Reykjavik X 40


I've been thinking long and hard for at least the last minute. If Reykjavík were suddenly increased in size to rival bigger cities, like London (7 million), then Iceland would surely be the biggest cultural force on Earth.

To be the same size as London, this city would have to get 40 times bigger. My mathematical ability is very limited, so all numbers that ever spill from my brain need to be taken lightly, but we'll suppose that all things in Reykjavík would simply increase forty-fold.

From music to crime, and from poetry to homelessness, everything would grow proportionately. I don't think any single city has forty times the live music, art exhibitions or general creativity that this place has. Maybe it's down to the landscape and the clean water making the people here a bit more arty, but then again, maybe it's not.

I have come to the conclusion that Reykjavík's small size is the very reason behind its success - the more prosperous a society becomes, the more money there is available to spend on art. For a start, the public sector here employs proportionately more people than it should; it seems unlikely that any city would need forty times more people in its planning department, its city hall or its transportation department.

It also seems unlikely that any capital city would need forty times more people in its office of foreign affairs or its ministry of agriculture. Would any other city need forty times more people employed in libraries and universities?

Finally, no small section of sea could support forty times the number of fishing boats operating out of Reykjavík. In conclusion, any city suffering an artistic vacuum should split into two entirely separate cities with two separate public sectors - it could really work, and if you push taxes high enough, wages could increase and inflation could eventually make the city almost too expensive for foreign visitors to enjoy, thereby killing two birds with one stone.

AE [email protected]

Views expressed here are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Iceland Review.