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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 homeabout the size of an average American kitchenbut

  • 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 aboutand 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 thatlike a templeadequately 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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One of the most important and meaningful activities we are ever engaged in is the creation of a home.

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What Your Home Says About You...

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    Evangeline posted on 2018/04/25
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