literature have all enriched my life.

Now, with the collapse of their banking system, this magnificent flowering of the human spirit is threatened, indeed, as the malaise spreads it seems as if all western civilization is on the verge of shutting down. This situation begs the question: "What is the value of Art, performing or otherwise?" Kurt Vonnegut put it this way:
"They (the arts) are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or how badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven's sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something."

Sigur Rós, Björk, Halldór Laxness, and many other Icelanders have created something worthwhile. That the world's economic system is failing them (and it is the system that is failing), is another matter altogether. Let us sit tight for a bit- there should be, after all of the clouds have dissapated, a new, brighter day.

Somehow, and this may be a bit Pollyannaish of me, I'm not feeling quite so melancholy now.

By Professor Batty


Anonymous Anonymous said...

A strong, expressive culture like Iceland's cannot be taken down by the passing of a money shortage.It is as resilient as the waves that crash upon its rocky coast.

Blogger Professor Batty said...

... the thing that worries me is that most of the musical groups' projects are sponsored by Icelandic firms. Heima was sponsored by the Baugur group. The art scene there, without continued patronage, may also shrink as well, although all a writer really needs is an agent and a word processor.

Blogger Alda said...

You're right, Professor: the arts will suffer because their main sponsors are going down. But hey - at least t'internet is not broken! And we'll bounce back - just wait and see.

Blogger Professor Batty said...

... and you, dear Alda, are Islandssol...

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