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Into the heartland of the ordinary Blake, Miriam J. 1993

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INTO THE HEARTLAND OF THE ORDINARYbyMiriam Jet BlakeB.A. (Sociology), The University of British Columbia, 1988A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OFTHE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OFMASTER OF ARTSinTHE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES(Department of Sociology)We accept this thesis as conformingto the required standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIAJuly, 1993©J. Blake, 1993In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanceddegree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make itfreely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensivecopying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of mydepartment or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying orpublication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my writtenpermission.(Signature)Department of ^C_ raidj The University of British ColumbiaVancouver, CanadaDate  A?cl^/ cf7DE-6 (2/88)iiABSTRACTThe thesis examines various theoretical framings of the relation betweenthe ordinary and the extraordinary in Western thought and art. In particular, itexamines the ambivalence of theorizing with respect to its own extraordinarycharacter, i.e. its acknowledgement of the implications of theorizing for mundanesocial life. Descartes is treated as a pivotal figure in that he attempted theformulation of a Method which would liberate thought from the grasp of habit andtradition, while at the same time advocating an allegiance to the 'customs of thecountry'. Amongst contemporaries, the cultural critic Slavoj Zizek and theethnomethodologist Harvey Sacks are treated as resources for alternativeformulations of the collective interest in the relations between the ordinary and theextraordinary. Zizek's injunction to "look awry" at the habitual and thecommonplace is understood as interventionist, since it calls for a radical shift inour relations to the ordinary by recognizing the place of desire in mundaneaccounts of the lifeworld. Sacks, on the other hand, can be read as a theoristcommitted to "affirming the ordinary", to borrow Charles Taylor's phrase, insofaras his analysis of the ordinary segregates it from the artfulness of theorizing.Finally, employing the work of Jeff Wall and our contemporary ways of conceivingthe house, the thesis looks at the relation between the ordinary and the beautifulas another site where the question of affirming the commonplace andacknowledging the extraordinary can be asked anew in the interests of a strongsociological conception of the nature of the ordinary.TABLE OF CONTENTSABSTRACT^ iiACKNOWLEDGEMENTS^ VFRAME ONE: MODERNITY AND THE AFFECTIONFOR ORDINARY LIFE^ 1The Commonplace and the Affirmation of Ordinary Life^1Showing a Rift in the Real: Slavoj Zizek^ 9Reflection and the Commonplace 14FRAME TWO: ORDINARY LIFE AS PRINCIPLED ORDINARINESS 17Harvey Sacks and the Theoretical Inscription of Desire^17The Sociological Vocation: Ordinariness and Self-knowledge^25FRAME THREE: THE CARTESIAN AFFIRMATIONOF ORDINARY LIFE^ 32The Commonplace as Error and Illusion^ 32The Commodious City^ 38The Naturalness of Reason 41FRAME FOUR: THE STRIFE BETWEEN THE EXTRA-ORDINARYAND THE ORDINARY^ 47The Questions Raised by Van Gogh's Boots^ 47Plato and the Social as Human Excess 58iiiFRAME FIVE: CHOOSING THE BEAUTIFUL^ 65Showing the Good of the Ordinary^ 65Jeff Wall: The Ordinary and the Beautiful 68Nature: The Notion Divided^ 77FRAME SIX: THE 'HEARTH'-LAND OF THE ORDINARY^87The House and the Inscription of the Social^ 87The Particularity of the Inscription^ 95FRAME SEVEN: TENDING THE HEARTH FIRE ORDINARILY^122The Threat to the Social^ 122Ordinariness and the Issue of Choice^ 127CONCLUSION^ 140BIBLIOGRAPHY 147ivvACKNOWLEDGEMENTSThanks to the following:- to Roy Turner, for his many his years of patience and friendship, and forhelping me to understand the difference between authority and power;- to Donal Padraic, for friendship, understanding and support over theyears;- to Donal Seamus, for teaching me how to face the hardships of that bigworld outside;- to all my friends at BIOE, for their moral and financial support withoutwhich my studies would not have been possible;- to Lori and Annette, for being soul mates throughout the agony.1FRAME ONEMODERNITY AND THE AFFECTION FOR ORDINARY LIFEI might have been a wise king setting outUnder the Christmas lights - except thatIt felt more like the forewarned journey backInto the heartland of the ordinary.Still my old self. Ready to knock one back.A nine-to-five man who had seen poetry.Seamus HeaneyThe Journey BackThe Commonplace and the Affirmation of Ordinary LifeIn Sociology, we tend to treat the 'commonplace' as a problem, one whichrelates to the social situatedness of our reason. Such situatedness is the condition ofhuman life and understanding, one we all find ourselves in, since any formulationswe make emerge within the richness of a life world. That is, all thought, speech andaction emerges within particular situations, within a context, within specificinstitutions and practices, and within the vastness of a tradition which forms us andmoves us, but whose edges we cannot see.Descartes was a great believer in the importance of Method for removing usfrom what he saw as the error of the 'commonplace'. He sought to consolidateagreement concerning the need to leave this error behind us by proceeding in acorrect way toward correct, agreed upon ends. Thus he celebrated the engineer asthe builder of cities. We might note in this regard that the engineer initially servedthe modern city as the builder and planner of the roads which carried people totheir destinations. The task of the engineer was to build solid and long-lasting roadswhich proceeded in the most direct and efficient way possible. The engineer's2method marks a manner of knowing which seeks to optimize the application ofmeans to the achievement of agreed upon ends, and to maximize dependability,durability and the securing and consolidation of an edifice of correct and commonlyagreed upon knowledge and expertise.John Brinckerhoff Jackson, however, reminds us that any talk of roads is, in avery broad sense, a consideration of a movement towards desired destinations(Jackson: 1984: 22). He reminds us that 'exodus' and 'method' are related to 'road',and that they all have a common origin in the Greek hodos, which means to "departfrom a place" as well as "regular or systematic ways of accomplishing anything, ofgetting to your end". If we think about both 'road' and 'method' in this way, we cansee that both still encompass these two senses, a leaving of something and a passageto something else, a marking out of boundaries and the passage between. Bothsenses imply connections between the movement of reason and the temporalpassage of our human lives from past to future, and both imply that reason and a lifeare comprised of opposing movements of separation and collection.In that reason is conceived by Descartes as movement and as a kind oftravelling, imagery which can be traced as far back as the Greeks, we can see howold and deep are the roots of the Cartesian understanding. Descartes understoodthat passage to be one which fled the illusions of the past for the clear sightedness ofthe future, a passage made possible by his own extra-ordinary individualconsciousness. Jackson, however, tells us that the Greeks saw the alignment ofroads not as a path forged by individuals, but as a "gift of the gods", as somethingvaluable which had been granted to them (Jackson, 1984: 23). Furthermore, theysaw every road ending at not only a shrine, but at a place where people gathered.The road, method, the path of reason, was therefore a movement which gatheredtogether a community as it proceeded to a sought out place or destination. This3desired place was, however, one already known or given to the community in somemysterious way, one preceding any individual traveller and her/his consciousness.Jackson also reminds us that it was the god Hermes who guarded all roads, passages,entrances and exits and all transactions between people, a god known not for hisstrength, but for his good natured sociability and love of conversation. The passageof reason was thus understood as a passage which gathered together and separated acommunity of people by means of their ongoing willingness to converse, to collecttogether and to separate out their differing points of view.Jackson's portrayal of the movement of reason shows it proceeding along apath already marked out for us, towards a valued destination which serves to gatherus together as a community as we pass from past to future. In his book, Sources ofthe Self, Charles Taylor makes the claim that a crucial aspect of the modern identityis a long-standing attachment we have to something we call "ordinary life". Taylor'sclaim is that in that we treat this "ordinary life" as valuable, it serves us as such asought after destination. That is, Taylor portrays it as an orientation towards theworld which is integral to what we are and to how we are brought together as acommunity:"(The) affirmation of ordinary life, although not uncontested andfrequently appearing in secularized form, has become one of the mostpowerful ideas in modern civilization. It underlies our contemporary"bourgeois" politics, so much concerned with issues of welfare, and atthe same time powers the most influential revolutionary ideology ofour century." (Taylor, 1989: 14)Taylor locates "ordinary life" within our preoccupation with the everydayconcerns of production and consumption, and with the concerns of family lifecentred around the domestic household. His focus is therefore on the prominencewe give to the provision of the material necessities of life and on our concerns forthe satisfaction of private bodily needs for food, housing, economic well-being,4health and recreation, all concerns which modernity has raised to the status ofpublic debate and a politics.However, in turning our attention to this attachment we have to "ordinarylife", it is important that we take into consideration the fact that "the ordinary" hasmany variations and complexities of meaning. Any quick perusal of a moderndictionary or thesaurus reveals this. In this regard, Gadamer has suggested that,"We should never underestimate what a word can tell us, for language representsthe previous accomplishment of thought" (Gadamer, 1986: 12). We might thereforetake it that our concerns with ordinary life are considerably more complex andvaried than Taylor's account might seem to suggest. For example, given theconnection Taylor makes between ordinary life and our concern for bodily needs,we should note with interest that 'the natural' is a frequent synonym for the ordinary,one not only used to denote 'the natural world, but also the usual, the expected andthe habitual, that which comes to us without thought, as well as that which belongsto us by virtue of our "nature", as that which we 'inescapably' or 'properly' or'authentically' are. We might also remember the way in which the ordinary canmake reference to that which we do not value or to that which is unexceptional -- tothat which is dull, monotonous, even pedestrian, and also to that which iscommonplace, routine or expected. Finally, we might note too that the ordinary canrefer to the average, the everyday, the general, the normal, the regular, the routine,the typical, the usual, the uneventful and the standard.It is obvious that these latter meanings cast the ordinary in quite a negativelight. The blah, the boring, the tedious, the tiresome, the dim, the dreary, the dull,the humdrum are all examples of this. So too are the pedestrian, the prosaic, thetrite, the commonplace and the undistinguished. On the other hand, we can refer tothe ordinary in ways which are commonly taken in quite a positive way: for example,5as the casual, the familiar, the informal, the relaxed, and the unceremonious. Thenatural is also frequently used in this way, as in "she acted very naturally". All thesecan speak to manners or styles, to ways of arranging things or of conductingbehaviour which are deemed valuable in modern life.What might be concluded from this discussion of the various meanings of theordinary is that the notion is a divided one. That is, ordinary life can call up thatfrom which we seek an exodus, that against which we move and struggle. It is in thisregard that we see ordinary life as the dull, the habitual, the commonplace, the triteor the prosaic life. On the other hand, ordinary life also serves us as a way ofreferring to that which is 'desirable', to the ideal way of proceeding, to the good stateof affairs, to a goal or standard or measure of/for our lives.Contemporary examples of the social usage of the ordinary are revealing inthis regard. One recent example from the domain of politics which comesimmediately to mind is the recent search for 'ordinary Canadians' to sit as membersof the citizens' committee on the constitution. What were wanted were individualswho could be taken as living embodiments of the norm -- a kind of statisticalaverage made flesh and bone. The presumption was that such ordinary Canadianswould be capable of speaking for who we are and what we stand for in a mostrepresentative way; that is, in a thoroughly ordinary, everyday, average, normal way.They would possess the authentic 'ordinary' voice. In this regard, the governmentdid not seek out the outstanding citizen or the constitutional expert to advise us onwhat to do, citizens who could be presumed upon to offer either wisdom orknowledgeable advice concerning the merits of the case. What was at stake was notthe sagacity of the members' words, not their moral integrity, not any outstandingcapacity for insight they exhibited. At stake, and deemed valuable, was theirexemplary ordinariness.6In a similar vein, we saw the NDP recently conduct an election campaign inwhich their appeal was directed to ordinary Canadians -- to those not too anything --not too smart, rich, beautiful, educated, right, left, old or young. The ordinaryCanadian served in this case as a model of the exemplary citizen, as the goodaverage Canadian leading the good average life.In that the ordinary Canadian can be used in this way to stand for the "goodCanadian", it becomes apparent that this attachment of ours to ordinary life can alsoget rather confusing, since such an attachment could entail orienting to and valuingeither what is not valuable or the unexceptional or the average, standard, everydaytype of person, deed, or object. In this sense, an affirmation of ordinary life wouldentail an affirmation of 'ordinariness', and carry with it a thrust to eliminate valuealtogether, for to value something is to see and show it as standing out from theordinary, to see it as extra-ordinary. "Affirming the ordinary" could therefore beunderstood to demand a commitment to a levelling which would make a quest forquality or excellence, even for the notion of a 'good life', suspect. One choice wouldbecome as good as an other, and therefore any affirmation of ordinary life would, ona logical level, exist in a state of internal dissension, facing a constant need toundercut its own privileged position.One arena in which these divisions and tensions inherent in any commitmentto ordinariness would become quite obvious is in the construction of the heroic orvalued individual. Indeed, the very idea of heroic figures would by ordinarystandards be suspect. Is it any surprise, therefore, that we seem to have apredilection for the anti-heroic and for debunking in modern times? Yet, despitethat levelling thrust which so frequently seems to surface in our attachment to"ordinary life", we still do find constant reference being made to extra-ordinarypeople, that is, to individuals who lead lives which are not routine, pedestrian,7monotonous or commonplace, lives in which something out-standing appears, liveswhich we admire and value. And we might also note that even the representative"ordinary person", as evidenced by the need to search for those who could sit on theconstitutional committee, is not just any body. Some people, it would seem, aretaken to be exemplary in their ordinariness. In this way, an attachment toordinariness makes demands which not everyone or everything meets. Wediscriminate in favour of ordinariness, which means we assess what is authenticallyordinary and what is not.Many and varied are the contemporary solutions which have been offered inresponse to the perplexing need to establish how lives can be outstandingly ordinary.For instance, a recent edition of Western Living Magazine included a featureentitled "Stylemakers", in which, as might be expected from the title, the lives ofextra-ordinary or out-standing Western Canadians were reviewed. In this particularinstance, the focus was on the life of Pauline Jewett. She was portrayed as anarchetypal Canadian heroine, who, in turn, constituted an example of a model figureof ordinariness. As such, Jewett was proposed as a lover of the natural, straightforward, informal, plain-living, simple in her tastes, a woman of exceptional abilitieswho, despite them, remained committed to ordinary people and the ordinary thingsin life."I remember her sitting on a carton, surrounded by all sorts of people,chain-smoking, talking away to them, and it was just as if she livednext door....(Pauline) Jewett seems the archetypal Canadian heroine:smart, plucky and kind - snow-shoeing in to her beloved cabin onLake Constan outside of Ottawa in the winter and practically living inher bathing suit in summer ... reading mysteries, cooking plain food,being ordinary." (Nov 1992: 38)Yet another rendition of a contemporary heroic figure that comes to mind isthe wheelchair athlete. Looked at from the ordinary point of view, this social typecan be seen to gain heroic status by virtue of the monumental effort which must be8expended to achieve ordinary status, just to be normal, given out-of-the-ordinaryphysical capacities. At some remove from this heroic type, we can find currentpopular television anti-heroines like Roseanne Arnold. Roseanne celebrates a trulypedestrian, rather vulgar kind of ordinariness. As the overweight, crass loudmouth,she is the one who doesn't hide her thorough-going ordinariness, the one who isextra-ordinarily ordinary by virtue of the way she's not ashamed to show publiclythat she's really a slob.There are endless ways in which this affection for ordinary life is played out,and the domain of sociology is no exception. It might be argued that sociology itselfis an extra-ordinary pursuit, one which, like the heroic individual, is oriented to theworth of ordinary life in an unusual way, in a way which we see as standing outadmirably from everyday life. We might therefore consider with interest the ways inwhich the routine and the commonplace have been taken up in sociology, howsociology has been shaped by a quest which pursues the general, the regular, theaverage, the normal and the typical, and of how these are so often implicit inmodern sociological understandings of what constitutes human culture, the social.'Culture' or 'the social, we might argue, has come to function in a similar wayto nature in the Cartesian formulation, a formulation to which we shall later turn ingreater detail. This is to say that the social came to be regarded as a 'thing' whosenature consisted of various unknown processes which determine its possibilities oftransformation. As the inherited and habitual patterns of thought and behaviourwhich constitute these processes, the social came increasingly to be understood asexternal and coercive. These processes were seen not as gifts of the gods, but asconditions of unfreedom which needed to be brought to consciousness. They werethose ways of thinking, acting and speaking which occurred in everyday life, but ofwhich we are not fully conscious. As such, they comprised a mysterious absence at9the heart of ordinary life which needed to be filled in or recovered by our processesof reason.Historically, then, enquiry into social life came to be seen not only as enquiryinto those important matters of material human welfare of which Taylor speaks.(The word 'social' does, after all, originate with reference to interest groups orsocieties formed to pursue their shared material interests.) Our enquiry into thesocial also developed as a concern to comprehend what we are, our self-identity, byestablishing and certifying our regular and recurring patterns of behaviour, thethings about us which came naturally or without thought. Thinking of aspects ofDurkheim's influential sociological studies in this regard, we can see how theordinary as the regular, the typical or the normal was taken up as a way ofdelineating the sociological domain, how it came to define that unknown but soughtafter goal or object of enquiry, i.e. the social. Ordinary life emerged as a reality, as a'thing' as Durkheim phrased it, through a growing preoccupation on the part ofsocial enquiry with statistical averages and frequencies of occurrence, withaggregates lying outside individual understandings of their actions and accessibleonly to rigorous methodological procedures. Durkheim's celebrated work on suicideis pertinent here.Showing a Rift in the Real: Slavoj ZizekWe have said, however, that there are many possible ways of conceiving themovement of reason which seeks to separate us from the ordinary and prosaic lifewhile at the same time "affirming ordinary life". Take, for example, Slavoj Zizek'sway of directing our attention to our situatedness in the commonplace. It's notmethodologically correct or agreed upon ways of knowing the world that headvocates as a way of proceeding. Instead, he turns our attention to the need to find10ways of dislodging the habitual, of making the familiar strange, reality unreal, theordinary uncanny. "Looking awry" he calls his way of reason."If we look at a thing straight on, i.e. matter-of-factly, disinterestedly,objectively," he argues, "we see nothing... the object assumes clear and distinctivefeatures only if we look at 'an angle', i.e. with an 'interested' view" (Zizek, 1991: 12).One of the ways Zizek has of "looking at an angle" is to turn his attention towardsthings we don't associate with the particular domain under scrutiny. Thus we findhim writing a piece provocatively entitled, "How real is reality?" and then addressingthe questions of philosophical import this poses by turning to very ordinary sourcesfound in popular culture. One of those ordinary sources Zizek uses to explore thesituatedness of our reason is a story called "Black House" by Patricia Highsmith(Zizek, 1991: 8-9). The gist of the story is as follows:Just outside a small American town, a desolate old house stands on a hillThe house is a potent space, imbued with a strange power of enchantment. Whenpeople gather in the evenings at the local saloon, endlessly telling stories andreliving fond memories and old adventures, they invariably refer to the 'black house'.Tales are told of how men kissed the prettiest girl in town there, of forbidden firstcigarettes smoked there, of how it has been the site of illicit sexual encounters. The'black house' is also a prohibited space. Entry into it is taboo amongst thetownspeople. Rumour has it that the house is haunted, inhabited by someone whothreatens death to any trespasser.Into the town comes a newcomer and the hero of the tale, a young engineer.After listening to the townsfolk's stories, the young engineer announces that heintends to explore the house and put an end to the mystery. Not persuaded by thewarnings he has heard, he is determined to certify what is really there. The responseon the part of the townsfolk to his announcement is silent but intense disapproval.11Nevertheless, the engineer persists in his plans and next evening visits the house.He exlores with trepidation the dark ruin, forcing himself to climb its creakingstaircase. What he finds is nothing, only empty rooms.Upon returning to the bar the following evening, the engineer victoriouslyinforms the gathering that there isn't anything at all interesting or out of theordinary about the house. The reaction on the part of the townsfolk is strange.While relief might have been expected, their response is instead a mixture of angerand horror. As the young engineer begins to leave, he is attacked by the townsfolk,falls to the ground and soon afterwards dies of his injuries.Just a story, meant only for popular entertainment. This might well be acommensensical response to the story. But Zizek insists that tied into that violentreaction of the townsfolk to the findings of the young engineer is somethingimportant pertaining to the movement of reason and therefore to our selfunderstanding. What fascinates him about the story are the two discontinuousrealities or "substances" which emerge. One is a blank spot, a space where nothingunusual is seen, a space where everything is normal, as expected. This is the houseas the young engineer sees it Zizek calls this familiar, habitual, ordinary world"reality". The other space, that one which opens up when we look with desire, whenwe look awry, he likens to a screen on which a drama of our desires gets played out.This Zizek calls the "real".Zizek argues that there is a discord between these two realities that he calls"reality" and the "real". What's more, he argues, this discord is a necessary one. Abarrier separates the two, excludes the space of desire from the normal, theexpected and the everyday. And any threat to that barrier, any move to eliminate it,is dangerous and foolish, as the engineer learned. In his desire to show thetownsfolk things as they really were, the engineer would have collapsed that12difference, put an end to the dreams, annihilated that space born out of nothing butdesire, nothing but what we might call the community's pleasures -- their memories,their dreams, their myths, their stories.We might compare the engineer's actions to those of the child in that story ofthe Emperor's new clothes, yet another of those stories Zizek provides as anexample to illustrate the folly of dismissing communal dreams (Zizek, 1991: 11).The intention, Zizek says, is only to get rid of hypocrisy and pretence. Yet "after thedeed, when it is already too late, we suddenly notice that we got more than webargained for. The very community of which we were a member has disintegrated."Innocent of social conventions and of what is at stake in them, the child sees andproclaims the Emperor's nakedness, whereas the adults see the Emperor's clothes.That is, they are able to "see" the splendour of that which rules over them, where thechild sees nothing. The social, the story implies, is tied to our sharing such dreams.Again an objection might be made against Zizek, this time suggesting that hisstories are strange and rather violent accounts of the ordinary, stories of secretdesires, of prohibitions and of things hidden within what seems obvious andstraightforward. Certainly the way in which he dismembers reality into "reality" and"the real" is rather startling, since two different entities are construed where wemight expect a solid and substantial world, one consistently the same. Yet isn't justsuch a division exactly what we saw in regard to our affection for ordinary life?Didn't we see that in our usage, ordinary life is indeed split into two, into thecommonplace and the desired, and that this split in turn constitutes a dynamic ortension which plays itself out in our lives in various ways? And if it's also unsettlingthat Zizek should designate as "the real" that object-screen of the black house, thatfantasy space permeated with desire, we can also see that his uncommon angleserves to reframe the real. No longer is it that which is in hand, the known and13secured; rather it is an absence within the familiar which we seek to recover. It isthe missing part of the whole, the object of desire which structures our search andthe movement of our reason. Given the story of the engineer's death, it is also anessential and well guarded space, one necessary for human community and a humanworld.Zizek provides further evidence for us concerning the import of thismysterious split between reality and the real when he recounts a story of the deathby suicide of the American Abstract Expressionist, Mark Rothko. His story not onlyre-frames the argument concerning the need to preserve communal dreams, but indoing so, it helps to deepen our insights into the importance of "looking awry". Thisit does by showing how such a difference is necessary if we are to see anything at all(Zizek, 1991: 19).Rothko was found dead one day in a pool of blood in his New York loft, hiswrists slashed. The story of Rothko's growing despair, Zizek maintains, is one thatcan be read from his paintings. For the most part, these comprised a set of abstractcolour variations which drew on a much earlier work by Kasimir Malevich entitled"The Naked Unframed Icon of My Time". Malevich's piece was a geometricalabstraction consisting solely of a primal dichotomy, a black square on a whiteground. Given the title and the imagery, we might with justification construe it as animage or 'icon' of painting's task, one reduced to a bare minimum.In Rothko's paintings, this minimalist icon emerged as an ongoing strugglebetween a gray background and a central black spot. Grey and black are, of course,a way of formulating the minimum degree of difference necessary to preserve thedivision between "background" and "object", and thereby to preserve a space ofappearance. It is the minimum necessary if some thing is to appear, and if we are tosee. Zizek argues that the grey background images what he has termed "reality". It14is the ordinary, the open space, the context, the landscape against and in whichthings can appear. The black spot is the "real", the lodging or inscription of thedesire within a space/object. The struggle which Rothko lost, Zizek maintains, wasto keep one from overwhelming the other, and to stop all from fading into a "greyand formless mist". It is Zizek's image of the grey and formless mist which revealswhy we need to "look awry". Without the difference between the ordinary and aninscribed desire, nothing can be seen. The desire directs and focuses our seeing.Reflection and the CommonplaceZizek's story serves as a warning to us that not only are we collected togetherwithin dreams, but that dreams are necessary if we are to see at all and to live as acommunity For Zizek, the movement of reason does not lead towards therevelation of the emptiness of our common place and towards a freedom fromillusion. Rather, he sees reason as travelling within and oriented towards suchillusions, illusions given shape as communal dreaming.In this regard, we have argued that within modernity a deep attachment toordinary life orients the movement of our thought and helps to give us our bearings.We have given examples to show how this attachment makes demands which noteveryone or everything meets. The inscription of the dream or desire serves to splitthe given into two opposing fields, into the desired and into the mundane. This alsosuggests that a reflective or critical stance is made possible by virtue of that veryattachment, since the attachment makes it possible for us to assess the worth of ouractions by providing us with what we might construe as a measure or standard, onewhich is itself an integral part of our commonplace, of our shared world. As such, itis available or part of all of us. This is to say that we all share an affection forordinary life and discriminate concerning its implications.15Michael Walzer argues in this regard that criticism is a feature of everydaylife. What is needed, however, is for us to regain an understanding of the criticalpower of the existing morality. Our commonplace, he argues, provides us with allthe resources necessary to critically reflect upon, to reinterpret and to deepen ourunderstanding of that very commonplace, and therefore of the goals and standardsand dreams which form and direct us. Our lives, our practices, he says, "embodytheir own values.., values created by conversation, argument and politicalnegotiation in circumstances we might best call social, over long periods of time."