Thoughts of Home

02 Dec 2014

The generally accepted wisdom is that you can never go home again. There is a very famous novel with this title, or with this as the first line or something. Something very famous. And it’s kind of entered the collective unconscious, or maybe even as far forward as the collective conscious itself. We all have this feeling like, yes, that’s true. You can never go home again.

As an aside, you have to wonder if the name “post-post-modernism” is itself “post-post-modern” or if describing it as such is only one-post-modern. Maybe post-post-modernism is like the fourth dimension. Mathematically we know that it must exist somewhere, but we’re not sure exactly what it looks like, what it tastes and feels like. It doesn’t quite fit in our brains.

So the post-post-modern – or maybe just one-post-modern – notion is this: No, it’s not really that you can never go home again, it’s that home never existed in the first place. It’s just this mish-mash of ideas and feelings that you have in your mind but it was never a real place to begin with. Maybe that’s not even a post-modern thought as much as its a theme slash line-of-dialogue from a Zack Braff movie (the movie is Garden State).

Home is where the heart is, you know. So if you can’t go there, or it doesn’t exist, what does that say about the prospects of extant love and friendship in our seemingly cold, cruel world? Maybe the reason there’s no place like home is that home is no place. Your heart is there, in this no-person’s-land, and that is why it is always longing. Always yearning for some love or some more love or some kindness or some comradere or some more comradere or some music. Your heart always wants these things because it is trying to go home and there’s no place that home is.

Maybe it’s like that thing about the river that you can never step into twice. When you say it like “You never step into the same river twice,” it sounds like it’s some fault of yours. Like if you tried harder you could somehow do it. You never step into the same river twice. But of course all of the blame is on the river. If I were to write that platitude today, I would write it as “When you step into a river, that river ceases to exist before you even step out of it”. And home is like that. Think about the things that define your home, even for a basic definition of home as being say, a building where you grew up. Not that this is a stable definition to begin with. Even if you simplify it to a room where you slept as a child, or the majority of your childhood, was that room ever the same? Some days the bed would be made, some it would be unmade. Sometimes the TV would be on, other times were those before you were allowed to have a TV. Dressers came and went, maybe a desk was added or removed. But even just the basic accoutrements of adolesence: one day your pokemon cards are here, the next a pile of hair elastics is there, the day after you have a homework assignment on the floor.

Home doesn’t exist in a very zen sense, the way that none of us exist. It’s like the Heisenberg uncertaintiy principle, which states something like the better you know a particle’s position the worse you know it’s acceleration and vice-versa. If you can put your finger on a specific place or person or feeling that means home to you, very specifically, then what you’ve got is only a single aspect of it, and that specific feature probably doesn’t feel very homey. On the other hand, if you gather up a hodge-podge of different ideas and places and feelings and holidays and accidents that represent home – then what do you have? It’s just a jumble, nothing that you could accurately “put your finger on” so to speak.

Yeah, home is kind of like that.

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