[lit-ideas] Re: Sunday Wotsit

  • From: David Ritchie <ritchierd@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sun, 28 Dec 2008 13:46:58 -0800

I found in Costco today that the Bauhaus furniture brand is owned by Lazy Boy, a discovery which got me thinking about the relationship between Victorian interiors and imperialism. We all know that Victorians lived in crowded rooms with walls covered by pictures, "Monarch of the Glen," "The Laughing Cavalier" and so on. We also know that the Bauhaus introduced clean lines and simplicity in indoor space; think "Architecture Digest" and you're there. So is there some psychic relationship, I wondered, between uncluttering indoor space and letting go of the desire to own other people's outdoor spaces? Was the stuffiness of Victorian interiors somehow driving people to pick up the White Man's Burden?


Probably coincidental, or more likely the other way round right, the plunder of Empire leading to, rather than being caused by, all that clutter? Certainly that was the way with living rooms I remember, stuffed with souvenirs of days passed in Africa or Burma.

The thought was not entirely Costco's fault. Lately my wife has been wondering aloud whether somewhere under my skin, lurking within, not visible but still irritating to modern eyes, possibly revealed by a short sharp whack to this or that part, I've got a bit of a Victorian developing, not a severe, heavy or serious one to be sure but something which, though light hearted, is definitely pre-modern in its urge to cover all our walls with art and parade on the piano a collection of African carvings.

I'll be sure to keep you posted and maybe get someone to take a look at me if I begin to feel imperial, develop abnormal desires for empire, or covet a Lazy Boy chair, Bauhaus brand or no.

David Ritchie,
Portland, Oregon
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