(Walzer, 1987: 13). Our categories, relationships, commitments and aspirations --all are shaped by and expressed in terms of the morality of that commonplace, amorality which has emerged over a long period of argument, dispute, andconversation which has interpreted, revised and elaborated it.Walzer further proposes that whenever we argue or discuss or dispute, whatwe are actually doing is giving an account of the existing standards of our community(Walzer, 1987: 21). Such accounts are provided whenever and however we attemptto justify our actions and understandings to others, an undertaking in which we areall constantly engaged."Every human society provides for its members -- they provide for themselvesthrough the medium of justification -- standards of virtuous character, worthyperformance, just social arrangements.""The standards are social artifacts; they are embodied in many differentforms. In all their forms they are subject to interpretation." (Walzer, 1987:47-48)Criticism, argument, discussion are always an interpretation of the existing morality.This means that we are never intellectually or emotionally detached. Rather, asWalzer says, we share not only a common enterprise but also the principles whichguide that enterprise, since as we have argued, it is our illusions, dreams,attachments, that which we love and value, which make possible our critical capacity16(Walzer, 1987: 47). It is for this reason that Walzer can say that, "the same men andwomen who act badly create and sustain the standards by which (at leastsometimes), they know themselves to act badly" (Walzer, 1987: 48).That we all share these standards is not at all to suggest that there are notbetter and worse accounts or understandings of them. Walzer proposes that thebest accounts are those which illuminate that commonplace which we love and valuein some more powerful way. Like Zizek, he seems to imply that the task of thethinker is one of deepening our understandings through illumination andclarification of our desires and attachments, one which at the same time sustains,refines and deepens those very attachments. In this way, he too suggests that anythinker must necessarily strive to "look awry" by assuming an extra-ordinary stance,one capable of such illumination.We have, however, seen that our modern affection for ordinary life createstensions in this regard. "Affirming the ordinary" has often been understood torequire a levelling of differences or a denial of their import. Such a levellingtendency is capable of rendering any quest for quality or excellence, for thediscrimination of better or worse understandings, even for any notion of the goodlife, suspect. Rather than engaging us in conversation which explores and therebysustains the uncanny and extra-ordinary heart of our common home, such acommitment has frequently fostered instead an understanding and attachment toour mutual ordinariness. At times the very will to converse has been threatened inthe name of such a principle. This paper attempts to resist such calls to ordinariness,not by attempting to destroy the communal attachment to ordinary life, but ratherby undertaking a series of reframings which allows for reflection upon thisattachment as it is embodied in various social artifacts.17FRAME TWOORDINARY LIFE AS PRINCIPLED ORDINARINESSHarvey Sacks and the Theoretical Inscription of DesireIt has been argued that within modernity, a great affection for ordinary lifegives an orientation to the movement of reason. This affection is not only foundacross all domains; it also takes a variety of shapes. It is to the sociological domainthat we will turn for our first example, to a 1970 lecture by ethnomethodologistHarvey Sacks which frames his concerns with ordinary life.Entitled "On Doing Being Ordinary", the work begins by opening up a gapbetween the ordinary and the extra-ordinary in which the theoretical enterprise islodged. However, this gap is eventually closed in such a way that "ordinary life" andthe "ordinary member" are left untransformed by the extra-ordinary task oftheorizing. Ultimately, we argue, Sacks' theorizing affirms the "ordinariness" ofeveryday life and fails to engage the commonplace of which it is a part in athoughtful conversation capable of exploring and revitalizing our self-understanding.The lecture began in a strange way: "Usually I start the course by doing whatI do in the course.., without any indication of why it should be of any interest toanybody." (Sacks, 1984: 413). While "doing what I do" might serve to remind us ofthose concerns with the structures of everyday life which so preoccupied Sacks as anethnomethodologist, that opening word "usually" points to a difference between thislecture and his ordinary sociological routine. It's a difference which constitutes thatvery kind of "looking awry" which Zizek advocates. In this regard, it's also adifference which allows Sacks to show what it is that he usually does by means of arevelation of that which is hidden within the routine practices of his sociologicalwork.18The usual routine for Sacks was to offer no explanation of what he does.Usually, he simply "does". In this extra-ordinary moment, however, he wants toreflect upon what he does. He wants to stand back and look upon it and, in this way,to reframe it from a different vantage point."The way I will proceed today is, in many ways, nothing likethe way I will proceed throughout the rest of the course. In this lectureI will not be attempting to prove anything, and I will not be studyingthe technology of telling stories in conversation. I will be saying somethings about why the study of storytelling should be of interest toanybody." (Sacks, 1984: 414).On this special occasion, Sacks chooses to speak about why story telling is of valueand of interest to all (Sacks, 1984: 413). It's not just valuable for him, or a few, butpertains to anybody. As for the "why" of this, it refers to "something that ... couldhardly not be of interest" to the students; moreover, this "something" is so good its"worth the price of the course". The promise made by Sacks is that his account willnot only be interesting but will also direct us to what is valuable. His account isnecessary because, it seems, the interesting and the valuable are aspects of the worldwhich the ordinary, by virtue of its very ordinariness, cannot make manifest.Sacks directs us towards a sense of something mysterious which lies at theheart of his ordinary work -- something which constitutes his raison d'etre for doingsociology. He wants and needs to convince the students of the value of thismysterious something. Somehow, he needs to pass on the desire to search for it inordinary life. This he cannot do by means of his own ordinary work which is dry anddifficult technical analysis, analysis of the "technology of conversation" in which he"tears apart" sequences of conversation "to find the rules, techniques, procedures,methods, maxims etc." that are used by members in the generation of the orderlyfeatures of conversation (Sacks, 1984: 413-414). Sacks understands that he mustgive a shape to that everyday work in a way which will infuse it with mystery,illuminate something extra-ordinary within it. Hence the lecture, through which the19students may encounter that mysterious and exciting thing which animates theroutine and the everyday. This is required if they are to stay with the work andbecome part of the community of sociologists.Sacks' lecture is therefore the infusion of desire, a putting into play of a chainof persuasion. In fact, it's a story of a persuasion within a persuasion. First, there isthe tale of Sacks' own persuasion. "Citing a debt", he says, and hinting provocativelyat a mysterious foreign novel entitled "Between Life and Death" as his benefactor.Not a text the students should read, he says, for it's not likely they would find therewhat he says. That is very different. It's not that the two accounts look at all thesame. Still, this novel is a source to which he owes a debt, for it was there heencountered the source of his vocation and experienced that mysterious somethingwhich transformed his enterprise from the tedious and routine into somethingexciting to which he was now deeply committed.If we take Sacks' lecture in this way as a persuasion, how is it that hispersuasion "affirms the ordinary" by inscribing it with desire? We might begin ouranswer by saying that it constitutes a persuasion about the importance of theordinary. It serves to impress upon us that everyday accounts of our lives should beof interest to us, that there is something there important but mysterious that weforget and don't usually see.Thus we encounter in the lecture the suggestion of detective work, of asearch for clues. If the students are to see the way in which the novel is a source,they would have to play at being the sleuth, make connections, use their imaginationto work at how these disparate things are the same. They would have to bring themtogether to find this new unity, gather them as Sacks himself had done and work toseparate out that mysterious something from all the confusion, for the formalaspects of the two persuasions differ. That is, they don't look at all the same; one's20fiction, a novel, and one's non-fiction, i.e. a sociology lecture. We might argue thatin fact they are construed as opposing kinds of writing. Yet both are shown by Sacksto be animated by a concern for the pursuit of what is valuable, interesting and goodto do. And both are somehow joined together in his own work.We see, then, that the students need to come to share the desire to search andSacks needs to persuade them. The extra-ordinary lecture thus enters the realm ofrhetoric, what Plato would have called the realm of beautiful speeches aimed atheart and mind in unison, speeches which cultivate our desires for what is not onlybeautiful but good. "On Doing Being Ordinary": this title becomes strange andunsettling as we read the text, like Zizek's notion of the real and reality. Theordinary hints at an attachment to the extra-ordinary, the sublime to the banal, andsociological truth seems to be walking hand in hand with fiction.If as we have argued Sacks' work serves to affirm the ordinary, we might alsoargue that at the same time it is a persuasion about seeing the power that thehabitual has over us. We might argue as well that it tries to persuade us to see howthe habitual, the usual and the normal are themselves the result of a prior persuasionto which we have already succumbed. The lecture seeks in this way to dislodge thesolidity of the normal and the average. It shows them to have been reached for, tobe the unfolding and working out of human desires. We are persuaded to see theordinary as a way in which we constitute ourselves, and in this regard, the persuasionserves to open up the issue of our self constitution, what we are and can be. "Theordinary" is therefore shown not only as the habitual, but as something we enact, putinto play, as a dream or desire which animates us."...So I am not going to be talking about an ordinary person as this orthat person, or as some average; that is, as a nonexceptional person onsome statistical basis, but as something that is the way somebodyconstitutes oneself." (Sacks, 1984: 413).21"It is not that somebody is ordinary; it is perhaps that that is whatone's business is, and it takes work, as any other business does."(Sacks, 1984: 413)Being ordinary: see it as a doing, Sacks tells the sociology students, as acourse of action -- despite the fact that your choosing and your deliberation may wellnot be apparent to you. Judgment is involved, always. Decisions have been made,always. Don't take the taken-for-grantedness of the everyday world for granted. Inthis regard he refers to a "powerful mechanism at work", one which structures vision."....you can begin to appreciate that there is some immensely powerfulkind of mechanism operating in handling your perceptions andthoughts, other than the known and immensely powerful things likethe chemistry of vision..." (Sacks, 1984: 418)Seeing the ordinary or seeing ordinarily are never pure perception, never pureintuition. Sacks urges the reader to be sensitive to the mediation of all sight. Seeing,Sacks seems to say, is always a seeing as. In terms of the ordinary, this means we seethings 'as the ordinary', with an eye fixed on the ordinary as the measure of whatshould be noted, of what and how things demand our attention. It's as though Sacksis telling us that for the most part, the world is focused through the lens of ourknowledge of how the world ordinarily is, and that seeing this is our way ofunderstanding what is required. See, says Sacks, that you see things in their usualform. But in doing that, see that you cast your sights forward with the ordinary inmind as your trophy, as your object of desire. Thus he seems to be reminding usthat we tend to forget about this desire and longing at the heart of the habitual, theeveryday and the ordinary:"... it is that the cast of mind of doing "being ordinary" is essentiallythat your business in life is only to see and report the usual aspects ofany possibly usual scene.... That is to say, what you look for is to see how any scene you are incan be made an ordinary scene, a usual scene, and that is what thescene is." (Sacks, 1984: 416)22This is such that in the ordinary frame of mind, even unusual or extra-ordinaryexperiences get constituted in the way they usually are, in a typical form."When you have an affair, take drugs, commit a crime, and so on, youfind that it has been the usual experience that others who have done ithave had." (Sacks, 1984: 418)At the same time that he shows the powerful mechanism, the seeminglyunthought nature of being ordinary, we can see Sacks to be showing us that it entailsa working out of things, a kind of reflection. It is a doing, as he puts it."...If you just extend the analogy of what you obviously think of aswork - as whatever it is that takes analytic, intellectual, emotionalenergy - then you will be able to see that all sorts of nominalizedthings, for example, personal characteristics and the like, are jobs thatare done, that took some kind of effort, training and so on." (Sacks,1984: 414)"... It is not that you happen to decide, gee I'll watch T.V tonight, butthat you are making a job of, and finding an answer to, how to dobeing ordinary tonight." (Sacks, 1984: 415)"...watching yourself live in the world -- or watching somebody else, ifthat is more pleasant -- you could see them working at finding how tomake it ordinary..." (Sacks, 1984: 415)What we might gather from these statements is that the ordinary is a kind ofongoing analytical achievement, a concerted working out which requires intellectuallabour. "All kinds of nominalized things", Sacks says, "are jobs that are done". Thatis, those 'things' that we name and understand as entities, as things with properties,should be seen as social achievements. They emerge by means of our actions,actions in which the projected understanding of what they are ordinarily serves as aguide for what we do. As a choice of action, even the habitual demands analysis,intellectual and emotional energy, since we always are called upon to know it in themoment, in the context, in its particularity. We must know the moment as theordinary moment, how to make this the ordinary thing, how to be the ordinary23person here and now. What's more, we also know and enact the ordinary fromtemporally and spatially differentiated angles and perspectives -- e.g. as blackwomen or white men. All these categories and differences have to be incorporatedinto a joint production of ordinariness. As a result, an integral part of ordinary life,albeit ordinarily an unnoticed part, is that we are jointly involved in making amyriad of judgments and choices through which we enact that life. This happens insuch a way that we ordinarily understand ourselves to be just scanning a scene to seewhat's happening, or merely reporting what we see. We do not see the selection atwork, the analytic work involved in seeing through or as the ordinary.It is also of crucial importance to Sacks that we be aware that the dream ofordinary life is necessarily of the community, communally constituted, a concertedeffort. The dreams we follow always emerge from out of a prior persuasion and arepassed on by us. We always have a sense of what is important and of the value ofthings, and this we enact in various ways."... And as it happens with you, so it happens with those you know"(Sacks, 1984: 418).Ordinariness is not then a matter of self-declaration, but is already constituted ascommunal knowledge of what things are and can be: it is a common or shared place.This communal constitution of ordinariness means that for any number of categoriesand conditions, its achievement is extremely limited and difficult. For the disabled,the mentally ill, prisoners, the very poor etc., an achievement of ordinary statuswould indeed be a heroic achievement, one entailing a struggle.A further dimension of this communal constitution of the ordinary life is thatits achievement requires that plot lines be matched with other plot lines, with otherordinary stories. In this way, Sacks reminds us of that aspect of ordinary life onwhich Walzer commented; that is, it is conversational and even argumentative, in24that what we do is assessed and commented on by others, and their reactions towhat we do come back to us and reveal dimensions of our actions of which we maybe unaware and which require subsequent rectification. This is to say that ouractions are always reframed by others, and these reframings are and indeed must betaken into account as part of our ongoing lives. If ordinary people are to be, it mustbe worked out so "that each of them together may be ordinary persons". Beingordinary requires concerted effort - playing the tune together, ensemble work. "...It'sa job that persons and the people around them may be coordinatively engaged in, toachieve that each of them together, are ordinary persons." (Sacks, 1984: 413).We might therefore argue that ordinariness is apprehended here not only ashabit, but as a powerful commitment. To see it as a commitment is to imply that wefind it desirable, see it as good. Sacks' argument is that we constitute ourselves inthe light of ordinariness, as the usual, the expected, the average and the normal. Assuch, it is a self-limitation we impose on each other. We direct ourselves towardsbeing understood by others in this way; that is, we put on a joint productionestablishing mutual ordinariness. We see to it that we are understood to be doingthe usual thing, and we look to others to do the same. We are, he says, always onguard for the ordinary."That is, if you come home and report what the grass looked likealong the freeway; that there were four noticeable shades of green...then there might well be some tightening up on the part of yourrecipient..., you might want to check out the costs of venturing intomaking your life an epic." (Sacks, 1984: 419)In this portrait of ordinary life we can see echoes of Heidegger's portrayal of"being average" in  Being and Time as delineated by John McCumber:"The world itself is always a shared world and refers to me as anaverage person. My inherent tendency is to identify myself with theaverage." (McCumber, 1989: 110)25"Everyone keeps his eye on the other first and foremost, watching howhe will comport himself and what he will say in reply. Being with oneanother in Das Man is by no means an indifferent side by sidedness inwhich everything has been settled, but rather an intent ambiguouswatching" (McCumber, 1989: 116)If ordinariness is a communal dream, its achievement entails that we are answerableto the community for what we do. Compliance with the ordinary, the usual ismonitored. It is sanctionable, and we orient to that. As might be the case with anydream, there is a need to be alert, to watch others and to watch oneself in order tosee that that is what takes place. In this way, we can see how the ordinary as theaverage and the norm forms a powerful basis of unity, of community, and how it canbind us together.Sacks' persuasion urges us to see that we story our lives in this way, thatordinariness is biography/autobiography. Being ordinary, runs Sacks' account, is notsomething one is, as a state of externally driven necessity or nature, or a descriptionof innate or acquired characteristics given by the statistical norm. As self-presentation, being ordinary is an enactment, a putting into play of something, of anotion or an image. Sacks thus posits being ordinary as dramatic play, as analogousto a theatrical production where ordinariness is the issue at stake.The Sociological Vocation: 'Ordinariness' and Self- Knowledge"Venturing outside the ordinary has unknown virtues and unknowncosts" (Sacks, 1984: 419)Sacks' evocation of ordinariness is very compelling. There is no denying theemphasis he places on the average, the norm, the expected and the usual as thecommon understanding of the grounds of social life. A very powerful image of ourattachment to averageness and the norm as the basis of modern community isconjured up for us, as well as the pervasiveness of this understanding in our world.26He speaks so powerfully of it as a self-imposed limit, almost as though he sees it asthe human limit or the principle which gathers us together, both as individuals and asa human community. Yet I said that it was "almost" as though Sacks seesordinariness as the human limit because he also serves to make us aware that wealways enact an understanding of what is called for, which means that there is anongoing working out of what that is, through concerted efforts, in dialogue.In that Sacks shows how the ordinary is in this way always given a specificformulation through a course of action, he also makes it easy to see the possibilitythat various permutations and different interpretations or understandings mightappear, and that some of these will be better and more illuminating than others, asWalzer has argued. Furthermore, Sacks' own response to this limit of ordinarinessis complex. While he doesn't openly address the worth of this understanding of thebasis of community, we might say that his actions argue against it. He himself doesnot 'do' the average and the normal thing. Viewing his actions from our vantagepoint, one from which we are able to see differences between what Sacks says andwhat he does, we can see that his actions assert the importance of looking awry atthe average and the usual and the habitual. The implication of his actions is thatthere are different and better ways of responding to our communal attachment toordinary life and to the commonplace. That is, a reflective engagement withordinary life is taken up as a stronger and better grounding of community It has, ashe says, unknown virtues.Fundamental to any such reflection is the need to be aware of our immersionin the commonplace. We must see that we are mutually enacting dreams anddesires which serve to order the habitual, and attend to these. Sacks' own extra-ordinary intervention, his persuasion of the students, his attempts to disrupt theireveryday ways of seeing and their indifference -- all point to something mysterious27which the habitual and taken-for-granted hide from view. For him the value of thatextra-ordinary work which constitutes the task of sociology lies in focusing ourattention upon that which we are not able to see when "doing being ordinary".What Sacks enacts, we might therefore suggest, is a way of social enquirywhich responds to our social situatedness by attempting to engage things from adifferent or extra-ordinary perspective, one which is repressed or hidden by theusual or the normal." ... I think it is not that you might make such observations but notinclude them in the story, but it is that the cast of mind of doing "beingordinary" is essentially that your business in life is only to see andreport the usual aspects of any possibly usual scene" (Sacks, 1984: 416)His aim is the cultivation of self-reflection in his students. As sociologist, one standsback from "doing being ordinary", re-presents it to oneself. In this way, one is ableto see something the everyday framing excludes and to open up unexplored depthsinto which we can journey.What the lecture also makes evident is that ordinary life needs extra-ordinarypractices such as sociology to show what it is. The ordinary is not and cannot beshown without continually calling attention to the extra-ordinary. One is onlybrought into sight by being played against the other. In this regard, we mightremember that it was fiction, a novel, that revealed the heart of the factualsociological enterprise to Sacks. Furthermore, his lecture opened with invocationsof art and fiction, and his portrayal of doing being ordinary was rendered via theextraordinariness of art. That is, he at first shows ordinary life to be a kind of artfulenactment or theatre. In the course of the lecture, however, when sociology iscalled up as the vehicle through which the heart of ordinary life appears, theartfulness of ordinary life slips out of sight, and sociology takes its place as the extra-ordinary practice. As such, it is also construed by Sacks as a kind of writing.28However, it is one more akin to the documentation and recording of observationsfound in the natural sciences:"My notion is that as it is for chemistry and physics, so it is for makingdistinctive observations about the world and its persons. It is just athing that, in being ordinary, you do not do." (Sacks, 1984: 416)Sacks' own sociological work concerned the recording of the most minute anddetailed observations of the techniques and procedures through which the life worldis achieved and made intelligible.In that this writing which constitutes the extra-ordinary endeavour ofsociology is shown by bringing it into proximity with that of natural science, thestudy of the social world is at the same time brought into an affinity with the study ofthe natural world. But in reframing the human world through nature in this way, itcould be argued that a certain exchange of properties also occurs, one which hassome serious implications. For example, while Sacks casts science as an art ofwriting in order to show what it is, the analogy yields a very strange version of art.Art becomes a kind of documentation or recording of a tangible world of thingsalready given. Sacks speaks of it, for example, in terms of "observations" and"elaborated studies of small, real objects":"There are of course, people whose job it is to make suchobservations. If you were to pick up the notebooks of writers, poets,novelists, you would be likely to find elaborated studies of small, realobjects." (Sacks, 1984: 416)Even those writerly descriptions, the ones which Sacks treated as extra-ordinary and against which he showed us ordinary life, even these take the form ofdocumented observations of natural things or of physical appearances. Forexample, he speaks of "the play of light on the liquor glasses", "the set of hiseyebrows" and "the timbre of his voice" and "what the grass looked like along the29freeway and "that there were four noticeable shades of green". And when Sackseven goes so far as to call up poetry in order to reveal to us his descriptivesociological enterprise, we see quite clearly how the recording of an existing ornatural world, a world already given to us, is used to stand for the whole of writing."(In) ...the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins, there are extendednaturalistic observations of a detailed sort, of cloud formations, ofwhat a leaf looks like, looking up at it under varying types of light,and so on." (Sacks, 1984: 416)In summarizing this, we might therefore argue that throughout Sacks' lecture,two kinds of writing are played off against each other: documentation and fiction.The work begins with the evocation of fiction, but in the course of the work, thefictional writing is repressed, and only factual documentation of the given ultimatelyremains Ordinary life as poetic enactment seems to disappear from the frame,while sociology emerges as its more prosaic counterpart, one which observes andrecords and documents the life world, but does not contribute to its poeticenactment. Its limit is also the ordinariness of the life world.Further aspects of this can be seen in a paper by Roy Turner in the anthologyEthnomethodologv, where that relationship between scientist and sociologist iselaborated in the following manner:..."If we take sociology to be, in effect, 'a natural history of the socialworld', then sociologists are committed to a study of the activities sucha world provides for and of the methodical achievement of thoseactivities by socialized members." (Turner: 1974: 197)The sociologist is able to get a position on what is natural, an angle or framing fromwhich he/she can see the world, even though embedded in that world. Thesociologist will see what cannot be seen when doing being ordinary, even thoughsociology is also socially organized activity or a kind of 'doing', just like ordinary life.30Turner's position is that like all practices, sociology is methodically achieved throughthe activities of social members. The sociologist uses the same cultural "equipment",as he puts it. Here we might substitute those constituent "rules, techniques,procedures, maxims" etc. to which Sacks makes reference. The sociologist is likenedto the natural historian who delineates the ways in which the life world of naturalbeings is given shape.Turner's sociologist will be extra-ordinary, however, in that he/she willdelineate, as did Sacks, these methodical activities through which the social worldemerges. Certainly in ordinary life the observations of such rules, techniques,procedures and maxims would be annoying and disturbing, and anyone undertakingthem would find themselves at odds with those around them. Even though thesetechniques comprise the 'equipment' out of which meaning is made and a storyenacted, to draw attention to them would disrupt the task at hand. It would betantamount to pointing out the grammatical structure of someone's sentences asthey are trying to tell you something. We might therefore suggest that to undertakesuch analysis is to turn attention to an analysis of means and away from what it isthat is being said. It is to address the 'how' but not the 'what' of artful practices.What's more, framing the social by means of an affinity with 'equipment' gives notonly sociology but the whole life world a certain utilitarian cast, an aura of everydayusefulness. The poetry of life comes to assume more the character of the 'tools' ofthe craft, and there is a concomitant failure to engage in conversation the questionof what the craft is oriented to, what it is attempting to say, what constitutes itspurpose or its limitsWe might therefore conclude our reflections within this particularsociological framing by arguing that Sacks' lecture speaks to the commonplace asthe space in which our enactment of ordinariness is made intelligible. This is to say31that it treats intelligible ordinariness as the principle which limits the community inthe form of social rules, practices, and techniques. At the same time, Sacks' workremains strangely silent concerning the principle or limit to which it, as a specificenactment of sociological practice, is also oriented. This limit, we have argued, isthe value of reflection upon the habitual and the commonplace. It is the principle oflooking awry, of the reframe necessary to sustain the sense of mystery at the heart ofthe ordinary which provides reason with the driving force of desire.32FRAME THREETHE CARTESIAN AFFIRMATION OF ORDINARY LIFE"Through the brilliance of an image, the distant past resounds withechoes, and it is hard to know at what depth these echoes willreverberate and die away"Gaston BachelardThe Poetics of SpaceThe Commonplace as Error and IllusionGadamer argues that the work of reason entails finding the permanent andenduring in what is transient and threatens to pass away. The lover of wisdom mustseek to "discover what is common even in what is different" (Gadamer, 1986: 12).He argues that not only must we take this task upon ourselves, we must make itpossible with the help of imagination. This is because the past and the futureappear differently. Imaginative effort must be therefore be exerted to mediate thetwo and to establish what it is that is shared, since this is not immediately apparentor naturally given. Just as Walzer says that when we argue we offer an account ofthe existing morality, Gadamer insists that it is in how we join past and futuretogether, how we "grasp and express the path anew", that we are the bearers of thetradition (Gadamer, 1986: 49). This is to say that tradition lives on in the way inwhich it is enacted in the present, in the particularity of our understandings.Within a tradition, certain landmark works serve to make the tradition liveon in a powerful way. Time after time, generation after generation, we have felt theneed to return to those works, to submit ourselves to their power, to puzzle overthem and to try to assess their insights as we have charted our bearings within the33movement of thought. When engaging tradition in Sources of the Self, Tayloremphasized the way in which our affection for ordinary life was displayed in apreoccupation with provisions for material welfare, with consumption, productionand exchange, and with a search for well-being in that regard. Historian that he is,Taylor traced this affection for ordinary life back to aspects of Christian thought.Certainly it's hard to think of a more complex condensation of the ordinary and theextra-ordinary than the figure of Jesus, son of God, born of flesh and blood, lowlycarpenter's son yet King of Kings. Furthermore, it's clear that a celebration ofordinary life and the ordinary person has been read into that story. While thecontemporary examples are many, we might think of how Frank Capra referred toJesus as "the first John Doe" in that film eulogy of his to ordinary man, or ofPasolini's condensation of the figure of Jesus and the modern poor in "The GospelAccording to St. Mathew". Both of these examples connect the story of Christ withordinary life in terms of wealth and its concomitant social status, or lack thereof.We might also argue that the writings of Descartes have served as some ofthe most enigmatic but influential interpretations of that Christian tradition. Assuch, they have contributed enormously to modernity's self-understanding anddeveloped and sustained its commitment to ordinary life. Descartes' attachment toordinary life is linked to a radical Christian separation of the physical and thespiritual and of the spheres of God and man. Given such a division between therealm of the divine and that of ordinary life, between spiritual and material being,we argue that Descartes was influential in relocating the task of reason within theprecincts of ordinary life by advocating the value of reason's service to material wellbeing and to understanding the solidity and substantiveness of physical things.This can, of course, be associated with that powerful yearning for theenduring which Gadamer links with the movement of reason. However, if34Gadamer's suggestion is that every work mediates the past and the future, the oldand the new in this regard, Descartes sought the enduring in the form of certainty,and saw this to necessitate a radical split with what he saw as the impermanence ofthe past. He decried the lack of durability and certitude in the tradition of thoughtwhich had preceded him, lamenting in his Discourse on Method that "I consideredthat nothing solid could have been built on such shifting foundations." (Descartes,1968: 32). If his work preserves the past in the present, it therefore does so bysetting up the future in opposition to the past. The future was seen to promise allthat the past precluded. The task of reason in the present was therefore to effectand secure their separation.Thus it was against a picture of the ugly disorder and uncertainty of the citieshe knew and lived in, of the commonplace in which he found himself, that Descartessketched out the shape of our desires in a vision of a new and beautiful community.He sought to frame an alternate vision of the city, a city which would supersede thatugly confusion of the past and the present. In the old city which he saw around him,people found themselves together not in accord with where or how they had chosento be, but where history had placed them. This means that Descartes saw the way inwhich the commonplace is not of our own making or of our own design. Its order isnot visible nor under our control, but is instead resistant to our desires and to ournotions of what is good. So we find in his picture of the old city of the commonplacethat the streets weren't straight and did not proceed directly in accord with anyintended destination. Instead, they dallied and bent -- to accommodate what hadcome before, bowing to the past's authority over the latecomer, to unforeseencircumstances, to changes of mind, to what was dear to other inhabitants, bowingeven to various whims, to what was folly and fantasy. The social world was a35community of people bound together through a plethora of old affections,commitments, inherited customs, habits and attachments.For Descartes, this resulted in a city which was disproportionate, messy andunsightly. Its categories were confused and nothing was in its proper place. Thesmall house sat next to the large and there was a confusion of directions and levels.Furthermore, the city changed endlessly, with parts being added, parts being revised,parts falling into disuse and decay because of changes of circumstances, changes ofcommitment and changes in ideas of what was good and bad. Nothing seemed to bepermanent, nothing fixed or of an order that could be immediately and thoroughlygrasped."One sees that buildings undertaken and completed by a singlearchitect are usually more beautiful and better ordered than thosethat several architects have tried to put into shape making use of oldwalls which were built for other purposes. So it is that these old citieswhich, originally only villages, have become, through the passage oftime great towns, are usually so badly proportioned in comparisonwith those orderly towns which an engineer designs at will on someplain, that, although the buildings, taken separately, often display asmuch art as those of the planned towns or even more, nevertheless,seeing how they are placed, with a big one here, a small one there andhow they cause the streets to bend and to be at different levels, onehas the impression that they are more the product of chance than thatof a human will operating according to reason." (Descartes, 1968: 35)It's hard for us today, altogether too familiar with the modern grid, thefreeway and the North American metropolis, to imagine the delight these images ofDescartes must have given and the pleasures they promised. Perhaps if we invokeinstead the joy felt upon cleaning up a mess, the delight we feel when things are putin proper order, or perhaps the pleasure and promise of the fresh start, the cleanslate and the open horizon, we would have more of a sense of their impact, and bebetter able to experience the power of the Discourses as the incredible rallying call36that they must have been, the call to end the confusion and to put things right onceand for all.The city 'put right' would be the new and beautiful community ruled byreason. The beautiful city of Descartes would be a city built on a plain, a level city,a city without hierarchy, we might say. No dips, no hills, no turns, no peaks and novalleys. It would also be a city of perfect visibility and absolute clarity. A city ofstraight roads offering unobstructed vision. A city in which a clear sight of thedesired destination was always in view. It's a city in which the solidity of things, theirimpermeability and otherness, has been opened up and made accessible everywhereand to all. Its the open city, the city formed as the conscious product of our choicesand the city open to our choices.That Descartes had such a vision is not to say that he saw himself as a meredreamer. The task of reason was to rid ourselves of the