msb ~072 “We will grieve the glacier”

“We will grieve the glacier”  

Andri Snær Magnason: grieve the glacier
Andri Snær Magnason

In his beautiful, stark contribution to Dark Mountain’s new collection, TERRA, Andri Snær Magnason takes us from his family’s Iceland home — “one of the harshest homesteads in Europe … you can only see the next house with binoculars” — into northlands of moss-covered lava fields and geothermal zones. Here, “it is like a window or a wound on the surface, you can feel the power that moves continents and you can feel the hostility.”

Andri recalls his grandparents’ 1950s glacier-mapping expeditions, when “the glacier existed in the context of eternity. It had always been there, as long as any man or documents could remember.” But now “nature has left geological time and has started to change during a single human lifespan.” The harsh Arctic environment is a reminder that the abundance of death, not life, defines nature: its overwhelming presence in the struggles of all living things. Landscapes too. “The glacier vanishes softly, like a silent spring … loses its glow, lies flat and lifeless…” 

His writing offers another door, imagining future, glacierless lands alongside his present, transitional space: “we will grieve the glacier but they will see … blades of grass that will prove the miracle of life.”

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