Suspended Isolation

This interview with photojournalist and filmmaker Ed Kashi at Noun/Verb really speaks to me.

I don’t travel like he does (at all!) but this is how I feel, too:

“I wrote last year for a photo blog that I suffer from what I call suspended isolation. And that even when I am home, I can feel incredibly lonely. I can be in my kitchen—and my daughter, and my son, and my wife are around me—and I feel alone. …  [I]n some bizarre way, sometimes I feel most at ease when I’m alone in a hotel room with an internet connection.”

It’s not that I feel alone with my spouse, in my house. I don’t.  It’s that there  is  no place I feel more comfortable and settled than an anonymous (but well-appointed) hotel room, by myself.

And that fact doesn’t feel bizarre to me at all, because it matches my feeling of suspended isolation, of being very much in a place and also not being in it.

The interviewer comments that being in the hotel room is “an escape from some of the banal responsibilities of life,” and that’s true, I do like that part of it, a lot. Even more, though, I feel that I am most “home” when I am alone and in a state of geographical and perhaps chronological suspension — because “home” is somehow carried with me and I can access it most easily in this sort of place that is both extraordinary and ultraordinary. (And I don’t need the internet connection, but it’s OK to have it.)

I think a hotel room serves as a heterotopia for me.

Earlier, he semi-quotes another photographer:

“I think it was Paul Strand who said something like, ‘I could spend the rest of my life in my backyard and never run out of subjects to photograph.’ I know that sounds really good and I wish I had actually said it [laughs], but I hold that as a talisman, or as a guide post.”

I tried to find a quote like this and the best I could come up with is:  “The artist’s world is limitless. It can be found anywhere, far from where he lives or a few feet away. It is always on his doorstep.”

I like the paraphrased version better. It’s my feeling (and my desire) that there are so many layers of life going on in any one place that it will take a life-time to see, hear, and sense each aspect of it.

(And, Kashi’s comments after the interviewer asks: “For better or for worse, what has your work taught you about humanity and the human condition?” seem right on to me.)


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