Refracted Input

Clare O’Farrell’s blog on books, TV, films, Michel Foucault, universities etc. etc.

More reflections prompted by:

Clare Cooper Marcus, House as a mirror of self. Exploring the deeper meaning of home, Lake Worth, Nicolas Hays, 2006 [1995].

Cooper Marcus notes the importance of land and nature in notions of home. This might seem like an obvious and trivial point – but it is something that those who construct what I call ‘bunker houses’, fortress houses, with shuttered windows which occupy every inch of the block they are built on, seem to have forgotten. They are inward, rather than outward looking houses. Houses that close down social and environmental connections.

One can counter, of course, with the objection that ‘views’ are highly prized real estate assets – but distant views perhaps, which pass over the immediate surrounds. Penthouses or houses on top of a hill from where people outside look like ants and one has the impression of flying above it all in a plane. I could invoke here Borges’s mythical Chinese encyclopedia and develop a classification of houses and apartments from where exterior objects “a long way off look like flies”.

Apartment dwellers in Stockholm, Sweden, often consider home to be the second home, where they spend weekends and vacations on the coast or in the forest. Ties to the land and nature, and memories of extended family prove stronger than the mere number of days spent in a particular dwelling. (p.2)

I was struck by this passage. To some degree this remark would also apply to dwellers in other European cities. But, the problem with this of course, is that one would have to have the financial means to make this notion of home possible and most people don’t. Or more optimistically, we could extend this to the holiday rentals people return to periodically – even if it is a simple caravan or a tent.

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