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THE POINT

Not at Home in the World

BY PAUL PFEIFFER

Illustration by Coney Leung.


“Not at home in the world” is a phrase I first encountered in Anthony Vidler’s 1992 book The Architectural Uncanny: Essays in the Modern Unhomely. The word uncanny in the book’s title, from the German unheimlich, serves as a metaphor for a fundamentally “unhomely” modern condition: a sense of estrangement or alienation within the seemingly familiar, everyday aspects of modern life. Because the uncanny is familiar and yet somehow alien, it creates a cognitive dissonance in the experiencing subject, due to…

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