Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Broken Glass

I was walking down Laugavegur at night in the heart of Reykjavík's old town. It was crowded with night clubbers and revelers, all dressed to be seen. An old man was collecting bottles and cans, probably to augment a meager pension. A group of young rowdies came up and one of them thought it would be great sport to smash the bottles in the old man's shopping bags. He kicked, once, then again, and then harder, until he heard the tell-tale sound of breaking glass. The young man laughed, boasting to his buddies and then they were off, down the hill, leaving the old man bewildered and frightened.

The next day, I was walking on a side street, near where the previous night's incident occurred. A woman approached her parked car, keys in hand. On the sidewalk lay the remains of her side mirror, smashed by some unknown delinquent. The woman had the same look which the old man had.

What is it about breaking glass? Is it the sound? Is it a little bit of chaos making itself known- Shiva the destroyer made manifest? Is it in defiance of the purity of glass? Or is it a method of intimidation, as it was in Nazi Germany?

By Professor Batty



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