insubstantiality of dreamsand illusions, neither of which for Descartes had any solidity and no certainty. Hewanted the beautiful city built. He wanted it to be a tangible city, a real city, the citylived in. This meant that the dream city was to be reconciled with ordinary life bybecoming ordinary life and in this way putting an end to the difference between thetwo. What this required was a definite way of consciously realizing his plan, a wayof guaranteeing that his "dream" would be one which could be brought into being,enacted. Any dream was to be limited in this way by what was possible to enact inordinary life. Such is the Cartesian response to the commonplace.As for the utility of the practices of the past in this regard, he was dismissive,seeing nothing of much use to turn to there. Art? Art had yielded pleasure, but nosettled and clear findings about the world. Philosophy? Philosophical questioninghad engendered only endless confusion and more and more questions. Despite somany important issues having been attended to by the 'best' minds, everything in37that domain remained open to dispute. "Not one of its problems," he tells us, "is notsubject to disagreement, and consequently is uncertain." (Descartes, 1968: 32). Eventhough the works of the tradition had served succeeding generations as exemplarymodels of human thought, the diversity, variation and dissension was for Descartesan exemplification of the past's failure. Nothing firm or dependable had beenestablished by means of these pursuits, nothing which could be built on."There is only one truth of each thing, and whoever finds it knows as muchabout the thing as there is to be known!" is the claim made (Descartes, 1968: 43).The way of reason entailed the accumulation of dependable knowledge, of fixedtruths about things. It required that things be settled correctly. Rather thanengaging the works of the past in conversation and letting their resistance tounderstanding reveal the limits of any contemporary understanding, Descartestreated these works as wrongful thought which needed to be set right. The works ofthe past are treated not as potential sources of strange and extra-ordinary 'riches'which ask us to tarry, but rather as part of a social legacy of habitual error, illusionand disorder against which reason must struggle. It is therefore not so much withinhabitual ways of seeing that Descartes located what he saw to be the problem of thecommonplace. Rather, it was that erroneous or undependable thought had becomehabitual. If we don't know for certain what we believe or why, the Cartesiansolution suggests that we should rectify this by certifying the one and correct truth ofthings. These certified understandings could then be removed from questioning.Habit must struggle to become correct habit, and the generations after Descarteswould, it seems, accept the certification of those who came before them on goodfaith, without any continuing need for reflection. His promise is that in the future,the need would be only to accept the norm and the usual, since otherwise, no solidfoundations would be available on which to anchor the social edifice. However,38since the Cartesian thrust is to solidify correct knowledge against the error of thepast, a chronic tension is generated in the work between this thrust to solidifycorrect knowledge by means of correct Methods, and that countervailing thrust toseek out and correct the error of the past.The Commodious CityIt was the engineer, we should remember, who served Descartes as theexemplar of rational man, man the ideal builder of cities. The reasoned city, theengineered city, would be built as the product of calculated acts of human willprogressing to a clearly specified destination or goal. Within this framework, reasonimplies planning and the orderly correlation of ways and desired destinations. Theprize which Descartes held up for the reader was the finding of the right way, theway leading with accuracy and certainty to the desired end. This was the Method,the missing but absolutely necessary thing required for the erection of this beautifulnew city.If Descartes saw Method as the thing required, we might argue that it wasbecause he saw the city as something which could be built according to consciousdesign in the same way that any artifact might be built. Any act of production orfabrication requires that effort be geared to the ends which order the process. Forexample, when Socrates talks with Thrasymachus in the Republic, he says that "wealways distinguish one form of skill from another by its power to effect someparticular result" (Plato, 1941: 27). If we undertake to build a house, for example, wemust know the use for which a house is designed and built. Plato argues that whilethis knowledge must be in the possession of the producer, it must also be suited tothe one who will use the work, for producer and user are logically not the same.Even empirically, they rarely correspond. Socrates' argument goes on to say that thebenefit of a skill does not go to the producer, but to the one who needs the good39that the skill brings about. In this regard, "the physician as such, produces health;the builder, a house; ... thus every art has its own function and benefits its propersubject". This points to any practice as a space of shared understandings concerningends, as well as to its other-directness, its status as "intelligible communication" asGadamer has said (Gadamer, 1986: 13).In that he implicitly acknowledged the shared understandings which anynotion of the city entails when he addressed the purpose of the city in this way,Descartes also revealed an orientation to the need to persuade others. He does soby presenting a vision of the city as a whole, a whole in which individual parts havebeen brought together in some way into a unity. In Descartes' city of reason, as inSparta, this meant insuring that all would tend towards the same end (Descartes,1968: 36). Such a clearness and singularity of vision would yield proper proportion,symmetry, order and stability. This compliance with a preconceived and carefullyconstructed plan to which all must adhere, this self-assigned unity and wholeness,would provide the city with the same kind of beauty and singleness of purpose as thewell-conceived artifact.Again, we ask, what is the end or purpose that Descartes held out to us inthis regard? What did he see as the limits to which the city should be oriented, thatto which all its ends should tend and to which all would be committed? Given thathe saw it as an artifact, Descartes didn't envision this measure as one concernedwith the moral conduct of the inhabitants. In that regard, he proposed going alongwith the least controversial, the most ordinary of moral injunctures: he would "forma provisional moral code of only three to four maxims, obey the laws of his countryand adapt his behaviour to that of those with whom he was to live" (Descartes, 1968:45). It seems fair to say that this was not a particularly thoughtful stance about themoral or political life as ordering principles of community.40Descartes turned instead, as did Sacks centuries later, towards that which thecity seemed to exclude, that which was missing from it and needed to be recovered.This Descartes posited as Nature: Nature was that which should be studied andpursued. It was the source or cause of our needs and of our capacity to fulfill them.It constituted our limit. This meant that the important task of human reason, itsfundamental task, was "no other occupation than that of trying to acquire someknowledge of Nature". A knowledge of the unknown aspects of physical nature wasproposed as the planned route to the good society."(It is) desired for the invention of an infinity of devices by which wemight enjoy, without any effort, the fruits of the earth and all itscommodities, but also principally for the preservation of health, whichis undoubtedly the first good, and the foundation of all the othergoods of this life; for even the mind depends so much on thetemperament and on the disposition of the organs of the body, that ifit is possible to find some means of rendering men as a whole wiserand more dexterous than they have been hitherto, I believe it must besought in medicine" (Descartes, 1968: 78).The invention of an infinity of devices through which human beings can enjoywithout effort the fruits of the earth and all its commodities and the preservation ofhealth -- it was these natural ends, these needs of consumption generated by ourbiological or 'natural' life, which Descartes proposed as the purpose or end whichshould properly direct reason. The promise made was that even wisdom would growthrough our attendance to these natural needs, since it too was grounded in thebody's well-being. And since these concerns were 'naturally' those of everybody, forwithout them no 'body' could live at all, they also offered the possibility of unitingthe community in a concerted effort. Agreement about this goal of the ampleprovision of commodities should readily be secured, since its importance would beapparent to all, and all would stand to gain in a very obvious way from theendeavour. Furthermore, the satisfaction of these needs would offer that clarity and41singleness of purpose, that unity essential to the proper fabrication of any work."Linking the lives and labours of many, we might all together go much further thaneach man could individually." (Descartes, 1968: 79). The obligation of thecommunity was to ensure that all individual needs for material well-being would bemet; the whole must be committed to the service of these individual natural needs.The Naturalness of ReasonWhat need is then left for the extra-ordinary insight within the Cartesiancommunity? The initial discovery of the Method defied the ordinary, since it wasonly by Descartes "looking awry" at the usual understandings of things that itsdiscovery became possible. But once the right way, the elusive 'Method', was found,the subsequent task of reason would only require our common adherence to thatstraight path already laid out, a commitment to the satisfaction of all individualneeds for the commodious life. With such a foundation for the city, there would beno need for the extra-ordinary insight. Doing things in the agreed upon, correct waycould take over.This eventuality was made possible because of that very naturalness ofreason which Descartes took such care to sketch out. He constructed our humancapacities as those abilities given by our body, capacities which, as we have just seen,were also placed in the service of that body. Reason is "naturally equal in all men"Descartes says. "The capacity to judge correctly and to distinguish the true from thefalse, which is properly what one calls common sense or reason, is naturally equal inall men..." (Descartes, 1968: 27). In the opening sentences of the First Discourse,for example, the grounds of good sense are located in the capacity to think quicklyand easily, to form sharp and clear images and to have a good memory -- all featureswe would associate with the biophysical underpinning which provides for mentalabilities or intelligence. It is indisputable that these are criteria for intelligence and42fundamental capacities which human reason demands. Furthermore, barringaccidents of fate, human beings as species members do possess such innateintellectual capacities, capacities which provide the ability to be able to expressoneself in language and to carry on the activities of an 'ordinary' human life.Moreover, we assume this capacity in granting citizenship, in the demarcation ofadulthood from childhood, in holding people responsible for their actions.This naturally given intellectual capacity is, however, clearly not equallygiven to all. Some do have exceptional abilities in this regard. Perhaps even moreimportant however, is that such differences in naturally given intellectual capacitiesdo not account for how well that intelligence is used. Nor can they account fordifferences in wisdom or character or human spirit. While we recognize differencesin capacities, that some are quick to learn, others slow, we also recognize differencesin insight, and know that sharp intellects can be turned to things not wise, can wastetheir talents or turn them to harmful endeavours. Sharp intellects can be of poorcharacter and lack understanding of what is good and what is not. We alsorecognize that intelligent people can be deceived about things, get confused, be ledastray, travel up blind paths, take wrong turnings. It is here, we might argue, thatthe essence of human tragedy is to be found, in fatal errors of judgment and wrongturnings, rather that in deficient intellectual capacity. These, abilities, we mightfurther argue, are not given "naturally" at all, but require cultivation and goodjudgment concerning what is worthwhile. They are thus neither inevitable norguaranteed correct, but subject to error and open to defeat.Given his propensity for certainty and for limiting actions according to whatis achievable in the world, Descartes seemed to want to ignore these differences andto fold them all into natural, bodily given capacities of intellect. He was committedto that notion that intellect (as reason) should find what is correct about things, and43that if this were clearly laid out, all could then follow. However, although thenaturally given capacity of intellect had resulted in thought, it was also clear toDescartes that it had not been able to guarantee the achievement of correctunderstandings. In his  Second Meditation, therefore, faithful to his directive to turnto Nature and her truths, Descartes sought out that elusive certainty of Method byturning to the ordinary, everyday things around him, things which were solid andnatural, which could be touched and seen, and which we presume to know very well,things like our physical bodies.In one very well known example, Descartes turned his attention to beeswax(108-109). He called it up by speaking not only of all those ways by which wecommonly recognize wax, but also by the ways it delights us and gives us pleasure:the sweetness of the honey, the faint perfume of the flowers from which it wasgathered, its colour, its shape and size, its hardness, its coolness. Descartes was not,of course, satisfied with these common ways of knowing the world. If the wax isplaced near a flame, its shape, color, size, texture all change, he argued. Ifconstancy and the permanent is what we seek, then where is the constancy of suchseemingly tangible things? How can we know them correctly?Descartes attempted to establish this constancy of things while at the sametime trying to link it to a specifically human nature. While Nature was construed asthe source of both human and animal nature, he posits internal distinctions within it.That is, he posits a distinction between man and animal which serves todifferentiate nature and to break up its homogeneity. This also meant that heshifted ground concerning its meaning, treating it in a much broader sense than asthe mere physical capacities with which he started. Nature became that whichmakes animal and man what they are, and this included reason or consciousness.44"Certainly it could be nothing of all the things which I perceived bymeans of the senses, for everything which fell under taste, smell, sight,touch or hearing is changed, yet wax remains Perhaps it was what Inow think, namely, that the wax was not the sweetness of honey, or thepleasant smell of flowers, the whiteness, or the shape, nor the sound,but only a body which a little earlier appeared to me in theseforms...indeed, nothing remains, except something extended, flexibleand malleable What was there in that first perception that wasdistinct and evident, and which could not be perceived in the sameway by the sense of the least of animals? But when I distinguish thewax from its external forms, and, just as if I had removed its garments,I consider it quite naked, it is certain that.. .1 cannot conceive of it inthis way without possessing a human mind. "(Descartes, 1968: 111)Human nature, Descartes said, was to be found in the distinctiveness of humanreason, and this in turn was more than that capacity we share with animals torecognize entities in the world. Such a capacity serves both animal and man infinding food, in tending to their young, in communicating with each other, inproviding for life and physical well being. For Descartes, the difference betweenthis capacity and human reason resided in the capacity man has to mentally pictureand conceptualize, and in this way to manipulate that natural or physical world.We might remember in this regard that Descartes gave over one wholeDiscourse to an account of the circulation of the blood, writing as though toconvince his readers that the permanency of human life lay in finding thepermanence of such solid, tangible, natural things as our bodies. This permanency,he argued, was to be found in extension and in malleability, or in the processesinvolved in their transformation. Thus the truth of solid things is found by lookingat extension and process, just as the nature of man is found by examining reason.We must be clear here that this application of human reason to the naturalworld does not suggest that the nature of human being is just the physical/biologicalprocesses of transformation and movement which comprise the life of our bodies.The fundamental thing about human "natural" being as it emerged in Descartes wasthat it required the additional transformation not only of things into process, but of45processes into mental images, such that the processes can be examined, bit by bit,and put to human use in the production of artifacts. This is required for themanipulation of nature for the production of commodities, of tangible things fortangible human beings. Human mental images are able to portray what happensoutside, to document this in mind The whole is therefore not only the physicalworld, but its reflection or doubling in its opposite. In this way, we can argue thatthe Cartesian 'nature' is divided, that it is not one but the ongoing mediation of twoaccording to a principle of utility.For Descartes, this mediation entailed reason's mirroring of the processes ofnature in the service of our biological nature. His guiding principle was utility anddependability. That is, he wanted to facilitate the transformation of the mystery andextra-ordinariness of nature (what we are, but don't know) into "equipment" and"usefulness" and the "correctly known". His desire was the transformation of theextra-ordinary into that which is reliable and familiar and ordinary. Thus we arguedat the outset that Descartes gave us a version of the extra-ordinary which providedfor a life without question, the life which does not examine that to which it isoriented. The ultimate achievement for this Cartesian picture of human reason wasmathematics, and once again we might think of that engineering model he held upfor us, and remember how the way of engineering is to transform physical processesinto mathematical equations for purposes of ease and accuracy of manipulation.Contemporary engineering is increasingly able to model the natural world in thisway. With modern sophisticated computer facilities, a seemingly infinite number ofcomplex changes can now be simulated. In terms of the production of an infinity ofdesirable commodities for the service of our material well being and in terms of itsfacilitation of choice and human control over these aspects of our being, the efficacyof this way of proceeding can hardly be denied. Nor can we question the strength of46our modern attachment to those notions of production, consumption and materialwell-being to which it speaks and to which Taylor has called our attention, any morethan we can question our widespread commitment as a community to provide thisfor all, even though we cannot all agree about the elusive Method which willguarantee this achievement. Talk of optimizing processes, maximizing efficiencyand rationalizing procedures has also come to be seen as quintessentially 'rational',as though getting each of us swiftly and directly and without question to such aproductive and commodious end is indeed the ultimate limit of human reason.47FRAME FOURTHE STRIFE BETWEEN THE EXTRA-ORDINARYAND THE ORDINARYWe believe we are at home in the immediate circle of beings. That which is,is familiar, reliable, ordinary, nevertheless, the clearing is pervaded by aconstant concealment .... at bottom, the ordinary is not ordinary; it is extra-ordinary, uncanny.Martin HeideggerThe Origin of the Work of ArtThe Questions Raised by Van Gogh's BootsBoth Sacks and Descartes, we have argued, were committed to versions ofthe extra-ordinary practice of theorizing which ultimately allowed the community tolive out, without question, a very ordinary life. However, reading Sacks' lecture, astrong sense also emerges that art and the beautiful, especially the beauty of thenatural world, hover phantom-like behind the scenes of ordinary life. Whilerecognized and frequently alluded to in terms of extra-ordinary endeavours, theyremain both unexplicated within his construction of the social world as intelligibleordinariness, and repressed within his resolution of the extra-ordinary practice ofsociology as the recovery of the 'equipment' out of which that ordinary life of thecommunity is constructed. This failure to adequately account for such practicespoints towards dimensions of human community which exceed his account of it asthe useful and the ordinary.References to art and the beautiful can also be found in the works ofDescartes. While he found art to be pleasureable, he held it to be of little utility in48the task of erecting the new and reasoned city, since it was unable to guaranteeresults and unable to provide correct, agreed-upon and useful knowledge concerningthe world. At the same time that he is dismissive of art, however, we find that whenhe attempts to persuade us concerning the value of the Cartesian enterprise, he callsupon our desire to erect a beautiful city. What's more, his way of formulating thisdesire was through the pleasure given by the beautiful appearance of the welldesigned artifact, a pleasure he exemplified in the clarity and order of the open andlevel city, the city built to service our ordinary and individual needs for shelter, food,clothing and general physical well being.While both Sacks and Descartes direct us in these various ways towards artand the beautiful as the appearance of the extra-ordinary and the desirable, in theend both cast them out of their own extra-ordinary theoretical accounts and returnto a conception of ordinary life for the community which is quite remote from them.If we therefore see this as an inadequate account of the relationship between theordinary and the extra-ordinary, how might the place of such extra-ordinary pursuitsbe better formulated?That art and the beautiful are indeed extra-ordinary is clearly seen if wethink of how difficult it is to imagine an art gallery full of everyday, ordinary usefulobjects -- an art gallery full of boots, perhaps. Such a gallery would be very strange,for the gallery is a special place, a space of extra-ordinary objects, objects which seekto stand out from the things around them. If art works are beautiful and extra-ordinary, this is commonly understood to be because they copy something beautiful.This speaks to a long-time understanding that art has an imitative role, one in whicha certain truth capacity is embedded. That is, it is common understanding that artworks copy something. Sacks' notion of poetry as a descriptive recording of nature isa version of this notion of art as copy. We might also note that a similar notion of49the work as a copy serves to characterize his version of the extra-ordinary pursuit ofsociology, in that he understands that enterprise to entail the recording ordocumentation of the means through which the ordinary social world is constructed.Consider, however, in regard to this notion of art as a copy of beautifulthings, that on a number of occasions, Vincent Van Gogh sought to paint 'his truth'into a pair of old peasant boots (e.g. his work of 1886: "Old Boots with Laces"). Thesubject matter Van Gogh chose to paint is familiar and everyday, and thereforequite understandable, it might well be argued, in terms of that affection we have forordinary life. Yet it's a curious choice, all the same, to make art out of a pair of oldboots -- nothing else but old boots. What is it the boots copy and what does thework say? And if it is indeed an affirmation of everyday life, what is it affirming?We have before us only the work and a pair of old boots, reframed, as art. We can'teven tell where the boots stand or to whom they belong. Just a worn, empty,unoccupied pair of boots framed in the undefined space of Van Gogh's canvas. Oldboots framed in the space of the beautiful and the extra-ordinary. While this notionof the copy has been especially pervasive in modern understandings of painting,even with those boots right there before our eyes, it's not easy to grasp what thenotion implies in terms of such a work.On the surface, the idea of the work as imitation or a copy appears to be astraightforward proposition, it's success a matter of gauging the similarities anddifferences between original and copy. Timothy Raser, however, has commentedon the way in which imitation is a doctrine against which very different artistic andphilosophical movements have sought to define themselves. It has served as a highlycharged locus around which tasks and truths have been articulated (Raser, 1989:19). In this regard we might note that this particular choice of Van Gogh's50interested Heidegger. He kept returning to the question of the boots again andagain in  The Origin of the Work of Art (1975).Why paint a pair of old boots? One approach Heidegger took in order to getat the questions raised by the painting of the boots was to reframe Van Gogh's workby relating it to the Greek temple. This choice too seems a strange one, since thetemple was clearly not an art work in the sense that we have art works today, for artstanding on its own as "art" is a modern development. Furthermore, the Greekspainted few pictures, and they certainly did not paint images of old boots. This is tosay that Van Gogh's work and subject matter are very modern, unthinkable apartfrom the history of modern Western art out of which they emerge. When Heideggerchose to contrast the temple with Van Gogh's painting of boots, he did so becausehe regarded the temple as non-representational. As a work of architecture, it wouldnot commonly be assumed to portray something by presenting a picture of it, byimitating it's 'look', something which Van Gogh's painting of the boots could easilybe seen to be doing. That is, Van Gogh's work could be seen to be copying boots,giving us a picture of boots. The comparison with the temple can therefore betreated as a way of opening up the notion of the work as a copy of something. Thatis, the comparison allows for an enlarged sense of art and of the work to emerge,since art is posited as the unity which collects these two disparate works together.At the same time, the comparison allows us to pursue the issue of the affirmation ofordinary life, both in Van Gogh's work, and in a more general sense.If the temple clearly doesn't portray by giving us an accurate picture ofsomething, what does it do? Heidegger saw the temple in relation to the notions ofdestiny, saying that: "It is only from and in this expanse .. that the nation firstreturn(s) to itself for the fulfillment of its vocation." (1975: 42). His understandingof the temple was that it was a gathering place, one needed in order for a truth51'experience' to take place. It was a space apart from ordinary life, an extra-ordinaryspace which provided the occasion for the Greek community to return to itself andin this way to fulfill its calling. The temple, we might argue concerning Heidegger'sclaim, provided for the Greeks a way of revitalizing and re-collecting the auspices oftheir communal life.In this regard, architect Kenneth Frampton has reminded us that the Latinroot of edifice refers to the installation both of a temple and of the sacred hearth,and that early Greek understandings of a building or work were tied to edification,that is, to illumination and to enlightenment and to a movement in understanding(Frampton, 1979). This implies that when Heidegger spoke of the truth of thetemple as a "happening", he was also suggesting that truth is something experiencedor undergone by virtue of our engagement with a work, rather than, as Descartesand Sacks seem to have assumed, a correct or accurate mental picture ordocumentation of something. Heidegger's suggestion was also that this experiencetakes place as a recovery of what we are. This in turn seems to suggest that we aredivided beings, beings in some way separated from an original self, from a self thatwe should properly or fully be.Heidegger suggested that the work induces a self-movement by means of thestrife, one which moves us towards a whole self, and in this way, to a proper destiny."The work, Heidegger said, "is the fighting of the battle in which theunconcealedness of beings as a whole, or truth, is won. ...This does not happen sothat the work should at the same time settle and put an end to the conflict in aninsipid agreement, but so that the strife may remain a strife." (Heidegger, 1975: 49).It is by means of strife that the truth of the work takes place and that we recognizethat which is "copied". But if a work is the fighting of a battle in which truth iswrested from its hiding places, how could we relate this to something like the52painting of Van Gogh's boots? How might we see this as a strife which allows forthe recollection of the proper vocation of the community'?Heidegger worked at this puzzle by delineating some possible understandingsof a work such as the painting of the boots. He noted that one way we couldunderstand a painting would be as a mere piece of physical material. Like baggage,a painting such as Van Gogh's is indeed something that can be packed up andmoved, transported from one exhibition to another, just as logs are shipped from theforest to the mill (Heidegger, 1975: 19). Furthermore, the painting has a materialnature in that it is comprised of pieces of wood stretched with canvas and coveredwith pigment. In this way, it has in it something of the texture of pigment and theglow of color. Yet none of these material aspects of the work are sufficient toexplain the experience of the work as a work of art. Although they are necessary forthe art to happen, and the actual artist must in this way be something of the skilledcraftsman as well as a dealer in commodities, the realm of art is something other,something more.Heidegger reminded us that boots can also be understood as useful things.He refers to them in this way as equipment. In that boots are equipment, they arematter formed or fabricated by humans for dependable use, for our comfort and forthe service of our physical needs. It is in this regard that we seek out the regularityof things, so that we can successfully and dependably put them to use. Perhaps,Heidegger wondered, pursuing this line of thought, this could be taken as that whichVan Gogh documents for us. That is, his work shows us not just the materiality ofthe boots, but their usefulness. The picture could be seen as an image of usefulness.Yet as he says, the painting shows us nothing of the way the peasant wearing theboots knows them, or of the way we all know the various kinds of apparel for thefeet. We know equipment as we use it, as it serves us, for the way boots cover our53feet, for their suitability to the task at hand, for going to the office, going dancing,going hiking. This is the nature of equipment, its dependability and durability, andthis we know in and as we use it. Equipment speaks to that which we can dependupon over and over, and can call up at our commandThe eventual claim that Heidegger made, however, was that while thepeasant would wear the boots, unselfconsciously and without thought, Van Gogh'spainting does something much more and quite different. His painting re-presents orre-frames those boots, and in doing so, it says something new. For this reason,Heidegger argues concerning the art work that "In the vicinity of the work we weresuddenly somewhere else than we usually tend to be" (Heidegger, 1975: 49). Thework, as art, is extra-ordinary. But how?Here we might turn to Gadamer, who says of the art work that nothing realin the sense that a boot is real is produced. Nor has the work any use as such. Itspurpose does not reside in utility and cannot be understood in that way. There arethings, he says, which we produce simply to look upon or to reflect upon. In thisway, the art work "finds its characteristic fulfillment when our gaze dwells upon theappearance itself' (Gadamer, 1986: 13).If what is important is to dwell upon the appearance of the work, whatGadamer implies when he speaks of appearance is ambiguous. Appearance cansuggest the look of a thing, but also the way it is present or in a location such that itcan be gazed upon or encountered in some way. Both these senses of appearancecould arguably pertain to the work of art. That is, its look is immediately striking,which draws us to the work. It is in this sense extra-ordinary, an endeavour which,like theorizing, seeks to disrupt any comfortable ordinariness. But the art work isalso something which needs to be present for us, since we need to dwell upon it.That is, the encounter calls not for the methodical attainment of a goal or for the54achievement of a correct and finished reading, but for a tarrying, a dwelling with thework which allows us to experience it and its "manifold riches".How is it that the appearance of the work requires us to dwell upon it in thisway and is a temporal experience, a kind of passage or journey? Gadamer arguesthat if the art work is there to dwell upon, it is not because it is something that willlead us to something else. That is, it is not a link in a chain or a means to an end,like a freeway to a correct destination. The experience of the work is the end. Forthis reason, the work is irreplaceable. Furthermore, it is something we linger overand return to again and again. We dwell upon it in this way not only because it is adelight, as Descartes implied, but because the work remains mysteriously delightful.It does not fully disclose itself to us, but has depths which remain unfathomed.Descartes is therefore right to say that art does not yield a correct and finishedanswer.Gadamer says in this regard that the art work is "like something producedaccording to still unformulated rules... (it is) the creation of something exemplarywhich is not simply produced by following rules." (Gadamer, 1986: 21). It speaks, hesays, of the need for human possibility to give itself shape. In speaking of this needto give human possibility shape, Gadamer points us yet again to the way art seeks todisrupt the ordinary so as to let us experience the extra-ordinary. We see this in adifferent way when he speaks of the "increase in being that something acquires bybeing represented" (Gadamer, 1986: 38). In the case of those boots of Van Gogh's,their reframing as a work of art allows for a joint appearance not only of theordinary, but also of something extra-ordinary. There are no heroes, no beautifulscenes, no prescriptions for a life in the Van Gogh picture. However, mixed inamong those mundane boots, that equipment of everyday life, something not55mundane or useful, something nameless but extra-ordinary, even beautiful, alsoappears.In attempting to understand this curious task of art, how it combines theordinary and the extra-ordinary, Gadamer's notion of the "symbolic" is helpful(Gadamer, 1986: 31). The symbol was originally a technical term in Greek for atoken of remembrance. When a guest came to visit, the host gave the visitor half ofsome object which had been broken in two. If a descendent later entered the house,the two could be fitted together. The symbol therefore operated rather like a pass,one which allowed that which was unknown to pass into a new space by virtue ofthat which had gone before. A work, we might say, is symbolic in the way it allowsfor the known