A French poet once wrote “A gray city, sad as a tombstone with chrysanthemums”. To be honest, these words might only seem like some sort of morbid allusion, especially seeing how nice the weather has been here in Iceland these past few weeks. Perhaps, perhaps. Or maybe it has something to do with the fact that I have been sitting inside sick, fighting windmills with my Thinkpad and pen as a sword. Or maybe you just need an acute eye. However, I decided to quote this line in connection to a conversation I had the other day. This conversation also got me thinking about the recent fishing quota debate, which I am not going to write about, or am I?
Because almost everybody has an opinion on something, you bump into stupid opinions everyday. For example, the Westman Islands’ most famous resident, and their elected representative in Alþingi, wrote in Morgunblaðið that fishermen know the ocean better than ocean biologists with their fancy smancy PhDs. Slam dunk there, Air Johnsen. The papyrus fragment “Thought is common to all” has just been proven wrong. Johnsen is a classical case of a stupid opinion from an even stupider person. Yes, I said stupid. Just ask any rational person. He, like everybody in Iceland, has an opinion on something, or what some call “this and that”, which can become quite annoying in the long run. Sure democracy and freedom of speech are great, they just seem sometimes to become eroded when you hear opinions that forego the process of rational thinking. Although I prefer that to the other option “In the end we shall make thought-crime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it. Every concept that can ever be needed will be expressed by exactly one word, with its meaning rigidly defined and all its subsidiary meanings rubbed out and forgotten.”
So after this aforementioned conversation I got to thinking, and this came to mind: “Go home and write a page tonight. And let that page come out of you – then, it will be true”. Yes, the other day I was at the swimming pool and the conversation led to literature and philosophy. In what seemed a nano second, I was asked to name a favourite literary quote and book. How can you utter one verbatim account, like some floozy posing as the Sibyll, from countless hours of reading? My learning was shamed into a condensed form of trivial small chat. So, here is my opinion. I hate it when “semi famous” Icelanders are asked about their favourite movie or what movie they saw recently. It annoys me for many reasons: few people second guess a doctor, lawyer or say a financial broker. But when it comes to literature, everybody wants to be a tour guide like Virgil in the murky domains of the humanities.
Although with the onslaught of blogs online, things have just gotten worse. Now it seems like almost everybody in Iceland is digitalizing their sublime thoughts on the online blog of our famous newspaper, Morgunblaðið. Before you only had to cringe at the readers’ letters about the dangers of communism, immigration and numerous other threats. Now technology has made it possible in one short click for you to find right wing theologians, illiterate housewives, various schmucks, Islam bashers and others at mbl.is. Everybody there just loves to voice their opinion. However, in my opinion, not only do you have to emulate Descartes but you should always doubt your own opinion like clockwork, every day if possible. I have an opinion too. But, I am not going to rationalise it just so I can fit in with the fringe of the blogging community on mbl.is: Legalise drugs.
Interestingly enough, there has been a lot of “talk” (opinions) suggesting there should be a shopping mall in downtown Reykjavík. During this weekend I actually did read an opinion in Fréttablaðið that did make sense regarding the matter. In the article the author managed to point out the absurdities of the matter, e.g. putting a shopping mall downtown or on the Laugavegur is like putting a shopping mall inside a shopping mall. She even asks the authors of the supposed plan whether or not they would rather see the old distinguished parts of Europeans cities, or rather just go to the Mall of America.
The thing that frightens me the most is the fact that there are actually plenty of people here in Iceland who prefer the experience of shopping indoors to culture. People with more soft-boiled opinions than sense. If they get to decide, the city would not only become grey – it would become a victim of base values. A city draped in grey, decked out for its burial of downtown Reykjavík. A fitting end.
Oh yeah, in my opinion the fishing quota should be reduced to ten tonnes, because that is my opinion.