Precluded Dwelling: The Dollmaker and Under the Feet of Jesus as Georgics of Displacement
AbstractIn this article, I explore displacement as a force that precludes dwelling. I do so in the context of the georgic mode, a literary tradition defined by dwelling and by the kind of agricultural endeavoring that Heidegger relates to “building.” As he explains in “Building Dwelling Thinking,” to build is not only to make or to construct, but also “to preserve and care for, specifically to till the soil, to cultivate the vine” (147). Thus, in addition to creation outright, Heidegger’s “building” involves husbandry. His expansive definition multiplies the kinds of human activity described by building. When humans cultivate plants, they create a situation and environment wherein the crop can flourish. The generative force is nonhuman; growth comes from the plant itself. We cannot build a vineyard as we can a structure. In addition to placing humans in a caretaking role, the three terms in Heidegger’s title further indicate that the husbandman’s “building” requires his continual attention to his place and to his work. Building, in the agricultural sense of the word, requires prolonged physical presence and much thought. Heidegger’s choice of a vineyard underscores the importance of time to dwelling: as a perennial plant that requires years of investment before bearing fruit, the vineyard functions as a site where planning and labor, observation and care unfold across the seasons and over a period of years. The full scope of Heidegger’s dwelling, then, involves prolonged (if not permanent) and productive agricultural thinking and laboring. My fundamental premise is that Heideggerian dwelling reaches a confluence with the georgic mode.