to pass into the unknown, the old into the new, and the ordinary intothe extra-ordinary.Gadamer shows the symbolic to be always particular, both a particular workas well as a movement through a particular thing or things we know. It is ourfamiliarity with particular things, things like those boots, which allow for thispassage into something new or different. Gadamer also argues that this particularitymakes a work resistant to pure conceptualization. Yet despite its resistance to pureconceptualization and the lack of rule in its origin, an art work is still purposeful,intended, disciplined and ordered. It has something to say and sets itself up asrequiring a response. That is, if the work asks to be understood, it means somethingis there which sets us a task in this regard. For this reason, Gadamer reminds usthat the proper response to a work is not to make of it anything we wish it to be. Weare instead asked to engage the work, to submit to its otherness and to be limitednot by our own desires, but by what the work says. In this way, the work asks for ouractive intellectual and spiritual engagement.56This also means that the understanding of the work is not somethingguaranteed by certain formal criteria, by any listing of the rules or techniques bywhich it can be understood, such that everyone will experience it alike and correctly.Gadamer argues instead that a work's meaning is secured only by the way in whichwe take the construction of the work upon ourselves, by the way we enter into theplay of the work (Gadamer, 1986: 28). This happens not by abiding by rule, but bythe openness of the work to differences. Gadamer uses the description of thestaircase in The Brothers Karamazov as an illustrative example. His argument isthat anyone who reads the novel will see the staircase in a distinctive way and beconvinced that he/she sees it as it really is. "This is the open space creativelanguage gives us and which we fill out by following what the writer evokes. .. It isalways like this." (Gadamer, 1986: 28). The work remains open to variations inreadings or in performance, yet still retains its oneness or its unity as a work.Various interpretations are possible because of this open space within the work, yetat the same time, they are all limited by the need to be true to the work. Gadamerspeaks of the way "one senses how everyone is gathered together before what theyencounter -- not just all in the same place, but rather in the intention that unites usand prevents us as individuals from falling into private conversations" (Gadamer,1986: 28).With this reference to the gathering of the community through a work, wereturn to the way in which Heidegger saw the work as a vehicle for returning us, as acommunity, to a proper vocation. The work, Heidegger said, is constituted as astrife, and it is by means of this strife that an unconcealing takes place. It is theexperience of this which serves to return us to a proper vocation and, we might add,to reflect upon the auspices of collective life. When speaking of Van Gogh'spainting of the boots, we said in this regard that both ordinariness and extra-57ordinariness emerge when the boots are reframed as art. The boots were ratherugly, tattered and dirty from use, and it's not that this changes in the picture or thatthe boots become pretty or refined or elegant. But -- under the skillful and lovinghands of the painter, in that extra-ordinary space of the work, something other anddifferent also emerges, something strange and mysterious, even beautiful. Againstthe illuminated ground, the darkness of the boots' interior opens up. Unplumbeddepths appear, new dimensions are added, and a mysterious beauty becomes visible,one which the art work struggles to bring out of concealment both within andagainst the ordinariness and usefulness of the boots.But what does this mysterious beauty point to and how does it relate to theordinary life of the peasant, that life of toil and hard work and production which theboots seem to exemplify? How could we understand such strife between the two asa vehicle which reorients us towards a proper vocation and to the auspices of sociallife? To probe these questions and in this way extend the depth of our foray intothe heartland of the ordinary, we will take a route which stops for a while in Plato'sRepublic, one of the oldest and most extra-ordinary works of our tradition. Weargue in doing so that ordinary life has always required thought and a renewal ofunderstanding. To this extent, reflection on those various aspects of ordinary lifewhich have concerned us here -- that is, the habitual and the taken-for-granted, oursocial situatedness, issues of utility and of our material dependence -- such reflectionappears in many different guises and in many times and places. The Republic is oneof those, and particularly relevant to this reflection of ours upon the relationshipbetween the extra-ordinary and ordinary life.58Plato and the Social as Human ExcessThe Republic can be read as an intervention concerned with our need toengage such questions in thought by means of conversation. The deepening of ourunderstanding concerning that which constitutes a good life, as opposed to theunthought acceptance of the one given "naturally", is brought to the fore. LikeSacks' work and like Descartes' work, the dialogue is also, therefore, a form ofpersuasion. It leads us through an enquiry into what is good about things we alreadylove and desire, with the understanding that we are loving and desiring beings, andthat we are always already committed to a way of life and that we always havelimited understandings of that life and of our commitments. What it is that weactually love we find elusive, not readily apparent to us or clearly understood oreasily articulated. This, it could be argued, is the case for most of the things we holddear. The dialogue proceeds by opening up to view this rift between our desire andour understanding, that is, by showing how they are not one. It then proceeds to tryand reunite them through a process of argumentation and mediation.If the work is in this way dialectical, it is also dialogical, a gathering of acommunity by means of a conversation concerning the good life. The dialoguemakes readily apparent how our understanding of this comes in many but alwayslimited (i.e. particular) forms, as individual and distinct renderings of the variousanalytic possibilities available in the community. The dialogue seeks to gather thesetogether, to frame them in a way which allows us to move to deeper, renewed andmore thoughtful understandings of communal life. In this way, it serves as apassageway for the recollection of the auspices of social life.The dialogue begins with simple understandings of the good life. Socrates,for example, is encountered in conversation with the old man Cephalus about thegood things in life which Cephalus is able to see when looking back upon life from59the vantage point of old age. Cephalus speaks of his growing fondness for "things ofthe mind" as "bodily pleasures lose their savour". "A great peace comes when agesets us free from passions of that sort." (Republic, 1941: 4). The argument Cephalusoffers is that freedom from the pleasures of the natural body yields a freedom frombondage for human beings. This freedom, however, is one delivered by "natural"means and not as a result of any growth in understanding concerning thecomparative worth of those pleasures. The alternative to such naturally givenfreedom, not stated but implicit, would be the freedom gained through reflection,and the consequent reasoned choice based on a deeper understanding about what isworthy.Once the questions concerning the good life are posed in the Republic, aseries of various analyses concerning its constitution are first presented and thenovercome. The arguments presented are familiar enough ones in our own world. Inthe dialogue with Cephalus, for example, the value of material well-being is opposedto the value of good character. In response to Socrates' questioning, Cephalus statesthat riches will not make a bad man contented and cheerful. Nevertheless, whenpressed by Socrates about the value of wealth, he offers an explanation concerningits "utility" in saving us from actions which would merit punishment in theafterworld. Within the analysis presented by Cephalus, the good human life ispresented not as a self-enforced commitment based on an understanding of what isgood to do, but as one granted from outside, by nature or chance or good luck. It isa life led rather more as an insurance policy for a better life in an 'other' or 'after'world.By the time we encounter the argument of Thrasymachus, the question of thegood life has been reframed. It emerges, greatly enlarged, as the search for anunderstanding of the value of the just life. The conversation has moved beyond the60limits of private concerns for one's welfare evinced by Cephalus, to an orientation tomoral principles, i.e. justice. In fact, the dialogue with Thrasymachus could betreated as an effort on Plato's part to turn the question of the good life towards thegood in a way which seeks to transform our concern for individual life and well-being and to reframe it as something much more. It shows human life to include anaffection for principles like justice. In this way, it now speaks with an understandingof the good life which is intrinsically social, in that shows a concern for othersoriented to principle. That is, it now shows a community gathered together throughits understanding of principles.In order to achieve this transformation, Socrates needed to first defeatThrasymachus' position, one which we might characterize as the case for injustice.Thrasymachus argues that what we call justice is whatever serves the needs of thosein power. It's the position of "might is right". Socrates counters the argument withthat analysis which we spoke of earlier in relation to Descartes and the question ofthe unity of the city. That is, Socrates points us to the way any practice serves notthe practitioner, but a commonly recognized good. Medicine serves health, and thedoctor and the patient come to a shared understanding of that good within thepractice. The same, the argument goes, is the case for the art of ruling. That artalso serves the common good, and not the good of the ruler. It is in the orientationto this common good that the nature of justice is to be pursued.When Thrasymachus remains convinced that injustice is more profitable thanjustice, Socrates again argues that it is not, this time on the basis that injusticeresults in a divided whole: "Injustice has this effect of implanting hatred wherever itexists". In saying this, Plato drew upon knowledge of an implicit support which canbe found for justice, a widespread sense that it is right and best, even though not, byany means, ordinary pratice. He himself admits that he finds it difficult to find61convincing arguments for why justice is best, but at the same time, he is not able tosit by and let the cause of justice be defeated. This is further substantiated whenPlato proceeds with an argument from Glaucon, in which Glaucon wishes tostrongly argue the case for injustice even though he believes justice is best. That is,while Glaucon believes justice is best, he too can't say why in any adequate way.Glaucon's hope is that Socrates will be able to show him what he holds to besuperior, but cannot speak adequately about.Glaucon's argument remains tied to an understanding of the good of justicebased on its utility. Yet it is also apparent here that utility, rendered as the successof the just action in life, does not adequately explain why we love and seek out thejust. Our standards or principles are thus shown to exceed any capacity we have toimplement them in the world. Glaucon does not argue that it is good to be unjust,as did Thrasymachus. Rather, various scenarios are drawn by Glaucon and by hisbrother Adeimantus concerning all the ways in which injustice is what actuallysucceeds in the world, about how the just are often punished, how difficult is thepath of justice, how it may not "pay off' in the world at all. "What reason, then,remains for preferring justice to the extreme of injustice .... is it only lack of spirit orthe infirmity of age or some other weakness that makes men condemn the iniquitiesthey have not the strength to practice?" (Plato, 1941: 51-52). Why we love justice isstrange and mysterious, but it is evident that in the world and to various degrees,this love can be found.Up to this point, the dialogue has proceeded largely through the negation ofarguments in which injustice is addressed. Injustice was to be defeated byattempting to show the good of justice, a good which remains mysterious. WhenGlaucon demands, however, that justice itself be addressed, Socrates is faced withthe problem of how to show what justice is. His solution is to reframe the search,62and to turn attention instead to our understandings of the foundations of the social,to the question of what it is that holds a community together.In the initial formulation of the state which is offered in the dialogue, theprinciple of unity is given as the co-operative exchange of skills, such that notions ofutility once again come to the fore. Humans have differing capacities and utilizeand develop these naturally given abilities so as to provide in the best way for thebasic needs of food, clothing and shelter. However, in that the naturally given istranscended through these co-operative actions which seek to implement somethingbetter, even this simple formulation of the state exemplifies a certain level ofreflection upon the natural. It shows reflection which differentiates the naturallygiven according to what is good and not good within it, and therefore according toan understanding of what is best. A mediation of the given is pointed to, one whichtransforms it in the light of something 'better'.While such a state would provide for the simple life, Glaucon is profoundlydissatisfied with it as an analysis of the auspices of the social. This would be acommunity of pigs he insists, not of humans. In saying this, he points as Descartesdid to that excess which human "nature" has over animal "nature". His response isnot, however, the same as the Cartesian one. Glaucon insists that the humancommunity is more than the co-operation for the satisfaction of simple needs. Thehuman community must encompass luxury, he argues. This luxury is not just thatluxury of plentiful commodities which yield a certain measure of freedom fromnatural necessity. In the luxurious state of the  Republic, there is "a whole multitudeof callings not ministering to any bare necessity: ... artists and sculpture ... paintingsand music; poets, actors, dancers, producers, including everything for women'sadornment." (Plato, 1941: 62-63). The human community includes and is grounded63in something beyond the provision of what is necessary in the sense of the adequateprovision for our material life and sustenance.This excess, which Glaucon sees as essential to any notion of the social,results in the foundation of practices like poetry and painting. While these might bethought of as "useless" indulgences, Glaucon's argument suggests that it is in thecommunal fostering of such useless endeavours that we are able to transform what ismerely given to us into a human world. We make a life not for the sake of lifealone, but one transformed according to our understandings of what is good andbeautiful. Gadamer has thus said of art that it "is only 'possible' because theformative activity of nature leaves an open domain which can be filled by theproductions of the human spirit" (Gadamer, 1986: 88).But we might remember that 'art' as art is a fairly recent phenomenon, onewhich arose along with a diminished understanding of the place of the good and thebeautiful within all the human practices. In Glaucon's city, this love for the goodand the beautiful seems to infuse all the practices serving necessity, even those basicones providing food, shelter and clothing. Embroidery and adornment, for example,are added to clothing, not just for protection or to attract mates, or to gain power,but for the sheer love of what they are. There is a pleasure to be gained from thewell done and the beautiful which cannot adequately be explained by notions ofutility or by the idea of seeking advantage.Plato's address of justice must be situated in this light. If Descartes wascommitted to an understanding of the social as one in which reason served thetransformation of nature into commodities and the unknown into the useful and thedependable, this opening section of the Republic urges us to see that the socialexceeds such utility and the service of physical necessity. It shows the way to thesocial through this human excess.64With this in mind, we might now reframe that affirmation of ordinary lifewhich Taylor sees as so central to modern community. We might see it as anaffirmation of the human need to transform the naturally or habitually given, theroutine, the necessary, into that which is chosen because of its own intrinsic worth.To "affirm the ordinary" would be to allow for the good and the beautiful to appearin such ordinary enterprises. In order for this to occur, the ordinary has need of theextra-ordinary, and it is here that the strife Heidegger points to occurs, through thetemporal movement in which the ordinary is mediated by the extra-ordinary suchthat the good and the beautiful can appear or re-appear. In terms of Van Gogh'spainting of the boots, this takes place by framing those boots as art, a refrainingwhich asks that we linger with the work. In doing so, we are led to reflect upon theway in which the life symbolized by those boots is, on the one hand a difficult andugly life of toil, yet at the same time, is an appearance of something worthwhile,even beautiful.65FRAME FIVECHOOSING THE BEAUTIFULPoems are made by fools like meBut only god can make a tree!Joyce KilmerTreesShowing the Good of the OrdinaryIf we see the affirmation of ordinary life as a way of reorienting us to theauspices of social life, we might also argue that it sought to redress a historicalimbalance in this regard. Gadamer argues, for example, that "one of the basicimpulses of modern art has been the desire to break down the distance separatingthe audience, the 'consumers' and the public from the work of art." (Gadamer, 1986:24). Gadamer sees this as a desire to transform the distance of the onlooker into theinvolvement of the participant, and in this way to have the work directly impact onour lives. While Gadamer's view locates this in terms of more recent trends in thearts, we might also see it part of Modernity's broader reorientation to therelationship between ordinary life and the extra-ordinary tasks of art and theorizing.Here we might take painting as an example.Looking back historically to developments during the four hundred yearperiod from late medieval times to the Renaissance, we can see that enormouschanges took place as painting developed into a major art form. Increasingly, itmoved away from the evocation of a 'substanceless' divinity and more and more toemploy individually distinct representations which adopted an iconography andsettings drawn from ordinary life. By the time not only of Rubens and Frans Hals,66but of Bacon, Descartes and the early formulators of modern science, paintinglargely drew for its representational imagery either upon the characters andpleasures of courtly life or, increasingly, upon those of the domestic life of thegrowing merchant class. Painters employed images which, in their tactile qualitiesand wealth of visual detail, called up the materiality and solidity of people, objectsand places of the everyday world surrounding the artist. Not, of course, that wetoday would recognize these as images of our everyday world, since courtly life orthe life of rich merchants is for us antithetical to ordinary life. But the space ofappearance framed in the paintings was increasingly one set within the painter'severyday life, a world laid out like a view of the world immediately around us, aworld of things and people easily recognizable and familiar, a world the viewercould have just 'stepped into'.This movement 'into the ordinary is shown quite clearly in the changes whichwere effected by the paintings of Duccio of Siena and the Florentine, Giotto. Arthistorian H.W. Janson, for example, in his standard text, History of Art, writes abouttheir innovative nature (Janson, 1964: 270-274). He calls Giotto's art "daringlyoriginal" and Giotto "a radical innovator". While the works of both artists retainedthe familiar Christian iconography, Janson notes that both effected radical changeswithin the pictorial space of the traditional icon.In works prior to those of Duccio, most notably in the tradition of theByzantine icons, architecture had merely served as a flat backdrop. Duccio,however, deepened the pictorial space such that the architecture actually came toenclose the figures. In this way, the surface of the painting became more like atransparent window through which one could peer, as opposed to a flat surface. Afloating perspective was maintained, however, one which continued to separate the67spatial planes of the picture from the viewer and denied to the viewer any specified,physical vantage point within the pictorial space.Even more than Duccio, Giotto's work transformed that traditionalarchitectural framework which had ordered the Byzantine icons. He continued todeepen the pictorial space in such a way that a connection was achieved between theviewer and that space which had previously been unknown. This was done bymoving the action in the pictures into the foreground in a way which allowed theviewer's eye-level to fall within the lower half of the picture. The viewer's spacethereby became continuous with the pictorial space. What this allowed, as Jansonagain points out, was for the viewer to "feel so close to the event that we have asense of being participants rather than distant observers". "We can imagine," he says,"ourselves standing on the same ground plane as the painted figures." (Janson, 1964:270-271).While modern painting came in this way to depict ordinary things andordinary scenes, this must be differentiated from any notion that the paintingsthemselves become ordinary, as we have seen in the case of Van Gogh's boots.Furthermore, given that generations of us have treasured what we have judged to bethe best of these and kept them safe from harm, it is obvious that over thegenerations we have been able to experience this extra-ordinariness in the works.Consider those luxurious spaces of Rubens, joyous spaces of human laughterand sociability. Think of the delight evoked by his renderings of embroideries andsilken cloth, by his depictions of cool marble and the colours of jewels, in that softpink flesh and the caress of fur he shows us. Or ponder works which are quitedifferent, those dim, silent, austere interior spaces of Dutch and Flemish works,spaces in which a single shaft of sunlight makes the ordinary radiant. Think of howit burnishes the copper pots, makes blue delft glow and wood gleam, allows the68polished plates, the lace caps and starched linen aprons to shimmer within theirdark ground. We experience something quite extra-ordinary amidst the everydaydomesticity. Yet, just as Glaucon found it difficult to explain what he loved aboutjustice, it's difficult to try and speak about what that is, to name it or articulate thatwonder and the pleasure, and the nature of that beauty.To point to this extra-ordinariness is not to suggest that it is the worth of therare and expensive commodity. Such a way of understanding the value of the artwork remains tied to the utility of the work, seeing it not as art, but as commodity.Nor is it that such works are valuable as documents which record a particularhistorical period, such that the 'image' realized is an accurate copy of the ordinaryscenes and objects of a particular time It is true that the works are particular andalso temporally situated, but Van Gogh's work is not just a painted copy of aparticular pair of peasant boots, or a document of Van Gogh's personal interests orof his historical times. In them appear that 'excess' which continues to stimulate ourdesires and longings while at the same time binding us together across the ages.Jeff Wall: The Ordinary and the BeautifulWhile it is difficult to formulate this excess, a photographic 'landscape' bylocal artist Jeff Wall can serve to provide the specificity of an example to which ourreflections can be tied, one embedded in the particularity of our own time and placeand its dreams and longings. Like the works of Sacks, Descartes and Plato, Wall'swork is an extra-ordinary undertaking, one which "looks awry" at the familiarity ofthis city in which we live . Not that the work is particularly beautiful. On thecontrary, it presents a very ordinary view, a typical scene of a neighbourhood whichcould be the very one I live in. In the gallery domain, however, where the extra-ordinary is the usual, the shock of my own initial encounter with the work hinged69upon the unexpected sight of my everyday world in a place dedicated to the extra-ordinary, the exalted and the beautiful (Lost Illusions. Recent Landscape Art,Vancouver Art Gallery: 1991). Wall's piece heightened awareness of a gap betweensuch extra-ordinary domains and the ordinary life which it depicts.It was within and against that ordinariness, among things quite familiar to me,that a strange space of desire like those sketched out in Zizek's eerie tales becamevisible. It was as though a familiar scene had been framed in one way by myordinary life, reframed by Zizek, and then reframed once more by Wall -- and thatthese reframings rendered the familiar mysterious and uncanny, such that what wasknown very well was no longer known for certain. This was such that, the more Ithought about Zizek's stories, the more Wall's picture and my own everyday worldbecame a curious place.Wall's piece is entitled "The Pine on the Corner". It consists of a very largecibachrome transparency, mounted in an aluminum display case and backlit withfluorescent lights. Although it was shown as part of a landscape exhibition, it differsfrom the traditional landscape. That is, it is not one of the usual scenic views ofmountains and sea, trees and woods we have come to associate with that tradition,with the Group of Seven or Emily Carr. Nor is it by any means one of the morecontemporary landscapes of the Tony Onley variety -- or abstract like a Shadbolt.Nor is it the type of scenic shot we associate with the beautiful landscapes of SuperNatural British Columbia which our tourism ministry employs to lure visitors. Noris it a landscape of the kind seen from a view lot, a feature of real estate which cancommand an elevated price because of its beauty. In other words, like Van Gogh'sboots, it's not at all a copy of something that would usually be considered photogenicor beautiful or 'artistic' material.70It seems to be very much a document of ordinary life and ordinary things. IfI choose to say "document", it's because the work has at least the first appearance ofbeing an accurate record of things, as opposed to something which has aesthetic orexpressive aims. As a genre of photography, it most resembles a casual snapshotsomeone would take of their house, or the type of photo that would be taken when avery ordinary house is put up for sale by real estate agents, the kind in which what ismerely there has been quickly recorded. Such photos fill the pages of the RealEstate Weekly and the classified ads. Seemingly, they are without any great concernfor the photo's composition or visual allure, being merely a tool of a utilitariancommercial transaction.On the surface at least, then, Jeff Wall offers us a thoroughly ordinarysnapshot of everyday urban residential life in contemporary Vancouver, a kind ofdomestic landscape of this city. On the lower right hand side of the photo is theusual paved city street, complete with all the service paraphernalia of the modernstreet: fire hydrant, mail box, telephone poles and street lights. On the lower lefthand side of the work is a cross street with parked cars, while a few more telephonepoles punctuate the predominantly horizontal thrust of the street. Behind theparked cars, facing the street, stand a number of houses.Again, to anyone familiar with the Vancouver landscape, these houses wouldbe entirely commonplace. They would not in any way stand out or be surprising. It'sonly reframed within the art work that they become so. The two largest areVancouver Specials, a vernacular form of the modern house which can be found allover the city in various guises. While very common, it is also a building style whichhas received a great deal of criticism. For example, in their book on heritage homesin Vancouver, Kluckner and Atkin speak of the Special as a style "much maligned"in Vancouver, one which has been the recipient of considerable dislike but which is71also extremely common. "Regrettably the closest Vancouver has ever come toproducing an indigenous architecture..." is how they characterize it (1992: 110).The history of the Vancouver Special which Kluckner and Atkin provide isthat of a cost-effective, commercial evolution of 1930's and 1940's International-Style houses first built in Los Angeles. The International style was picked up locallyby architects like Ron Thom and Arthur Erickson, who developed it into a 'WestCoast style' with flat-roofs and post and beam construction. While Thom's andErickson's homes are quite exceptional and striking, the Vancouver Special wouldhardly be called that. It has, however, been hard to surpass in terms of its cost andits utilization of available space. For example, a front page article in the West SideEdition of the  Real Estate Weekly of January 27, 1989, reported the failure of a fiveyear long competition to design a replacement for the Special, something moreaesthetically pleasing but equally cost effective. The conclusion of the report wasthat "the economic success of the Special cannot be denied: it provides the mosthouse for the least money. For the prospective home buyer, the house is anunparalleled bargain."The houses in Wall's photograph are no exception to the unenticing,utilitarian prose of the Special. The one on the left of the photo, with two sets ofscreened entry doors, appears to be an up and down duplex, perhaps a rental unit.Both houses are functional, stark and relatively unadorned composites of massmanufactured parts quickly and cheaply assembled, with two-tone stucco exteriors,regulation aluminum framed windows, a balcony with aluminum railings and slidingdoors, a flattish tar and gravel roof and an absolute minimum of trim. As thougherected solely to provide for basic needs for shelter and essential services, they showlittle evidence of any concern for visual beauty or charm.72If the houses are not striking in any way other than that they should be shownin a photo in an art gallery where the beautiful or the outstanding are the norm,there is something in the work which is: that pine on the corner of which the titlespeaks. The surprise is not so much because of what it is, as a tree is commonenough in the city. Rather, it's because of the way the tree has been situated withinthe frame. It stands slightly to the left of the central vertical axis of the picture, at afocal point derived from classical canons of painterly composition. This calculated,strategic location within the frame, the unusual camera angle it demands, belie thework's allusion to the casual snapshot. Which is to say that the tree gains itsprominence precisely because of its location within a very carefully arranged formalstructure. In this way, the apparent documentary function of the work is interruptedwith a calculated artifice which orders the elements according to dictates ofrhetorical intent. The work thus shows itself as purposeful intervention, as an excessover what has been given. It has something more to say which we in turn mustaddress, something other than the mere documentation of everyday life. It reframesthat life as art, and in doing so, makes demands upon us to attend to theconnectedness between art and our everyday life, between the ordinary and theextra-ordinary.The pine is situated at the point where the two streets intersect, so close tothe house that the lower branches overshadow it. The crown towers high above, up,into the empty blue of the sky. Extending from near the very bottom of the frame tothe very top, the huge dark tree ruptures those horizontal lines of the city streets.This clash of horizontal and vertical near the visual centre of the frame, the contrastbetween the organic shape of the tree and the straight lines of the streets and houses-- both impart great energy and vitality to the tree and exacerbate an alreadyobvious tension between the tree and the houses.73Far too big for the small city lot, the tree looks entirely out of place in such atiny domestic space. It's hard to decide whether the house as a latecomer to thescene is crowding out the tree which rightfully belongs there, or whether theenormous vitality of the tree was so unexpected that it merely exceeded its allottedplace in the domestic world. Whatever the case, the tree exudes a sense of almostuncontainable power. In that horizontal urban landscape, sweeping out and up sohigh into the expanse of sky, the pine stands monumental yet enigmatic, a dark,swirling, rather mysterious realm fracturing the ordinary. The natural, renderedsublime, has been ensconced within ordinary domestic life.This fracturing of the ordinary by the tree marks a strife at the core of thework, one which sets the work in motion and provides for its internal dynamic.The dynamic does not only reside in this tension between tree and its domesticsetting, however. There is further divisiveness in the work which parallels the riftbetween the natural beauty of the tree and the cultural utilitarianism of the Specials.Wall's technique is one case in point.In terms of our expectations concerning the work of art, that technique israther offputting. The artist has borrowed the notion of the mounted and backlitcibachrome transparency from the realm of advertising; such visual installations arecommon in air line terminals, fast food restaurants and supermarkets. A certainresidue of that world remains with the work. Speaking in this 'high-tech' language ofcommerce, advertising and the marketplace, the art work itself assumes aspects ofthe ordinary, the usual and the mundane. If the artist and the art gallery areexpected to cultivate the lofty, the beautiful and/or the sublime, the adoption of thistechnique developed by the laboratory and adapted to stimulate consumption servesto afflict the work with a certain air of inappropriateness. It is as though it weretarnished in a way which serves to forever remind the viewer of art's questionable74gestation and ancestry, and of a mundanity and ordinariness that art opposes yet, atthe same time, to which it is irrevocably tied as to its shadow. In relating it back toHeidegger's account of the work, we might say that the technique serves to keepalive the strife, and in this way unsettles us and stimulates our reflective capacities.A further sense of ambiguity and divisiveness results from the quality of lightand the use of colour in the Wall piece, as well as from their connection with thephotographic status of the work. They show, we might argue, the work's artfulnessand therefore its excess. That is, they show how it contains a space for beauty andthe mysterious within the seemingly accurate replication of what 'exists'. As such,they further disturb assumptions we might have about the work as a meredocumentation of reality.For example, the backlighting from the fluorescent tubes illuminates thephoto with a clarity, a sharpness, a quality of light that is thoroughly contemporary.It's a light that seems capable of exposing everything, that leaves nothing in theshadows. This sense is heightened by the brightness of the cibachrome color, andalso by the fact any photograph carries with it a variety of modern assumptionsabout being an accurate document of the real. The work exudes an air of speakingin the clear light of day, declaring