Monday, February 9, 2009

Rebecca Solnit on Iceland: The New William Morris?

Interesting that Rebecca Solnit, one of our finest writers (see her spell-binding, unclassifiable books River of Shadows: Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West and A Field Guide to Getting Lost, not to mention any of her great occasional essays for Harper's or Tomdispatch), seems to be all of a sudden as interested in Iceland as William Morris was in the late Victorian period.

There's definite similarites between the two: you could even say that Solnit, as a radical activist concerned about the destruction of natural and urban beauty and life who also writes luminous essays about art and culture, is a direct descendant of Morris.

It's worth noting that another of our finest writers, Eliot Weinberger, devotes a few pieces at the beginning of his book Karmic Traces to Iceland. He calls it the perfect society--one without crime, poverty, or "conspicuous wealth"--but one that's impossible to replicate anywhere without Iceland's unique history and geography.

At any rate, check out Solnit's excellent recent essay on Iceland's financial collapse at Tomdispatch, as well as an account of a journey there (complete with cameos from Bjork and Sigur Ros) she wrote for Harper's. It's titled "News from Nowhere." Hm.

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