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HOME: A Place in the World / Vol. 58, No. 1 (Spring 1991)

April 1, 1991

Arien Mack, Editor

 

Table of Contents

 

Arien Mack

Editor’s Introduction

Presents an obituary for ethicist Hans Jonas.

 

Stanley Cavell

The Idea of Home: Introduction

Part of my particular interest in the topic of “Home: A Place in the World”—beyond sharing the sense of the fascination and the urgency of issues raised by it—is my anticipation of help in making clearer to me why and how the concept of home has increasingly provided a focus around which my work in philosophy has revolved. The papers in this issue are wonderful new beginnings of the education I seek; they sketch out an expansive region from which to inspire discussion.  

 

Simon Schama

Homelands

This article introduces historical and national contours in paintings on the evolution of Western sensibility in the representation of landscape. In the most difficult and uncertain days of the Second World War, Frank Newbould, the greatest virtuoso of the patriotic poster, did his bit for Great Britain. Across the North Sea the Third Reich had an equally powerful sense of landscape and people as composed from one material, or rather two: blood and soil. Painters who responded eagerly to the state's call for regenerate rather than degenerate art obligingly produced works that drew an ancient allusions to work and redemption.

 

John Hollander

It All Depends

This article analyzes the poem "The Death of the Hired Man" by Robert Frost. In the poem, a former farmhand--and one of variable efficiency--who had left their employ in somewhat strained circumstances, shows up at the house in extremely debilitated condition. The ultimate unspecified, not-quite- repressed definition of home evoked by the end of the poem is as the human point of ultimatum return. 

 

Joseph Rykwert

House and Home

This article discusses the differences between a house and a home. Home is where one starts from. A home is not the same as a house, which is why we need two different words. Some distinction between home, the situation--with its implication of well-being, stability, ownership--as against a rather more inert notion of the house, persists in most languages, persists through very powerful cultural shifts and over vast distances. Its variation may be an indicator of differing mentalities, as well as of radical social innovation.

 

Eric Hobsbawm

Introduction; Exile: A Keynote Address

This article talks about the concept of home and homelessness. New York, the city of the homeless, is a good place to think about home. New York, a city of immigrants, is a good place in which to reflect on the concept of home, which is essentially not the destiny of our journeys but the place from which we set out and to which we return, at least in spirit. And the New School, or at least that part of it which was once known as the University in Exile, indeed of exiles, is an obvious place to talk about the exile's perception of home.

 

Breyten Breytenbach

The Long March from Hearth to Heart

This article focuses on the life of writer and political leader Ahmad Baba. Ahmad Baba is a scholar of Islamic law, born in 1556 in Timbuktu and died there in 1627. During his lifetime the Moroccans laid siege to the town and conquered it, thus destroying the last Songhay empire. Ahmad Baba was accused of fomenting a rebellion against the new rulers, captured, and taken in chains across the Sahara to Marrakesh, his place of exile.

 

Alexander Keyssar

Homelessness Past: Introduction

This article discusses the history of a problem, or phenomenon, that is a very visible and unfortunate feature of life in the US: the existence, plight, and condition of people who do not have homes. The problem, or phenomenon, of homelessness seemed to leap into public consciousness--most vividly, but not exclusively, in New York--in the 1970s. Since that time awareness of the problem, as well as the problem itself, has spared through much of the nation. Homeless families and individuals can be found only in New York, Boston, and Chicago but up and down the West Coast and in the relatively small cities of southern states such as North Carolina.

 

Steven Marcus

Homelessness and Dickens

This article focuses on the problem of homelessness and poverty in England as depicted in the writings of Charles Dickens. Homelessness in Victorian England was, as it is today, a component of the problem of poverty, particularly though not exclusively urban poverty. Dickens's dealings with them began in his own childhood when he actually experienced what it was like to be homeless. When Dickens was twelve years old, his father was imprisoned for debt. The father was joined in debtors prison by his wife and younger children, but Dickens was left on the outside to shift for himself.

 

Kim Hopper

A Poor Apart: The Distancing of Homeless Men in New York's History

This article discusses the distancing of homeless men in New York's history from the 1890s through the Great Depression and examines a succession of three constructs of homelessness, each of which serves to locate the figure of the homeless man in a kind of cultural limbo. The article asks how this distancing maneuver has informed the official response to homelessness and how, alternatively, popular practice may be seen to have parted company with it. Briefly, the author of this article argues that this rhetoric of disdain and the accompanying practice of institutional isolation may be read as ways of staving off a recognition of this society's complicity in the making of unaccommodated men.

