Reified homelessness

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Homelessness: Critical Resemblance House at Yoro, Japan, designed to disrupt the bodily familiarity and encourage new attitudes and re-creations (Arakawa and Gins)

Place grammars exist within the process of their creation and reproduction. That process is not something we direct, nor is it something that simply produces us. We exist within and as the separation and combination of the moments of time, the opening tensions between universal and particular, self and context.

It is tempting, then, to take this process itself to be our deepest home. In a sense this is correct, but it is also very misleading. For the tensions of the process of inhabitation always involve some historical location that we both find ourselves in and take up within the process. Our historical location and its ongoing projects are not neutral data that we manipulate from a detached position. We cannot find a firm identity in the historical givens, for they can not fully define us. But neither can we find a firm identity in the process of change taken by itself, for it does not exist apart. By itself it thrusts us back into the tensions and spacings of concrete historical places.

Some, however, want to turn this native spaciousness into an absolute homelessness. It is tempting to argue, in response to the rigidities of modernist planning and other social norms, that we should strive, not for more flexible and complex norms, but for complete fluidity.