I don’t remember where I heard it the first time, perhaps in a conversation, or a book. But it is one of those sentences that accompany one through years. It goes roughly as follows: A house or a room is the mirror of the soul.
I found this sentence always to be false. Of course, from a psychological point of view it sounds reasonable, as psychology lays the soul of a person inside that person, declares human interaction as a more or less constant to and fro of transgressions resulting from encapsulated minds trying to reach out, being at once tiny cinematographs and audiences in their private movie theatres.
But when we look around we find that this can’t be true. Not only with regards to the homunculus fallacy psychology is guilty of, but of the ways rooms (or houses for that matter) change over time, grow, decay, stuff arranged anew. The point is: A house or a room is not the mirror of the soul but it’s embodiment and enlargement. The soul “reaches” out into the room, and the room becomes the enlargement, the repository of it.
See the dirt tracks that over time develop in a room. There are favoured and less favoured routes in a room (or house); there are ways more and less preferably taken when one goes from here to there. The corners of rooms (or houses) tend to be honoured: one places pictures, photographs, little stones and feathers, bric-à-brac, and small pieces of memory into them. As mere mirrors of the soul one doesn’t see why they should be there at all — the soul could hold everthing in itself. But as enlargements, the soul garnishes these places of a room (or a house) not solely for comfort but for beauty, stability, and grounding.
There is a reason we look at the books on the shelves when we visit a friend. We want to see what his life is about. By seeing the books we see what thoughts or themes he has placed in his world, in the room, in the ambience of his person. And watch how couples interact: Even when each of both has his private area in a jointly lived room or house, it always happens that one takes a small tiny thing from the other and keeps it in one’s closet. To safeguard it. To watch it. That is: We store parts of ourselves in the realm of the other. We trade soul pieces, entrust things to the other person to feel save and to guarantee the balance of the relationship. When souls mingle, and when the relation adds its part, rooms, houses, gardens become not overcrowed — that may happen too — but dense. The relationship builds its house in the house of concretes, in the rooms of things. And by living so, the area of concretes attains patina and glimmer. A room is a soul-thing, and there is no soul without a room or a place — at least a human one. Memory is what is being built up when souls and rooms interweave. Memories not restricted to the sensing of one person, but perceptible to everyone entering this special place. A mirror couldn’t achieve that. But the presence of souls can.
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