itself to be no dreamscape. There are no darkcorners here where the unknown can hide. We cannot, however, escape thatcommercial lineage of the technique, its reference to the marketing of facades, itsassociation with the world of advertising and commerce, with mass production --these impart an unsettling reminder of those very illusions and hidden purposes thatthe clarity of light, the brilliant accuracy of the color and the photographic imagework to dispel.What's more, at the same time that the work invokes both documentation ofthe real and advertising, copy and illusion, it is further complicated in that, as a75color photo, it alludes to the historical struggle of artists with the awesomeness ofcolor and light. This struggle constitutes a history for which the color photo is oftenheralded as the supreme technical achievement. In as much as the goal of art hasbeen understood as a documentation or replication of what is, the color photo hasgreatly enhanced our capacity to 'capture' our world accurately and correctly.Despite this, Roger Seamon describes the use of color by Wall as "a breachof documentary decorum", in that it opposes the aim of documentation to which hisworks also allude (Seamon, 1992: 13). In addressing Wall's use of color in this way,Seamon points to the complexity of their deployment and to the tensions generatedin the work (and therefore in the viewer) as a result. Seamon notes that within thetradition of art and art photography, color has tended to be the reserve of painting.Documentary photographers have shied away from its use. Why is this the case?Partly it's due to the technical difficulty of accurately copying colors. But it's alsobecause color carries with it a strong sense of artifice which documentation eschews.Color is one of the most potent technical means which the artist can employ in thecreation of a visual image. As such, it has also lent itself to being understood as anintrusion of artifice upon the authentic, the original, the genuine or the natural, aforeign substance added to an essential unity. Colour is an uncontainable excess,jouissance, as Julia Kristeva refers to it (Kristeva, 1980).Since the document aims to encapsulate the authentic and nothing more, thesupplementary potential of color and lighting has frequently surfaced as a problemfor accurate representation. This has been accentuated by the tradition of the visualarts, where color has more often served not so much aims of accuratedocumentation as it has those aspirations which reach towards the beautiful, thegrand and the sublime. Hence colour's traditional restriction to painting. One needonly think here of the glory of stained glass windows or of a Byzantine icon, of the76delight given by a lush Rubens' nude, of the grandeur of Turner's seascapes, of thealmost ecstatic joy of a Matisse. Color is fundamental to the splendour of all theseworks, to their ability to create a world which stands out from the ordinary and theeveryday. It speaks of joyousness and playfulness, and of the pleasure of tarryingwith what delights us. Its potential for sheer beauty is a source of amazement andawe, and defies encapsulation. Along with this amazement, perhaps hinging on it,on that wonder and pleasure which comes from seeing things afresh, of seeing themtransformed, color and light have carried inescapable metaphorical implications oftranscendence and of truth. Aren't 'enlightenment' and 'illumination' two of themost common images of that human experience?If color and light move us to this experience of delight and wonderconcerning the beautiful and the truthful, an experience which is not at all easy tocontain within the conceptual or to articulate, it is also true that advertising, fromwhich Wall's technique has emerged, relies deeply upon their supplementarycapacity for its effectiveness. It has need of their 'excess'. While advertising's use ofcolor implies accuracy of depiction and, in fact, is dependent upon fostering thissense of the real if it is to achieve its task, (i.e. making you believe that the glory thatyou see is what you'll get), a powerful part of its allure also comes from the abilitycolor has to foster desire in the viewer, to suggest and represent the good things orpleasures of the world. Advertising makes use of the color technology developed byboth the fine arts and by the laboratory as a vehicle for the transformation of theeveryday and the ordinary into the desirable. What is merely there, color canelevate to the desirable and extra-ordinary. In this way, we can be tantalized, ourdesires for what is illuminated as superior in life stimulated -- desires for thegourmet meal, the scenic landscape, the beautiful face, the designer house. Color77and lighting can be used, we might therefore say, to conjure up images of the goodlife rather than of the ordinary life.Perhaps what should be said here, in a way which speaks more directly to ourchronic anxieties about advertising and its influence, is that advertising is able todress up the ordinary life as though it were the good life. When Roger Seamonmakes the point that Wall's use of color in his art helps us to resist "ourunselfconscious efforts to classify images as either fine art or documentary", itshould be added that the work also asks that we resist the inverted rule of the loftyby the mundane and of the sublime by the banal (Seamon, 1991: 13). Advertisingcan exploit our love of the beautiful and make it a means to a banal end. It canmake the beautiful into a tool, one which subverts that desire for freedom whicharises through the reflective effort we undertake to understand and mediate what isgiven to us in the light of what is worthwhile. Advertising can serve as a pervertedform of this desire, since it is driven not by a love for reflection upon the beautiful,but by the demands of commerce and utility. In employing the techniques ofadvertising in the service of art, the Wall work seeks to cultivate our efforts to invertthat inversion. To borrow Hegel's terms, we might say that the work seeks to negatethe negation of our reflections upon the beautiful which advertising accomplishes inthe world, and to restore that which should properly rule.Nature: The Notion DividedThis returns us to that central tension of the work, the one lodged in theopposition between the prosaic houses and the splendour of the tree. We have saidthat the ascendency of the natural beauty of the tree over the houses and streetsseems to mark a triumph of beauty both over utilitarianism and over the commercialexploitation of art and our love of beauty. Yet this dynamic of ugly houses and78beautiful tree is not easy to grasp. As an art work, however, it demands a responseand asks to be understood, and as such we are required to react to it with whatGadamer refers to as both "the free play of imagination" and "the constructiveaccomplishment of the intellect" (Gadamer, 1986: 21/28).It is, in fact, this peculiar characteristic of the work which will serve to directour reflections upon that polarity of house and tree, since it brings us back to aconsideration of that division within nature to which Descartes referred, thatdivision between human existence and natural existence. It was a division, weremember, which allowed Descartes to ponder the human endeavour and thefoundations of the social in human reason. Gadamer, too, speaks to this differencewhen he tries to formulate the work of art (Gadamer, 1986: 30-32). In terms ofnatural beauty such as that exhibited in the tree, Gadamer argues that it is acontrast to a human work, which we always try to recognize and to interpret assomething. With natural beauty, Gadamer argues, this is not the case. Naturalbeauty is the ultimate representation of beauty without purpose, of beauty as goodin itself. The tree, for instance, has no intention, no goal in life and for this reasoncannot go astray. It just is, expressing itself and, in doing so, expressing the order ofthings which determine it, since it has no self-determination. Human being is notlike this since it has a self-determination, a freedom of movement, a self-movement,denied to the tree. The work of art, as human artifact, is addressed to this self-movement. Thus we saw how Heidegger connected the work to our proper destinyand to our reorientation to our communal auspices, to our direction or ends.In the introduction to his book concerning our sense of place, Paul Shepardalso addresses this difference between human life and natural life, doing so in thefollowing way:"An earthworm, flung upon the sunlit ground, does not scamper upinto the bushes, lunge into a stream, or bask on a hot rock. It squeezes79underground as quickly as possible, where we may suppose it is morecomfortable. Not at all sharing St. John's metaphysics, it flees fromlight as from the devil."(Shepard, 1967: 28)Shepard reminds us that for 'natural' beings, their place, where they belong, wherethey are comfortable and at home, is given by the physical characteristics of thespecies. Thus does the earthworm squeeze underground away from the light, thelizard bask upon the rock, and the fox scamper into the bushes. Each locates itscomfortable place and is content. As for trees, they remain forever "pressed againstthe earth's sweet flowing breast" as poet Joyce Kilmer says in that banal yet everpopular poem of his.* Trees are at one with their origin.This means, Shepard says, that not at all does the earthworm share St. John'smetaphysics. But what does this allusion to St. John and metaphysics suggest aboutthe different nature of man and animal? To point to saints and to metaphysics asShepard does is surely to say that unlike the earthworm, the lizard, the fox and thetree, human beings inhabit the world as saints and as sinners, or with a sense of rightand wrong. To take this back to that Garden of Eden metaphor which Kilmer drawsupon in his eulogy to the tree, it was upon eating of the knowledge of good and evilthat humans were cast out of Eden and came to know shame for the first time. Thatis to say, with knowledge, comes the division of right and wrong. We mightremember as well that the eating was brought on by desire, by the desire invested inthe forbidden apple. The human world is divided in the light of our desire, a desirewhich, following that initial separation which occurs with the division of the worldinto good and bad, right and wrong, seeks to reinstate our oneness with what isgood. The movement of reason can thus be read here as one of separation and asubsequent regathering in the light of what is held to be desirable.1 Trees by Joyce Kilmer, i.e. "The tree whose hungry mouth is pressed,Against the earth's sweet flowing breast"80While the earthworm seeks out its physical comfort and is satisfied, humanlife questions the worth of life, perhaps even chooses discomfort and unhappiness inthe name of something it sees as better to pursue. So too does human beingrecognize getting lost, going wrong, being foolish, as it recognizes that ends andmeans can be rethought or understood differently, and that all ways and meansaren't exchangeable or equivalent. Human being thus serves us as a standard forbeing, one which demands the examination of our lives and ends.Given this distinction between human life and natural life, the division ofhouse and tree in Wall's work is strange in the way it pits the ugliness of the humancity against the beauty of the natural tree. How are we to read this? Might it besuggesting that we stand in awe of that beauty and lament our own inferior humanefforts? Is it saying that we ought to return to some primordial state of 'natural man'which would yield to us the comfort of an original oneness with nature, with thatnatural source, one which the tree exemplifies?Such a conclusion might be read from a poem called Binsey Poplars byGerard Manley Hopkins. It speaks beautifully and poignantly of the way humanendeavours are forever doomed to be instrusive and destructive of an original andbeautiful 'natural' world:0 if we but knew what we doWhen we delve or hew -Hack and rack the growing green!Since country is so tenderTo touch, her being so slender,That, like this sleek and seeing ballBut a prick will make no eye at all,Where we, even where we meanTo mend her we end her,Where we hew or delve:After-corners cannot guess the beauty been.Or we might consider a more recent and somewhat unintentionally humourousrendition of this call to stand aside in favour of that which came first. This plea was81made by a young and ardent environmentalist during televised coverage of a recentPortland conference on the forests. Arguing the case for the need to stop logging,the young man pleaded "but the trees came first". It's as though he were saying thatas "after-corners", what we rightly and justly must do is to preserve that whichtemporally preceded us.In response to such calls for oneness with nature, we might turn yet again forinsight to those remarks of Gadamer's concerning natural beauty. Hegel, he argues,rightly grasped that natural beauty is a reflection of artistic beauty (Gadamer, 1986:30). Our capacity to see the beauty in nature would be impossible without theconstructive and imaginative reframing which human culture has accomplished.Gadamer reminds us of how the Alps were described in travel diaries of theeighteenth century as terrifying mountains whose ugly and fearful wildness was adenial of beauty, humanity and the security of human existence. Even in earlyWestern movies, we can see traces of this fear of the wilderness. Yet today, theAlps speak of sublimity and for many there is nothing which exemplifies the finest ofhuman undertakings better than our preservation of such wilderness.In considering this legacy which endows us with our sense of beauty, wemight also consider that 'natural' pursuit of gardening. We all know it is not enoughto merely plant in a patch of ground. The garden must be watered, tended, givenample nourishment. It requires an understanding of the needs of the plants, of theirgrowth habits, nutritional requirements, that is, of the human knowledge which hasbeen gathered in the service of that end. Everyone who aspires to be a gardenermust come to terms with this.The above holds true even for those recent trends in gardening which favourthe natural or 'wild' garden. For example, CBC radio carried some news storiesabout a year ago concerning a woman in a Canadian suburb who transformed her82garden into what she saw as a patch of wild woodland. She argued that since herstreet was called Woodland Drive, woodland it should be. This was much to theannoyance of her neighbours, who in turn called in the public health officials on thegrounds that the garden disregarded local health regulations and therebyendangered the neighbourhood. The point here is that even this most natural ofgardens, this 'natural woodland' required careful intervention and nurturing, thehistorical knowledge which allowed for the separation of what was wild from whatwas not, and perhaps most fundamental to our point, a guiding aesthetic vision ofwhat constitutes the beauty of nature and the wild woodland.That such an understanding of the place of nature in our lives, such anelevation of 'naturalness', is a very particular interpretation of nature's beautybecomes obvious if the wild woodland garden is contrasted with the Zen garden (asin Slawson, 1987). In Zen gardening, the beauty and order of nature is understoodto be revealed only through the most artful and studied human endeavours. Theseare known to require not only an enormous amount of technical skill, but even moreimportantly, a fineness of character and intellect which is not assumed to beordinary or that of everyone. Thus entry into the art is carefully guarded by themasters, and the knowledge of the 'order of the cosmos' which the practice seeks tomake visible requires an exceedingly long and disciplined apprenticeship. This isultimately to say that the knowledge of Nature is by no means understood here assomething 'naturally' given to all, or 'naturally' visible, although all are held subjectto that order. It is also to say that the order is conceived in terms of beauty andgoodness, a beauty and goodness which requires human effort if it is to be madevisible.A further argument concerning natural beauty also offered by Gadamerhelps to show how any conclusive reading of Wall's work is impossible. Gadamer83argues that natural beauty can serve as a corrective against too much art (Gadamer,1986: 30-32). It reminds us, he says, "that what we acknowledge in a work of art isnot all that in which the language of art speaks." We can interpret this to say thatnatural beauty is a corrective against any understanding that treats art as not limitedby an order outside or other to itself. Gadamer argues that it is through thebeautiful that we experience the presence of an order which we do not fully grasp orunderstand or conceptualize, one which we understand to exceed us individually, butto which we nevertheless understand ourselves to be subordinate. The experienceof the beauty of nature helps to place us in a space similar to that of Glaucon andSocrates, who understood the beauty and good of justice and their subordination toit, although they could not adequately say why. Thus he says that "the ontologicalfunction of the beautiful is to bridge the chasm between the ideal and the real.. .welearn that however unexpected our encounter with beauty may be, it gives us anassurance that the truth does not lie far off and inaccessible to us, but can beencountered in the disorder of reality with all its imperfections, evils, errors,extremes and fateful confusions" (Gadamer, 1986: 30-32). Natural beauty serves toremind us that art doesn't by itself create the order, but seeks to bring to appearancethat which cannot be said or totally grasped.If we return again to our questions concerning that dynamic of houses andtrees, it is to emphasize yet again that Wall's work is a complex condensation ofideas which are difficult to conceptualize or put into words, and which remainindeterminate and open to re-evaluation and reinterpretation. Nevertheless, inthinking about the work and trying to understand what it says, a sense of uneasekeeps surfacing. Largely it does so in response to the unrelenting ordinariness ofthose houses. Human achievement seems so paltry in their light. Descartes housedhis pleasure, we remember, in the engineered city with its level grid and stone84foundations, its flat plane and wide open views, its facilitation of ordered andunencumbered movement. How different from this city of Jeff Wall's, whichrepresses that pleasure, and shows us human life in its ugliness, as paved streets,cars, telephone poles and those ugly houses. Wall shows instead the old, mysteriouspower and beauty of the tree, even hinting that we are a threat to its continuationthrough the ugliness of our cities.It is important here that we remember that peculiarity of the human mode ofbeing, how human being is synonymous with understanding. Understanding is theway man is, Heidegger has argued. It is the nature of human existence, our ontology.Weinsheimer, translating Heidegger's words, says that human being "interpretsitself'. This is to say that human being exists as it understands its possibilities andenacts them in the world, through our concerted actions. Human being is not in thisway a fixed being, but a being which reaches forward, projects itself, understandsitself (McCumber, 1989: 179). As such, we are always on the move, transformingourselves in the light of our understandings of our possibilities and on the basis ofour understandings of what we are and ought to be.Weinsheimer portrays this understanding which is human being in terms ofmetaphor. We always see a thing as something, by locating the entity as someparticular thing, in some particular form, he says (Weinsheimer, 1991: 77). In hisdiscussion, Weinsheimer points out that when we construct somethingmetaphorically, we articulate what it is by looking away from, looking at, seeingtogether as. He also suggests that this speaks to an irreducible tension of similarityand difference at the heart of our reason, and that this further implies that the"hermeneutic circle of alienation and reunion" characterizes all our perceptions ofthe world (Weinsheimer, 1991: 70-80).85Like Gadamer, Weinsheimer argues that it is only in application that onecomes to understanding, within the specificity of a particular application in theworld. In this regard, we can think back to our earlier discussion of Sacks, who intheorizing the foundations of the social, conceived it 'as ordinariness'. He showedthis to be a kind of self-portrayal, and therefore a way of understanding what we are,our human being. Thus Sacks asserted that ordinariness didn't reside in any of ourproperties, but in the way we constituted ourselves. It was the limit we took uponourselves.Zizek has also argued that the idea of identity in fact means this process ofalienation in an other followed by a subsequent return to self. He illustrates this inthe form of an eqation: for example, "the city = x, with x necessarily being otherthan the initial term, since "the city = the city" yields nothing, says nothing, cancelsitself out. The familiar or the known always results from a process of estrangement:familiar, unfamiliar, familiar.Given that in metaphor one notion is related analogically to another to forma whole, Weinsheimer argues that neither of the paired notions will fully contain theother. A rift or difference remains, constituted by what cannot be assimilated byone to the other when we try to mediate the two so as to form a new whole. Thiswas evident both in Sacks' construal of the theorist as the detailed observer and inhis analogy between the social theorist and the poet. The metaphor whichconstituted Sacks' version of the theorist resulted from a mediation of two originalterms, but came to rest on the side of one, with the theorist of the social madeanalogous to the writer of natural history. Fundamental aspects of the socialinitially posited were absent in the final mediation.If we take this back to the question of the houses and tree in the Wall workand the reason for my unease, we could construe the 'identity' at play as the city or86the social. The city, however, seems to have first been construed as nature, althoughin the photo this is split into two: nature as the drives of biological beings and asthe human artifacts which realize those drives (i.e. the houses, the streets, servicesetc.); and nature as the natural beauty of the tree. It is important in this regard tosee that the opposition also has a high and a low side, and that the work is itself (asa human artifact) a mediation of the two, one which also implies a certain degree oftriumph of the high (a thoughtful adherence to beauty) over the low (unthoughtordinariness). It is also, as we have said previously, an incitement to viewers to carryout such a triumph in their own lives.Yet in the particular form of Wall's reconciliation of the ordinary and theextra-ordinary lies a danger that the extra-ordinary will affirm our ordinariness.Since any inner beauty in the houses remains undisclosed behind those ugly facades,the worry is that this human ordinariness could only ultimately be overcome by ourdisappearance or total effacement into a natural world. Such an effacement would,it is argued, be the negation of human nature, for as we have consistently seenthroughout the various arguments in this paper, human being divides the world intothe better and the worse and seeks to transform the world in the light of itsunderstandings of the difference between the two. Our effacement into 'naturalness'would end our estrangement, which would also end those extra-ordinary tasks ofreflection and the renewal of our sense of wonder and mystery at the heart ofordinary life which Wall's work itself undertakes.As though speaking to a need to redress this imbalance in the work, a desireto look awry at Wall's framing of our houses remains. This venture into theheartland of the ordinary will therefore undertake its final reframing of ordinary lifethrough those houses and trees, a reframing which seeks out the extra-ordinarinessat their heart.87FRAME SIXTHE 'HEARTH'-LAND OF THE ORDINARYThe house moves us at unimaginable depths .......it shelters our day dreaming..Gaston BachelardThe Poetics of SpaceThe House and the Inscription of the SocialIt must be granted to Jeff Wall that if we turn our attention to the city aroundus, houses just like those ugly Specials can be found. I have them in my ownneighborhood, passing them every time I go to the store or for a walk. They aren'thouses to which I generally give much thought. Rather, they seem to fade into thebackground. Indifference might therefore be the best word to describe my ownrelationship with them, an indifference of the kind Wall's photograph jolts. Hiswork makes us aware of how unmindful we can be of features of our everyday world.That such houses as Wall shows us give little pleasure is also crucial to thework, for the many pleasures that houses yield have been withheld, repressed in thiswork. This constitutes a very potent repression which the work plays upon, for ourhouses are heavily invested with dreams. Doesn't the Patricia Highsmith story of the"black house" recognize this potency of the house-space and of that image in ourlives?In his work, Poetics of Space, Gaston Bachelard sought to plumb this thedeep attachment we have to houses."(The house) moves us at unimaginable depths! It is our first world; itmaintains us through the storms of the heavens and through those oflife; it shelters (our) day dreaming" (Bachelard, 1958: 6).88It is easy for me to recognize my own passion for houses. I love to look at them andto read about them. I keep a watchful eye out for what should befall the ones in myneighborhood, as though in a sense they all belonged to me, facing the street andoffering themselves to public view and judgement as they do. I notice all thechanges in them, the new windows and doors, new roofs and siding, houses torndown, new houses going up, houses undergoing renovation, new people moving in,old ones moving out.As for that day-dreaming to which Bachelard points, this too is quiteapparent. It's especially so for me when, reframing the house, I think not ofVancouver Specials, but of one particular neighbourhood house. Not that thishouse is grandiose or expensive or a great work of architecture. It's only a cottagereally, yet it speaks to me in some special way. A tiny, white-sided house with a redroof and leaded windows, it's almost hidden behind a stone wall and a bank ofrhododendrons, so that you have to peek over the gate to see inside. This I love todo, although even then only a glimpse of it can be caught, since it's secluded behinda gnarled old wistaria which shelters within its lacy branches the whole side of thehouse and the walkway. I love the house's mystery, the seductiveness with which ithides its charms from the prying eyes of the world, its coziness."In the house," says Bachelard, "memory and imagination remain associated... each one working for their mutual deepening. Through dreams, the variousdwelling places in our lives co-penetrate and retain the treasures of former days."(Bachelard, 1958: 6). An association of memory and imagination -- there's a lookingforward and a looking backward here which Bachelard points to, a meeting of pastand future, the real and the imaginary, which occurs in the house. It is in this waythat this particular house is able to speak, calling up that which is imagined andyearned for, as well as the pleasures enjoyed, the two all mixed together,89inseparable. Memories and dreams are somehow entwined in such a place, fixedfast in this 'object; the house allows for their preservation and serves to keep alivethe delight. This makes the house a form of remembrance, a remembrance not onlyof houses lived in, of ones seen in travels, of houses from old landscape paintings, ofcottages encountered in stories and poems, but also a remembrance ofunformulated and incoherent experiences, desires and imaginings which have needof such resting places. The house gathers together in its distinctive form not justpersonal experience, but the whole tradition which forms us.This cottage has about it something of those black and white timberedcottages of a kind familiar from Constable's paintings and Romantic landscapes,from visits to the English countryside, the kind we associate with Thomas Hardy'snovels or Masterpiece Theatre. These are the kind draped in ivy, with tendrils ofmauve wistaria wrapped around the eaves and an oak door framed in climbingroses. The garden, and there is always a splendid garden with such houses, is a softhaze of colour, overgrown with masses of purple lavender and blue delphiniums,pink hollyhocks and the white and yellow of shasta daisies.Something in this little house also recalls those houses of the Mediterranean,houses suffused with all the pleasures of colour and sun that the Impressionistpainters drew upon. On my kitchen wall hangs a watercolour of just such a place, arustic home reminiscent of Monet's Giverney. It's a house-image which is able togather up all the pleasures of blissful, sunny days, with its walls of softly weatheredstone and its terracotta roof, its green shuttered windows and its courtyard in whichbrown and white chickens scratch among pots of geraniums.Not many houses in my neighborhood have the impact of these, or of thelittle white cottage. But still there are many which stand out and which yield acertain pleasure, all for different reasons, all of which reveal the complexity of our90love of houses. Some houses stand out because they are so obviously well loved andcared for, which infuses them with a special glow and presence. Some stand outbecause they have architectural features which fire the imagination, like leadedwindows or an inviting front porch, or a beautiful garden. With others, they do sobecause they have a look of faded splendor which lets us dream of their revival toformer glory. With yet others, it's simply that they're the home of friends, and forthis reason, familiar and dear. I can even think of a recently built VancouverSpecial, unusual in its simplicity, with a red tiled roof and pale pink walls, which isable to brighten up grey days with its hues from a sunnier clime.The house, as we see, offers us some of the great pleasures of daily life; it's aspace which can shelter our dreams and makes life worth living. There's nothingmuch of purpose in my own deep affection for them, about the way they awaken mysense of delight and wonder and stir up dreams and longings. The longings areindeed for a snug rootedness in a beloved place, for a certain sensual fullness, forcomfort, sanctuary and stability, for a sense of joy, well-being and contentment, andfor the pleasure of extra-ordinary spaces and enchanted moments. While there's amystery to that delight and wonder houses can yield, there's also a conviction thattheir appeal reaches far beyond the mundane and everyday service of biologicalneeds and into our dreamsIt is clear too that the delight I experience in this particular house is not justa delight in its appearance or its physical beauty. That is, it invokes a delight in thelives and moments lived or imagined in such houses, for the beautiful, as we havesaid before, is akin to the good, and has a moral dimension. Gadamer points outthat in German, fine art also means beautiful art, a linguistic phenomenon whichbrings to the surface more clearly than in English the ethical and moral dimensionswhich come to bear on what we find beautiful (Gadamer,1986: 15). The beautiful91bears a relation to the life lived well, and the house loved and found beautifulspeaks to its capacity to shelter a 'good' life.That this is so is evident in the variations in our attachments to houses, howsome houses we love, some we are indifferent to, some we dislike. For instance, Ican think of a neighborhood house which I disliked intensely. I use the past tensebecause this house is now gone, replaced with one of the ubiquitous VancouverSpecials. Like Highsmith's 'black house', this one was derelict, and also like the'black house', invested by me with a certain horror. It was neglected and unkempt.The paint was peeling and blankets hung in the windows. Old bottles, papers anddiscarded bits of furniture had piled up in the long grass and weeds that passed for afront yard, as though its inhabitants merely threw out the window what they nolonger wanted. A look inside revealed a dingy little room with walls plastered withnude female pinups, and a television set blared, whatever time of day or night youpassed. It made me shudder, not just to see the ugliness of the exterior, but to thinkof the life lived out inside, as though the ugliness of the two had becomeinseparable.In that brief foray into Plato's Republic, we tried to speak about the extra-ordinary at the heart of the ordinary by suggesting that our love for the beautifulinfused all the realm of necessity, and that it did so in the form of an 'excess' whichsought to transform the necessary or given in the light of what is held to be good. Inthe light of what is good, it was argued, things are gathered together and the world isbrought into focus. This vision of beautiful excess we located as the heart of thesocial.Sacks showed us this beautiful excess as the way we enact ordinariness,showing us how it was something reached for, how its achievement is a kind ofenactment of what we saw to be good. Sociologist Steven Karatheodoris shows us92how even such ordinary things as houses and the technical and utilitarian skillsassociated with them are shaped through this moral and aesthetic excess whichconstitutes the heart of the social. He does this by speaking of that differencebetween human nature and the natural world which, as we have seen, provides uswith a means for delineating our understandings of the good life. Karatheodorismakes use of the Promethean legend of the human taming of fire in his endeavour,since for as long as we are aware, the use of fire and the technical skills which weredeveloped through and around its use have been associated with the advent ofhuman communityHow is it that the use of fire marks the human world off from the naturalworld of animals? In the Ionian dialect, Karatheodoris tells us, the primary unit ofcollectivity was called epistion, and denoted "those who draw near a hearth". Wemight note the close connection between this term and our modern word'epistemology', which refers to the study of the sources, origins or coming into beingof knowledge. This coming of knowledge comes through dwelling by the fire, forthis dwelling transformed the community and the dwelling place and initiated acircular process of new understandings and new skills. These in turn demanded neworientations to collective life and a whole series of new obligations and dutiesemerged.Karatheodoris argues that the overcoming of fire reveals that divided natureof human being:"At the very core of our understanding of man's mastery of fire liesthe problem of explaining how and why we overcame the impulsivedesire deeply rooted in our nature to run away from the fire. ...