Mag
Opinion
THE FINE ART OF FINNISH MELANCHOLY

THE FINE ART OF FINNISH MELANCHOLY

Published August 6, 2004

And despite Icelands latitude being right in the centre of Finland, the climate is somewhat different. Whereas Finns have to deal with long, cold, monotonous winters, which lead to a lot of introspection followed by depression, Icelanders have to deal with endless amounts of wind and rain more likely to result in frustration. Perhaps this explains why Icelanders always try to deny their melancholy, telling each other they are always “hress” and “í stuði,” whereas the Finns celebrate theirs.
A wonderful example of the latter is Arto Paasilinna´s book Glorious Mass Suicide, about a group of rejects who travel through Finland on a bus with the aim of driving off a cliff on the Arctic coast. They then turn around and decide to drown themselves off Portugal instead.
The book does not at first glance seem as if it would lend itself to dramatisation, but this is the ambitious task embarked upon by the newly founded thespian group Landsleikur. For a play that mostly takes place on a bus, the production is imaginative, particularly with the utilisation of a multi-purpose black box that is often the centrepiece of amusing scene changes, such as the drunk metamorphosing into a statue. The dramatisation quite sensibly cuts the journey down, ending in Norway, and staging off bus highlights. The humour is stressed, as it should be for a cast this young, and is mostly funny if occasionally laboured. However, a mistake is made in keeping the original ages of the protagonists. One has to overcome the obvious inconsistency of the middle aged characters of the text and the 20 year olds on stage. Making the characters younger would bypass this as well as broach the dark subject of teenage suicide. Still, you can´t fault a cast for its age, all actors play various characters and Karl Ágúst Þorbergsson particularly shines as Colonel Hermanni. For their parts the actors took lessons in Finnish tango, and the tango music that sets the atmosphere is a particular joy. In a melancholy sort of way, of course. The tango in Argentina celebrates sensuality, but in Finland it seems to celebrate sadness. That´s something we Icelanders should do more often.
Glorious Mass Suicide is on tour.



Mag
Opinion
Don’t Ask Nanna

Don’t Ask Nanna

by

Dear Nanna I’m confused about the Icelandic practice of using the -dottir and -son suffix instead of last names. Does that mean you guys change your last names for every generation? How do you keep track of who’s who?  Thanks, Son of Question Mark Dear Son of Question Mark, We manage. Nanna   Dear Nanna, An Icelandic friend of mine says he is considering going into rehab. I’ve been trying to tell him about some alternative holistic therapies I found to help him with his recovery but he just brushes me off. I feel like he’s acting really unappreciative and

Mag
Opinion
For The Record

For The Record

by

The Holocaust remains incomprehensible in its totality. The goose steps taken towards it, while horrendous on their own, can seem less other-wordly. The photograph accompanying this article is taken in Vienna in 1938. The women are put on display on a public square, wearing a sign that says: I have been expelled from the people’s community. The young men behind the women are preparing to shave off their hair, as a crowd watches. Such displays were not uncommon. The reasons could involve being Jewish, communist, gay, lazy, or —as in this case— having sexual relations with Jews. At a symposium

Mag
Opinion
Hope In Dangerous Times

Hope In Dangerous Times

by

The year 2014 has left me asking what it really means to be Icelandic, and whether that might be something I should feel embarrassed about. Because looking back, I kinda do. For Iceland, last year was marked by a plethora of major scandals, especially in the fields of politics and law enforcement. We witnessed our politicians and oligarchs make sickening attempts to shut down any and every attempt at investigative journalism. We were subjected to the nature pass, attempts to militarise our police force, Biggi the cop, Hanna Birna, livestock farmers’ systematic mistreatment of animals, a corrupt dairy monopoly, the

Mag
Opinion
We Need 1,000,000 Humans, Stat

We Need 1,000,000 Humans, Stat

by

At the end of 2014, we find ourselves inhabiting a Western welfare state, a pretty good one thank you very much. However, we need about a million more people to make things more interesting and fun. The coming year will bring endless nagging about our horrible government and the garbage Progressive Party. This will ultimately prove inconsequential, because the bourgeoisie will inevitably fall for whatever new hocus pocus tricks our rulers will come up with for the next elections. The year’s optimal outcome—since it’s not very realistic to imagine we’ll get an extra million people to Iceland by the end

Mag
Opinion
Shattered Conceptions

Shattered Conceptions

by

In 2014, we saw that politicians are not afraid to attack institutions and ideals that some of us had—naïvely, I admit—come to take for granted. We thought we all agreed to keep public radio alive; we thought we all wanted lower taxes on culture and healthy foods and a higher asking price for natural resources; we thought we were forever free to roam our own country; we thought we were kind and tolerant and peaceful and welcoming; we thought we had agreed to fight inequality and safeguard the communal; we even thought our politicians—also those we disagreed with—were mostly intelligent

Mag
Opinion
No Authority

No Authority

by

Unfortunately, I fear that 2014 will be remembered as the year when Iceland took a turn from being a Nordic welfare state, towards becoming a society marked by neoliberalism and harsh individualism. Iceland’s right-wing government is currently engaging in a full-scale attack on the foundations of the welfare system that has served as the backbone and unifying force of our society for decades. Our healthcare system is in grave danger, so much so that it may take years to repair the damage. Our upper secondary school system is further undermined by being closed off to those over the age of

Show Me More!