Modes of Habitation

I moved recently. And I had a long time friend over who commented on that fact that it seemed like every other apartment I've ever had — and he's seen at least eight different places I've lived.

Now, there is nothing particularly novel about this observation. We've all noticed it in ourselved and our friends, especially as we get older (obviously). A friend moves and he immediately replicates his old space.

We could say there's the same stuff, more or less — same couch, same table, same art. But that's not always the case. In my new place, everything is new. And yet it is still very much my space.

No, it's not that there's the same stuff, it's that there's a common distribution of mood — the same distribution of stuff, a common way of organizing chaos and order. We all have our unique thresholds for visual and aural disorder. It's not simply being clean or not, ordered or not. We each enjoy a distinctive signature of visual noise, an elaborate algorithm: pristine here, scraps there, piles, scattershot papers, stacks, a calculus of dust and dishes and noise and smell.

Don't underestimate smell.

And then there's light. We replicate the play of darkness and light, how the sun shines, how we light the space.

And I love this. I love that we each make sense of space in our own way and that this way forges a niche in the becoming of the world. Just as ants make their kinds of homes, moles theirs, birds theirs and so on, so do we each, individually, make this organization of the world, at least in the limited space we call home.


what the Tee Vee taught said...

About a week ago I moved almost every piece of furniture in my house and I gave away a bunch of things that were — so I thought — "just taking up space".

Now, I'm striding, rather than shuffling, through the rooms. Very strange indeed.

The speed at which I'm moving has thrown me off. Everyone who has seen the changes remarks, "looks bigger in here." I can see what they're seeing, but I am not experiencing "bigger". Crossing the living room used to take some time: slide my body between the couch and plant (I hate knocking into the leaves), make a sharp, tight turn past the coffee table, avoid another plant, step over the hand weights that never leave the floor, avoid kicking the wine rack, and eventually I reach the stereo remote — success!

Now everything happens so effortlessly. I enjoyed — or at least find myself missing — the splinters and fragments, now that it's all streamlined, it's too fast. Strange indeed.

V said...

Two things:

(1) For those of us desperate for reinvention, that signature mode of habitation hangs like an albatross. Moving into a new place occasions the same excitement, and eventual disappointment, of all quasi-baptismal events (birthdays, New Years, etc.): this time -- *this* time! -- I'll get it right, and you really mean it, but somehow the stink and slop and chaos come along in no time.

(2) Glenn's comment struck me as a well conceived riposte to Burrough's "Do Easy" philosophy, though I've always loved this bit: "Don't fumble, jerk, grab an object. Drop cool possessive fingers onto it like a gentle old cop making a soft arrest."

V said...

Forgot to post this (and not sure why I thought the first poster's name was "Glenn"): http://tribes.tribe.net/burroughsinterzone/thread/bec75f79-35ca-43db-8ced-d86eed74ef7e

Daniel Coffeen said...

I know exactly what you mean: the disappointment, even dread, that comes with repetition of ourselves.

But that's precisely why I chose to write about it as a beautiful miracle — this will to ourselves that is inescapable and all the more exquisite for it.

I love that essay, "DE": I love WSB's will to the acronym, as if we're all on his page.