Today I went to see an exhibition of some research projects on how different cultures inhabit space, how different people make themselves at home. It was hosted at the University of Sheffield.
You can see details here: www.inhabitingspace.org
There was a work about Norwegian cabins, the holiday homes for many families to spend some quiet and peaceful time up in the mountains. In the exhibition it was a replica of what it was refer to as the ‘reading corner’, a big type of sofa for reading, do nothing, play or simply get cozy and relax.
Of course, I am interested in these sort of spaces. This type of temporary home, set idyllically in the fantastic Norwegian countryside, far from any other house or road. A shelter for enjoying a fruitful type of loneliness perhaps. It reminded me of another text from my grandfather so I will include it here. The text is about the word ‘corner’, for which in Spain we have two words: one that would translate more as nook, inside corner, recess (rincón); and another that is means corner but also has the connotations mainly of quoin (esquina). So the text may not make complete sense in english… but here it goes anyhow.
Absurd pastimes. Playing at definitions (X)
Story of a nook [corner*]
Why does a nook always result pleasantly? Words, like every person and every thing, like every place and time, have their own history, their specific psychology, their etymology and their meaning. They define a situation; uncover feelings and air unforeseeable moods. They are not only indicators of surface that cover or mask ideas, but at the same time can develop causes or derive towards consequences. Sometimes they bring back some expressive uncertainties that tell nothing, filter grave confusions that deteriorate the exact vision of things. They are related among themselves, complement each other, form clusters, neologisms and tautologies and nearly always boast depth, when they only depend on the depth of whoever speaks them and the form and opportunity of the instant they are spoken. However, it is not possible to be unaware that some words have a life of their own, heart, and they are valued even more for what they suggest than for what they say. The word ‘nook’, for example, predisposes to think about something that means shelter, intimacy, protection, refuge and warmth. It admits, or rather, reclaims a complementary something that rounds that pleasant sensation of a small hiding place, of inner comfort. It is almost obliged and tender to say “our favourite nook”. Who has not have his favourite nook to read in solitude, to dream with music, to remember and cushion fatigue? Who has not feel at some point the need to go back to that unforgettable corner where you had your childhood naps, or where you gave your first babbles or conceived illusions; to remember that peculiar perfume, those slow sunsets, that unique haven of time? Life is like a parade that never stops, that it is not repeated, that it doesn’t march backwards. But it is for the smart ones to savour all what means loving indulgences, mystic sweetness and emotional neatness. Everything else is shallow, it falls on the outside, isn’t worthy. Isn’t it true that one feels something different, especially private, when it is said “our favourite corner”? Fortunate are the ones who are born, live and die among friends in their chosen place, away from overcrowding and abandonment, far from the loneliness not sought or the exile of silences. Why do otherwise even the cornered beasts look for refuge at their familiar nook to defend with dignity their last agony…?
Memories of a corner [quoin*]
Why does a corner strike one as something unpleasant and somewhat hurtful? Someone said that what’s most difficult to prove it’s the obvious. And it is obvious that a corner means something pointy, something that can wound or something difficult to deal with. Whenever we can, we all shun encounters with corners; there airs cross, winds break, birds are frighten away and lovers quarrel -they give each other the slip**. I believe that only poets and lovers, the last sublime mad ones in this wretched world, know how to interpret the music of time, that grand symphony that happens beyond men’s whims. Neither ones nor the others frequent those dangerous edges named corners. It could not be any other way, poetry is sweetness, it sings or cries, but does not harm; and lovers kiss, dream, suffer and sing a strange happiness that the rest know not or have forgotten. It will never be seen something beautiful on a corner. Everything in life is reduced to softening pain, but dishonour, misfortune and disdain are the most dangerous corners of a disoriented society, of confused people, of an uncertain future… [F. G. Sestao. February 93]
* In Spanish we have two words that can, without specific context, be translated as ‘corner’ (rincón and esquina). But rincón can also be translated as ‘nook’, while esquina cannot and in this text it could translate more specifically as ‘quoin’.
**In Spanish literally “to give each other the corner”