Filmmaker Jim Jarmusch is a firm believer that it's not necessarily about the destination -- it's about the ride. From his early cult favorites "Stranger Than Paradise
" and "Down by Law
" to his 2005 Bill Murray road-trip flick "Broken Flowers
," the Akron, Ohio, native sees travel as the ultimate way to ignite the imagination. "Every kind of storytelling from Homer and Virgil and Chaucer all the way up to road movies -- it's all about journeys," says Jarmusch. "It's the most obvious metaphor for one's life experience."
Jarmusch's latest movie "The Limits of Control
" is yet another travelogue, following a mysterious loner who may be a courier or an assassin as he crisscrosses Spain. With this in mind, Asylum asked the writer-director to explain what sorts of efforts can be made to turn a regular old trip into an inspiring, life-affecting journey.Jim Jarmusch explains how travel can change your outlook, as long as you're not shot by paramilitaries, after the jump.
How Travel Opens the Mind
"There is a way to set your mind to an open setting. Traveling helps do that. There's something about it that opens the gates, because you're not sure what to expect, but you're curious and wondering ... The idea of moving through places or being in places that aren't completely familiar, totally changes your level of expectations. You don't have the expectations of certain habitual things. That really opens up everything."Going From Point A to the Unknown
"I play a game when I travel to places I don't know. I start walking from wherever I'm staying with no plan and try to follow things that interest me until I think, 'Oh, s**t, where am I at? How do I find my way back?' I love that because I have no mission and no purpose other than following things that attract me like some kind of idiot."
Take in the Local Sounds
"Music leads me on my journey. It's sort of like the little row boat I first step into. Music opens your head to the world you've entered. On 'The Limits of Control,' the Flamenco element factored in, and I did a lot of research. It really informed and expressed the location."An Open Mind Doesn't Mean Letting Your Guard Down
"You can go places that are dangerous and not really be aware of that. I've never had trouble other than having a couple guns pointed at me. Once in Spain and once in Italy I had guns pointed at me by paramilitaries or so-called police authorities. In Italy, I walked into a building adjacent to a train station and had guns pointed at me because it was some sort of military-police annex. I was young then and all dirty -- I probably scared them."Great American Destinations
"One of my favorite cities in America is New Orleans. Talk about igniting the senses. There was
something so magical and incredible there. Certainly the landscapes in the American West are incredibly striking to me. But I come from Akron, Ohio, so I also have a weird fondness for post-industrial landscapes like the outskirts of Gary, Ind., or the near east side of Cleveland. Those places can be interesting, too. But really you can be struck by something and inspired anywhere. You might be somewhere in the New Jersey suburbs. A memorable personal journey can really take place anywhere."E-Mail Is a Leash
"I recommend light travel. Take as little as possible. I don't take a computer, as I don't have one. I do have a cell phone, and I love the Web, and I love the dissemination of information ... but I like being able to be somewhere where no one can get me. I don't like the leashes. E-mail is a leash. As a concept I love it, but it's still a leash."Prepare for Inspiration
"Igor Stravinsky used to get up every day and work like he was in an office. On the other hand, Neil Young told me he wrote "Cowgirl in the Sand" and "Down by the River" when he woke up with a high fever. He woke up, and sketched them all out during a half-hour period on a piece of newspaper while he was lying on a bathroom floor in a motel. He went back to sleep for like 10 hours, woke up, and was like, 'What are these? Oh sh*t, these are songs.'
"So you don't know where inspiration is going to come from, but you have to be a receptor and let your mind open. That doesn't mean the ideas will flow, but if they do, you have to be ready to catch them. That's not necessarily inherent in the place you're traveling. It's your state of mind."Looking for more expert advice? Check out some of our recent columns.Jerry Stahl's Guide to Being Productive, Psychotic
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