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Thursday, October 14, 2010

HOUSES AS METAPHOR


For many eons the house has been a metaphor of the workings of the inner being, what today might be glibly termed the psyche or the ID. Dreams of houses were intuitively understood to be houses inside the mind or the soul, reflections of a larger world writ small enough to examine and control.

The dream:
The dream was a study in black, white, and yellow. A pitch black night, a long grey sidewalk, a pool of amber light from a old iron light, large shiny black double gates with a large golden crest of indeterminate design, a grey mansion in the distance with lights glowing warm in butter tones of welcome and warmth. The girl is dressed extremely fashionable and senses the clothing means something but has no glue why; sports hounds-tooth jacket dress, shiny yellow shoes, and headband. She senses she must go to the house, but has no clue how to enter the gate. She looks around but sees no one and stands alone in a vast dark night in a glowing circle of golden lamplight looking through gates at the gray mansion with its inviting muted lights.

The dream:
The dream always started by going into the house via the old fashioned sidewalk, crossing the white rail ringed porch to enter the tidy front rooms. Over the course of the dream, the woman went up stairs, up other stairs into spaces cramped and clogged by furniture and boxes. Into an attic filled with boxes, trunks, and things. Then ladders rose high into wooden beamed ceilings with more attic space and then more ladders….

Many have seen this metaphor as useful for exploring social taboos and the thin line separating mad from bad. Some have seen it as a therapeutic means for self-discovery or personal development. Authors have applied it to many works. From Shirley Jackson’s “The Haunting” to Stephen King’s, ‘Salem’s Lot and ‘Rose Red’, the house is portrayed as an active main character both concealing and revealing plot.

The dream:
Each night when I want to calm down and get some sleep, I picture a dream house. This is usually an old bungalow or Victorian. I begin the process of cleaning it, painting it’s tan walls, adding curtains or rugs. Sometimes I find that my mind has sought out discovery of hidden panels or secret stairs; vast rooms and treasures are unearthed. Beauty hidden waiting for me to discover and value it…

How ancient the draw of the soul to the home? Homer’s hero sought nothing so much as to finally just reach his home. The entire journey can be seen as a peon to individualism and, as a metaphor, for all personal journeys of self-discovery, one of self- actualization as well. Homer penned his work ca 800 B.C. indicating the deep and long lasting desire of the human mind for its own journey home, to enter the gates, gain welcome, and dive deeply into the inner self to clean away cobwebs. Or, as the last dreamer reveals, we set about gaining control to manipulate (improve) the houses. We are all, regardless of starting place or destination, seeking to put our own personal houses in some sort of order.

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