Lovely Volcanoes and Horrible Dams

I have always had an absurd and unnatural love for volcanoes. There is something very mystic about them, especially extinct ones, whose insides are still scarred from millions of years of eruptions. In the middle of chaos and fire, volcanoes persist, even thrive. And even though they are slowly contributing noxious gases to the air I breathe, I can’t help but feel that they and I have some unique spiritual bond… if volcanoes can really have a spiritual anything. It is for this reason that I cradle close to me the idea of Iceland, the enigmatic, romantic concept of an island both fire and ice, that stands so far from everything else, on the edge of the arctic, in a world all its own. I dream of going there like I dreamt of one day playing Scrabble with Kurt Vonnegut, or of seeing The Dismemberment Plan live. It now appears that all three of them may be out of the question. Just when I thought that Iceland may have slipped past the radar of the greed and industrialization of the Rest Of The World, this horrific little event occurs, one that left me sprawled in panicked horror on my living room floor for no less than an hour, clutching my heart and moaning to no one in particular. National Geographic’s March issue contains an article ( discussing the conflicts behind Iceland’s latest industrial progress, namely a dam called Kárahnjúkar, which required an enormous amount of flooding and will provide energy to a massive American-company-owned aluminum smelter. The smelter will provide much-needed jobs and foreign capital. however, and while it’s impossible to ignore the social aspect, it’s also impossible for me not to be enormously depressed about this: in my mind it will always be a tragedy, akin to the Truth About Santa Claus, birthdays after fifteen, and the last book of Narnia.

1 thought on “Lovely Volcanoes and Horrible Dams”

  1. I’ve been to Iceland, and it’s an interesting (but very expensive!) country–next time, I’d like to go back in the summer. I’ve also been thinking about Iceland’s businesses after reading this article on Boston Now ( Natalie, this is worrying–“A statement released by BostonNow focused on the deterioration of the Icelandic economy. It cited recent interest rates of 15.5 percent, an inflation rate of 8.7 percent, and a 20 percent decline of the nation’s currency, the krona, against the US dollar.”

    I’ve read about groups of Icelandic businessmen before–I know a group own a stake in English football clubs, including West Ham United.

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