Pop Theory 6: A Sense of "Home"

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Pop Theory 6: A Sense of "Home"

The question of “home,” and, in particular, that of feeling at home in one’s body, is one that queer thinkers and writers have attended to for quite some time. (In the '90s and aughts, this question was frequently at the epicenter of the lesbian/ftm/trans debates; see the work of Jay ProsserJudith “Jack” HalberstamSusan StrykerHeather Love and even Eve Sedgwickfor more about the body and feeling “at home.”)

What I instead what to think about, and as it is timely for the holiday season (when we more so than ever feel compelled to return “home,” whatever that means), is “home” in relation to space and not in relation to one’s own body.

That is, how does one acquire a sense of feeling “at home”? What provides a sense of “home”? Or, what is “home”?

“Home” is not just space. Space, according to Henri Bergson (and his readers, like Elizabeth Grosz) is that metaphysical entity that is constructed a posteriori to movement. Space does not exist prior to anything; it is what is fabricated around something. In other words, there are bodies, there are bodies that move, and in/within/through the range of movement(Drunk space is deposited under and around those moving bodies.

(Take a simple, and somewhat reductive, example: someone saying “Get out of my facial” while waving her arms around her face. Her “facial” is not just her face but the space imagined and determined by that arm movement. Stay out of this woman’s space!)

Space in this sense is dynamic, it’s alive; it is not an empty, static vessel to be filled. For Bergson, too, space is not only a universe of movement but its dynamism also rests in its multiplicity and in its virtuality. Space is never singular but always plural; it is never simply actual but is comprised of many layers of space, some virtual (residing in the past), some present. This is why Elizabeth Grosz defines space as the “field for the play of virtualities,” whereby this field is “an unfolding space, defined, as time is, by the arc of movement, and thus a space open to becoming….”

Her understanding of space is heterogeneous and multi-layered; space is never singular, space, but always plural, spaces. Space for Grosz, like Bergson, is multi-layered with layers of the past enmeshed with the present. Grosz’s “field of virtualities” acknowledges the power of the durational past and how these layers can affect the present in terms of space. This sense of a complex layered-ness underscores Grosz’s