Living alone in rural Iceland, he has probably had more “me” time than the average recluse. Similar to an artist, though, he chooses to be isolated for long periods of time so he can always be ready to work. Solitude is tradition to Pálsson. In Icelandic, his name literally translates to Paul, Paul’s son. “I’ve been a man of the sea for 36 years. My father was the same and so was my grandfather,” he said.
“When the fish are there, so are we.”
Any artist would be jealous of Pálsson’s mental toughness. As narrator, he describes his insomnia, listlessness and the “numb” feeling that comes over him while he sits in his shack, rubbing his eyes, waiting patiently for the next opportunity to fish. He shares his mulling with the audience when he says, “I sit alone, knowing there’s no point in trying. I count the seconds, the minutes and the hours until the sun rises.”
You may have seen similar documentaries made by hipsters who find an old craftsman up in the mountains somewhere, shooting closeups of sawdust in a sunbeam, adding meaningful string arrangements and forcibly glamorizing an otherwise lackluster trade. This story is more realistic. For anyone who has ever sat in front of a glowing screen, uninspired, rubbing their eyes, Pálsson’s “longest night” is relatable.
He can’t predict when his next work will come to him, but he stays ready.