While We Wait Upon the contractor to complete THE BEAUTIFUL HOME’s construction, foundation, framing, et cetera, we look forward to opening the front door, crossing the threshold …
“crossing the threshold”, hum, already a puzzle, a riddle of “home”: the word “thresh” from “thrash”, linking words that connote so very much, though, of original denotation, no one is quite certain. Many have opinions, and many engage in debate, here, a review to inform and to delight.
The general agreement: “thrash” is to beat into, well, “submission”; “thresh” is to, in a way, “prance”, “dance”, “stamp” something, harvested grain, for instance, “wheat”, “thresh”, so that the thresh might be suitable to use, among which uses, spreading about the floor, to the edge of a room where a low-board would hold the thresh from spilling out the door.
There is that, and there is the “crossing” of the threshold, a ceremonial passage from one thing into another; a threshold crossing whose etymology is carried forward into “courtesy” from the quaintly archaic, “to prevent escape”. Remember, “thrash”.
We, post-Shakespeare, unconcerned with the threshing thrashing, imagine the crossing of thresholds to be a “hero’s journey”, or a “heroine’s journey”, journey’s of remarkably different types because of remarkably different things: “heroes” and “heroines” are things, are persons quite different by nature (DNA and the rest), no matter that some would wish the truth of differences be other than it is.
Perhaps you knew
a “hero’s journey“, as in when Samwise Gamgee stiffly realizes in farmer Maggot’s tall corn, that, “If I take one more step, I’ll be the farthest away from home I’ve ever been.”; or, as when Harry Potter is crossing “Platform Nine and Three-Quarters” from the muggle world into our world and Mrs. Weasley says, “Don’t stop and don’t be scared, you’ll crash into it … that’s very important.”
Very important not to crash into, or to trip over thresholds. Bad omen. Best to understand ritual, tradition, rooms, and each room’s use by the nature of who we are. The Beautiful Home will take special care of ritual, tradition, history, so that we better understand who, what, and where we are.
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the history of some room, hall and living, bedroom and closet, et alibi, will be observed, will be pictured, will be understood in the context of its place, its period, and will, through some amendment or edit in design, be updated for contemporary living. Just now, won’t give all away; yet, can offer a hint: “privacy”.
Recently, in Alexandria, filming first five episodes of “Home: A History”, there was opportunity for filmmaker Thomas Bloom’s crew to consider houses of Alexandria’s future presidents, Washington, Nixon, Ford. These, the houses’ you see pictured.
Carrying the bride over the threshold is a nearly universal tradition, archaic Athens to this minute, Manchu to Punjab to Somalia, to your front door. You will remember the Roman abduction of the Sabine ladies, much alike the Seven Brides for Seven Brothers; or, as I remember, fellow Athenians carrying brides over stoops, beneath lintels to ensure protection from underworld spirits, Hades and the rest … recall Eurydice, for instance.
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Then there is this: If you are concerned that evil, night spirits, “nocturnae lymphationes”, might enter through your door, Pliny advises driving into the threshold iron-nails torn from caskets.
And this, as likely you know: the “lunar-light” might make us mad, crazy, “lunatic”, that is, if the moon’s eye seeps through the window to work its magic upon our sleeping selves. “Lunacy” after-all, is a truth supported by scientific statistic; id est, there are more occurrences of violence beneath “full-moons” and “lunar-lit nights” than when the night is dark, when the moon cannot see you and me, cannot cause lunacy.
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Then, as always, when next the bed, turn over shoes and slippers, a favorite resting place of pixies. As I’ve no need of telling you: if you squeeze your well-rested tootsies into morning shoes with a pixie yet in it … well, you know, whole day goes bad, tripping, toe-bumping chair-legs, puddle soakers, foot in door-slams, have even known dispossessed pixies to drive a dirty-sharp nail right through a shoe’s sole, “Ouch!” Yes, when bedding yourself for the night, best turn your slippers, upside down.
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Featured image: George Washington’s Townhouse. credit: quickwhittravel.com
A sculptor, painter, historian, architectural designer, and poet, Michael Curtis has taught and lectured at universities, colleges, and museums, including The Institute of Classical Architecture, The Center for Creative Studies, and The National Gallery of Art;
his pictures and statues are housed in over 400 private and public collections, including The Library of Congress, The National Portrait Gallery, and The Supreme Court;
he has made statues of presidents, generals, Supreme Court Justices, captains of industry and national heroes, including Davey Crockett, General Eisenhower, and Justice Thurgood Marshall;
his relief and medals are especially fine, they include, among others, presidents Truman and Reagan, Justice John Marshall, George Washington, and, his History of Texas, containing over one-hundred figures, is the largest American relief sculpture of the 20th Century;
his monuments and memorials, buildings and houses, including The New American Home, 2011, are found coast-to-coast;
his plays, essays, verse and translations have been published in over 30 journals (Trinacria, Society of Classical Poets, Expansive Poetry, et cetera), and his most recent nonfiction books are, Occasional Poetry: How to Write Poems for Any Occasion (available through The Studio Press), and The Classical Architecture and Monuments of Washington, D.C. (available through The History Press);
Mr. Curtis is the National Civic Art Society’s 2021-2022 Research Scholar.