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Woman standing on porch platform at end of Long House.

A Room of One's Own

– a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write...If a woman wrote, she would have to write in the common sitting-room. And, as Miss Nightingale was so vehemently to complain, - “women never have an half-hour...that they can call their own” - she was always interrupted.

Virginia Woolf (1929)

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A woman at the door of her Long House - these lack any internal walls and can be 100 metres long. In such communities no one has a room of their own. Woolf’s Lake with pier and fisherman. Another page which uses Woolf as a jumping-off point. uncontentious plea is for equality with men. But the matter illustrates a wider point: that of the balance between the ascendency of the individual The photographer taking a photograph into a mirror. While economists assume a society of ‘selves’, philosophers have their doubts. (so important to capitalism), and the cohesion of the community. Beekeeper holding frame. Using hexagons to characterise the way members of a society fit together.
In Long Houses younger people live out their lives in the full glare, or benevolent support, of the older generations. No one is shut away, accordingly, no one is forgotten; the puzzles that proximity engenders are solved at root by patience and tolerance. While a room of one’s own may enable writing, it also loosens the cement of communal life. Group of people sitting around food being cooked at floor level. There is no conviviality between persons in separate rooms. Did the baby have a good night; do they know I am anxious to get on with my day? Little movements communicate keenly. Society must value the individual’s pursuits; but not forget that losses are incurred which may be subtle.

Woolf’s beautiful little eulogy, A Room of One’s Own, highlights the liberty gained for a woman (one commonly allowed to men) when she can have and use her own space. The quote is from pages 6 and 100 of the edition published by Leonard and Virginia Woolf at the Hogarth Press, 52 Tavistock Square, London W.C. Fourth Impression.

The photograph is of a Long House in Lâm Đồng Province in southern Vietnam. While having been entertained in Long Houses, I have not lived in one, but I have lived in Vietnamese houses that have no internal walls or doors.

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Saturday 4th March 2023

Murphy on duty to this site