|In Boston, at the birthplace of a great-great grandfather, 1998|
When Sigur Rós released Kveikur in 2012, I held off from getting it for a while, because I was sad that Kjartan had left. But it's become one of my favorites - especially "Stormur" and "Bláþráður" which share a very similar sound.
In the video for "Glosoli" from their 2006 release Takk, a drummer boy in an old military-style coat leads a group of children.
And the band members have sported costumes reminiscent of military uniforms (or marching band - anyway, with lots of buttons):
Maybe that's why, when I listen to "Stormur" and "Bláþráður," I feel like some kind of fabulous cosmic dragoon, decked out in a splendid coat of sober color, with the thick wool covering a body formed in appropriately manly proportions. Somewhat like that drummer boy, I imagine myself soaring above the landscape, taking in the vastness of it, or marching along on some purposeful errand - or maybe just on one of my hikes (I'll write more about that later).
I mentioned that my coat feels like armor. In fact, I credit part of the impetus for my novel in progress to that coat: the refinement and elegance of industrialized aesthetics that produced the clean lines of such a coat (instead of the sweeping curves of 18th-century military dress) attract me greatly, but I wanted to visualize a society that could achieve this sort of thing - and early industrial technology - but without the dehumanizing weapons of modern warfare. I imagined trains, wool coats, brass buttons and sabers - without firearms.
This was in my head long before I ever heard of steampunk - and my vision was of a cleaner look than the clutter I often see in steampunk illustration and cosplay. It's been interesting to observe emanations of my teenage visions appearing in contemporary fantasy - from the Mistborn Trilogy to Frozen.
Frozen: Scandinavian aesthetics. Is this my Danish background coming through? I saw Babette's Feast for the first time in college, and those snappy military uniforms made quite an impression. (One of my favorite scenes also is where the storekeeper puts on his postal hat to deliver a letter.) I grew up in a household with Danish furniture and utensils and so maybe I imbibed an appreciation for Nordic design that way.
I also grew up in a family where we were expected to dress up for many occasions. This meant that I quite often wore a blazer - and hated it. I think back on this as something like the way I hated math, even though I was good at it, and for a time even was a member of a competitive "Math League" in junior high. It turned out that wearing a navy blue wool jacket - with brass buttons - was ideal for playing soldiers after church. Perhaps I would have been mollified more often in my father's dress code requirements had he appealed to that sense of fantasy - you don't have to dress up, you get to do cosplay. After all, I did find his old military gear and regalia irresistible, and I have enjoyed dressing in olive and khaki, despite my pacifism.
|Minneopa State Park, Mankato, Minnesota, 1999|
But that's another story.
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