(this)marks the distinction between the aggregative impulsive of the herdand the reflexive requirements of self-denial and self-masteryinstrumental in the achievement of social life." (Karatheodoris, 1979:190)93While beasts fear fire and can be counted upon to react to it in a predictable orstandard way, he says, humans learned to overcome this fear and to avail themselvesboth of fire's terror and its wonder. The overcoming of those instinctual fears of thebeast, coupled with the capacity to project the possibilities for fire and to foresee itstransformation from enemy to friend, all epitomize that fundamental movement ofalienation and return which we spoke of previously as the metaphoric structure ofhuman thought. Such a movement speaks to the human capacity to gather what isalien and feared into a kinship with itself. It also speaks to our capacity to be morethan we have previously understood ourselves to be.With the adoption of fire, Karatheodoris argues, new skills came into being.These newly required skills are the prototypical professional and technical skills, thevocations of the human community. These were the skills needed to tend the fire, tokeep it burning. Human life, life with fire, called for devotion to new techne anddemanded "concerted, cooperative and deliberative action" (Karatheodoris, 1979:193). These were skills with which we confront the intractability and otherness ofthe world, as any tending of a fire demonstrates. They are the way in which thatnatural world is known to us, the ways of meeting and understanding its resistance tohuman efforts, its otherness of being in which we must find ourselves, out of whichwe must enact the good life and that difference in the world which is us.The new obligations which arose with the tending of the fire also offered newsources of pleasure and gratification. Zizek, for example, argues that in fact allhuman enjoyment is experienced as a form of transgression: it has this dividednature, pleasure in the pain of self-overcoming. "In its innermost status it issomething imposed, ordered. When we enjoy, we never do it spontaneously, wealways follow a certain injunction" he tells us (Zizek, 1991: 9). Karatheodoris arguesin this same way that fire comes to stand for this new pleasure in the overcoming of94self in the name of that which is good, an overcoming of self which marks out thedistinctiveness of human being. "Fire acquires the status of logos as that which mustbe attended and heeded" writes Karatheodoris. "It offers to those who use it anoccasion to suffer the ordeals of reflection, conflict, self mastery, dread"(Karatheodoris, 1979: 192).Karatheodoris points out the kinship between befriending fire, the technicalskills it demands, and moral notions such as choice, commitment, duty, restraint andself-mastery. Dwelling by the fire, or dwelling with reason, requires effort andviolent self-denial in response to a desire for something which is understood to begood. If the community is to exist as fire dwellers, that fire must be tended and itsworth protected. Out of which arises not only these new pleasures which constitutemoral life, but also a new sources of division within the community which is alwaysconcerned to foster the tending of the fire, to not let this new found joy and wonderfall away. "Humans", says Karatheodoris, "forget their ordeal by fire. They hear andspeak, do deeds, but remain inattentive to the fire" (Karatheodoris, 1979: 203)."Although it is the most common, the most obvious, the most taken for grantedreality, though it dwells in every home, in every community, it lies unseen, ignored,forgotten." While everyone is called upon to tend the fire and to dwell reasonably,because the tending is so common and everyday, it becomes invisible, unseen.It is therefore possible to see that the befriending of fire refers us to thatstruggle we have with our 'situatedness'. The tending of the fire entails an ongoingneed to be reminded of its beauty and wonder, a need which both theorizing and artaddress, as the works of Sacks, Descartes and Wall have shown us in their variousways. Wasn't it because of this very forgetfulness, of the way we cease to notice theway we tend the fire, that Sacks was required to show the students the artfulpractices through which they enacted their everyday world, how those actions were95oriented to an understanding of 'what was called for' and how things 'needed to bedone properly', and of how this involved a watchfulness on the part of thecommunity.The befriending of fire only occurs by means of a difficult struggle in whichself must overcome self, self here referring not only to instinct, habit, impulsivedesires and fears, but also to the loves and desires and understandings whichconstitute our capacity to overcome. The befriending of fire entails a strugglebetween the urge to reflectively engage these, the dread of what that reflectionentails, and the subsequent resistance to such engagement. While the way in whichthat struggle gets played out is never guaranteed or settled once and for all, it isthrough this struggle that the social is achieved and sustained.The Particularity of the InscriptionKaratheodoris tells us that the hearth gave its name 'epistion' to the mostbasic form of human collectivity. If the hearth gathers the community which tendsit, which comes to adore it, to dwell upon its splendor and upon how it is good, thismeans that the space in which that tending occurs constitutes a fundamentalinscription of the social. If Modernity has a particular affection for 'ordinary life', ifthis is fundamental to the way in which we see the world, the particularity of thataffection should be evident in the shape of our houses. It should also be evident inthe moral divisions of the community concerning our houses, since it is throughthose divisions that the logos is tended.Architect Jacquelin Robertson, for example, insists that in the NorthAmerican urban order the individual house on its own plot of ground has enormouspower, that it is an archetypal inscription of our understanding of the social.Robertson argues that the house, "is the site of our greatest civic allegiance: our96polis and our institutional buildings are always marshalled around it" (Robertson,1989: 141). Robertson even called his paper "The House as the City", suggesting inthis way how our understandings and conceptions of our houses reveal fundamentalaspects of our social bonds. Trying to rame the city in a way which was able to showthe power of the house, Robertson made use of the long-running television show,Dallas; he sees that show as constituted through a moral dynamic embodied in twoopposing images: the house, and the glass towers of the downtown city core.Robertson's contention in the paper is that each of these images was imbued with amoral life and assumed a role as central as any of the characters.If as Heidegger has maintained, any work is constituted through the way itallows us to experience a struggle, Robertson sees the struggle in Dallas as onebetween the house and its domestic concerns and the skyscraper with itsconnotations of commerce and the pursuit of material wealth. A structuralsimilarity with the dynamic of "The Pine on the Corner" seems obvious, although inWall's work the ground-hugging house on its small city lot is opposed, not by thepowerful heights of the ultra modern, man-made skyscrapers which we find inDallas, but by the natural sweep of that old and enormous pine. And of courseWall's houses, those Vancouver Specials, are not only low in the horizontal sense;they also lack the vertical hubris of the towers and are, as we have stressed,mundane and unseductive newcomers to the urban scene, crowded together onsmall city lots as they are, and fronted only by those parked cars, telephone poles,fire hydrants and mail boxes which speak of the modern concerns with ordinary lifeof which Taylor speaks.While the moral dynamic in Dallas involves the ongoing mediation betweenthe houses and the urban towers, Robertson argues that historically the essentialjuxtaposition within the North American urban order "was of small buildings set97against an enormous panorama of Nature and striking natural phenomena"(Robertson, 1989: 143). Certainly the spread of small individual landholdings intomountains and forests has characterized the dynamic of settlement and growth ofour Canadian communities -- especially here in the West, perched out on the lastfrontier as we are, where wilderness settlement is a very recent memory. Theindividual house, properly situated on its own piece of land, has provided us with avery condensed image of the city, of its movement from past to future, and of theproper balance between the opposing forces which constitute it.Through the particularity of those divisions and of our attempts to resolvethem we have tended the logos. It is the case, for example, that for almost a decadenow in Vancouver we have seen a struggle waged between the two moralprotagonists which comprise this archetypal North American image of the city:house and tree. In what has often been heated argument and has on occasion evenerupted into open hostility, we have seen one element pitted against the other. It isalso within this dynamic, as part of the movement of this 'debate', that Wall's "Pineon the Corner" can be situated, as yet another local protagonist in the dramathrough which our particular understanding of the city (that is, of the social) hasbeen given its contemporary life and that we have given form and shape to thatmodern affection for ordinary life.If we go back to Spring of 1990, approximately a year after Wall completedhis landscape, we can enter this Vancouver tale of the house and the tree at one ofits most antagonistic stages. The confrontation at that time concerned the felling oftwo old and enormous sequoia trees located in the yard of a very expensive home inKerrisdale. A series of escalating protest actions had been carried out by a group oflocal homeowners in an effort to save the trees. These included public meetings,letter writing campaigns and lobbying, tying yellow ribbons round the trees to98remind passers-by of their impending fate, and finally, as a last desperate resort,obstructing the workers who came to cut the trees down such that the police had tobe called in.The owner of the trees had only just bought the particular piece of propertyon which they were situated. He defended the removal of the trees on the claim,one disputed by others in the community, that "they were damaging the foundationof his house" (Hendrickson: The Province, May 4, 1990). The owner of the treeswas angry at the publicity and angry at the interference of neighbours in what heconsidered to be his private affairs. Besides citing the damage the trees were doingto his house, he made frequent assertions about the trees being only his business,since he now owned them and the land. His claim was that he should be left inpeace to cut them down, asserting as justification his private rights of property andtaste (Godley: The Vancouver Sun, March 5, 1990).The protagonists on the side of the trees offered opposing reasons tosubstantiate the value of the trees, ones which stressed the great importance of thetrees to the neighborhood. Of prime importance in this regard was their beauty andwhat they referred to as their "symbolic value". While no effort was made to clarifywhat exactly was 'symbolized' in them, there was talk of how the trees formed afamiliar landmark in the neighbourhood, of how they were part of the way theneighborhood knew and remembered itself, and of the great attachment people hadfor the trees. "When members of the group tied yellow ribbons around the trees afew days before they were felled, people driving by stopped and got out to look atthem. Some even walked over and touched their trunks. They were a kind ofsymbol in the neighborhood, a landmark -- they were that important" one said. "Icouldn't believe someone could come along and do that. They were such beautiful99trees" another added, as though a lack of susceptibility to their beauty was beyondcomprehension.There was a great deal of antagonism toward the owner for what was seen ashis lack of concern for neighbours and for his unwillingness to consider both theiraffections for their neighbourhood and their concern for their past, 'symbolized' forthem in the tree (e.g. Letters to the Editor, The Province, Apr 18, 1990). A commonrallying cry of the forces opposing the felling of the trees was to call for a law whichwould prevent such actions from occurring again. This in turn initiated a whole newflurry of action concerning the law's pros and cons. There was also a concertedeffort made to plant trees on both private and public land. A tree plantingceremony, for example, was held to commemorate the two giant trees which hadbeen felled, at which a child read a poem extolling the virtues of trees which wasmodelled after Joyce Kilmer's poem.The incident of the giant trees was not an isolated phenomenon, but wasembedded in a history of rapid change as Vancouver grew, became more denselypopulated and moved from woodsy suburbs to urban residential neighbourhoods.The latest battles which have arisen over these changes have largely centred aroundthe building of very large houses in residential areas of the city. These houses havechanged the appearance of the city, especially in the affluent West Side, whereaesthetic considerations have been paramount, and large lots, gardens, trees andgreen space have traditionally been plentiful. Major complaints against the newlarge houses have centred around the way in which they have entailed the removalof small existing houses, on the fact that they occupy most of the space on the lotand that they also therefore entail removal of the existing landscaping, which hasincluded many very old and large trees. In the popular press, these large newhouses have come to be known as "monster houses", a reference which allies them100with the likes of Frankenstein's monster, and conveys that same sense of dreams runamok and turning into nightmares.We can see the conflict as one of excess on both sides of the house andgarden duality: monster houses with few trees, and giant trees with small houses.This is to say that both the house and the tree appear to have fractured intoopposing configurations, with the battles being waged over their proper mediation."The Teardown", an article in the March edition of Western Living, offers a fineexample of the object of affection on the "small old house" side of the confrontation(Sutherland, 1993: 114). Featured in the article is "a two bedroom bungalow with alarge and pleasant garden" for sale in Kerrisdale. This small Craftsman Style housewas named the Ideal Cottage of 1924. A small, low, white stucco mock tudor withleaded windows, it is reminiscent of that little white house in my ownneighbourhood. The writer of the article maintains that during the period when itwas built, middle class homes actually shrank in size, a trend he attributes not toausterity or shortages of materials, but to aesthetic and moral considerations. TheCraftsman style, Sutherland argues, was inspired by the idea of small, relativelyinexpensive but well built houses. "So that even ordinary folk could own a placethey were proud of' is the way he articulates that appeal. "In England, the impulsewas rooted in nostalgia more than any democratic tendency, and there the ruralcottage reigned. In Canada, we found the inspiration in both camps," Sutherlandclaims (1993: 114). What is interesting here is the way in which this interpretationof the Craftsman style constructs it as an affirmation of interconnected dimensionsof that modern affection for ordinary life: the ordinary as the average or as the "nottoo anything" (i.e. modest houses for ordinary people or folk, those who are not tooanything) and the ordinary as a return to the source, envisioned here as temporalfirstness (i.e. nostalgia for the past, nature and the 'folk').101On the other side of the argument we find those "monster houses". Thesehouses are huge, luxurious, expensive, ultra-modern and replete with the latesttechnology to service bodily comfort, convenience and pleasure. For the samereasons that pertain to the proliferation of the Vancouver Specials, the maximumamount of space possible given the lot size has been a predominant consideration inthese houses, coupled with a dedication to the provision of all the latest in modernconveniences: bathrooms, luxurious yet high tech kitchens, garage space as well asproximity to shopping centres, transportation and places of work. Even in the localEast Side Real Estate Weekly, where the houses advertised for sale tend to be moremodest, many ads can be found for houses of enormous size. The March 12, 1993Edition, for example, lists one new house whose selling points are listed as 5100square feet, 7 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms, a detached double garage and space for amultiple car park. Another called, "Best House, Best Buy", has 7 bedrooms, sixbathrooms, 2 Jacuzzis, a penthouse with ensuite, large sundeck and large kitchen.Its "a fully loaded house, has all the new toys", the ad says.How do these houses embody the good life? They exemplify the house as amoral standard by means of its commodious service not only to the new and thetechnically sophisticated, but to the application of this new and sophisticatedtechnology in the service of our physical well-being and comfort. The affection forordinary life which shapes them seems to be centred around the pleasure ofservicing our biological or bodily needs, the needs of life itself. If these houses seekto elevate themselves above the run-of-the-mill to a state of grandeur, as one wouldexpect of any embodiment of notions of the good life, it could also be argued thatthey largely do so by their sheer accumulation of rooms and garages and appliances,rather than through any originality or coherence of vision. In fact, for many of thesehouses, grandeur seems to elude them -- as though in their conception an error had102been made between quantity and quality, or as though a point of balance betweenscarcity and abundance had been overstepped, and more had turned into less. InAristotelian terms, we might argue that they miss the golden mean or point ofbalance between the two. The sheer volume of space and materials they consumealso gives to many of them a certain air of belligerence, as though the voraciousappetite they seem to exemplify threatened to consume everything in sight.In the debates around the houses, many of the complaints concern the way somany of them don't fit in with their neighborhoods, about how obtrusive they are.This is not only attributed to their excessive size; it is also frequently attributed totheir ugliness, as though this ugliness itself were indicative of their offense to thecommunity (i.e. The Province: May 28, 1989). The debate shows us in this way thatthe beautiful appearance of the home emerges as a very important ethicalconsideration, one that community members are beholden to. This we might findcurious, for in modern thought the beautiful is often taken to be a matter of purelysubjective opinion concerning matters rather superfluous or trivial, a matter ofpersonal preference for which no reasonable arguments can be offered. What onelikes, another doesn't, and that's the end of the matter. Michael Seelig, for example,refers to this common position in an article concerning the monster houses (TheVancouver Sun, November 14, 1989 (A9)):"Many people argue that the debate is an argument over taste.. .andtaste is subjective. What seems ugly to one person may be beautiful toanother. Therefore, some argue, there is nothing we can or should do.In a democratic society, everyone has the right to express his or herown sense of beauty."It would seem from this account that while we do honour and love beautiful lookingthings, while this is indeed a fundamental part of our modern conception of the'good life', we have some difficulty articulating the moral and ethical place of beautyin social life and its relation to reason. Gadamer is again illuminating in this regard,103for he locates a significant change which took place within post-Kantianphilosophical solutions to questions about the nature of human reason. Kantfigured as a watershed figure in this debate since he denied to taste, as the capacityof human reason which judges the beautiful, any significance as knowledge of anobject. However, as Gadamer goes on to say of Kant's analysis, this subjectiverelationship to the beautiful was held by Kant to be, in principle, the same for all ofus. This suggested to him that while the beautiful did not constitute knowledge ofan object, its consideration could form the basis of a communal discourse, sincetaste, although individually located and experienced, could be understood by others.Indeed, Kant pointed out that the presumption we make is that it should be sharedby others. That this is so is substantiated in the battle of the monster houses andgiant trees. What is judged good by one's own judgment is always assumed to holdfor others as well. In this way, taste can be and is talked about, cultivated andrendered common or shared. Through reflective cultivation, others can be aided inthe process of experiencing a particular beauty. This again is evident the case ofthe beauty of Nature. Thus Gadamer writes that the beautiful:"...is universally communicable and thus grounds the claim that thejudgment of taste possesses universal validity. Taste is reflective. Itimparts no knowledge of the object, but neither is it simply a questionof a subjective reaction, as produced by what is pleasant to the senses." (Gadamer, 1991: 43)Gadamer also argues that significant transformations in our relation to thebeautiful occurred with post-Kantian analyses, changes which had far-reachingconsequences for contemporary thought. Schiller, for example, related our pursuitof the beautiful to an anthropological "play impulse" in individuals, one whichhinged on the pleasure of the encounter with beautiful things. Cultivation of thissensibility came to define the purpose of an aesthetic education. While Kanthimself had maintained a source of the beautiful in our actual perception of nature104(i.e. in the real) and had linked that perception to the moral and to the movement ofhuman transcendence, what began to develop with Schiller was a notion of an idealworld of art and beauty separated from the real, one without a source of beautywithin the practical reality of our lives. Schiller's ideal world was one in which theaesthetic play, the harmony of the beautiful art work, was treated as an alternativeto the harsh 'realities' of our lives. Gadamer argues that art gradually came to becast as appearance and set in opposition to practical reality, as the high to the low.From this perspective, it was only within the freedom of art works, as anachievement within and through their harmony and beauty, that any humanperfection would be achieved.Out of this, we might postulate the emergence of a new kind of socialcharacter who began to draw moral strength: the aesthete. Such a character lives inopposition to the ordinary, the everyday, the banal and the normal by beingdedicated to a version of the good life as the refined life, the cultured life, a life inwhich the finest objects in life are cultivated -- the finest food, beautiful clothes,beautiful surroundings, refined entertainment. It's a life of beautiful consumption, alife we can glimpse in Vogue Magazine, Architectural Digest and Western Living.Reverberations of this particular ethic of the beautiful are also apparent inthe way we have come to conceive of our houses. Fundamental to this is a moralimperative to transform them from the merely useful into the aestheticallyattractive. In the New Homes Section of The Vancouver Sun of June 14, 1991, forexample, a little article talked about a hot new company rated No. 18 inEntrepreneur's list of the fastest growing franchises, a list which includes such hugeoperations as MacDonald's and Kentucky Fried Chicken. For up to $30,000, itreported, people can buy a house-decorating franchise which includes seven days ofdesign training at the company's  Life Style University, followed by 12 weeks of home105study and a "perky little ColorVan which, packed with wallpaper, fabric and rugsamples, can be driven right up to a customer's house. "They serve," says the article,"the thousands of middle-class North Americans who suffer from Fear ofDecoration; who covet the rooms they see in national shelter magazines but don'tknow how to achieve them on their own."The article provides a glimpse of that contemporary power the 'good looks' ofour house has to evoke both love and fear. The appearance of our house issomething we both need and want to get right. It is the basis of moral judgements.It also shows, in a way Wall points to in his art, how this is manipulated cynically forothers' financial profit. A cursory glance at local newsstands would serve to confirmthe extent of the contemporary preoccupations with the beautiful house. At almostany newsstand, we might find at least thirty-five different magazines about housesoffered for sale at any one time. The magazines reveal how many and varied areour dreams about houses. They speak of how we delight in the house's endlesspossibilities, how we spend time talking and reading about houses, how we worryabout our houses, decorate our houses, renovate our houses, plan new houses,dream of having the perfect house, the dream house.Just what kinds of 're-imaginings' of the house do these magazines cultivate?Not surprisingly, a considerable number of the magazines on the newsstands areself-help books, books for the 'handy-man' and do-it-yourself type books, books toguide us individually through our constant home improvement and renovationpursuits. About a half dozen more magazines present home plans, plans forcottages, starter homes, luxury houses, city homes, ranchers and holiday cabins.These include homes for every locale, every taste, every way of life, with titles like:"Designs for Flexible Living", "Build This Backyard Cottage for Someone You Love"or "How to Get the Most for your Building Dollar".106Equally familiar to us are those magazines at the opposite extreme to thepractical magazines; these are high style magazines like Architectural Digest: TheInternational Magazine of Fine Interior Design or HG: House and GardenMagazine. These magazines specialize in the luxurious and exotic, bringing to uspictures of the homes of the grand and the famous. It's not any real concern withpractical hints which is the motivation for our interest here. Rather, thesemagazines are paeans to the sheer wonder and delight of beautiful looking housesand furnishings. They cultivate the pleasure of the house as a beautiful object, thehouse as one of our age's fundamental icons of 'the good life'.The 'high style' fostered in these latter magazines also exemplifies anotherfamiliar and popular aspect of the way in which the contemporary house isconceived. Indeed, a plethora of different styles exists, one to suit every lifestyleimaginable, each with a 'look' which characterizes it. In the magazines we can findreferences to Southwest style, Colonial Style, English Style, Swedish Style, Industrialstyle, Victorian Style, even to a West Coast Style with its cedar and glass housessubmerged in dense vegetation. It's no wonder that the Decorator franchisesrequire a 'lifestyle university' at which to train their operators. Nor is it any surpriseto find that the contemporary house has become the turf of the haute couture set,that Bill Blass, Ralph Lauren and Laura Ashley offer whole lines of mass market'designer' items for the home, and that we have witnessed the entry into the homemagazine market of high style fashion magazines like Vogue Living and VogueDecoration and  Elle Decor.In order to pursue in more depth this affection of ours for style, we mightlook at the March 1993 edition of Western Living. Included here were some"recipes for style" used to design kitchens in four different homes in western Canada.In the design of a kitchen built in a renovated Calgary industrial warehouse, for107example, the magazine claims to take its "style cue" from the work of the Modernistpainter Mondrian."Were Dutch painter Mondrian alive today and living in a warehouse,his cooking room would look like this one. The kitchen (is)characterized by heavy black outlines that frame large chunks ofcolor. Here the black outlines can be seen in the grout, window frameand appliances. Slabs of color are provided by the cabinets andcounters."(Rule, 1993: 53)The kitchen draws on fine art, but transforms it into a 'look', such that thoseharmonic relationships of color and space which Mondrian spent his lifeinvestigating become an eye-pleasing arrangement of shapes and colored surfaces.According to the owner/designers, the kitchen is "fun and only slightly industrial".Presumably, such 'fun looks' as Mondrian's could be applied to anything, yielding anappearance which is both entertaining and pleasing to the eye. Unlike Mondrian'sart, nothing is offered here which might upset anyone or persuade them to reflectupon their understandings of the good life.Another one of the Western Living kitchens, (in this case called a "cook'sroom" so as to mark its distance from ordinary kitchens), is labelled "farmhousefresh" and described as follows:"Like the old farmhouse kitchens that influenced its design, thismodern cook's room is made of simple basic materials. When ordinarymaple, steel and linoleum are used with finesse, they look refined....It's a design soup, but every ingredient reinforces the visual package.From the '40s, the Turners borrowed the cabinet profile, exteriorhinges and utilitarian linoleum; from the Amish, they adopted a no-frills attitude. They brought the screen door inside, and addedrestaurant-style appliances." (Rule, 1993: 50-51)Again, it's the refinement of the total "visual package" and the pleasure this yieldswhich seems paramount. The signature components of the old kitchen have beenupdated into a big commercial stainless steel range, a rectangular butcher blocktable and exposed stainless steel pots. The visual unity of the "package" is achievedby means of textural qualities, color, shape and surface appearance, so that the look108will please. From the simplicity of Amish furniture to ultra modern restaurant-styleappliances, things are brought together according to their visual possibilities,yielding a minimalist, efficient, clean-lined and aesthetically harmonious renditionof the old utilitarian farmhouse kitchen. We are given ordinary life made to lookpretty, the farmhouse with 'finesse', the farmhouse still useful but now beautifullooking.This high style farm house kitchen doesn't only make visible thatcontemporary concern with transforming the 'merely' useful into the beautifulhowever, that concern to which Wall's work draws our attention. It also allows us tosee how complex is the relationship between beautiful looks and other dimensionsof the 'good life'. Take, for example, the current popularity of 'Country Style'.Almost all the contempoary style magazines include a requisite article on the'country home', and there are at least four country home specialty magazines:Countryside, Country Kitchen, Country Home and Country Living. These havearticles like: "Escape to Real Country Inns", "Nature, Food, Houses and Gardens","The Cottage Garden", "Blue and White in Illinois", "Cottage Style in Nantucket"and "The Rock Musician's Rustic Retreat".If, as we argued, the house reveals our attachments and our belonging to away of life, how is it that country style shows us the beautiful? It might be assumedfrom the variations in these magazines and their styles that the house emerges out ofneeds which differ with locale, with time and place and with way of life, and that thehouse takes on its particular 'look' through meeting these needs in particular or'local' ways. When we look at the country style homes, however, it is intriguing tofind that they needn't be located in the country at all, nor need they pertain to arural way of life. In fact, a perusal of the magazines show few of those who live incountry style homes to be working farmers or ranchers or fishermen. A country109style home can in fact be a penthouse in Manhattan or in the West End ofVancouver.Again, as we have said of style in general, country style seems to emerge inresponse to a desire to gaze upon and immerse oneself in a setting which is lovely tolook at. However, this is so, at least in part, because country style is able to affirmthe beauty and goodness of the 'natural' life. Thus a certain concordance can beseen with Wall's celebration of the natural beauty of the tree. In country style,however, the beauty and goodness of the natural life is conjured up by thereplication of some popular and very condensed images. Frequently, the look is anachievement of the original design of the house itself, through the renovation of ahouse from a period which was simpler and 'closer to nature', such as an old logcabin or an old farm house. Or it might be attained by the close replication of the'look' of such houses in new materials or by copying old house designs. Theaesthetically pleasing assemblage of various accoutrements of country life is also animportant component-- rustic, antique or primitive looking furniture is very popular,as is wicker, old pine, gingham and chintz, and plenty of plants, dried flowers,baskets and displays of spices, old tin containers and home made preserves.Furthermore, everything which is not in keeping with this look tends to be hiddenaway out of sight. Antique wardrobes, for example, once relegated to the dump inexchange for streamlined fitted cupboards, have recently enjoyed a great surge inpopularity, finding new life as 'entertainment centres' which look appropriately oldand simple and country, but which serve to remove from sight all the unwanted high-tech signs of modern living like TVs, VCRs and stereos.The way style serves in this way to conjure up the desirable place and timefor us is evident in a short newspaper report on the 1991 British Interior DesignExhibition (Vancouver Sun, New Homes Section, New York Times New Service,110July 1991). Two examples from the article reveal opposing dimensions of the trend.The first example, American, is directed nostalgically to the past and the foreign. Solittle chintz, so much design!" the Assistant curator of the Victoria and Albert isquoted as saying. "Strangely, it's that American chintz and the bedroom with theblue and white Ralph Lauren fabrics by Countess Monika Apponyi of M.M. Designthat look most English. It's a vision of England that's more English than theEnglish." If the Americans are in this way producing and selling homey, comfortable'chintzy' dreams of England, the English themselves are dreaming up and sellingsomething quite different as the latest choice in lifestyle. Since England is thatcountry where the latest reports say over half of the population would rather livesomewhere else, it's no surprise to find not nostalgia for a dream of the beautifulpast, but a dream of a very radical break with that past in favour of the fresh startand a brand new future. We find not chintz, but agitation for revolution, conceived,that is, as high style in the drawing room:"You may not like what you see here, but you've never seen it before... Visitors are greeted in Nick Allen's neoclassical anteroom byapparently bloodsplattered shutters and a padlocked door proclaimingNo War For Oil by the artist Burhan Dogancay""The room makes a clashing counterpoint", the exhibition's director added, ratherunderstating the case.Style's propensity to seek out the nostalgic past or the perfect future is asource of worry for Canadian architect Witold Rybczynski. Thus he complainsabout the way in which the currently popular 'designer' houses have become morelike stage sets on which fashionably costumed characters play out their self-chosenroles. Living the good life seems to be a matter of donning the appropriate clothesand buying the right furnishings, as though the life the house sheltered was abeautiful tableau presented for others to gaze upon (Rybczynski, 1986: 1-12).111Take the case of designer Ralph Lauren, Rybczynski says, who recentlydeveloped four home product lines for the mass market. The products, displayed inmock-ups of houses in Bloomingdale's in New York, were entitled "Log Cabin","Thoroughbred", "New England" and "Jamaica". Like those 'English chintz' homes ofLauren's at the British Interior Design Exhibition, these drew on highly simplifiedand nostalgic images of more 'natural' lives: on the rustic log cabin, the countryestate house, the early American colonial home and the plantation mansion fromthe southern U.S. sun belt. Rybczynski takes care to point out that these 'mockhouses' of Lauren's are not derivative of any specific historic houses. Instead, theyare that kind of condensed and simplified image we found in country style; they aremore 'log cabin' than any log cabin ever was, more 'colonial' than any colonial house.They are like a distilled essence, a dream of a beautiful looking life which themessiness and unsettledness of contemporary life denies.In this regard, Rybczynski points out that "what they leave out is as revealingas what