Meeting Jonathan Harris
This man is also named Jonathan, but he spells it Jonathon.
He lives in Paris, but is about to travel home to Australia, where his Mom and her Mom could use him around.
For the last 104 days, he has been taking one photo a day and posting it to his website, www.meetingjonathanharris.org.
Last night he flew to Iceland, and this morning he rented a car and drove to Siglufjörður, so he could meet me and stop taking photos.
He had read every one of mine, and he knew a lot about me, so for the first couple of hours he did all of the talking, so we could start to get even.
"So, who am I?" he said. "I think that is one of the most important questions, you know what I mean?"
He reached into his tattered blue backpack and pulled out a long, folded family-tree drawn out in ball-point pen on multiple sheets of 8.5 x 11 paper, taped together along the edges.
"I wanted to see if I had any Aboriginal blood in me," he said. "You know, to make things easier. But now I know there's not even a drop. All of my friends were like, 'Come on, Jono, you are about as little Aborigine as they come!' but I had to check anyway, you know what I mean?"
Another time he took a cargo ship from Sydney to Malaysia and then traveled across Asia to Paris. This time, he had wanted to come to Iceland by boat, but he was worried I was going to leave, so instead he took a plane.
He told me about an artist called Bill Drummond who made a lot of money in pop music in the early 90s, and who then burned 1 million British pounds on a small Scottish island, filmed it, screened the film once, and then burned the film, too. He told me about another artist called Richard Long, who once walked from the northern to the southern tip of Iceland, and then directly in the center of Iceland, built a circle of rocks and took one picture of it, which was the only picture he took on the trip. Bill Drummond then bought this picture for $20,000, had it hanging over his bed for a while, and then decided to cut up the picture into 20,000 pieces, sell each piece for a dollar, and then take the resulting $20,000 in an oak box to the center of Iceland and bury it under the stone circle that Richard Long had put there before. On a French train, Jonathon had seen the letters "KLF" etched in graffiti, took a picture of the graffiti, and sent it to Bill Drummond, whose pop group was called "The KLF". In return, Bill Drummond sent one of the 20,000 picture pieces to Jonathon in a sealed envelope, which Jonathon never opened. Tonight, he gave me the unopened envelope, and now it is sitting next to me in the center of my bed, if not in the center of Iceland.
We went to the beach, got sticks, and walked to the Turn colony, trying to talk while the birds screamed and pecked at our heads. We swung our sticks in the air and the Turns stayed away.
In the fjord there are mainly four kinds of birds — Arctic Turns, Sea Gulls, Eider Ducks, and a kind of gangly-legged Icelandic sandpiper. The Turns are like angry maniacs that cannot be reasoned with. The Sea Gulls are Sea Gulls — ubiquitous, noisy, and boring. The Eider Ducks are gentle and magical creatures, emanating a calm, quiet energy. The sandpipers are jumpy and constantly terrified, but too afraid to attack. We were standing there at the end of the fjord, and two sandpipers were freaking out, squawking at us and prancing around.
"It would be so great if we could somehow make a peace offering," I said, "to let them know we mean no harm."
"Do you think they'll realize?" said Jonathon.
"Maybe after five or ten minutes, if we don't move much," I said.
"This is such a good lesson," he said. "It is like if there were aliens, you know what I mean? I mean, not to go against cultural norms here, but if there were aliens, and we had to tell them not to attack, that we were friendly, how would we do that? It would be so hard. It would be like talking to birds."
"I guess food goes a long way," I said.
"That's true," he said. "Do you think they'd eat my apple?"
He bit off a piece of his apple and threw it at the bird.
"He might think you're attacking," I said.
"But I'm not," he said.
"Sometimes it's hard to know, you know?" I said.
He bit off another piece and threw it next to the first one, but the bird just danced around, more afraid than ever.
"Maybe we should go," I said. "Maybe we should go and leave the birds alone."