in Process

Thoughts on. Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space: Nests

The equivalent of Nests in the modern urban environment such as Singapore would be high rise flats. As a single living with my parents/sister’s family, I always find it interesting the multitude of emotions and meanings people attach towards their living spaces. In a sense, I am without roots, without emotional investment, baggageless and free.

Locally, it is customary for young loving couples to eagerly make their bid for a newly christened flat, with the intention of starting a new chapter in life together. Proximity to amenities, nature, good schools, city district, desirability of neighborhood, and the list goes on. To think there are so much considerations is beyond me. The storey of the unit is crucial across different cultures as well. The Chinese generally favor higher levels due to Feng Shui, security and many other reasons I have no idea of. The Malays and Indians seem the easiest going; they love the ground levels, reveling in outdoor, lavishly forested patios that infiltrate public void decks. Same species, yet so differently attuned to its environment.

As I step into people’s home, you can almost get a taste of their personality, likes, dislikes(inferred), hobbies, dreams and sometimes even problems. Immaculate floors, lavish furnishings, jungle-like balconies, antique filled studies; the visuals and smells tell you so much more than what any amount of verbal communication can ever hope to achieve. Yet, it’s easy to be deceived by what is presented as well. In my parents’ household, and I believe many others’, we tend to do a thorough cleanup before our guests arrive. Social correctness, crafting an idealised image, whatever it might be, is so integral to our social standing in life. The humble box serves as a vehicle for public perception, as we submit to social pressure to conform and deliver.

Catching the early rush-hour trains, as I study the tired faces of teachers, technicians, cleaners, students, temporary staffers and many many others, I know, their singular, unsung goal, when they wake up in the wee hours, and return late at night, is to participate in life and scratch a living, to enjoy a 30 year loan on their single biggest and most important investment. This puzzling human condition, artificial constructs; money, loans, high rise unit, have all conspired to gift us the meaning in life, in our pursuit of warmth, security and respect.

See you in the forest, in my cabin.