Lunar Chronicle

Marc Josse

Translations from a journal begun after the death of his father.

Paris, 4 fevrier 2004: I open my eyes; nothing will ever be like it was before.

I am in Paris, it’s 7:00 a.m. and I’m getting ready to plunge into the metro, where it is dirty and damp. It is cold, we are in February. The train is filled with lonely figures, a sleeping desert of men and women preoccupied and ­silent. Where are the beautiful phrases and the beautiful women?

It was time to cast myself away, to take time far from this place and these people and the daily round.

I went to America.

I found myself attracted by the places we pass by and do not stop for. Non-places (non-lieu), emanations in the middle of nowhere, like scars in the landscape. Their lack of identity makes them welcoming to the traveller, who decides to stop because they resemble him: these places with a shady past and uncertain identity, where time and space blend into silence and ­immensity.

I drove a rented car thousands of kilometres through these zones of the ­intermediate, alone and searching, far from the allure of the photogenic, the picturesque, the decisive moment.

I was adrift in introspection, moving and not moving.

These places hold a trace of the anonymous, the discreet, the passing of lost ones who came here to lose themselves or find themselves. I have never felt as free. Mobility is, after all, only a detail. It’s odd to travel for weeks and find the same place a thousand kilometres away. The journey takes me nowhere in particular. It is not an escape; on the contrary, far from people and the bustle of modern life, one confronts one’s fears and one’s doubts. Time and space no longer exist. This travelling has no end anywhere.

The images are simple, frontal, direct. Black and white is an intimate choice; it brings modesty to the picture, and diminishes the sense of a place in time.

With death in my soul, I set out on a great voyage. I wandered through places where time and space no longer mattered. By losing my way, I found peace.

This journey took me from New Orleans to Calgary, where I am right now. I went through Texas, along the Mexican border up to El Paso, and then headed north through Arizona and New Mexico to Monument Valley, south across California, and then through Nevada, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia and finally Alberta.

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