Posts Tagged ‘Reykjavik’

In 2007, conceptual artist Yoko Ono established the John Lennon Peace Tower in Iceland, a beam of multiple, heaven-directed lights that is intended to appear every year from John Lennon’s birthday, Oct. 9, to Dec. 8. It was most recently relit in 2014.

Wikipedia says, “The Imagine Peace Tower (Icelandic: Friðarsúlan, meaning ‘the peace column’) is a memorial to John Lennon from his widow, Yoko Ono, located on Viðey Island in Kollafjörður Bay near Reykjavík, Iceland.

“It consists of a tall tower of light, projected from a white stone monument that has the words ‘Imagine Peace’ carved into it in 24 languages. These words, and the name of the tower, are a reference to Lennon’s peace anthem ‘Imagine.’

“The Tower consists of 15 searchlights with prisms that act as mirrors, reflecting the column of light vertically into the sky from a 10-metre wide wishing well. … The power for the lights is provided by Iceland’s unique geothermal energy grid. It uses approximately 75 killowatts of power.

“Buried underneath the light tower are over 1 million written wishes that Ono gathered over the years in another project, called Wish Trees. … Iceland was selected for the project because of its beauty and its ecofriendly use of geothermal energy.” More at Wikipedia.

Says the Peace Tower website: “One of the mesmerising features of the Imagine Peace  Tower is that the strength, intensity and brilliance of its light continually changes with the prevailing weather and atmospheric conditions unique to Iceland – creating a clear pillar of light on a cloudless night, beams irridescing with rainbow refractions in rain or snowfall, and brilliantly reflecting off and through any moving layers of cloud.” More.

Photo: McKay Savage
“Imagine Peace” Tower

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Jenna Gottlieb of the Associated Press has a great story about elves.

“In this land of fire and ice,” she writes, “where the fog-shrouded lava fields offer a spooky landscape in which anything might lurk, stories abound of the ‘hidden folk’ – thousands of elves, making their homes in Iceland’s wilderness.

“So perhaps it was only a matter of time before 21st-century elves got political representation.

“Elf advocates have joined forces with environmentalists to urge the Icelandic Road and Coastal Commission and local authorities to abandon a highway project building a direct route from to the tip of the Alftanes peninsula, where the president has a home, to the Reykjavik suburb of Gardabaer. They fear disturbing elf habitat and claim the area is particularly important because it contains an elf church. …

“It’s not the first time issues about ‘Huldufolk,’ Icelandic for “hidden folk,” have affected planning decisions. They occur so often that the road and coastal administration has come up with a stock media response for elf inquiries, which states in part that ‘issues have been settled by delaying the construction project at a certain point while the elves living there have supposedly moved on.’ …

“Terry Gunnell, a folklore professor at the University of Iceland, said he was not surprised by the wide acceptance of the possibility of elves.

” ‘This is a land where your house can be destroyed by something you can’t see (earthquakes), where the wind can knock you off your feet, where the smell of sulfur from your taps tells you there is invisible fire not far below your feet, where the northern lights make the sky the biggest television screen in the world, and where hot springs and glaciers “talk,” ‘ Gunnell said.

” ‘In short, everyone is aware that the land is alive, and one can say that the stories of hidden people and the need to work carefully with them reflects an understanding that the land demands respect.’ ”


John Bauer 1913 illustration found at nordicculturespot.blogspot.com

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If you’re a country called Ireland and your soccer team doesn’t make it into the 2014 World Cup competition in Brazil, what do you do?

Change the “r” in your name to “c” and adopt another team.

I like David Trifunov’s headline at the Global Post, where you can read the background: “Iceland closes in on World Cup bid. Wait … Iceland has a soccer team?”

He continues, “Iceland is now one game away from becoming the smallest nation ever to advance to a World Cup. … It started in 2008 when the national economy, under the weight of an inflated currency, tanked.

“The modest Iceland soccer league cut ties with nearly all its more expensive foreign players, leaving the door wide open for homegrown talent. They took advantage, getting the experience they needed. …

“Ireland is one frustrated World Cup nation that has taken notice. At least the fans have. Eoin Conlon and friends were lamenting their country’s failed attempt to reach Brazil when he realized there’s only one nation that deserves their support now.

“ ‘And we kind of laughed, saying: “Well, that’s as close as Ireland’s going to get to Brazil. It’s only a letter difference. A ‘c’ for an ‘r.’ We might as well be brothers,” Conlon told Public Radio International.

“So they struck up a website and Twitter profile to encourage Irish football fans to back tiny Iceland.

“ ‘There are only about 320,000 people in Iceland,’ Conlon told PRI. ‘So if they were a county in Ireland — I’m calling them the 33rd county — it would [be] only the fifth-largest county in Ireland.’ ”

More here.

Photo: (AFP/AFP/Getty Images)
Iceland’s striker Kolbeinn Sigthorsson, right, and Croatian defender Vedran Corluka vie for the ball during their World Cup playoff in Reykjavik on November 15, 2013. 

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Rosie Goldsmith writes at BBC News that in Iceland, one in 10 people will publish a book.

“It is hard to avoid writers in Reykjavik. There is a phrase in Icelandic, ‘ad ganga med bok I maganum,’ everyone gives birth to a book. Literally, everyone ‘has a book in their stomach.’ One in 10 Icelanders will publish one. …

“Special saga tours – saga as in story, that is, not over-50s holidays – show us story-plaques on public buildings. Dating from the 13th Century, Icelandic sagas tell the stories of the country’s Norse settlers, who began to arrive on the island in the late 9th Century.

“Sagas are written on napkins and coffee cups. Each geyser and waterfall we visit has a tale of ancient heroes and heroines attached. Our guide stands up mid-tour to recite his own poetry – our taxi driver’s father and grandfather write biographies.

“Public benches have barcodes so you listen to a story on your smartphone as you sit. …

“Solvi Bjorn Siggurdsson, a tall, Icelandic-sweater-clad novelist, says writers owe a lot to the past. …

“Siggurdsson pays homage to Iceland’s Nobel Literature Laureate, Halldor Laxness, whose books are sold in petrol stations and tourist centres across the island. Locals name their cats after Laxness …

“Everyone receives books as Christmas presents – hardback and shrink-wrapped.

” ‘Even now, when I go the hairdressers,’ Kristin Vidarsdottir, manager of the Unesco City of Literature project, says, ‘they do not want celebrity gossip from me but recommendations for Christmas books.’ ” More.

I like the idea that everyone “has a book in their stomach.” The saying reminds me of the late, great Rev. Dana Greeley who used to say all people have one sermon in them.

Photo: Corbis

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