Jón Gnarr, the radio host, philosopher and Mayor of Reykjavík, would like to welcome you to his city. And he would like to do so by considering the nature of existence, and the question of "elves and trolls."
Like fellow Nordic thinker Kierkegaard, Gnarr is grappling with the question and nature of existence. Unlike Kierkegaard, Gnarr is grappling with those questions in a brief essay entitled, "Welcome to Reykjavík" published in the opinion page of the local English-language biweekly, The Grapevine (PDF). It is, nonetheless, a formidable text, every bit the equal to Kierkegaard's famous Fear and Trembling. Or, I assume it is, given that I've never read Fear and Trembling. (You can read the whole thing below.)
In the essay, Gnarr moves from Aristotelian questions of potentiality like "Did I exist in any form before I was born?" to, uh, other qestions, like "Why did Eva Braun and Adolf Hitler not bear any children?" He later finds solace in his belief in "elves and trolls," specifically, the Moomins, the hippopotamus-like characters from Tove Jannson's beloved children's books. In fact, he has solicited political advice from Moominpapa, the leader of the clan, about joining the European Union (Says Moominpapa: "Life in Moominvalley was much better after Finland joined the EU.")
Gnarr besides being Reykjavík's funniest mayor ever, is a former (well, current) comedian and actor. He founded his own political party, the Best Party, in 2009, and won control of Reykjavík's mayorship in June of 2010. Here is a campaign video for the Best Party:
"I hope these thoughts shed some light on the history of Reykjavík and its culture," concludes Gnarr. Indeed, they do.
Mayor's Address: Welcome to Reykjavík
The odds of you being in Reykjavík are not great. The greatest part of mankind is elsewhere. It is scientifically proven. When I was little, I would often ask myself why I had been born in Reykjavík. Is it a coincidence where one is born? Is it subject to some universal law? Did I exist in any form before I was born? Did I have anything to do with where I was born? Why did Eva Braun and Adolf Hitler not bear any children? Did they not try to? Can it be that no child wanted them as parents? I don't know, but I do not believe in coincidence. I do not believe that God plays dice, especially not when human lives are concerned. These thoughts inevitably lead one to consider Schrödinger's cat. He is probably one of the most famous cats in the world (maybe after Ninja Cat). Still no one knows what it was called? What was Schrödinger's cat called? Abracadabra? I don't remember. Let's call it Phoenix. That is a common name for cats. Phoenix was of the nature that it both existed and not. Therefore, it always existed, and even if Schrödinger killed his cat in a rather tasteless manner, it is still alive at Schrödinger's house, while Schrödinger himself has been dead for a long time:
Δx Δp ≥ h/2
Does this mean that I always existed, or that I never existed and do therefore not exist now? That can't be! It would mean that all our existence was unreal and only existed in our own imagination. If I do not exist, then neither do you. I have a hard time believing that. The facts speak for themselves. If I am not real, then how could I fly to Finland, send myself a post card with a picture of Tarja Halonen, the President of Finland, fly back home and welcome the mailman that brought me the card? I don't know. I am one of many Icelanders that believe in elves and trolls. I mainly believe in Moomin elves. It is more of a certainty than a belief. I have seen them and touched them. I know they exist. I have been to Moominworld in Naantali, Finland. I have evidence; photographs, video recordings and witnesses. I had a good talk with Moomin Papa. He told me that life in Moominvalley was much better after Finland joined the EU. He encouraged us Icelanders to join the EU. He also said that the Moomins had always existed, long before Tove Jansson "invented" them. The Moomins are eternal, at least in books.
I hope these thoughts shed some light on the history of Reykjavík and its culture. I hope you enjoy your time in Reykjavík, that you go swimming a lot and tell all your friends how fun Reykjavík is, and how everyone is always happy there and that you will never forget your hotel, Suðurlandsbraut and the eternally young cat Phoenix.
Jón Gnarr, Mayor of Reykjavík