Someone once described my relationship to the house as one of rooted entwinement, that it lived in some way and its passions and plaints were conveyed up through a network of interconnected neuronal-like roots, running through me and out of me into the structure itself. If a pipe rattles or a light flickers or the foundation shudders, I feel the snaking tendrils and interwoven matrices of molecules vibrating meaning through my dousing-rod-like limbs and communicating conditions to my inmost soul. Not in so many words, but that was their gist…
Strangely, that’s not that far off.
I’ve often lamented that our society is not so naturalistic or materialistic as we’d sometimes like to believe. In fact, we’re not materialistic enough. We’re not naturalistic enough. If we were, our relationship with the natural and the material would not be nearly so shallow and domineering, so repugnant to stewardship and sustainability, so consuming and destructive and ultimately self-immolating…
We’ve largely ceased to commune with our environments, save in the most shallow of ways. We don’t recognize the natured dimensions of our built environment, thinking artificiality is always a contest with natural forces — some sort of raw, sublime, romanticizing noble savagery — rather than merely another facet of nature’s infinitely faceted interactions. We don’t really recognize the pulsing, throbbing agitations of the material from which we are composited interacting with the materials on which we are fundamentally and irrevocably dependent and by which we are surrounded and in which we’re saturated.
A once abstracted passion for old buildings has over time developed into a sort of bodily tuning fork, synchronizing my experience with the concrete realities of those atoms erected by us into complex systems of enshelterment. If you listen closely, everything speaks and its speech is such that only we can hear it. We need to listen more closely, not just to the subaudible speech of the organic beings outside, but that which is triggered in the very center of all material existence.
Things speak. It doesn’t take a great deal of effort, only time and patience, to listen to their voices. Ask any craftsmen how her fingers know how to manipulate the most discrete and minute of materials, shaving off micrometers with her crude, stubby fingers? She won’t be able to describe the process, only that there is some subconscious relationship between the thing and herself. There’s something in the delicate receptivity of our nerves that detects more than we consciously know. You too can send out roots into a world pregnant with meaning, trying to communicate its every fiber with your every fiber.
Original Illustration by Adam Bond, © 2020