Lapham’s Quarterly – Home

Just finished Lapham’s Quarterly – Home and here are the things that stood out to me and my thoughts.

“Money is human happiness in abstracto; consequently he who is no longer capable of happiness in concreto sets his whole heart on money.” – Arthur Schopenhauer

I haven’t yet found a quick and easy way to make money unless it is through substantial risk trading stocks.  Here in San Francisco there is a lot of money to be made with the technology boom but requires very long hours.  Therefore, making a lot of money means sacrificing a lot of valuable time, years of your life in the belief happiness could be bought later.  I’ve found it to be better to only make as much money as is needed for a few comforts, trips and savings on top of that which is essential.  That way I can spend time with my kids, help them grow up and just be with them as much as possible.  They will not remain children forever and I’ll continually age.  Imagine how much an older rich person would pay to have his youth back, I bet it would be quite a lot so why not use the time given us more wisely instead of chasing money in the belief more material goods will increase happiness which I’ve found it does not.  However, I would like to have the money to travel more however, explore more of the world.  If money wasn’t an issue I’d become a student again, learn another language, and dive into history, archeology, and philosophy.

But neotraditionalism is not an homage to historical authenticity.  In its New Urbanist version, it is supposed to resurrect only the best ideas of the past, not the whole kit and caboodle.  In this respect it differs from the ethos of those preindustrial villages, like Rockefeller’s Williamsburg, Ford’s Greenfield Village, and Well’s Old Sturbridge Village, painstakingly recreated by business tycoons to honor a way of life that their own industries, based on oil and automobiles, had destroyed.  – Andrew Ross from The Celebration Chronicles. 

It is like making love in a confessional with a prostitute dressed in a prelate’s liturgical robes reciting Baudelaire while ten electronic organs reproduce The Well-Tempered Clavier played by Scriabin – Umberto Eco, Travels in Hyperreality

  • The quote above is the author’s feelings on Hearst Castle which is a few hours down Highway One.

we cannot tell how many wildly foolish actions are due to the secret rivalries that drive men to mirror the type that they have set up as ideal, to consume their energies in making themselves a moonshine reflection of someone else. Honoré de Balzac from Cousin Bette

This is describing how men wish their homes to reflect that of other men.  In our culture I’ve observed we’re bombarded with images in advertisements that tell us we should be stronger, prettier, thinner, something other than what we are in order to have us purchase something.  Our culture entices us to have the next best thing, to keep up with the Joneses, to buy that BMW or Lexus.  It is not the craftsmanship we want but the mark, the social status which people believe a fancy car will afford them.  The majority know next to nothing about how an engine works and even less on the quality compared to an inferior make, rather it is to show others that they can afford the thing and thus achieve a higher social rank in the absence of official titles which we don’t have a tradition of in the United States.

Many a man who thinks to found a home discovers that he has merely opened a tavern for his friends – Norman Douglas, 1917 

According to the Edwardian nursery rhyme, “The Germans live in Germany; the Romans live in Rome; the Turkeys live in Turkey, but the English live at home.  (See post Lord of the Rings and Europe –

Come here, I’ll tell you something that will make you wise.  Do you really know what things are like, the way they are?  I don’t think so.  How could you?  Well then, listen to me.  Death is an obligation that we all must pay.  There is not one man living who can truly say if he will be alive or dead the next day.  Fortune is dark; she moves, but we cannot see the way nor can we pin her down by science and study her………..
Let all this business go and do as I prescribe for you, that is, if I seem to talk sense.  Do I?  I think so.  Well, then, get rid of this too-much grief, put flowers on your head and drink with us, fight down these present troubles; later, I know very well that the wine splashing in the bowl will shake you loose from these scowl-faced looks and the tension in your mind.  – Euripides from Alcestis

The house, like fire and water will permit me to recall flashes of daydreams that illuminate the synthesis of immemorial and recollected.  In this remote region, memory and imagination remain associated, each one working for their mutual deepening.  In the order of values, they both constitute a community of memory and image.  Thus the house is not experienced from day to day only, on the thread of a narrative, or in the telling of our own story.  Through dreams, the various dwelling places in our lives co-penetrate and retain the treasures of former days.  And after we are in the new house, when memories of other places we have lived in come back to us, we travel to the land of Motionless Childhood, motionless the way all immemorial things are…………

Memories of the outside world will never have the same tonality as those of home, and by recalling these memories, we add to our store of dreams; we are never real historians, but always near poets, and our emotion is perhaps nothing but an expression of a poetry that was lost….

Therefore, the places in which we have experienced daydreaming reconstitute themselves in a new daydream, and it is because our memories of former dwelling places of the past remain in us for all time.

“A house that has been experienced is not an inert box.” “Inhabitated space transcends geometrical space – Gaston Bachelard from The Poetics of Space.  

This reminds me of a reoccurring dream I have of the house I grew up in on Meadow Road.  I think that the events and emotions experienced in a house do transcend time and space.  These emotions remain in the house and give it a real character which can be felt by those attuned to such things.

This sense of being at home is important to everyone’s well-being.  If you do not get enough of it, your happiness, resilience, energy, humor, and courage will decrease.  – Cheryl Mendelson from Home Comforts

At certain times, perhaps on long spring evenings, still rainy and sad, with the cold bulbs in bloom and a light too mild for promise drifting over the sea, I have opened the windows and felt the house shrink back into wood and plaster and those humble elements of which it is made, and the life in it subside, leaving me exposed, empty-handed, but feeling a fierce and lawless quiver of freedom, of loneliness too harsh and perfect for me now to bear.  – Alice Munro from “The Office.” 

If the mind is not at peace, elephants, horses, and the seven treasures are trash; palatial residences and stately mansions are worthless.  – Kamo no Chomei from “An Account of My Hut.”  

By Mateo de Colón

Global Citizen! こんにちは!僕の名前はマットです. Es decir soy Mateo. Aussi, je m'appelle Mathieu. Likes: Languages, Cultures, Computers, History, being Alive! \(^.^)/