director: Arni & Kinski
The video opens with an almost Buddhist serenity, tension crackling between the gravelly feedback and the sparkling piano melodies. The actors’ eyes are closed, breathing gently, looking meditative in black and white. Jonsi, lead singer and guitarist, draws a cello bow over his guitar, a technique he’s famous for inventing. It creates a full, reverberating sound that drags along the bass like the world’s heaviest, airiest fabric. I’ve just finished reading an essay collection by the writer George Saunders called The Braindead Megaphone; it ends with a story about going to Nepal to see the ‘boy Buddha’ who had been meditating under a tree for seven months without food or water. This must be something like what the boy felt the moment he sat down at the tree. It’s like I’m realising the hair-thin thread that softly touched on my face stretches way, way up, all the way to the heart of the universe.
And then a big inhalation, and the words begin. I’m pulled from the plane of the transcendent back to the world of the human, and the people in the video begin to cry. A young woman heaves heavy sobs, curled up in her basement. Two silent tears roll down the cheeks of an older lady. A boy kneels, whispering at the earth. For a few seconds I’m confused. What happened to the calm? Being on the path to enlightenment?
And then just like that, it makes sense. The video is about feeling, that human entry in the book of god.