Some rooms claim us more than others. The slightly startled and neutral space of ‘spare’ rooms, perhaps unvisited for days. The bedrooms of children away for weeks on end at college, or travelling: dolls and idols, last season’s line-up, unsophisticated models… a whole early life faintly frozen in the act of becoming irrelevant. The toy pilot’s eyes, gazing out from his dusty cockpit. Cool blue and white sections of a heat map. The congested, bony darkness of cupboards, with brooms and meters. Attics.

There is a kind of spiritual interior to buildings, the living continued within them by their users. The way, for example, the staff will possess a knowledge of a railway station that is distinctive to the knowledge the passengers have of the “same” place. For the two separate groups of users, the rooms and spaces will connect up according to their divergent interests and occupations. Although the function of a railway station is to form a locus for transport, for the staff, who earn their livelihood by selling tickets or cleaning the facilities, transit isn’t their intention in coming to this place each day. They go not to travel but to remain. They ‘live’ the station differently. || In a sense, then, it might be said that buildings possess a double interior: that of their material nature, and that of their inhabitants’ existence. Each, I am sure, keeps secrets from the other. Which leads me to the notion of a triple interior: we might view people themselves as forms of architecture, as fluid buildings. They could be said to inhabit themselves. And it could also be said, that parts of an individual, like out-of-the-way or decommissioned rooms, remain hidden from self-scrutiny, and are only rarely, if ever, visited. No one can be said to know a building entirely, not even a prisoner in a cell, who has counted the bricks making up the walls, and mapped the cracks in the ceiling. Buildings keep secrets from us: they are never unfolded into knowing. They are buds that never blossom. You only need someone to stand next to you to render the interior of a building uncertain. Indeed, you only need to stand alone in a room, and try to remember the building’s exterior, to find yourself in a place of considerable mystery.

 


from Semapolis | City of Signs
(series of poems, unfinished, 2012–present)
(this poem, October 2012)