Last Wednesday evening I recorded the following, once I'd resumed my normal route home from Spike Island:
"I got lost on the way back home tonight. It reminded me of the times in Linz [pause] I would get lost, which made me think about how I get to know a place—and a language, by analogy, I remember—not by learning it by studying a map but rather by feeling my way, so that it isn't that I learn but that I get used to the topology around me. Perhaps I know it like the back of my hand, [pause] which perhaps is true, [pause] but I know the back of my hand very little. I'm used to it, but that isn't the same as knowing it.
"What is the experience of getting lost? You have to begin [pause] you have to find yourself lost. Suddenly. It comes upon you. And for this to happen you must have to begin walking along a path which you think is another path, a familiar path, only it isn't, it's a path you don't know. You walk along it thinking you know it, and suddenly, when the realization dawns on you that you don't know it—by which point it's too late—that's when you're lost. So there needs to be a kind of familiarity, a simulacrum [pause] a doppelgänger path that you move down, which you think you know, in order that you can find yourself suddenly [pause]
and irretrievably [pause] lost.
"Now because you don't know how that doppelgänger path exactly relates to the path you thought it was, it isn't immediately obvious how to retrace your steps and take the right path again. Certainly you have some idea. Certainly you have some idea, and you can retrace your steps according to that idea, but you can't have a complete idea, or you wouldn't have taken the wrong route in the first place. I wonder what moment of inattention, what quality of unawareness is needed in order to [pause] make [pause] the decision to take the doppelgänger path, or rather not make the decision, what moment of inattention is needed in order to unknowingly, inattentively, take the doppelgänger route.
"So there's that moment of intattention, which meets the unhappy coincidence of there being an available nearby doppelgänger route, and then, at the end of that doppelgänger there's that point at which the similarity ceases and then you realize [pause] you're somewhere else.
"Well what can I say about this? Why should I talk about this? Well I think I'm very good at getting lost. I think I do it easily. Perhaps I'm inattentive, I'm sure I am; I think also I'm not good at recognizing things. I think maybe I have a lower threshold of similarity than some other people—it means I have trouble recognizing faces, it means I can ignore familiar people it means I can not notice familiar people when I meet them. And perhaps the same thing applies to getting lost. It's too easy for roads to look alike [pause] or perhaps it's too easy for them not to look alike, and so I don't expect much recognition when I take a route, and so I take a route and it seems good enough [pause] because all the routes seem good enough, and when I don't get lost, it's more fortune, happy coincidence, than design.
"But you know I remember how I did it. I remember the moment of inattention and it was the opposite: perhaps it was a moment of unusual attention: I walked out of Spike Island, I turned left, and at the next left turn I thought, I must turn left here, I must take this road, this is the way to go. If I don't go this way I'll get lost. So I took that road. And now I remember I noticed a little pub at the end of the road and I thought That's where I went with Marie-Anne and that's where the idea of this residency all began. [pause] And I knew I didn't see that pub every day so I must have known already that it was [pause] the wrong place to be. [pause] And that's when I started to make bad decisions about how to retrace my steps or rather I decided not to retrace my steps but rather, audaciously, to find my own way back. To [pause] to reorient my route to accommodate my mistake. It's that that I can't do: I can't hold a map in my mind, I can't hold topologies in my mind. I need to feel my way, know the route, and know what decision needs making at every turning point. Faced with a new route, there's no way to do it. There's no way to make progress because [pause] that requires a kind of overview [ pause] which I don't have."
Then on Monday I found the doppelgänger roads and photographed them. Turns out they look quite different. And I had an idea about a connection between getting lost and drawing analogies, which I tried to develop out loud as I spoke into the dark air:
"You know how I work with analogies—you know how I'm so intent on finding connections between things, forcing things up against one another and following them? I'm also somebody who very readily gets lost. I'm almost intent on getting lost. It's almost a practice. Although I think it is unintentional, the way that I can't recognize faces being unintentional, although perhaps secretly it's because it isn't a priority of mine, [pause]
"If there is a connection—an analogy—between a practice of making analogies and a practice of getting lost, then we have to accept that very often [pause] that sometimes, or often, or very often, or always, or inevitably, when I make analogies, I might be getting lost. I might be finding doppelgängers, following them along, and then only realizing when it's too late, when I'm lost, that my connections aren't right.
"Now I suppose what I'd like to argue is that these connections might not be right but might somehow nevertheless be valuable, that is, that the route I saw when I was lost, was still interesting and perhaps [pause] more importantly [pause] that by thinking, interpreting the doppelgänger route in the terms of the correct route, the original route, new useful knowledge, new insight is made. For instance I might see a particular view, think of it, think it is some other view, and therefore see that view—or both of those views—in a new light. So if that's the case, then [pause] if that's the case then I can accept not only the analogy between making analogies and getting lost, but also accept that because of this analogy there is some value in my process of making analogies, even if sometimes, or often, or always, they take place in a state of lostness."
Again, what does it do, transcribing verbatim these half-thought thoughts. They are not good, but not no good at all. They are something, they are groping, quite blindly, and perhaps shouldn't be read at all, but there is something in them to keep. Perhaps the shape of them, more than anything else.