‘I was in line to meet a band I like and a woman around the age of 40 I think pulled me back and told me to leave and called me a Towel Head along with many other things. It really shocked me as her children were standing next to her with smirks on their faces. What worried me the most was the fact that those children might grow up to be just like their mother.’
We thought we were at home, but suddenly aren’t so sure. There is an overlap between the familiar and the unfamiliar, same and other, pleasure and pain, alive and dead, safe and terrifying. The walls between opposites are flimsy as sentences. There is seepage. Everything creeps. The uncanny repeats on us. We recognise it, but then again, not quite. The word ‘canny’ goes back to knowledge, understanding, perception. The uncanny isn’t just the unknown, but knowledge undone, perception queried, a step back into uncertainty. It is a displacement from the expected, with the shimmer of what we thought we knew still in view. Sigmund Freud’s ‘uncanny’ is a translation of the German unheimlich: un-homely, not of the home. Home is our territory of comfort. Our bracket. It is fixity and privacy, both a belonging and feeling you belong. It isn’t simply physical: home is an idea that haunts the stuff and landscapes of our lives, the wheres and whats and whos. And this idea of home itself becomes uncanny to us. Now in our dwelling, we try to remember and try to forget how we got here. One crisis after another crisis after another redraws the map, pulling ‘belonging’ into flux, and we tread water for a foothold as it all refracts through our screens into rooms where we eat and sleep, made stranger still by their light. To be at home is not to be presumed. Society changes and we have to change. Stasis is no longer an option. Disease took our concepts of safety at home away. War, that other horseman, safe so we thought in the past or racing through distant climes, will shake us further. Famine and Death are saddling up. These are the days that will try us. How we respond will define us.
Abridged is exploring the concept of the contemporary ‘home’ and is looking for poetry or art for our Not At Home issue. This issue is open to poets and artists from or resident in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland only. You may send up to three poems in Word format or similar. Art should be at least 300 dpi and you can send up to three images. Send submissions to email@example.com. Deadline is 08th April.
Image by Ala Buisir: https://www.alabuisir.com/
This issue is supported by The Arts Council of Ireland
Abridged is supported by The Arts Council of Northern Ireland.