House Haunters

On the dreams, schemes, and TV screens reshaping our homes

In the classic phenomenological treatise The Poetics of Space (1958), Gaston Bachelard writes, “If I were asked to name the chief benefit of the house, I should say: the house shelters day-dreaming, the house protects the dreamer, the house allows one to dream in peace.” Homes brim not just with objects and people but with dreams. Dreams of wealth, leisure, love, belonging, stability, change. Perhaps this is a home’s most potent role: a repository for our dearest desires and aspirations.

But what about when multiple dreamers claim the same repository? A couple residing in a house, their rapidly growing children, their nosy neighbor, the busy-body president of their neighborhood homeowner’s association, the pencil-pushing loan officer who granted them a mortgage, the profiteering developers who financed the building, the underpaid laborer who built it, and its previous occupants all have very different things to stash. The home, then, comes to accumulate not only dreams that might intersect or overlap but also ones that come into direct conflict with another.

And whe…

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