Site-specific exorcism

Have you ever gone back to a place that was strongly associated in your mind with a person you were once very close to — someone who is, for one reason or another, no longer in your life?

Such places can have the power to exert a ghostly pull. There was, perhaps, the conversation you had on this day, or the smile you shared on that. In random moments, a single location can transform into an entire telescoping almanac of events, a sudden onrush of phantom images from a world that is no more.

It can be nice on occasion to savor these images, painful edges and all. As a wise man once said, “Without a hurt the heart is hollow.” On the other hand, sometimes one wants simply to fling open the shutters — inviting the fresh air to pour in and our ghosts to flutter out.

There should be some sort of exorcism for these places in our lives. Even a minor spell would do, sufficient to provide a temporary respite. Perhaps an incantation or ritual, a lighting of candles and mumbling of words in some half forgotten tongue. Some way to be able to say, every now and again, “Today, at least today, this place is not ours, but mine alone.”

One Response to “Site-specific exorcism”

  1. Juan Buhler says:

    I once opted for the brute force solution for this very problem. The Pont des Arts in Paris was the favorite place of someone who was a big part of my life. In 2003, it was the first time I was in Paris after that relationship ended. I was taking a workshop and needed to pick a topic. So I spent two full weeks photographing the Ponts des Arts, every day, for about five hours each day.

    Now that bridge is mine.

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