The home is dignified seclusion. It is seclusion amongst others, so it is a place of familiarity, a source of gentleness where people — but even pets and silent objects — speak softly to you. It is a vantage point from which you can observe — through window and technology — the cold and rough world. Without the home, one would neither know gentleness nor roughness, one would not distinguish warmth from frigidity. The home is a measure for these things; it is the measure of everything we can know.
Home is measured by my lover’s weight in bed.
If this is true, then shame is what shatters this security and hollows out possession, because shame throws us into the coldness of what came before, into the darkness of solitude, into the strangeness of existence. Shame taints the possession of objects, casts home-dwellers into the harshness of the street, deadens a place that pulsated with personality, dampens vitality with the cold anonymity of survival. Shame rends the chords of emotion, makes black ribbons out of vivid memory, and splits hearts apart. Shame freezes everyone as the home becomes a museum and loved ones become estranged like insects in amber, blinking not at each other but through their darkened memories of one another. Through shame the loved one closes their eyes, seals their hearts; shame deafens and renders nerves incapable of devotion. Shame is a sheet of ice that halts the earth.
Strangeness is apprehended in the coldness of my bed.
The shameful act undoes every movement of dwelling, it invades the very interiority of thinking and the bonds of intimacy: wakefulness becomes remembrance of the shameful deed, and anticipation becomes fear of its return; every aspect of the psyche twinges, becomes circuitous tension, electric and unforgiving. Shame scatters closeness, and this is because to have done something shameful is to “live” in that shame indefinitely, to bring others into the “living” of that shame, to be cast out of a life and to have cast others out of it as well, to shutter the ways into a home, to annul familiarity of a dwelling — to scatter being like a handful of dice: shame throws us onto our ear, onto the mercy of chance, where the earth echoes what was done, what you have allowed to be done, and one feels oneself resuming the coldness and insignificance, the arbitrary meaninglessness, that the earth must have been flooded with before the first touch of familiarity.
Shame is the shrinking of my bed.
Shame is a reversion to solitude in light of lost intimacy. Shame is not a reversion to animality because animals never had a home, never enjoyed the security of a perspective on the world. Shame is worse than animality, it competes with death: it is suspension of desire; it encases you as though behind glass, the very opposite of existence––it is introspection.
Shame makes thought unable to rest.
It has to be said: I don’t make time for shame, because shame makes time for me. Time unfolds for a person as a series of opportunities, opportunities to have become and to be what that person saw and still sees fit to be, to sustain what they value and to bring about the inventiveness of a dignified existence. Time is nothing if not the avoidance of shame, and so the shameful deed is always possible; this is why it can choke the passage of time.
Shame makes the past present, it sinks the present into the past, and it imbues the future with an overwhelming and dangerous tone. For animals, shame is proscribed; how fortunate for them! How fortunate but also how unfortunate––I cannot decide: for the burden of shame is what gives meaning to human life; not just meaning, but the possibility of meaning. Without shame, there would be no time, that is, no desire to overcome strangeness and to make a home.
Life is the flourishing of creases upon one’s bed.