My relationship with the Other as neighbor gives meaning to my relations with all others. – Emmanuel Levinas
It is still too common that I reflexively look away from homeless people. Conversely, it is human and vulnerable to hold their gaze and to consider that they are people with histories, loves, and losses. In looking away, I make of the homeless a repellent, abject, or cautionary presence – someone or something unworthy of consideration and empathy. In engaging their gaze and responding to their specificity, we seek to understand the homeless as equals, as subjects filled with complicated, tragic, and joyful life experiences, possessed of narrative and creativity, consciousness and desire. Our abjection – or objectification – of the homeless person breeds intolerance and apathy – even violence – and enables this soluble social evil to persist.
At the end of the exit ramp near my home, I’d drive past homeless men working in turns, “flying” signs imploring me for Help. I employed myriad strategies to avoid assent, all of which maximized a distance – whether physical or psychological. At no other moment in my privileged day – spent with other similarly privileged persons – did I behave as I did when faced with those men. Back at my apartment building, I would say Hey to neighbors who stood no more than three blocks away from where my other neighbors stood, met with my silence. I came to understand that my active rejection of the homeless reflected my character, my fears of – and contempt for – impoverishment or difference; I came to see that my ignorance reveals my own inability or unwillingness to be humane and vulnerable. One day, I parked my car near the exit ramp, walked up to the group, and said Hey.
The Reflection in the Pool was made from 2011-2013. The book’s title essay was written by David Harryman, a shipbuilder who had been living rough for more than a year when I met him. Many of the people represented in this book contributed personal images, treasured objects, and photographs of their own – made using disposable cameras. The book is dedicated to the generous people who welcomed me into their lives, exchanged stories and friendship, and made pictures with me: David, Lee, Bob, Deano, Juan, Murph, Mike, John, Andrea, Carlos, George, James, Kim, Joe, Michael, and Mitch.
Shane Rocheleau, March 2019
The Reflection in the Pool will be Shane Rocheleau's second project with Gnomic Book, and it is quite different in concept and production from You Are Masters of the Fish and Birds and All The Animals. It will be smaller and thicker, printed on uncoated stock with an iridescent varnish on the cover, with two objects inserted into the pages.
This Kickstarter campaign will fund the production of 300 copies of the book, printed in Holland; profits from subsequent sales will be donated to a Richmond, VA charity for the homeless.
Risks and challenges
This is Gnomic's 8th book, and each has been a learning experience. On our previous project (Half–Light), we encountered a binding problem which took a month to resolve, and then some shipping challenges in the pre-holiday rush. We do not anticipate any such problems with this project, but we'll keep you fully up-to-date so that there are no surprises.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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