Interviewer: Hello and welcome to this exclusive interview with the author and photographer of the book “Arn? Narn.”, Bruce Meisterman. Thanks for coming here today Mr. Meisterman.
Bruce: Thank you. I’m very happy to be here with you and please, call me Bruce.
I: OK then,… uh – Bruce. How did you come up with the idea for “Arn? Narn.”? What was your inspiration? Who influenced you the most? Did you really go to Newfoundland? Where is Newfoundland?
B: Whoa, one question at a time. My mind can’t handle that many concepts all at once. Inspiration is a funny thing, sort of like Groucho Marx. He might have said one thing and on paper it would look like something else, but when it came out it was altogether different once again. And that’s how this book came about.
B: My first idea was really to explore the concept of isolation in a western culture. What’s it feel like to be in contact with the entire world but cut off geographically. Sort of like Delaware.
I: But you said this was about Newfoundland. Where does Delaware come into it?
B: Not actually; just figuratively. Initially, I thought I wanted to go to Nova Scotia. Shows you how much I know. Way too many tourists. Seriously, only after a week of thinking about this, I realized, and god only knows how I came to this, that I needed to go to Newfoundland. Really, that’s how it happened. I knew nothing of Newfoundland at the time, but upon doing my research, it became clear that was the right decision. What I needed to find at that time was a destination not a stop on one’s way elsewhere.
I: That is interesting, but that’s not what the book is about. What changed it?
B: That’s a great question. After my first trip, I saw that the photographs were pretty good but didn’t hold together as a story. So, unfortunately, I had to go back to that really wonderful place. These are the sacrifices an artist has to make! Right? It’s tough, but, hey!
I: So you did go back. What did you find?
B: I found the story – which I then realized I already had known, but not photographed with that in mind. Once I had gotten to that point, it became really easy now that I knew where I had to go.
I: You said the book was originally about isolation. But it turned out to be about the disappearance of the fish. Isn’t that so?
B: Oh, yes. Imagine a country dependent on mining or oil. And then suddenly the coal or oil is gone. What do the people do? That is exactly what has happened in Newfoundland, but in this case it’s the cod that have disappeared. That is almost always the outcome in an extraction society.
I: The fish have disappeared. Do they know what happened? They just didn’t swim off somewhere else. did they?
B: No, it wasn’t anything like that. It was something much more serious with an impact that is only starting to be felt around the world.
I: Can you describe for us what that is?
End of Interview – Part 1. To be continued on arnnarn.com shortly.