Departure | Displacement | Restoration
SEPARATION | INITIATION | RETURN
One of the regularly cited problems with modern cities is the constant feeling of displacement that can occur in the repetitive landscape of supermarkets, airports or office blocks. A restoration for this is often found in cultural movements and architectural developments that adjust a population’s sense of place.
Maria Lewicka describes home as ‘a symbol of continuity and order, rootedness, self-identity, attachment, privacy, comfort, security and refuge’. This importance of the idea of home is continuously repeated in studies on the concept of place, and also in literature and art. But most profoundly, it finds its way into our daily lives. Order is the key point, but in consistently displaced circumstances people cannot find this sense of order.
In Annie Proulx’s The Shipping News, the pathetically pitiable protagonist Quoyle meanders back from New Jersey to the home-land of his family, Newfoundland. Quoyle is a clod, unable to help himself or his family, and he seemingly does not fit into any public society. His work and life are in as much disarray as one another. But when he returns to his family’s home-place something happens that makes everything fit into place. There is not one event, just a coming together of place and person, and a type of normality is restored. The place does not create the identity, the journey does. But the home-place creates stability, order and sanctuary.
Home, no matter what form it takes, can be multiple or singular for any individual. However, even the nomadic Polynesian tribes had a sense of home in the islands that they originally came from, even generations after they left their home-land. Ideas of home are developed through generations, but even in the United States, a relatively new country that was populated by displaced people, home often relates to where your family originally came from.
Home is the beginning and the end of a journey. It is not the parts in between. Home is sanctuary, stability, presence, and it is embodied in a place. Every story begins and ends with a home, and no matter how far a journey persists, it always results in a return to that pivotal point of life.
Home is heat, light, food, shelter.
“Displaced Persons,” he said, “Well now. I declare. What do that mean?”
“It means they ain’t where they were born at and there’s nowhere for them to go – like if you was run out of here and wouldn’t nobody have you.”
“It seems like they’re here, though,” the old man said in a reflective voice. “If they here, they somewhere.”
Flannery O’Connor – The Displaced Person (in A Good Man Is Hard to Find, p214)
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