HOME DELIVERY SERVICE (Full Text)
CLAYBIRD: The Case of Geirfinnur
A Point in Space
‘Heimsendingarthjonusta’ means ‘Home Delivery Service’, or more precisely ‘Home Sending Service.’ The word ‘Home’ (Heim) happens to translates into ‘World’ (Heimur), so that the ‘World Sending Service’ has the possibility of becomes the ‘World’s Ending Service.’ (All depending on where the S goes). But the world’s ending isn’t so much about an apocalypse, as it is about the limits of space. It is the idea of the point in space that represents the paradox of being a place and a position at the same time. Like the brilliance of the grammatical simplicity in how the word for ‘stupidity’ (heimska) derives from ‘home’ (heim), it is a way of describing existence as a geometrical fact. It is a mathematical equation that implies that when a point in space coincides too closely with a point of view – it becomes a point devoid of perspective.
Roman History, the Rhine and the End of Civilization
"Finally, as if resolved to make war in earnest, he drew up a line of battle on the shore of the ocean, placed his ballistas and other artillery, and, no one knowing or able to imagine what he was going to do, he all of a sudden commanded they gather sea shells and fill their helmets and pockets with them [...]. As a monument of this victory, he erected a lofty tower, from which lights were to shine at night to guide the course of ships, as from the lighthouse of Alexandria."
[Suetonius, Life of Caligula 46; tr. J. Gavorse]
The Rhine was the natural boundary that marks the outer limits of civilization during the Roman Empire. To the North and East of the Rhine were only barbarians. At strategic points all along the river ran a series of fortresses that protected the Empire. Because both rivers and horizons are made by connecting two points in space, then their substance is a direction rather than a material. It makes them perfect reflections on how to view things when looking at each horizon or river. ‘Home Delivery Service’ has something to do with how Caligula, the Roman Emperor, stood to the south of the Rhine’s mouth with the intention of conquering England. Instead of ordering an attack, he commanded his soldiers to collect seashells off the beach of what is now modern-day Holland. What remained was a lighthouse to commemorate the event and a fortress later to be known as The Brittenburg Ruins, which appeared and disappeared in sporadic intervals in the sea close to Caligula’s seashell-collecting escapade – in 1520, 1552 and 1562, and then for the last time in 1954.
The Tower of Kala stands near the Brittenburg Ruins, and is the place where fisherman caught their nets in an underwater structure; it is supposedly the tower Caligula ordered constructed in honour of his seashell victory. The continuity of the name in the place where a Caesar was supposed to be, is a kind of proof of the event having taken place at this location, but it may also have been a way for fishermen to commemorate the man who decided to build a lighthouse instead of going to war. In any case, it has been scientifically proven that ‘Caligula was here!’ Apparently he left a barrel of wine behind.
CLAYBIRD: The Death of the Last Garefowl (Great Auk)
‘Home Delivery Service’ is specifically about how a point in space may become confused with a point of view. The best example of this is the case for the Garefowl (Great Auk), for whom an apocalypse had already happened in the 19th century. The death of the very last Garefowl took place at an island off the west coast of the Reykjanes Peninsula – Eldey. The concept of the apocalypse however, doesn’t refer to the disappearance of the species so much as it refers to the disappearance of the world from the bird’s point of view. (Similar to the Dodo, the Garefowl was a bird not gifted with a great amount of scepticism about human nature.)
The Peninsula of Reykjanes is also the location of the ‘Case of Geirfinnur’ (or the ‘Case of Geirfinnur and Gudmundur’), which was equally baffling in its failure to reconcile to any reasonable hypothesis the events that lead to the disappearances of the two men in 1974. The early stages of the investigation had optimistically resulted in CLAYFINNUR – a clay sculpture of what the lead suspect looked like. It was made from the draft of the description by witnesses who had seen a man make an appointment with Geirfinnur from which he never returned. At some point in the investigation, the authorities grew a genuine disinterest in finding CLAYFINNUR, preferring instead the more traditional tactics of arrest, confinement, interrogation and psychic consultants. CLAYFINNUR was never found, but his portrait casts a subdued light on the principle of the point of view. Sometimes it is coerced to form an unconvincing and unified whole. But the nature of the conspiracy is to protect us from realizing that a vision can be subject to bad craftsmanship.
CLAYBIRD: The Base
‘Home Sending Service’ also covers the of strategic occupation of the region by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) – otherwise known as ‘The Base’. It was an occupation that was followed by a withdrawal which was as sudden as it was enigmatic. What it had in common with the Tower of Kala is a confused etymology of what it denoted. ‘The Base’ had become synonymous with Keflavik, which was itself an airport, a military fort, and a town (now known as Reykjanesbaer). It had been these different things, all sharing the same name.
The Point Being...
CLAY + GEIRFINNUR = CLAYFINNUR
CLAYFINNUR + GAREFOWL = CLAYFOWL = CLAYBIRD
CLAYBIRD is the point of these stories. It is also a point in space. What a point does is to embody the essential finitude of territory and produces a way to understand the whole world as a finite phenomenon. The point is also the bases for a point of view, but the point of view, like the point itself, is the start of a line which creates perspective in the technical as well (as the metaphorical) sense of the word.
CLAYBIRD is also accompanied by THE BRITTENBURG RUINS, THE TOWER OF KALA and THE RHINE. They are photographs as well as being a superimposed viewpoint, i.e. Caligula’s viewpoint – the man who failed to conquer England and decided to collect seashells instead. The apocalypse of the ‘World’s Ending’ holds is the paradox of a disappearing point on a plain, because the plain that the point stands on can only disappear from the point’s point of view. Similar to rivers, each horizon is a disappearing plain from the position of the point, and each picture of a horizon is the (quantum) superposition of a viewpoint that no longer exists.