The human body as a house, from Tobias Cohen, Ma’aseh Tuviyah (1708), folio 106a. (Berman National Medical Library, Hebrew University of Jerusalem.)
You may be wondering what’s that strange image? Some sort of a house , it’s divisions and floors being compared to a dissected human body. And how do I describe that which epitomises everything about a house? That’s impossible so I start with a definition:
A building for human habitation, especially one that consists of a ground floor and one or more upper storeys.
As in a
a roof over one’s head, family, clan, tribe; brood , kindred, lineage, bloodline, descent,
make space for, shelter, take in, put up, contain, hold, store, cover; protect, enclose, encase, keep safe
A word that means something different to everyone. It’s perhaps the place where you grew up, or where the people you love, and hate (or sometimes both) live.
‘ A person may even consider his or her own body their only ‘true’ home. (Kenning June 24, 2005, Urban Dictionary)
I like this.
So begin here.
Let’s say the idea of what is a house or a home has strong associations with the body, with human thoughts and emotions. With life itself in other words. It’s the way we move around its rooms, how these rooms work and interact with each other and how we interact with the people within them.
This interests me.
It has so many similarities to the human body and how this too works. Every room has its own characteristic function and association. Like the human body, every room is intrinsically linked to each other. Everything is connected to everything else.
Do you dream of a house and is it a place you don’t know, in the past, the present or in the future?
Of course, thanks to the house, a great many of our memories are housed and if the house is a bit elaborate, if it has a cellar and a garret, nooks and corridors, our memories have refuges that are all the more clearly delineated. … All our lives we come back to them in our daydreams. Sometimes the house of the future is better built, lighter and larger than all the houses of the past… Maybe it is a good thing for us to keep a few dreams of a house that we shall live in later, always later, so much later, in fact, we shall not have time to achieve it. Late in life, with indomitable courage, we continue to say what we are going to do, what we have not yet done: we are going to build a house….
Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space, La Poétique de l’Espace) 1958.