The opening scene of Kushner’s play Homebody/Kabul is an extensive monologue spoken by The Homebody, who is an eccentric, middle-aged London housewife who remains seated in her reading chair as she explains her obsessive fascination with Afghanistan. But her knowledge of Afghanistan comes from a skewed perspective, an outdated guidebook and snippets of news stories every now and then. Still, she is obsessed the Hindu Kush land, because of it’s ancient history and a practically erotic desire to travel to an unknown land.
What struck me was her name and relation to where she was when giving this monologue. She is referred to as Homebody which is used to describe someone who is attached to home, doesn’t really like to venture too far from home that often. More importantly, they are certainly not someone who has the desire to travel to a point where it becomes sexual. When I think of a homebody I think of someone who is very comfortable staying at home because it is familiar and nonthreatening, one has control over who and what goes on in their home. But for Homebody, home is distant, cold, and unfamiliar and she identifies with the mystery that surrounds Afghanistan. For her, the “foxed unfingered pages” and “forgotten words” of the guidebook contain a representation of a Kabul that reflects its “sorrowing supercessional displacement by all that has since occurred. So lost; and also so familiar. The home away from home” (27). Thinking about all of this reminded of the idea of the uncanny (something repressed within us that unwillingly resurfaces), and the concept of heimlich, which is the familiar, like home, and unheimlich which is the strange and unfamiliar. For Homebody, it is the heimlich which is frightening and strange, and the foreign country, with all of its bloody history, which is intimate and comforting. All of this ties into her lack of identity, which then explains her fatal desire to travel.