Exile, Home

Towards the end of his essay on exile, Edward Said quotes the twelfth-century monk Hugo of St. Victor: "The man who finds his homeland sweet is still a tender beginner; he to whom every soil is as his native one is already strong; but he is perfect to whom the entire world is as a foreign land." This sentiment reminds me of the sixteenth century Spanish mystic poets. Forget the world, our souls yearn for a reconnection with the divinity, and the divinity clearly is not here. St. Teresa, for example, outlines the journey of the soul away from the here and now, towards a connection with God. An Ascent. (Not for me: I like this world. I guess I'm a deist: nature reveals traces of its origins... back, back, back to the Big Bang. And thanks to Original Ignition, here we are! The sun feels good, trees and mountains are beautiful. Water, air...) Said then observes how Hugo does not advocate for a simple rejection of attachments, but rather a working through them. It could be interesting to trace the evolution of thought from Hugo to Teresa. Perhaps it is a worthy exercise to consider where one stands on this scale of place. Where is home? Back to triteness: it's where family and friends are. Well, yes, but not completely so. How strange would it be to suddenly find yourself dropped off in a truly strange and inhospitable environment? Take the family and go live in Greenland? Changes in environment, obviously, can be quite disruptive. There are places that are particularly important to me. Carlisle is one of them. Nineteen years. Well, just fourteen with a physical presence, but still... Familiarity. I'm grateful to not be an exile. In the photo, the Hamilton, on High Street, where I occasionally meet friends and take refuge.