Plato believed that images, instead of being depictions of realities, are more like regimes that make true representation impossible. They are falsely authoritarian and positively deceiving – visual representation make it impossible for us to read the world correctly. On the other hand, Ludwig Wittgenstein, an Austrian-British philosopher of the 19th century, insisted that even words could never offer us real, true representations of the world; Words are conventions – something that we agree to use simply because it is necessary to somehow communicate, but which ultimately fall short. British philosopher John Locke went even further, believing that the only true image is that which we directly experience through our senses. Everything else – visual representations, words, innate ideas – are false idols of the real thing.
I am not a Platonist. Or a Wittegnsteiner or a Lockeist, or whatever their followers may call themselves. But when I think of Iceland it makes complete sense. I often feel an inevitable sense of disappointment whenever I show pictures or tell stories. Even now, reminiscing about the Glacier Lagoon on the East coast, my memories seem fictitious and inaccurate. I guess what I am trying to say is that there is nothing like the Icelandic landscapes. No photograph, no word, no imagined possibility holds up to what it really feels to be there – to stand amidst the whitest white, the blackest black, the clearest blue, breathing the icy air and listening to the distant crack of ice breaking, momentarily followed by the sound of silence that seems to fill the entire vast space. Even my own memories seem inaccurate, like nothing that I can remember will really hold up to what my senses experienced that cold morning on the banks of the Glacier Lagoon. But I take photos, and grainy videos, and patchy panoramas, in some attempt to never forget. But they are nothing like the reality of Iceland.