The great thing about Porch Talk is that one does not have to worry about one’s qualifications. It is useful to hear a smart old man talk about what he remembers. In fact, some of the most useful things in Porch Talk is the misconceptions one gets to hear.
Porch Talk gives you the “take” of the older person on a time he lived through. On the porch, he isn’t trying to impress you or give you the Final Truth.
To me, Creator’s being in Iceland brings back a lot of memories of the things I heard, from decade to decade, about that country, without any particular coherence, but just as they reached us at random.
For instant, I seem to remember that when the post-war European population bust really got under way, Iceland still had a uniquely high birth rate, which at one point was estimated at a natural increase of once every 31 and a half years.
I also remember that in 1959 I was at a refugee conference in Berlin and was at a table where a Dane, a Norwegian and a Swede were talking very easily together, each in his native tongue. But Icelandic, they told me, was a very hard language for any of them to read.
I was also told that Icelanders would take foreign words and try to make them into a word deriving from Old Norse. They their origins seriously.
But mostly, I came to a deduction about the Althing, the Icelandic Parliament. Unlike the Greek democracy, where all the citizens sat around and shouted at each other, the Althing was set up in 920 AD as a unique representative democracy, meaning they elected representatives rather than the whole population assembling as in Greece.
But accepted history said that the Althing was INVENTED in Iceland. Actually the first Christian king of Norway was also known as the first KING of Norway, a single ruler totally alien to the earlier tradition of Old Norse society.
It seemed to me more likely that Althing was what the refugees from the first real king of Norway set up the way a group of runaway Americans would set up their own representative government.
Accepted history did not want that to be true because democracy had to traced to the East or at least to Classical Society.
Iceland was also known to have the highest book readership of any country on earth, including Japan.
One more thing that one heard about Iceland was that it first founded by Celtic monks, and that the population was Celtic-Norse. This was third-hand information, so one naturally had no explanation of how monks had descendants.
Pretty confused stuff, sort of like ea European whose only knowledge of the American South comes from talking with other Europeans who read Gone With the Wind.
Being a geography buff, Iceland fascinated me because it was both in Europe and in America. The Monroe Doctrine covered Iceland when it was already a Danish colony. Yet it is and is not part of Scandinavia.
But there is no doubt about which side of the White Line Iceland stands in OUR minds.