they include", that as in country style, all the signs of contemporary high techlife, like computers, toasters, VCRs and telephones are eradicated. So too, it shouldbe noted, are any hints of unpleasantness or hardship associated with the lives livedout in such times and places, as are any references to the ethical and moral choicessuch lives entailed. The life behind the 'look' is not asked after, and nothing isallowed to spoil the pleasure-power of those house images.In response to Rybczynski's worry, it could be argued that style is a necessaryresponse to our need to give shape to our commitment to the good and thebeautiful. It serves as a way of keeping that commitment alive by allowing for us toexist by making a difference between what we do and what is just given to us. Thisdifference can also provide for our reflection upon the particularity of thecommitments previously displayed. It aloows us to speak, for example, of aspects112previously repressed. Furthermore, the difference lets us experience the beautifuland the good anew, something which, as argued a number of times in this thesis, theusual and the same prohibit.At the same time, however, we might agree with Rybczynski that stylecurrently constructs this renewal as though its achievement were merely theexchange of one novel 'look for another, as though the choices of lifestyle could bemade as freely as time and money and desire dictate, and that this constitutes agood life. That is, 'lifestyle' seems to ask for no more of an understanding of thatwhich it finds beautiful and good than do the novelties and changing whims offashion, the purchase of beautiful stage props or the eating of a fancy meal.In our earlier reading of the opening chapter of Plato's Republic, we arguedthat the human life entailed reflection upon what we hold to be good. Ourcommitment to understanding the good of what we love was what was important.We were persuaded to attend to our desires, our commitments, our actions througha kind of self-resistance. That which we find beautiful is part of this call for self-resistance, since we yearn for the beautiful, love and desire the beautiful and areenthralled by beautiful appearances. Yet such appearances might hide very uglythings. A beautiful looking city, for example, might well be an evil city, while theappearance of a high style house offers no guarantee that it will shelter a good life.We might argue that this is of significance for the way Plato begins thedialogue Protagoras. It opens with Socrates addressing the youthful beauty ofAlcibiades, who, while physically beautiful, was less than beautiful morally andethically. Thus Plato contrasted his physical beauty not only with the beautifulwisdom of the old man Protagoras, but with the beauty of the ugly Socrates. Boththese men, while old and ugly, were much more 'beautiful' as human beings. Thedifference between these is set into play in a way which invites readers to engage113their understanding of beauty and its relation to wisdom and knowledge. Thattension which we experience with an encounter with the beautiful is invoked, atension which speaks to the need for internal resistance and self-division which isable to resist the beautiful looking by virtue of our love for the beautiful.These references to Plato are intended here to help to show that while'lifestyle' promises the openess of choice, it is at the same time a limited way ofconceiving of the grounds of community. Style seeks freedom of choice and an openworld -- as though it belonged to that open city Descartes dreamed of, where allwould be available for us without the infringement of any hierarchy or barriers.Style, we might say, speaks to the value of choice, but constructs that as if it weregood because it is able to maximize our capacity to be and do whatever we wish.This freedom is then postulated as the good life. The implication is that we shouldbe free to make choices without regard to our circumstances and history, to ethicaland moral restraints, and without reflection upon what grounds the choices we havemade.Rybczynski's desire to turn his attention to the house speaks to his resistanceto the temptations of style and its pursuits. He invites us to reflection, asking uswhat it is that we seek in these lifestyles which are sold to us in the guise of a house.In doing so, he urges us to see that what we glimpse in the house is always a versionof "how things ought to be". In doing so, it is argued here that Rybczynski points usto the moral grounds of the house and to the way any human work gives concreteform to that 'human excess' pointed to in the Republic. That is, he shows us howany work is always a particular embodiment of an understanding of the good life.While Rybczynski concedes that even in the stylish house there is somethinggood, he argues that this requires reflection, since it must be separated from theconfusion in which it occurs. Ralph Lauren, for example, sells an image of the114house as it 'ought to be', Rybczynski says. However, this is an image of anothertime, a lost time, one from which we seek to regain something we feel we have lost.Style, Rybczynski seems to imply, addresses a certain lack, some thing which enticesus but which is beyond things as they are given to us in the present. In this way, wemight say, he shows us how style encompasses that essential difference betweenreality and the real of which Zizek speaks. Rybczynski, however, takes up the issueof this gap, this difference between the two, as a problem of the here and now whichneeds to be properly solved. What is required is that the house be 'put right'. Whatare we missing that we look so hard for in the past is the way Rybczynski formulatesthe problem. If our houses lack some thing which the dream houses have attemptedto provide, what is it? This implies that what is wanted is to eliminate the differencebetween the 'ought' and the 'is'.The answer to Rybczynski's operative question unfolds through his book.Like the slave boy in Plato's Meno, the one who knows the answers to individualquestions but has to follow Socrates' line of questioning to get the whole answer,Rybczynski already knows that answer, although he still must carry out a search forit. After all, in looking for that missing something, he needs to separate it from allwhich is not part of it, separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak. So Rybczynskiknows but he doesn't know. He posits the object of desire, knows the nature of thedesire, but must still do the looking, since that blank space of the 'ought to be'remains open, and this he feels called upon to properly fill. As Socrates had to fillout the notion of justice in the Republic, Rybczynski must fill out the good of thehouse. In filling out that empty space with his reflections upon the house,Rybczynski tells us why the house is something we value in our lives.Just what is the value which Rybczynski sees in the house? It turns out to be'comfort'. This is the good thing which must be recovered from Ralph Lauren, what115Lauren entices us with, Rybczynski says (Rybczynski, 1986: 221). Most modernhouses lack important aspects of "comfort". Lauren is popular because he promisesa very 'casual' and abundant physical comfort, a comfort reinforced by images ofsufficient wealth, a good measure of stability and the solidity of tradition sufficientto foster and support it. If the house addresses or embodies comfort, this alsomeans that when we search the past, we should look not for house styles (theirvarious looks), but for how each age understood, developed and cultivated thiscultural idea of "comfort". Thus "the Dutch bourgeois interior, for example, hasmuch to teach us about living in small spaces." (Rybczynski, 1986: 221)."It is an idea that has meant different things at different times Inthe seventeenth century, comfort meant privacy, which lead tointimacy, and in turn, to domesticity. The eighteenth century shiftedthe emphasis to leisure and ease, the nineteenth to mechanicallyaided comforts -- light, heat and ventilation. (Rybczynski, 1986: 231)It's not that the development of such a "cultural idea" ceases, Rybczynskicontends. It remains open, available for re-imagining and for transformation. Butthe earlier meanings persist, they add layers, and in this way, the notion grows andits depth accumulates. "Comfort" is the totality of all these layers; it is all the wayswe have envisioned it in the houses of the past. "At any particular time, comfortconsists of all the layers, not only the most recent." (Rybczynski, 1986: 231). As thewhole of the various ways in which it has been understood, it includes but is notlimited to convenience, efficiency, leisure, ease, pleasure, domesticity, intimacy andprivacy, all of which have, at various times, been the way we have translated"comfort".As for those designer dream houses, or the contemporary orientation to highstyle and aesthetic appeal, or the tendency to define comfort scientifically, asergonomics and efficiency -- all these offer only partial views of "comfort". Nonecompletely grasps it, although each knows "comfort" in the sense that it reaches for it116and has formulated an aspect of it. Each view has therefore added to the notion,developed a certain dimension of what we understand by "comfort", although eachhas excluded parts.Rybczynski's analysis of the house can therefore be seen to be a kind ofcollecting and separating according to a notion of comfort. First the valuable partsare separated out; then he gathers them together into something more, somethingbetter, something more complete. "Comfort" remains the some thing we desire andpursue, but it is the whole of it which is desired and which must be gathered togetherfor the promised renewal of the house. The house which finally grasps thismysterious thing, this whole, will be the house which 'ought to be', the dream forwhich we search, that which is more than we now have, more than our partial views."We must rediscover for ourselves the mystery of comfort, for without it, ourdwellings will indeed be machines instead of homes." (232).To extrapolate from what Rybczynski says, it would seem that our desirereaches out to encompass the whole of things and to draw them together 'properly'within our works. But if we return with this in mind to those kitchen designs wespoke of prreviously, something in them is puzzling in light of this construction ofthe work. What's puzzling is that a movement towards wholeness and a desire tocollect the essential is apparent in all these kitchen designs. At the same time, theyare also partial in the way Rybczynski complains of, since the collecting which eachkitchen entails seems to take place within a dominant notion or unifying idea. Notthat these 'notions' are at all easy to pin down or name, given their embodiment inthese sensuous forms. But there is a uniqueness to each "kitchen" -- the fun andaesthetic pleasure of playing with colour and shape in the case of the Mondriankitchen, the ultra modern, sophisticated luxury of the "Posh and Polished" kitchen,the pristine freshness and cleanliness of the "farmhouse fresh" one. The unique look117of each kitchen says something, reaches for something, not just for anything. In doingso, each is limited, is distinguished, is not every kitchen. Each design seems to be anattempt to gather together the whole, but according to a particular quest, in the lightof its own desire. Each remains a particular enactment or ordering of the whole;each remains partial.If we relate this back again to Heidegger's conception of the work in order todeepen our understandings of our enterprise, we can see the struggle to also entail amediation of the oppositions. The experience of the work is one of a mediation orproper reconciliation of oppositions. To better illustrate, let's turn to the details ofthe kitchens. Take, for instance, the "farmhouse fresh" kitchen design. We talkedpreviously of how this design retained the major icons of domesticity and comfortfrom the old farmhouse kitchen, what was seen to be essential to the kitchen: thelarge stove, the window over the big sink, the open cupboards, screen doors, thelarge wooden table, rows of pots, the kettle. In the new 'designed' kitchen, thesehave been recast in keeping with the angular lines and stark functional simplicity ofmodern high tech design and its concern with efficiency. But they are not onlyevidence of modern functional simplicity. The 'design' also displays a certainsensitivity and concern for the aesthetic play of shape, color and texture, one whichit integrates with that efficiency. Then there is also an attempt to reconcile thepragmatism and practicality, the easy comfort of domesticity with the aestheticpursuit. And futher, there is the inclusion of the unadorned 'natural' maple of thetable and countertops, and the simple screen cupboard doors borrowed from theAmish which are brought into co-existence with the industrial stainless steel of thestove, an ultra-high-style kettle and a deluxe Italian cappucino machine. Given thatthese are highly calculated, 'designed' interiors, don't these contrasts reflect a certainneed, conscious or not, to collect and/or unify many differences, even polarities?118Doesn't the design bring together what is seen to be valuable in the natural, thecountry, the farm, the old fashioned, with what is found desirable in high design, inthe manufactured, in urban life, in industrial technology, in the new? Andmoreover, aren't all these brought together within a logic of an affection for'ordinary life"? And don't they therefore constitute a particular and uniquemediation of opposing understandings of the kitchen's possibilities?Evidence of the same thing is obvious in the photos of the other two kitchens.Take the "posh and polished" kitchen, for instance. It might be characterized assophisticated understatement, with its rows of plate glass windows, discrete spotlighting, glossy black surfaced appliances discretely hidden in the counters, subduedgrey marble counters, grey tile floors and grey melamine counters. "Sleek, elegantand contemporary, looks as good as it cooks", is the caption. Designed for a couple"who don't seriously cook at all", it is recognizably up-town, sophisticated andurbane, part of a 'Howe Street' kind of life style (Rule, 1993: 46-49). Sleek, elegant,modern and urbane as it may be, the kitchen still employs 'natural' granite for itscounter tops, has 'natural' marble fruit dishes sitting on these counters, includes adisplay of unshelled 'natural' nuts, and spotlights an old and ornate silver urn spillingout a trail of flower petals across the counter's length. And of course there is thatsolid bank of green trees, the one which completely fills the modern plate glasswindows, as though country, the natural, the organic, all that this kitchen is not,insists on stealing back in, insists on being included -- albeit as a beautiful object togaze upon and within the dictates of style.Even that high art warehouse cum home, that "Mondrian" industrial kitchen,(a unity of opposites in itself) exhibits this. On an industrial steel shelf, like a highart painting, a small still life display is arranged. The first item is a plain potterybowl filled with a display of fresh red peppers and aubergines. Is this not the119ordinary, natural, unprocessed stuff of cooking arranged as a piece of 'art'? Anddon't the vegetables echo, but in more subdued natural shades, the bright modernopposing primary colors of Mondrian's art? The middle item in this 'still life' is anabstract landscape print, a piece of that 'high art' which the kitchen emulates but indoing so, transforms into its own understanding of art as the pleasure of beautifulsurfaces. Finally, the still life includes a very natural basket woven out of long grass,a basket which is repeated further along the shelf in a larger cane version, this timeholding a weeping fig. All these mementoes of things primitive, hand made artifactsof a by-gone era, the natural, the unprocessed -- aren't they the repressed refusingonce again to stay away, but re-entering here under the limits of visual design, ofgood looks, of artistic arrangement, of the pleasure of touch and smell and taste?Our analysis of these kitchens suggests that while a sense of the whole isbrought to bear through the selection and retrieval of what is felt to be valuable oressential to that whole, each particular work remains at the same time a gatheringdone within limits. That is, each kitchen is a limitation of the whole, in that it sayssome thing, and does not babble incoherently, as would be the case if it tried to sayevery thing at once. Even Rybczynski's analysis is an attempt to gather the wholewithin the limit of what is seen to be valuable; in his case, this is the limit or valueof "comfort". At the same time, what comfort is emerges in its specificity by virtue ofthe particular search he initiates.It must therefore be suggested that Rybczynski's view of the house is not anyless partial for all its desire to be whole and despite the way in which it 'enacts' themovement towards wholeness by gathering things together. He wants us to see thehouse as the embodiment of our high esteem for "comfort", as though comfort andthe whole had blended together. That is, comfort has been made to stand for thewhole. Yet, since comfort has its own specific and limited meanings, this is not the120case. The Oxford Dictionary, for example, says of comfort that it can refer to "beingin possession of things which make life easy such as good food, clothes, etc.". In thatcomfort can suggest being at ease in the world in this way, in that it carries with itconnotations of material and physical well being, in that it seems to carry an air ofcontentment with the way things are, it is in fact worrisome. Is a notion of comfortable to speak to the state of divided beings who dwell by the fire and tend the lightof reason? Is there not in fact a desire in such a notion to resolve the extra-ordinaryinto the ordinary, to close the gap between reality and the real? Does Rybczynskidisplay in this way an affection for ordinariness?In this regard, Karatheodoris also reminds us of how we are always only'partially' committed to the undertaking of dwelling by the fire, and of how there isalways that countervailing desire to be at rest, to fall back into the comfort andsecurity of what is natural or habitual or 'instinctual'. There is always a resistance toengaging our understandings of that which we already love and value, as Zizek'sstories revealed. There is a countervailing desire to be comfortable and at peace, topreserve the time and place in which 'all's right with the world'.Yet, like Sack's theorizing, Rybczynski's own actions are at odds with hiswords. His enterprise did not emerge out of a sense of comfort, of things beingcomplete and alright, but out of a certain discontent with what has been given tohim, out of a longing and a lack. In critically engaging the house, Rybczynski castout its perfection. He instilled a lack, one which required his action of recovery. Itwas that work of recovery which provided both him and his readers with theoccasion to explore their understandings of the house and to ask after whatcomprised its excellence. This in turn allowed for a movement which was able tocollect (and separate) the community by turning attention to our variousunderstandings of what we are. In this way, it served as extra-ordinary, as a way of121reorienting the community to the auspices of social life which Heidegger pointedtowards in his analysis of the work.FRAME SEVENTENDING THE HEARTH FIRE 'ORDINARILY'The Threat to the SocialDespite our desire for such comfort and peace, the everchanging, temporaland particular nature of human being precludes such ease. Tensions between thefamiliar and the alien, the new and the old, between our own loves andcommitments and those of others are always confronting us. The discord over thegiant trees and the monster houses serves us as an example. In this regard, we notehow a couple from that Homeowners' Association which fought the removal of thegiant trees had returned to Vancouver after spending some time in New York City,and how what they most wanted upon their return was to settle down in a nice, old-fashioned house to raise their family. They wanted one "in an establishedneighborhood with older homes and tree-lined streets." (Blain, The Vancouver Sun,April 16, 1990). Theirs was a dream of continuity, stability, of a familiar and lovedway of life which they could pass on to their children. They had found a home whichepitomized this life in an older house in Kerrisdale, but "settle down" they could not.About six months after they moved, the couple said, bulldozers began to arrive and"Houses started coming down left, right and centre".Those tensions emerge here, tensions which the changing landscape, the lossof the old trees, the coming of the 'monster houses' in place of the smaller olderhomes and the rising prices have aroused. Many have read these as 'symptoms' of amalaise which threatens the very bonds which hold us together, a threat which hasbeen understood to demand a concerted response on the part of the community toguard the fires of logos, the hearth which draws us together. A powerful illustration122123of this can be seen an interview with a woman called Joyce Diggins and her family(The Province, July 8, 1990 (FA15)).Diggins was born on a farm on what is now 40th Ave, and for fivegenerations, we are told, the family "called Kerrisdale home". For Diggins, thecontinuity of a whole community and a way of life seems to be threatened by thedevelopments in the city. For example, the neighborhood high school wasunderstood to be under threat of demolition. She feared that Point Grey Schoolwould be gone when her grandchildren were ready to attend.Since a school building could easily be replaced, this might not seem likemuch for concern. The anxiety we find here seems to speak to fears much deeperthan a mere change of buildings would warrant. Diggins' story is presented like aversion of a horror story, and clearly intended to frighten us. She warns us not onlythat the current chapter in the story of Kerrisdale is the saddest ever, but that it alsoappears to her to be the final one. "Kerrisdale died last year -- a lot of people don'tfeel it should be called Kerrisdale any more" she says. Images are invoked of acommunity in which callousness and brutal disregard are all that hold sway, adesperate attempt on her part to incite us to act now before all community threatensto pass away:"What they are doing is evicting lifelong friends from rentalapartments, offering pensioners the brutal choice of buying million-dollar condos or leaving the neighborhood where they were raised.They went through two world wars and a depression, and now they'rebeing told, "There's no room for you".With this invocation of those who served in the wars, she also seems to be sayingthat in such a 'disposable' city, the gifts of the past to the present are forgotten.What lasting worth for all those lives given in the war, for the lives of ourpredecessors, for ourselves if this is the case? And what would be left to hold thefamily together across the generations? To what purpose would any of us be124directed, without a future which gathers us together in an understanding of what isof lasting value? The social itself is treated as though it were threatened withdisappearance, for the social is that which reaches out for that beyond the momentand beyond the individual life. It is that which gathers all into a lasting whole.In  The Human Condition, Hannah Arendt offers some insight into this worryof ours concerning the disappearance of the social when she speaks of the humanneed to erect a sufficiently solid and stable world, a world whose "very permanencestands in direct contrast to life" (Arendt, 1958: 138). A sufficiently permanent andstable human artifice, Arendt maintains, is the condition of a life which is not futile,a life which is not merely a never-ending process of consumption, growth and decay.Given the biological dimension of our existence, humans cannot exist withouttaking from the natural world, consuming, using up that world in the never-endingprocesses which reproduce life itself. As such, our lives are not possible withoutdoing violence to things, without in this way defending and securing ourselvesagainst the concomittant processes of decay and physical dissolution.Arendt, however, warns about the danger of succumbing to such a life. LikeGlaucon, she wants to show us that the human life is much more than a life in whichhuman reason is dedicated to the satisfaction of natural needs, much more than theordinary life in which our biological needs are satisfied through plentiful production.One of the dangers of such a life is that it would entail devouring and discardingthings almost as quickly as they come into the world. Architect Kenneth Frampton,drawing on Arendt's work, picks up on this fear in relation to the status ofcontemporary architecture. He notes Antonio Sant Elia's 1914 prophecy that "ourhouses will last less time than we do and every generation will have to make itsown", and Constant Nieuwenhuys' prophecy of the "New Babylon" (1964) "whereurban change would be so accelerated as to render it pointless to return home"125(Frampton, 1982: 116-120)^Frampton's claim is that through propheticexaggeration, these writers have projected "the fundamental placeless tendency ofour present urban reality", a reality in which "the space of public appearance comesto be increasingly overrun by circulation, where the potential for rapid amortization,convenient demolition and replacement" results in the blurring or loss of thetraditional distinction between meubles and immeubles, the consumable and theenduring.In her analysis of the way this addiction to frenetic circulation andconsumption pertains to that demise of the social which Diggins fears, Arendtdistinguished between two aspects of human life: human work and human labour.Labour provides for our biological being, for our natural life, for the life giventhrough production for consumption. Work, however, is the human activity whichcorresponds to the 'unnaturalness' of human existence. It is the activity whichprovides an artificial or human world, a stable and more enduring world. This worldis inherently different from all natural surroundings:The things of the world have the function of stabilizing human life,and their objectivity lies in the fact that ... men, their ever-changingnature notwithstanding, can retrieve their sameness, that is, theiridentity, by being related to the same chair and the same table(Arendt, 1958: 140).Arendt's argument is that since we are mortal beings, not only biologicalbeings but historical beings, a durable and stable human world is needed to hold fastagainst the continual change that such mortality entails. Such a world can 'standagainst' the voracity of our immediate needs and wants. The human world holds fastagainst our individual passing out of existence in that it is able to gather together, inthe present, the old and the new, the dreams of the past and the hoped for future.In this regard, we might go back to Diggins' fears concerning the passing of theschool. In the same way that the table and the chair to which Arendt makes126reference gather us together, the school had gathered together five generations ofthe Diggins family, each of them having known or experienced it in their own way.Houses, too, can offer this stability, since their durability gives them the capacity togather together and to relate the different lives lived out within them. This is true interms of individual human lives, of succeeding generations and in terms of achanging or transient communityA glimpse of the gathering power of the house when it is preserved fromconsumption can be seen in the story of the modest old manor house inCambridgeshire, claimed to be the oldest continuously inhabited building inEngland (Period House and Its Garden, Vol. 1, #1, 1992: 94-99). Purchased by thecurrent owner just after the Second World War, it was rescued from the neglect ithad for a little while fallen into. While the main core of the house dates back to1152, the house today comprises a series of different facades and segments from theintervening centuries, from an original Norman core to a late Georgian section toVictorian additions and finally, to the incorporation of the modern convenienceswhich we as contemporaries find so essential. Over the centuries, generations haveseen something of worth and beauty in this house; they have made it their own,tended it, and in turn, preserved it from the onslaught of timeDiggins' anxiety speaks to a fear that in a city cut adrift from its past, suchpreservation would not occur. The many artifacts which generations have investedand reinvested with their dreams, like the trees and those familiar houses and theneighbourhood school, would be eliminated in face of the perpetual onslaught of thenew. Arendt's point in this regard is that people find their sameness in being relatedto the same things, to things which endure and persist beyond individual lives. Thispermanence can be found, we might go on to say, because the durability of suchobjects allows for that process of alienation in the other and the return to self which127constitutes that way of human being of which Gadamer and Weinsheimer speak.That is, the permanence of such artifacts necessitates a movement into the unknownand the recovery of the excess which is human being (excess in that we are alwaysmore than we know ourselves to be). When we encounter that which is other andresistant to our initial understandings, we are better able to see our ownparticularity and limitations of which we are not aware. In this way, our sense ofwhat we are and of what we stand for grows and is transformed, such that we nowinclude what had previously been alien. In this way, what is transient becomesenduring.'Ordinariness' and the Issue of ChoiceThe conflict over the monster houses and the giant trees serves to remind usthat the movement of alienation and return is always fraught with resistance, that weare always inclined to sink back comfortably into the known and the familiar andinto oneness with what seems to us to be natural. It also shows us that we are alwayscommitted and attached, and in this way limited beings. The conflict also shows usthat this resistance is further exacerbated by the great affection Modernity has forordinary life. If ordinary life is understood in terms of our biological or natural life,a life which uses up and consumes the world in order to give us life itself, a continual'moving on' can be fostered, one opposed to dwelling with things and to penetratingbeneath their first appearances. An affection for ordinary life which sees it in thisway can lead us to neglect and dismantle the durable and lasting edifice we havemade which is capable of gathering us together and resisting our individualinclinations and preferences. In that an affection for ordinary life also inclines us toelevate the usual, the ordinary, what comes 'naturally', what is habitual or what istemporally first, these tendencies are even further exacerbated.128While the implications reach well beyond the confines of this paper, some ofthe tensions generated by our desire to tend the fires of reason in the light of'ordinariness' are quite evident in the debate over the houses and trees. We mightremember in this regard that the owner of the sequoias was indicted not only forfailing to subordinate himself to the beauty of the trees, but also for his resistance toentering into a conversation in which he would be open to the otherness of his newcommunity His response was that it was his personal right as property owner to dowhat he did. We might argue that this is not only to treat taste as a matter ofpersonal choice and/or individual assertion based on a standard of what one isaccustomed to, but that it is also to treat the good city as the one which wouldguarantee and safeguard those personal preferences. In that these reasons wereoffered as justification for actions, it can be assumed that the owner understood,indeed expected, that they would be commonly understood as legitimate grounds fordoing what he did.That this position is indeed a common understanding is substantiated bywritings of City Council member Carole Taylor concerning the conflict of housesand trees. A similar worry concerning the importance of preserving personalfreedom of choice emerges. Taylor talks of the tensions as those between thepreservation of what is valuable versus "growth and progress" (The Vancouver Sun,May 28, 1991; July 5, 1991)."There is no better symbol for British Columbia at this time thantrees. Nice, big, old trees. It was through the mass destruction ofhollies and sequoias in Vancouver's neighborhoods and on WestVancouver's hills that we all became aware of the fact that the LowerMainland was changing.As many builders coursed through our residential areas leavingdevastation in their wake, because, of course, it was quicker, easierand cheaper to build by clearcutting a lot -- Vancouverites howled.Myself included. If growth or progress meant losing something soimportant, then forget it.129The big, old trees are taken not only as the symbol of British Columbia as it hasbeen, and consequently of the way we value our history and our origins. Theirpreservation also allows us to show the way in which we value beauty over sheerutility. This is what we as a community ought to stand for, Taylor seems to besaying. The problem this poses for Taylor, however, is how to establish what isbeautiful. This difficulty she casts in turn as one of 'who' is going to decide, ratherthan as one concerning the merits of the decision. Trees are good, she has no doubtof that, but their retention should not entail massive intrusions upon people's livesand choices.We could hear Taylor's objection as a reminder of the value whichpersuasion and the use of reason have over force. Her objections would thenconstitute an affirmation of the high esteem which we hold for the understanding ofthe good of what we do versus unreflective compliance with events. Heard in thisway, Taylor's worry would be a way of speaking to our commitment to reflection andto the pursuit of self-understanding of the sort to which Plato refers in the Republic.That is, her worries would speak to the merit of the examined life.Yet it seems quite clear that Taylor speaks more to the high value wecontemporaries place on the freedom of individual's to make their own choices, notto be limited. Taylor worries, for example, about the legislation curtailing "individualchoices": "Might it impose a bureaucratic sameness on the gardens of Vancouverand curtail individual choice?" she asks, echoing the sentiments underlying theobjections of the owner of the sequoias over the questioning of his choices. Thesame is true of the way Taylor constructs the dispute over big trees versus views. Ifan area of the city values views more than trees, will there be room for the necessaryamendments in any legislation that is enacted, she worries. A real tension emergesbetween a real desire to choose what is beautiful, and the limits this might place on130the freedom of choice. If the attempt to understand what constituted the beautifulchoice was held to be paramount rather than the good of having unlimited choice,an individual would have to submit to the demands of justifying their taste to thedemands of the community debate.We note in terms of an affection for ordinary life that it is not the Samenessof all the gardens which is desirable. The gardens should not aspire to ordinarinessin this way. They should look beautiful, but they should do so in a way whichexhibits an individual distinctiveness. While it's difficult to articulate what preciselyis held to be valuable about such individual distinctiveness, and while theimplications of the argument would take us far beyond the limits of this thesis, theissues do seem to be tied to a particular understanding of the relationship betweenordinary life and the extra-ordinary. Is it that the beauty of the gardens must carrywith it an indication of the individual having chosen a particular garden. Is suchdistinctiveness required in order to reveal the way every individual must personallyenact, understand and be responsible for the transformation of the ordinary into thebeautiful (as that which looks good)? Gadamer speaks of the way in which eachindividual must "develop his sense for the beautiful in such a way that he comes todiscriminate between what is beautiful to a greater or lesser degree". (Gadamer,1986: 18). But why must each individual have a different garden and house in orderfor this discrimination to be understood to have been exercised? Why do we sovalue this kind of individual distinctiveness in a way which many other people donot? Even the widespread dislike of the Vancouver Special seems in many ways tospeak to just such a dislike for its repetitiveness, for the way it is such a common wayof building houses. 