 

George Kateb

Exile, Alienation, and Estrangement: Introduction

Introduction only in New York, Boston, and Chicago but up and down the West Coast and in the relatively small cities of southern states such as North Carolina.

 

David Bromwich

Alienation and Belonging to Humanity

This article discusses what it means to be alienated from one's purposes, or dispossessed of one's full human faculties. On the view that is explored here, the opposite of alienation turns out not to be a state of healthy functioning, social usefulness, self-understanding and self-esteem. It may have more to do with one's capacity to participate in a free act of sympathy. The article also presents and analyzes the text of the poem "The Old Cumberland Beggar" by William Wordsworth. The old beggar of this poem is pictured at first as an alien object--a ruined piece of nature, something human reduced to an almost animal state.

 

Orlando Patterson

Slavery, Alienation, and the Female Discovery of Personal Freedom

This article discusses how and why freedom became a value, how and why it became a supreme value and why it rose to supremacy only in the Western world. Freedom is a tripartite value. Behind the numerous shades of meaning associated with the term are three ideas, closely related historically, sociologically, and conceptually, which may be called personal, sovereignal, and civic freedoms. Personal freedom, at its most elementary, is a person's sense that he or she, on the one hand, is not being coerced or restrained by another person in doing something desired and, on the other hand, the conviction that one can do as one pleases with the limits of other person's desires to do the same.

 

Sanford Budick

Rembrandt's and Freud's "Gerusalemme Liberata"

This article focuses on the paintings by Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn and Sigmund Freud about homes. Rembrandt's painting Jeremiah Lamenting the Destruction of Jerusalem seems straightforward enough. We have in the top left-hand corner a more or less clear depiction of the destruction of a city, which does, indeed, seem to be Jerusalem. The painting Beyond the Pleasure Principle by Freud, represents a late and fascinating attempt on Freud's part to get beyond the fatal conditions of self-repetition. These are the same conditions of fatality which concern Rembrand in his painting of repetitions.

 

Alan Trachtenberg

Introduction: Home as Place and Center for Private and Family Life

 

Gwendolyn Wright

Prescribing the Model Home

This article provides ideas about the model home. The model home functions as a powerful ideology within a society, in part simply because it seems so familiar and obvious, so accessible and desirable. An object and ideal, seemingly without controversy, this notion of home contains and obscures innumerable conflicts. The model home is, first, a physical prototype. It exists as an object: both an ideal place conjured up in our mind's eye and multiple architectural interpretations of that ideal seen in the landscape.

 

Lawrence Stone

The Public and the Private in the Stately Homes of England, 1500-1990

This article deals with the dilemma faced by owners of huge houses whose overt function was primarily public display. For the four hundred years during which these great buildings were erected and lived in, their owners were torn between the conflicting needs of their private selves and their public personae. On the one hand, they wished to be private, or at least surrounded by no more than their resident households. They spent fortunes in trying to conceal themselves and their houses from the public eye. On the other hand, these great houses were intended for display of power. The fulfillment of this display function demanded access by the public, or at least by selected groups of the public.

 

Tamara K. Hareven

The Home and the Family in Historical Perspective

This article discusses the conceptions of the home with the family in Western society. Over historical time, family and home were overlapping concepts, but were by no means identical. The close identification of home with family is a relatively new phenomenon that can be traced to the late eighteenth or early nineteenth century. In order to understand the development of the home as the family's abode, as a reality and as an ideal, it is necessary to examine the relationship between household, family and home as they changed over time.

 

Mary Douglas

The Idea of a Home: A Kind of Space

This article discusses the kind of space offered by home for every individual. The more we reflect on the tyranny of the home, the less surprising it is that the young wish to be free of its scrutiny and control. The evident nostalgia in much writing about the idea of home is more surprising. The mixture of nostalgia and resistance explains why the topic is so often treated as humorous. A fertile approach to the idea of home comes through the philosopher Suzanne Langer. She reproached philosophy for separating artistic

appreciation from the idea of rational thought.

 

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