Intersteller

I flew on Norwegian Airlines instead of Icelandair for the trip I just took, which was, in my mind anyhow, a great symbolic gesture, a sort of declaration of independence, that I am a Scandinavianist and not an Old Norse or Icelandic scholar. Since I now work as the Director of the Scandinavian Cultural Center at Pacific Lutheran University, such a reorientation of my professional identity seems in order. And indeed as I was driving in the Norwegian countryside and walking around Oslo, I was glad I knew the touchstones of Norwegian history and identity, like Eidsvold and Ibsen and Dofrafjell. However, during the conference, it became very clear to me that although I appreciate knowing more about all the Scandinavian countries, when it comes to my scholarship, my focus is entirely on Icelandic history and identity--what it has meant to people through the centuries to be Icelandic. Perhaps this is because I have always been trying to understand what it means to me personally to be Icelandic, but I don't think that is it entirely. The history of Iceland is so fascinating specifically for the question of how people living out on an island in the middle of the North Atlantic could cope with all the changes and switches and ebbs and flows of the political landscape. Pioneers, Vikings, landnámsmenn, Oddverja, Catholics, subjects of the Norwegian king, part of the European world, Protestants, poor farmers eking out a living in a harsh environment, fishermen, Nordic liberals, failed bankers. All of these are categories Icelanders have chosen, do choose, or have been assigned to them. And I think with sympathy upon the person actually having to navigate their way around all those choices, the boggling responsibility of what to decide to become.

Wow, sorry, my intention in this blog is actually to give a review of Norwegian Airlines, and why it is different than Icelandair. The biggest difference is that you will not find a single Norwegian working as a steward on Norwegian airlines. Not one person among the cabin crew had Norwegian as a first language. I did not hear them speak to each other in Norwegian at all on either flight, but did hear at least the first crew speak Thai to one another. It was a bit jarring. One of the pilots did seem to have a Scandinavian accent, but otherwise one can say definitively, Norwegians do not work for Norwegian Airlines. That is of course very different than Icelandair, where upon arriving on board, one arrives into an Icelandic linguistic world. I have always like that. My Icelandic is far from perfect so I am always glad to get a chance to passively immersed in that environment.

The other big difference is the plane itself, which on Norwegian Airlines is the superfancy huge big new Boeing Dreamliner, which is indeed a nice plane. Lots of special lighting in the ceiling that changes color throughout the flight and an electronic shading system that is pretty nifty, plus it's just roomy and comfortable. Oslo airport reminds me a lot of Flugstöð Leifur Eiríkssonar in terms of how they look, although Oslo is quite a bit more congruent and pleasant.

One last thing is that Norwegian Airlines has electrical outlets at every seat, which despite being hard to reach are quite handy, especially if one is trying to finish one's paper on the way to a conference. There is however no wireless internet on board, not even an option to pay for it. So bring work with you, or watch one of the many movie choices.

I watched Interstellar on the flight back, which features Ann Hathaway, stars Matthew McConaughey with Matt Damon playing a duplicitous role. It is a very weird movie, but I must say I liked it. It is set in a future earth where everything had gotten so dusty and dry on earth, the soil was dying, and they had to try to look for a new home, or a way to get off earth, including exploring planets on the far side of a wormhole. They were able to send messages back and forth through the wormhole, but the messages are short and get distorted through time and space. There was a part near the end that tried to do some sort of time-traveling paradox, which I always think is lame. But the very last scene I liked, a sort of back to basics concrete decision.

Jeez, this is the sort of babbling teenager I turn into when I've been doing my own bit of time-travel.


Comments

Jono said…
I found Iceland fascinating for many of the same reasons as you believe it or not.
I have only flown on Norwegian Air once, from Bergen to London, and it wasn't fancy. As a former private pilot I just like being airborne. Going someplace interesting just adds to the fun.
It really is okay to babble. We don't expect you to always be writing in a scholarly fashion. I'm pretty sure you're just as human as the rest of us and have as many facets as a princess cut diamond.
Lissy said…
The last time I flew Icelandiar was in November of last year, when I went there with my brother and sister and niece. I don't think I ever wrote a blog about it. Maybe I should babble about that sometime, I think it actually fundamentally changed my thinking about Iceland, or my relationship to it anyhow.

Diamonds are made deep in the earth, I wonder what gemstone forms up in the upper atmosphere?

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