By Julie Dexter
Welcome to the first of four December Showcases. I’m delighted to be the editor for this month, which will see us navigate the shorter days and begin the festive and winter solstice period. Continuing with the theme of Home, I’d like to open with a piece by a new writer to Pen to print, Nat Tsolak. It offers an alternative take on the ideas of home and its foundations for building on our capacity for love and loving.
A Philosophy Of Home
‘Homes are always spatial formulas for experiencing love in all its manifestations. They are not only the material programme, the framework, but also the objective atmosphere, the climate of a shared lifetime, moods, food, sleep and dreams that make us inseparable from someone else or someone else. Impossible to think and build houses without thinking and building love.” Emanuele Caccia, Filosofia della casa.
Thinking back over my almost six decades how many times I moved house, I came up with the figure of 15. I’m sure there are a few more i’ve decided to forget, as they weren’t pleasant experiences worth recalling. Looking back, moving every so often, there is a thread running through my moves, which is that I was looking for somewhere to truly call home and a place I could truly love.
When we pack to move to a new house, what we pack in the boxes and bin bags is home. All the bits and pieces, books, clothes, trinkets, photos, etc packed is our home. We also bring along our partners if we have them, or family too, or we move to set up a home together with our partner, combining their home with our own.
In Ancient Greek, there was the word, oikeiosis (οἰκείωσις), meaning familiarisation, appropriation, habit and domestication. The etymology of oikeiosis goes back to oikos (οἶκος), meaning home, household and family. We also have similar words in English, such as economy and economic which originate from oikos.
Every time we move to a new house, we need to go through this process of oikeiosis, turning it into a home, spreading all the bits and pieces, furnishing, etc, to turn it into our ideal representation of home. The process of homemaking as the philosopher Emmanuele Caccia points out, is the very process of building love. Building love day by day by rearranging, redecorating, installing a new kitchen, buying new furnishings, or relocating – perhaps to to a seaside home,or even to a sunnier country.
On the other hand, when we are unable to create or build love, or the process of building love comes to an end, it could mean having to start the same process all over again. So it continues, at least, until we find our ultimate home.
© Nat Tsolak, 2022
Next, a poem of my own, which I wrote in response to the question of what home is? I think it dovetails well with Nat’s piece. The beautiful painting I am using to illustrate it, is by Beryl Touchard. See more of her work at beryltouchard.com and on Instagram: @beryltouchard.
Home is living, without disturbance,
a place where you can just be,
where you can relax where you belong,
because there you are
respected and valued.
And home is where you love
and so are loved in return.
Home is a state you carry within you
and perhaps for some,
a place they
© Julie A Dexter, 2022
Connect with Julie on Twitter: @JulieADexter
I chose the following poem as it offers a contrasting view; in that it’s not so much about seeking a home, as it is about being found.
Calm And Chaos
Between the calm and chaos of existence,
And between the misery and sufferings of her past,
She tried to find the right words.
The answer to her prayers.
And right there,
Between the fine lines and verses of her Universe,
She finally found herself.
Right where she was.
Right where she had always belonged.
© TheChaotic_Urban, 2022
Connect with @thechaotic_urban on Instagram
From finding yourself between the lines of sentences to appreciating the simplicity of Home, presented in this next poem by Maire Buonocore are rich uses of adjectives that draw us directly into the action of the poem, and into the busyness of the lives of the creatures. The poem takes us through a vital working day into the quietude of sleep.
Flying, crawling, jumping, leaping,
Running, scuttling, slithering, creeping,
Up the hills and over dales,
Down the valleys, around of vales,
Into forests, under trees,
Moving on through rain or breeze,
Every creatures everywhere
Is pushing, rushing to get there.
Where do they go through day or night
Moving out of human sight?
Where do they run or crawl or creep?
To their homes, and there they sleep.
© Maire Buonocore, 2022
In this piece of prose, How Lucky We Are, the value of life is weighed in terms of time we may or may not have to stand and stare. Indeed, standing and staring is itself a luxury, and perhaps one that’s easier for some people than others. If you feel content within yourself and make sense of what you’re seeing, then perhaps you may just be able to stand and stare and achieve even half as much as Paul Allen managed to achieve in creating a wonderful art collection for posterity.
How Lucky We Are
I read this morning of an upcoming auction at Christie’s, in which the art collected by Microsoft’s co-founder Paul Allen was to be sold. The proceeds will be donated to charity. Paul Allen was 65 when he died. It got me thinking just how lucky I am and wondering how some people can pack so much into so little time.
WH Davies famously wrote, What is this life if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare? Sometimes, I think I spend too much time standing and staring but, compared with Paul Allen, I’ve been lucky enough to spend 20 more years than he was given, to simply stand and stare. I do hope he was able to spare a few moments in his life to do the same.
I heard it said once that, “If you wonder what God thinks of money, think of the sort of people he gives it to.” Meaning, of course, that it usually lands in the hands of the wrong people. For once, though, God got it right when he gave it to Paul Allen; who not only co-founded one of the world’s major life-changing companies and personally put together one of the finest art collections, but also managed to donate more than $2.5bn to charity while he lived; a sum that will be added to by at least another billion dollars after the auction. You could say this proves that trickle-down economics really does work. Unfortunately, it takes the judgement of an Almighty to make it work that well. Reagan, Thatcher and, more recently, Truss weren’t in that bracket and failed miserably.
It would be easy to develop an inferiority complex when faced with such accomplishments and generosity as displayed by Paul Allen, or the creative energy of so many people who died at an early age. How is it that some people manage to squeeze so much into so little time, while the rest of us stand and stare for much longer and appear to achieve very little?
Thirty-eight is a cut-off year for many of the most memorable contributors to life as we know it. Charlotte Bronte, George Gershwin, Caravaggio and Felix Mendelssohn are just a few of them. Sports people and, of course, scientists and others are also widely represented, but the creative arts are heavily represented among those who died before 40. Some, like Mozart, only had 35 years and Schubert 31 years, yet they achieved more than most of us could dream of, or will ever be fully aware of. What is it that drives these people? Michelin chefs would be wasted if there were no gourmets to appreciate them. We who stand and stare at a Monet painting while listening to a Schubert song or a Mozart concerto have our part to play. We are the ones allowed to live and enjoy, while creators drive themselves into the ground producing the art that we can only marvel at. We are, indeed, the lucky ones.
© Vic Howard, 2022
I’ll close with this tightly woven poem by Geraldine Taylor. I like the poem for its darkly acerbic tone. It also *reminds me that, for some people, home is not always a place where they like to be. This, I’m sure, is the situation for many in Ukraine, and for others who live in temporary or inhospitable conditions.
You’d like my flat
It has all the conveniences:
A bed that converts to a rack when you lie down,
An automatic thumb screw in the cutlery drawer,
A bath that turns water into tar and feathers
With people jeering around the sides.
The walk-in cupboard has long blades on the inside of the door
And there is a yawning chasm in front of the telephone.
Look out of the window and you see the others exercising in the yard
Beneath a sky-high wall topped with triangles of glass.
But the best feature of the flat
Is the solitary confinement facilities.
These are so good that
You can be surrounded by books and not want to read,
Supplied with paper and not want to write.
So that you enjoy your stay to the full,
Powerful electrodes are place on your head as you enter.
There’s no need to be alarmed by this simple procedure;
A lot of research has been done
To find the right electrodes for you
So that the shocks you receive will be only too familiar.
© Geraldine Taylor, 2022
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