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Friday, March 30, 2007

Dialogue Between Nature and an Icelander

Look at these marvellous images by Icelandic photographer Rebekka Guðleifsdóttir. I'll put a little Leopardi on in the background while you're doing so.

Icelander: Now I ask you: Did I ever beg you to place me in this world? Did I intrude into it violently, against your will? But if you put me here without my knowledge or consent, isn't it your duty, if not to keep me happy and content, at least not to taunt and torture me, and let me live in peace? And I say this not only for myself, but for the whole human race, and every living thing.

Nature: Apparently it hasn't occurred to you that life in this universe is a perpetual cycle of production and destruction, so bound together that one is always counteracting, the other, thus preserving the world, which, if either ceased to operate, would likewise dissolve. Therefore if man did not suffer, the world itself might be destroyed.

Icelander: That's the very argument I hear from all philosophers. But since what is destroyed suffers, and what destroys cannot be happy, but is soon destroyed in turn, tell me what no philosopher can tell me: For whose pleasure or profit does this most miserable life of the universe, preserved only at the cost of the dead and suffering of all its component parts, exist?

While they were in the midst of debating these and similar problems, the story goes that two lions came upon the scene, so worn out and starved that they hardly had the strength to devour the Icelander, which they nonetheless did, and with all of that nourishment, managed to live through the day. Some deny this, and say that as the Icelander spoke, a great, fierce wind arose, slapping him to the ground and burying him under a majestic pile of sand that dried him up perfectly, turning him into a fine mummy, which was later discovered by a group of travelers and placed in the museum of some town or other in Europe.

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