Two years ago, Kevin Flagstadt found inner contentment and made headlines when he announced to his friends and family that he was a small, picturesque island in the North East Pacific. In this exclusive interview, I ask Kevin about his experience of coming to terms with prejudice, the need to re-define social terms, and just what the Hell he is talking about.
JD: John Donne famously said “No man is an island”: I suppose you would disagree with him.
KF: Look, John Donne was writing four hundred years ago, back when society had a very narrow definition of what constituted a “man”. It would have been unthinkable in his time for a person to be both a “man” and an “island”.
JD: And what about in our time?
KF: Our so-called modern “liberal” society isn’t much better. Donne’s quotation – not entirely down to Donne, but he must take his share of the responsibility – has been responsible for the narrow, prevailing view that men and islands are physically distinct concepts. Now that we are in the twenty-first century, surely it is time to challenge this oppressive pigeon-holing?
JD: So you see yourself as setting a trend that others will follow?
KF: Oh, very much so. I hope other men, and women for that matter, who wish to speak out as islands will be able to do so without fear of prejudice.
JD: So when did you yourself discover that you were an island?
KF: Two years ago. I was trapped in a loveless relationship, I wasn’t happy with who I was or where I was going, and I just needed to get away and find myself, find out who I was. Which, as it happens, turned out to be an island in the North East Pacific boasting golden beaches and a rich supply of coconuts. Since then I have been helping others to share their experiences of realising that they, too, were an island, whether it be tropical, desert, whatever – there should be no distinctions: “No island is an island”, ought to be the new mantra.
JD: But isn’t that a tad nonsensical and self-contradictory?
KF: The very fact you raise such an objection proves how constitutionally incapable we in the West are of going forward. Logic is the knee-jerk reaction of an oppressive Western society that seeks to categorize us as something we’re not. It is time we shed ourselves of our tendencies to cling to tradition and dogma, and embrace our inner-selves, whether that is an island, a human being, a slice of Battenberg cake – it makes no difference.
JD: And what would you say to those who argue that you cannot physically be both a “man” and an “island”?
KF: Well, that rather proves my point! I would ask them to define their terms. Just as an orange can be both an orange and a fruit, I see no difference with “man” and “island”. A man can be a butcher, an uncle and a violinist simultaneously; why can he not also be an island in the North Pacific boasting copious swaying palm-trees and several new species of monkey?
JD: Well, playing Devil’s advocate here…
JD: A biologist might define the matter in terms of necessary chromosomes.
KF: A man is not defined by his chromosomes, but by what he thinks, and does, and is.
JD: And what you are is an island?
KF: Emphatically not. I am a man physically expressed as an island, but wholly and incontrovertibly a man, nevertheless.
JD: But you are nevertheless also an island?
KF: Oh, undoubtedly.