In my office I would tack up quotations that were pertinent to what I was writing at the time, and yesterday, going through all the paper I’ve carted home, I unearthed some of them. This, by Eliade, is one of my favorites: A house is not an object, a “machine to live in”; it is the universe that man constructs for himself by imitating the paradigmatic creation of the gods, the cosmogony. Every inauguration of a new dwelling is equivalent to a new beginning, a new life.
When you live in a house for forty years, as I have, you have no way of making this new beginning. I used to rearrange the furniture every once in a while, but that takes a lot of physical strength. To envision again the possibilities of a house I have become so accustomed to seems impossible. How can I imitate the cosmogony? Evolution, part of creating a cosmogony, is one way: Changing one bedroom into the library for Bill’s growing Maine collection, bringing the washer and dryer upstairs (an unspectacular but immensely satisfying change), constructing a screened in porch and now, making this study into a writing office.
Poor Mad Peter over in The Pilgrim is in the process of creating a cosmogony. Creating cosmogonies from scratch is rather a difficult task.