To live together in the world means essentially that a world of things is between those who have it in common, as a table is located between those who sit around it; the world, like every in-between, relates and separates men at the same time.
— Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition
The table appears and reappears a total of 17 times in this — Arendt’s exposure of humanity and its flaws in a long, unravelling polemic. The comparison of the table with the world is a good one. For not only does the table signify humanity’s shared space — an in-between, a centering — but it too bears our marks. Worn edges, fingerprints, burns, grooves and holes; an unsteady leg. These are the impressions we make, fueled by greed, or a need or desire.
By table I mean the post-industrial table of the home, positionally contingent but often located in the kitchen. Not the desk — that solitude — for it comes with its own limitations, nor the antiquity of the dining table, but the table as a protean notion. By protean, I mean a looseness, a tendency to change; the ability to do many different things. I mean, adaptability –– a table as office, accidental canvas, cut-and-stick page — and shifting in meaning. I mean all the qualities of the table — its gravity, its capacity to gather us, its generosity — without the solid base. Or rather, the base exists, it just looks different now. It is unsteady — this table — but it is open. A table that suits this space we’re in, with its shifting social practices and domestic rituals, themselves a consequence of technology, displacement, borders.
It’s hard to push over something with four legs. Try.
Read the full article at PIN-UP Magazine.