Monday, June 28, 2010


This is the cover of my edition of Markings, the 1964 translation of Hammarskjöld's Vägmärken.

I got the book nearly twenty years ago, in Christmas 1991 (yes, written on the first page), at the end of my first year of university and thirty years after Hammarskjöld's death in a plane crash in 1961. I have been searching my mind for the precise details of how I came across the book, but I think it has something to do with Molly Jónsson, a friend of my mother's who had been involved as a cleric in the British investigation into the 1961 plane crash. I suspect she introduced me to both Hammarskjöld and the terrible circumstances of his death.

By the time I released a music CD a year later, the book had become so important to me that I (rather earnestly) had my photo taken with it for the inside sleeve of the CD cover. Part of my rediscovery of the book all this time later is the pleasant mystery of why I was so drawn to it in the first place.

We learn a lot about ourselves by looking over our past reading. It is a kind of time travel, where the destination is not so much the reconstruction of a past existence, but of a past sensibility. How did I approach this book? What did I know as I read it? What did it teach me? What I would like most, is to recapture the moment when I am bowled over by this text, and feel it like a new song, and not as a revisit accompanied by a more knowing distance.