‘I once found a list of diseases as yet unclassified by medical science, and among these there occurred the word Islomania, which was described as a rare but by no means unknown affliction of spirit. There are people . . . who find islands somehow irresistible.’ – Lawrence Durrell
At its simplest, Necessary Elsewheres is a book about islands – islands in myriad forms, not all of them surrounded by water, not all of them actual.
The world’s islands have never been accurately counted, although there are estimated to be between three and six million, not counting skerries, drying reefs and sand banks. Approximately 600 million of the world’s population are island-dwellers. But islands are also a potent idea, and by expanding our definition we can begin to understand the power they exert on our collective imagination, and the degree to which this idea enabled us to shape (and re-shape) our understanding of ourselves.
Here you will find an exhilarating exploration of these diverse strands: what islands are, what they mean, and what they do, from every corner of the globe. It is woven together by C.C. O’Hanlon’s intensely personal experience of islands, large and small, through over half a century of seafaring, overland travel and unconventional living. It distils insights (and imaginings) from millennia of eclectic texts and cartography. Dazzling and unique, it offers an intricate chart of these necessary elsewheres.
C.C. O’Hanlon was born in Australia and raised in Europe and the USA, but he has lived nearly everywhere else. He has sailed the North Atlantic, Mediterranean and South China Sea, and has journeyed extensively through the desert regions of the world. A high-school drop-out at fourteen, his occupations have been as numerous (and unlikely) as his addresses – musician and smuggler, web entrepreneur and government adviser, among them. He refuses to call himself a ‘writer’, but his words and images have appeared in the New York Times, the Australian, Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar (Australian editions), and Minor Literatures, to mention but a few. He lives with his wife of thirty-three years on the Salento peninsula in southern Italy.