2We might consider in this regard that 1960's song of Pete Seeger's "LittleBoxes" which berated our propensity for uniformity... "and they're all madeout of ticky tacky and they all look just the same". Jeff Wall has some early131It is also curious how so very often we do not see this need for distinctivenessto apply in the same way to communities other than our own. For example, wethink many European houses, Greek villages, for example, quite lovely, even thoughthe houses are all virtually identical and very 'traditional'. They are of course exoticfor us, which is a way of being distinctive. Yet it also seems that our own need fordistinctiveness is tied to our conception of our own history and tradition, one whichsees it as a matter of habit and as that which is imposed from outside and thereforenot a matter of choice. Part of the ethical dimension of demanding that all thehouses be distinctive would therefore stem from a perceived need to exemplify theway in which we individually stand out from this imposed ordinariness and havehave chosen to transform our houses and gardens. 3The particular way in which Taylor casts the issue of individual choice isinteresting in this regard. "What if I want a peaceful Japanese garden and you wanta wild English landscape with roses, not trees?" she asks. We would argue that hereshe treats "the Japanese garden" and "the English landscape" as matters of style andpersonal preference, in a manner reminiscent of those decorating magazines andtheir invocations of "lifestyle". Both garden types are taken as equally good andexchangeable choices we might want to make. Take this one today, and that onetomorrow, perhaps?The way Taylor asserts the value of the "Japanese" or "English" garden is alsocurious, for such a characterization seems to deny those very individual preferenceswhich at the same time her perspective assumes the good community shouldwritings in a similar vein on suburban housing developments (seebibliography).It also may be related to our understandings of ourselves as members of a'mass culture', with all its implications of machine manufacture, the new,the modern, the commodity, utility, greed. Thus the similarity of 'older',more natural cultures is acceptable, while ours must be resisted?132safeguard. That is, it is arguable that either type of garden constitutes a matter ofindividual preference. We may individually appreciate their beauty or not, but inboth cases, what we are being referred to is a long tradition of particular works. Aspart of a tradition, this means there is something to be known and understood in theachievement of either type of garden, something alien we must encounter and towhich we must submit. Each, for example, requires extensive knowledge and themastery of many technical skills. We spoke previously of the long apprenticeshipinvolved in the Zen garden, of the strict guidelines for admission as a gardener, ofthe moral and ethical considerations entailed, and of the way the garden's secretswere guarded. Only gradually, never completely, and only in the particularity ofindividual appearances does any such tradition relinquish its otherness.Furthermore, to speak of the 'Japanese' or 'English' garden is also to speak ofa community which is able to see itself in those gardens. It is a community whichhas taken pride and distinguished itself as a community through those works.Gadamer speaks of the way the Greeks were able to see themselves in the humanworld around them. "The ethical life of the people found expression in all forms ofcommunity life, giving shape to the whole and so allowing men to recognizethemselves in their world". (Gadamer, 1986: 14). So it is that such gardens areJapanese gardens and English gardens. To say that they are so is not to see them asan imposition, or as the result of the lethargy of habit and custom, but rather as asource of pride for the whole community. Like a distinctive way of building houses,such gardens gather a community together by giving form to what is valuable to thatcommunity. To cultivate such gardens is to show one's commitment to a communityheld together through the love of a particular way of life. They are able to bring toappearance, albeit always in particular and specific ways, what lies beyond anyindividual understanding or choice, and they are enduring because of that. To133choose either one as a personal lifestyle of the moment is hardly to speak of thesame ethos or the same moral commitment.Resistance to the need to submit ourselves to the community dialogue aboutwhat is good and adherence to a notion of the moral worth of individual free choiceis pervasive in the debate over the houses and the trees. In a slightly different form,it surfaced in that article by Michael Seelig to which we referred earlier whenspeaking of our understandings of the beautiful. While Seelig's article constitutedan obvious attempt to rally the community to action around the 'ugliness' of themonster houses, the justification he offers for his effort is interesting in regard tothis moral issue of choice."One can hardly spend a social evening these days without the issue comingup, usually with unanimous agreement that monster houses are terrible andsomething should be done" Seelig argues. Seelig insists on two points concerningwhat is required to rectify the situation. The first point is that there is agreement inthe city on the part of the majority of the people about the beautiful and onquestions of taste: most thought the houses ugly and that the trees should be kept.Secondly, he insists that the judgement of this majority is what should be respectedand taken as the basis of action necessary to rectify the situation. Why? Because"individual rights are beginning to create a chaos that disturbs the democraticmajority" he says. By insisting as he does on the majority belief that the houses areugly, Seelig manages to neatly bypass the difficulty of having to decide between thevalue of a beautiful neighborhood and the value of honoring a majority decision, justas Taylor bypassed this difficulty by talking only of the beautiful choices which mightbe made and not the ugly ones. What either of their decisions would be given thealternative scenario we don't know.134Seelig goes on to argue that a decision needed to be made to prevent "chaos".Is this to suggest that in the absence of everyone being in agreement, (i.e. his 'ideal'scenario, where no conversation is necessary because we all agree), the judgementof the greatest number is what should be honored, since the important task is tohave a way of securing the necessary agreement which settles things? It isinteresting that Seelig asserted this position despite the fact that in his article heoffered reasons for his judgements against the monster houses, reasons about theworth of living graciously, and reasons for the worth of good building, good planningand good design. Furthermore, he did this as though he understood matters of tasteto involve a community discussion in which reasons are offered for one's assessmentof what is beautiful and what is not, since it is through the offering of reasons thatour understanding of the value of things is brought out into the open for discussionand refutation.As for Seelig's own justifications, they pointed to three things he heldvaluable: first, having beautiful looking neighborhoods, second, getting the issue ofwhat was beautiful settled, and finally, making this decision on the basis of thepreference of the greatest number. Rather than opening up conversationconcerning the commitments which underlie our choices and thereby helping us tothink more deeply about them, Seelig ends up asserting the average and the normalas the standard of measure. We might then well argue that he too ends up affirmingordinariness rather than a shared need to love the beautiful by travelling togetheron the difficult path of reasoned conversation.Yet another dimension of the way our affection for ordinariness inclines ustowards particular ways of tending the fires of logos emerged in a Vancouver Sunarticle of October 6, 1992 (B8). "Is it subtle racism, or simply a case of Vancouvertrying to make a neighborhood more liveable?" the headline asked. The article then135goes on to raise the possibility that any objections to the monster houses or to theremoval of the sequoia trees could actually be a veiled dislike of certain groups ofpeople and of their 'cultural' traditions. Given the noted preference of many recentimmigrants from Asia for the monster houses, this has been taken as a relevantpossibility, and a series of charges and counter-charges have been thrown about invarious debates. Some of those who favoured the large houses made claims that thestrategies aimed at preserving the 'heritage' of the neighborhood by limiting the sizeand style of the houses were simply designed to exclude groups who were racially orethnically different. In turn, these charges were subject to counter charges thatracism was only raised as an issue so as to advance the cause of the monster housebuilders and to discredit opposition.For example, proposed guidelines to downsize the zoning regulations onhouses brought charges from a builder at City Council hearings scheduled in late1992 that "they offend people with large families and could be interpreted as anattempt to raise the drawbridge" (The Vancouver Sun, October 6, 1992: B8). Whatis of interest is the way these charges could be seen to make a claim that adifference of opinion as to the merits of the houses is "offensive" in itself, as thoughit were inherently wrong to assert that something more is at stake here than themere assertion of preference. There also seems to be a hint here that attempts to'raise the drawbridge' against certain things is also inherently wrong and shouldn't bedone. The implication is that one's cultural preferences should not have to besubjected to criticism, that they need merely be asserted and then accepted, asthough their value and worth was NOT a matter for reasoned discussion, somethingwhich always asks for renewed thought and which even justifies heated arguments.The author of this article gives a slightly different slant when she complainsthat "the new guidelines would make it difficult for people to build the kind of large136houses that extended Asian families like to live in". In saying this, she too correlatesthe variations in house preferences with differences in ethnic backgrounds. Thelogic of the argument is that houses address the functional necessity of adequatelyhousing a family, and understandings of what that entails vary along ethnic lines.Certain groups value large or extended families, and therefore need large houses.The corollary seems to be that our preferences constitute 'our culture', and that it isgood enough to justify one's commitments and preferences by asserting that 'This ismy culture and not yours'. It further suggests that the different preferences whichunderlie the various house styles are what we are comfortable and familiar with,that they are known to us in a manner which seems natural and our own. Whilewithin a 'culture' we may argue over such issues as taste in houses, whether it isreasonable for one 'culture' to assert its understandings of things like the familyagainst those of another 'culture' is the issue at stake.The inadequacy of just such a view of 'cultural' traditions is also contested,for example, in a newspaper interview with a sociologist concerning the charges ofracism (The Vancouver Sun, Feb 18, 1989: The Vancouver Sun, February 22, 1989:A13). If the battle over the shape of the city is one concerned with the preservationof tradition, this sociologist wanted to turn our sights to the underside of 'tradition'."Physical changes in neighborhoods where small, older houses are razed andreplaced with bigger, new ones have unleashed a whole tradition of anti-Orientalism" is the claim explored in the article. That same 'tradition' whichproduced those nice little cottages has included "property covenants excluding non-white ownership in the best neighborhoods like Kerrisdale, Shaughnessy and theBritish properties" he argued, reminding us of what most of us already know, whichis that what we inherit, the understandings we come by naturally, the things we love,also have a dark side and can never just be asserted without resistance. Our137preferences may not be well thought out, and reflection upon their worth is alwaysrequired and hopefully, always resisted. In this way, he speaks to that self-resistancewhich the tending of logos entails.In terms of that modern affection for the ordinary with which we have beenconcerned, what's also interesting about this particular article is the way the conflictover the houses and the trees gets situated within an opposition of 'privilege' versus'ordinariness'. The argument proceeds in the following way. First differences intaste concerning the houses are assimilated to differences of wealth: "One of thethings that is interesting is where the strength of the reaction is coming from ....It'scoming from the most privileged sector. The response is almost one of jealousy."After this point is made, the differences between most immigrants and the existingcitizenry, that is, the so-called ethnic or racial differences, are minimized bystressing the ordinariness of most of the immigrants. This ordinariness is construednot ethnically, but once again in terms of wealth: "While the wealthy immigrantshave the highest profile, they are in a minority and most of the people moving hereare just ordinary people". The extra-ordinary, by implication, becomes theundesirable, not as the ethnically different, but as the economically privileged.Exclusivity or privilege thus emerges as the real culprit at work in the city. Sincedifferences in judgement arise out of the privileging of certain things, and imply ahierarchy of values, such a levelling tendency could render judgement itself suspect.Is the good society of this sociologist the one in which everything will be equallyvalued, the one in which nothing is privileged except ordinariness itself?Rather ironically given the above claim, a celebration of the equality oftreatment of different groups is also offered on the part of the business community(Constantineau, B., The Vancouver Sun, February 18, 1989 (A8)). The claim this138time is that the business community is proud to show that it doesn't care about color;it's all just a matter of money to them."British Columbia's business leaders say the color of money isirrelevant .. It's all great for the economy, they say, so if Asianinvestment in Vancouver is increasing, then "let it soar." "Foreignownership controls would be anti-free market and anti-business at atime when we want to deregulate and open up the economy. We haveto allow the system to wash out the problem itself'.To allow the system to take over and wash out the problem is the solution -- onewhich poses the social, in a way by now familiar to us, as a natural force, a forcemetaphorically equated with the tides of the ocean, a force which will wash theworld clean if only we submit ourselves to its power. To do so would of course be tototally abdicate judgement about the form our community takes, to refuse to submitour passage from past to future to any reflection about what is worthy and what isnot. It would be to cast the citizen as the one who seeks only to facilitate theunfettered circulation of goods and services; the citizen would become the citizenconsumer who stands for nothing and is limited by nothing except the unceasing ebband flow of the tides of production and consumption.The vice-president of the Hong Kong Canadian Business Association arguesin a similar vein that "Canadians can't have it both ways". "We can't say, 'We'll takeyour money, but we won't accept you into our society. We don't like the way youdress. We don't like the way you eat," (Bramham, D, The Vancouver Sun, February18, 1989:A8). It must be granted that the selling of real estate to a stranger is anacknowledgement of the newcomer and the beginning of a joint enterprise intowhich both the old and the new agree to enter. But to say this is only to say that it isa place at which the joint enterprise which founds community might begin, for thesigning of a financial contract does not concede to the buyer the right to live as theyso desire, subject only to the limits of the law, any more than it concedes to the old139community the right to stay unchanged. It initiates a process of transformation onthe part of both.The vice-president herself acknowledges the insufficiency of her initial standwhen she adds, "We as Canadians are going to have to learn about these newimmigrants and they are going to have to learn about Canadians". The questionsremains whether this is only to imply that to learn about strangers is necessarily tolike and agree with them, or that learning about another leaves one's 'self intact?Lt. Governor David Lam expresses similar sentiments, although he places the needfor understanding firmly within the natural image of the inevitable temporal flow oftime to which we must submit. "The old British Columbia has passed," and "the newera is upon us", he says. If understanding is the way of human being, the seeminginevitability of our passage from past to future need not be one of resignation as tohistory's inevitability or one of submersion in the tides of time, or one of absorptioninto what is given 'naturally'. To 'tend the hearthfire' through understanding is toask more from our lives than the passive acceptance of our own and our neighbour'spreferences and habitual understandings of the world. Human being asks that wedistinguish ourselves from what is given, and that we do so by inserting oneselvesinto the world in a way that seeks to make a difference. It is to engage the world inwhich we find ourselves not as one who is indifferent, who doesn't care about thebonds which hold us together or about the path we take, but as one who iscommitted to the well-being of that world. Human being asks us to 'tend thehearthfire' by engaging our understandings and affections in reflection which is ableto show how we are always more than any given understanding.CONCLUSIONDescartes preferred to deal with our social 'situatedness' by becoming astranger in his own land. His metaphor for the movement of thought was that oftaking a long journey further and further away from home, in a way which sought toleave the familiar and the loved behind We argue that such a commitment is onewhich would make thinkers indifferent to the consequences of their work, since theywere to be undirected in their endeavours by any attachments or concerns.Michael Walzer, on the other hand, urges us to see that the commonplace inwhich we are situated, the place where we make our stand, is always some place ofvalue, or else we would never have settled there (Walzer, 1987: 14-16). Walzercompares our commonplace not with entrapment in the already given, but with thepleasure of being in a loved and familiar place, among friends, and undertaking acommon enterprise. He too makes use of an analogy with travel, but speaks of thetraveller and the hotel room rather than of the journey into strange lands. The hotelroom, which is the traveller's abode, is the generic home, the home designed for theaverage, standard, ordinary person. Clean, comfortable, perhaps even luxurious, itprovides sufficiently for our needs. Away from home, as strangers in a foreign landand for brief periods of time, we are happy to have its shelter and convenience. Yetthe hotel room can never substitute for being at home, among friends, among thefamiliar things we love and are intimate with. "What we want is not to bepermanently registered in a hotel, but to be established in a new home, a densemoral culture within which (we) can feel some sense of belonging" Walzer says.Home is always special, particular, a place in which we have taken what is given andtransformed it, such that it's strangeness has become part of us, and we part of it.We care about our home and are committed to its well being.140141Zizek travells the path of thought by trying to 'look awry' at ordinary life, atthe familiar things we love and 'understand' and 'know'. In them, he seeks to showus unknown facets of our desires -- not in order to reveal the emptiness of ourdreams or to destroy the community he understands those dreams to gathertogether, but to renew a sense of the uncanniness and mystery at the heart of things.He shows us the need to pursue that mystery by comprehending how this ordinarylife which is home to us is also always strange, always not quite our home.Zizek also showed us that such looking awry is fraught with difficulties. Inhis strange stories, forays were made into dangerous domains, into the dwellingplaces of the repressed and the forbidden side of the familiar. Encounters wereoften violently resisted, and opposing camps of friends and enemies arose. Yetultimately, it is not dangers and uncertainties which we experience in Zizek'swritings, but rather the pleasure and excitement of the journey. He shows us thatany venture into the heart of ordinary life promises that an interior vastness andrichness will open up which, at the outset, we can barely imagine.This thesis draws unashamedly on our shared attachment to ordinary life, anattachment Charles Taylor has portrayed as central to Modernity, an attachmentwhich gathers us together as a community, an attachment through which, it is arguedin this thesis, we 'see' the world. At the same time that the thesis shares thisfondness for ordinary life, a certain dissatisfaction with understandings of thisattachment which see it as a call to ordinariness constitutes a reason for exploration.The dissatisfaction is related in part to sociology's adherence to methodologieswhich conceive the movement of reflection as a disengagement from that which wehold dear in order to make correct descriptions of the world, pronouncements whichwould ultimately serve to close down conversation rather than to provoke it. It is142also tied to sociology's propensity to seek out the average, the usual, and thehabitual.This thesis takes a stand alongside Walzer, in that it argues that it is the samecommitments which make us part of a community that allow us to be critical of thatcommunity. Such commitments do not merely serve to confirm what has been givento us, i.e. our inherited understandings. Instead, they are understood to provide uswith standards through which we can critically address the well-being of thecommunity. Such critical analysis is taken to be an ongoing part of everyday life,one we see most commonly in the form of complaint or gossip. Sociologicaltheorizing, we argue, is a more intensely reflective form of such commonendeavours, endeavours which seek to reframe everyday life in order to reaffirm ourcommitment to the examined life.The assumption of this position further reveals our commitment to Zizek'sargument that the task of reason is not to dispense with the community's dreams, fordreams are necessary if we are to see at all. The task is taken as one of engaging thedreams from within, by looking awry in a way which makes our usual understandingsseem strange and uncanny.Given this perception of the task at hand, attention was turned to a work byethnomethodologist Harvey Sacks, one in which he reframes our understanding ofthe social by showing us how ordinary life enacts what is valuable and good, 'whatought to be'. Sacks understood this as a principled commitment to an intelligible orcommunicable 'ordinariness', and in terms of the reflective task of sociology, he sawit to demand the documentation or description of the means by which 'principledordinariness' is enacted and made intelligible in the world.Such an understanding of reflection as documentation of the world is tracedback to a Cartesian conception of the relationship between the ordinary and the143extra-ordinary. In the Cartesian version, this documentation is placed at the serviceof concerns for individual material well-being. In an effort to explore the extra-ordinary nature of theorizing (as exemplified in the actual undertakings of bothSacks and Descartes although not in their words), this conception was contrastedwith Heidegger's and Gadamer's conceptions of the work of art. Both these showthe work of reflection to be the experience of a struggle through which atransformation of self takes place. The work, they argue, places demands upon us toengage imaginatively that which is alien to us and which resists our understandings.Thus both these thinkers take the experience of the work to be a recovery of whatwe are, a journey which returns us more fully to ourselves. This is, in turn, premisedon an understanding that human being is always more than any current or pastunderstanding it has of itself.As an example of an extra-ordinary work which seems to exemplify ourattachment to ordinary life as well as the desire to engage our everyday conceptionsof the world, the thesis turns to analysis of a photographic landscape by local artistJeff Wall. Wall's photograph is treated as a work which serves to remind thecommunity of the need to exceed that which is given to us. This entails transformingthe merely necessary or useful into the beautiful. The work asks that we see thebeautiful as our guiding limit, and that we submit to its demands.The analysis of Wall's work is undertaken in relation to an analysis of theopening section of Plato's Republic. Here, it is argued, the social (as that whichbinds us together) is also shown to be enacted by means of the varioustransformations that we make upon the given world in the light of that which wejudge to be valuable. This transformation is clearly illuminated in our propensity forluxury and for beautiful but useless endeavours, of which poetry and decoration are144examples. The same commitment to the beautiful and the good is, however,understood to infuse all human endeavours, even the most ordinary.While this is 'human excess' is shown in Wall's work via its own enactment ofthe struggle between the utilitarian and the beautiful, the work's attachments remainambiguous. In that it seems to present the human artifact as inferior to the natural,a concern arose that the work might affirm ordinariness and ugliness at the heart ofhuman endeavours. Any resolution of this ugliness seemed to suggest a merging ofman with the natural. A reflection upon the difference between human being andnatural being was therefore undertaken. It served to reaffirm that human being, asZizek too has shown us, is a divided being, a being constituted out of an internaldifference. Zizek argued in this regard that the preservation of the differencebetween reality and the real is essential for reflection, that it is the gap between thetwo that makes any 'truth pursuit' possible. In that we retain the separation, we areable to reflect upon the worth of our own endeavours. In this thesis, this dividedbeing is treated as akin to moral being, in that it allows us to address the worth ofthings and to ask after what is good and bad. As such, human being is never 'at one'with the world, or fully comfortable in the world.Our final journey took us into the heartland of ordinary life by way of ouraffection for houses. On the surface, the house seems to be the most ordinary andutilitarian of human works, a necessary artifact for the maintenance of ordinarybiological life. Yet the explorations undertaken in this thesis found it to be acomplex embodiment of our moral commitments. Indeed, the centrality of thehouse in modern life speaks strongly to our attachment to those 'ordinary' pursuitsconcerned with material welfare.The particularity of this modern commitment to ordinary life was exploredvia the ongoing struggle which has ensued in this city over monster houses and giant145trees. The oppositions within this struggle are conceived as opposing sides of thisattachment to ordinary life, especially to ordinary life conceived as the 'natural life'.The dynamic unfolds through contrasting conceptions of the house in relation to its'natural' surroundings. The 'monster house/no trees' side is grounded in a version ofthe good life as the ample provision of physical well-being through our knowledge ofthe recurring patterns of nature (i.e. its 'equipmental' aspects), while the 'gianttree/small house' side of the conflict celebrates the good of our natural being byseeking to maximize our proximity to the natural world (as country, the folk, theprimitive or the antique).The conflict over the houses and the trees was found to be particularlyrevealing in the way it showed our conception of beauty to be one of 'beautifullooks'. In contemporary life, this moral attachment to 'beautiful looks' is mostcommonly encountered in the form of 'style', and this is shown to be true even in ourhouses. The thesis considered some implications of style in terms of its impliedunderstanding of 'the good life'. Style was seen to reveal commitments to notions offreedom of individual choice, a freedom which was seen as running counter to acommitment to a reflective engagement with the life world. This lack of concern forreflection was also seen to be partly due to the way style privileges the beautifulappearance as the basis of choice and does not oppose it with any notions of whatlies underneath or behind the surface. This is to say that there is little dialecticbetween surface and depth which could give style a critical edge. As such, style iscommited to a version of the good life which is aligned with consumption ratherthan reflection. This in turn was seen to have some serious implications for thepreservation of the social, which transcends the individual life and moment andgathers us together against the separation of time and place and individual bodies.146Despite these shortcomings, it must be remembered that style exemplifiesour commitment to life as it ought to be. It too is an enactment of that commitment.Particular examples of style were therefore engaged in way which tried to show howeach was a unique undertaking which sought to reconcile alternative understandingsof the good life. It was noted that while each particular work aimed to gathertogether a whole, this was always a particular and limited achievement.Rybczynski's understanding of the house in terms of the principle of comfort wasused to exemplify this particularity.Style's privileging of individual preference and its resistance to reflection wasencountered in a number of different forms in the debate around the houses and thetrees. The thesis concluded with a brief examination of these in an attempt toilluminate this affection we share for ordinary life while at the same time resisting it.While the affection for houses is clearly a shared affection of the community,the journey through the house was also a personal journey; that is, it speaks out ofthe particularity of a life world inhabited as a woman in a particular time and place.My attachment to ordinary life has therefore sought not to condemn that worldwhich has formed me, but to deepen my understanding of that which I already loveand cannot leave behind. These particular affections are understood to be thosewhich make the commonplace my home rather than a 'hotel'. They are my abode,and I have treated it as valuable and worthy of reflection.147BIBLIOGRAPHYArendt, H. The Human Condition. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1959.Bachelard, G. The Poetics of Space. Boston: Beacon Press, c 1958.Barents, E. "Typology, Luminescence, Freedom. 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London: Conran Octopus Ltd, 1987.Heidegger. "The Origin of the Work of Art" in Poetry, Language, Thought. AlbertHofstadter, Translator. New York: Harper Colophon Books, 1971.Jackson, J. B. The Necessity for Ruins and Other Topics. University ofMassachusetts Press, 1980.Jackson, J. B. Discovering the Vernacular Landscape. New Haven and London:Yale University Press, c1984.Jackson, J. B. Landscapes. Selected Writings of J.B. Jackson. Ervin H. Zube,Editor. The University of Massachusetts Press, 1970.Janson, H.W.  History of Art. A Survey of the Major Visual Arts from the Dawn ofHistory to the Present Day. Prentice-Hall, Inc. and Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1964.Kalman, H. Exploring Vancouver 2: Ten Tours of the City and Its Buildings.Vancouver: U.B.C. Press, 1978.Karatheodoris, S. "Logos: An Analysis of the Social Achievement of Rationality."in  Friends, Enemies and Strangers: Theorizing in Art, Science and Everyday Life.A. Blum and P. McHugh, Editors. Norwood, N.J.: Ablex Publishing Corporation,1979.King, P., C. Ottesen and G. Rose. Gardening With Style: A Private View of theWorld's Most Innovative Gardens. London: Bloomsbury Publishing Ltd., 1988.Kluckner, Michael and John Atkin.^Heritage Walks Around Vancouver.Vancouver: Whitecap Books, 1992.Kristeva, J."Giotto's Joy" in  Desire In Language. A Semiotic Approach to Literatureand Art. L.S. Roudiez, Editor. Columbia University Press. 1980.Kunze, D. Thought and Place: The Architecture of Eternal Places in thePhilosophy of Giambattista Vico. Peter Lang Publishing, Inc., 1987.Linsley, R. "Painting and the Social History of British Columbia." in VancouverAnthology. Stan Douglas, Editor. Vancouver: Talonbooks, 1991: 225-245.McCumber, J. Poetic Interaction: Language, Freedom, Reason. Chicago: TheUniversity of Chicago Press, 1989.Neeter, M., Editor. "In the Knowe". Period House and Its Garden. Vol. 1, No. 1.(North American Edition). July, 1992: 94-99.Plato. Protagoras. The Dialogues of Plato. B.A.F. Hubbard and E.S. Karnofsky,Translators. Bantom Books, Inc. c1986.Plato. The Republic. F.M. Cornford (Translation). Oxford University Press. 1941.Raser, T. A Poetics of Art Criticism: The Case of Baudelaire. Chapel Hill:University of North Carolina Dept. of Romance Languages, c 1988.Robertson, J. "The House as the City" in  Modulus 19: The Architectural Review atthe University of Virginia. (Preservation and Progress). P. E. Deaton, Editor.New York: Princeton Architectural Press. 1989: 138-159.Richberg-Halton, E. Meaning and Modernity. Social Theory in the PragmaticAttitude. The University of Chicago Press. 1986.Rule, C. "Kitchen Sync" in Western Living. Vol. 23, No. 2, March 1993: 45-53.Rybczynski, W. Home. A Short History of An Idea. Penguin Books. 1986.Sacks, H. "On Doing Being Ordinary" in Structures of Social Action: Studies inConversation Analysis. J. Maxwell Atkinson and John Heritage (Editors).Cambridge University Press. c1984.Seamon, R. "The Uneasy Sublime. Defiance and Liberal Melancholy in Jeff Wall'sDocumentary Spectacle." Parachute. No. 66. Apr, May, Jun, 1992: 12-18.Shepard, P. Man in the Landscape. A Historic View of the Esthetics of Nature.New York: A.A. Knopf, 1967.148149Slawson, D. A. Secret Teachings in the Art of Japanese Gardens. DesignPrinciples Aesthetic Values. Kodansha International Ltd. 1987.Sutherland, J. "The Teardown". Western Living. Vol. 23, No. 2, March 1993: 114.Taylor, C. Sources of the Self. The Making of the Modern Identity. HarvardUniversity Press. 1989.Turner, R. "Words, Utterances and Activities" in Ethnomethodology. (Roy Turner,Editor). Penguin Books Ltd. 1974. 197-215.Vancouver Art Gallery. Lost Illusions. Recent Landscape Art. Catalogue ofExhibition held Nov 2- Dec 29, 1991. 1991.Walzer, M. Interpretation and Social Criticism. Cambridge, Mass: HarvardUniversity Press, 1987.Watson, S. "Discovering the Defeatured Landscape." in Vancouver Anthology.Stan Douglas, Editor. 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