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One of the most important and meaningful activities we are ever engaged in is the creation of a home.
Over a number of years, typically with a lot of thought and considerable dedication, we
assemble furniture, crockery, pictures, rugs, cushions, vases, sideboards, taps, door handles
and so on into a distinctive constellation we anoint with the word home.
Our homes will not necessarily be the most attractive or sumptuous environments
we could spend time in. There are always hotels or public spaces that would be a good deal more impressive.
But after we have been travelling a long while, after too many nights in hotel rooms or on the beds of friends,
we typically feel a powerful ache to return to our own furnishings,
an ache that has little to do with material comfort per se. We need to get
home to remember who we are. Our homes have a memorialising function, and what they are
helping us to remember is, strangely enough, ourselves. We can see this need to anchor
identity in matter in the history of religion. Humans have from the earliest days expended
enormous care and creativity on building homes for their gods. They haven't felt that their
gods could live just anywhere, out in the wild or as it were in hotels, they have believed
that they needed special places, temple-homes, where their specific characters could be stabilised through art and architecture.
For the Ancient Greeks, Athena was the goddess of wisdom,
rationality and harmony and in 420 BC, they completed a home for her on the slopes of the Acropolis.
It wasn't a large home – about the size of an average American kitchen – but
it was an exceptionally apt and beautiful one. The temple felt dignified but approachable.
It was rigorously balanced and logical, serene and poised. It was its inhabitant artfully sculpted in limestone.
The Greeks took such care over Athena's temple-home because they
understood the human mind. They knew that, without architecture, we struggle to remember
what we care about – and more broadly who we are. To be told in words that Athena represented
grace and balance wasn't going to be enough on its own. There needed to be a house to
bring the idea forcefully and continuously to consciousness.
Without there being anything grandiose or supernatural in the idea, our homes are also temples.
They are temples to us. We're not expecting to be worshipped; but we are
trying to make a place that – like a temple – adequately embodies our spiritual values
and merits. Creating a home is frequently such a demanding process because it requires
us to find our way to objects that can correctly convey our identities.
We get fussy because objects are, in their own way,
all hugely eloquent. Two chairs that perform much the same physical role can articulate
entirely different visions of life.
One chair by the Swiss 20th century architect
Le Corbusier will speak of efficiency, an excitement about the future, an international
spirit, an impatience around nostalgia and a devotion to reason. The other, by the English
19th century designer William Morris, will speak of the superiority of the pre-industrial
world, the beauty of tradition, the appeal of patience and the pull of the local.
An object ends up feeling 'right' when it speaks attractively about qualities that we are drawn to,
but don't quite possess strong enough dose in our lives day to day. The desirable object gives us a more
secure hold on values that are present, yet fragile in ourselves; it endorses and encourages
important themes in us. The smallest things in our homes whisper to us, they offer
us encouragement, reminders, consoling thoughts, warnings or correctives, as we go about making
breakfast or do the accounts in the evening.
The quest to build a home is connected up with a need to stabilize and
organise our complex selves. It's not enough to know who we are in our own minds. We need
something more tangible, material and sensuous to pin down the diverse and intermittent aspects
of our identities. We need to rely on a certain kinds of cutlery, bookshelves, laundry cupboards
and armchairs to align us with who we are and seek to be. We are not boasting ourselves;
we're trying to gather our identities in one receptacle, preserving ourselves from
erosion and dispersal. Home means the place where our soul feels that it has found its
proper physical container, where, everyday, the objects we live amongst quietly remind
us of our most authentic commitments and loves.
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你家透露了你是怎麼樣的人?(What Your Home Says About You...)

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Evangeline 發佈於 2018 年 5 月 20 日    B.Y.l 翻譯    Evangeline 審核
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