Warning: May Contain Adult Furnishings

Warning: May Contain Adult Furnishings

The attributes of liminality or of liminal personae (threshold people) are necessarily ambiguous, since this condition and these persons elude or slip through the network of classifications that normally locate states and positions in cultural space. Liminal entities are neither here nor there; they are betwixt and between the positions assigned and arrayed by law, custom, convention, and ceremonial. As such, their ambiguous and indeterminate attributes are expressed by a rich variety of symbols...Thus liminality is frequently likened to death, to being in the womb, to invisibility, to darkness, to the wilderness, and to an eclipse of the sun or moon.”
- Victor Turner, The Ritual Process

Just about everyone who has ever taken Intro to Cultural Anthropology has run into the whole Victor Turner "betwixt and between"/ liminality thing. The Forest of Symbols was always the text which I worked from, but I sold my copy during my Anthropology Going Out of Business Sale so I had to scrounge around the Internet to find this quote from The Ritual Process. No matter, you get the point.

For those of you who eschewed the soft science part of your education and opted for practicality and a lifetime of financial solvency, here's the basic scoop: Societies, specifically "primitive" ones, have clearly defined rites and rituals which mark individuals' passages from one social status or identity to another (e.g., initiations into adulthood). Very often there are periods during this transition when the individuals in question aren't quite who they were and aren't yet who they are going to be, i.e., they are betwixt and between social identities. During these times, such people ("liminal personae") inhabit spaces, both physical and metaphorical, which are outside the social order, making them dangerous to those inside said order. Not dangerous like, "He was a rebel! The world tried to give him an identity, but no social order could hold his liminal personae. He lived in the cracks of society, lost in a forest of symbol. He was betwixt...and between!" Although you can think of it like that if you choose.

Anyway, the fun part is that in those ritual times and spaces, when individuals are cast out from the social order, the whole structure is cast into relief. Objects and actions become loaded with symbolic value. This is, of course, because of the overt convergence of the social structure, the material world, and the indigenous cosmology. Damn that's hot! Plus I think the word "nexus" is appropriate somewhere in this whole semiotic soup. But there's no need to go any further into theory since, as you've probably already guessed, this is all about a couch.

* * * * *
I was one of the liminal personae, living betwixt and between one culturally affirmed stage of life and another. We don't think about such ritual liminality quite as much in the industrialized world. Maybe that guy in The Terminal was a true modern...liminoid, but I honestly never saw the movie. While I did not have “a rich variety of symbols” to mark my ambiguity I did have one. One that was a very visible feature in my apartment. A lumpy, saggy, uncomfortable one. It certainly wasn't a symbol which represented the womb since there was to be no curling up on it. I did buy a wine colored cover for my symbol so it had a blood thing going on. Let's just say that I was caught in a space betwixt prolonged adolescence and long-awaited adulthood, between new-found bachelorhood and respectable self-sufficient adult singleness, and I had one shitty-ass seat to watch it all from.

Nothing says transience and lack of status within a social structure than a third-hand futon. For a number of months (Oh, to mark my new identity let us coin a new term for this “number of months.” Hence forth, my “number of months" shall be known as a…"year.”), my reclining moments have been spent on a futon which was generously donated to me by the Fuji-san Furnishings Charitable Trust. It was functional in the sense that it kept me from having to sit on the floor and it made the room seem less empty, but it was low to the ground, lacked any and all cushion, and the top of the mattress was bowed like the impossibly elderly (to use a very inside joke, it was loco sagging).
But those days - my Futon Period - are over and I have emerged from my ritual journey reconstituted as an adult.

I don’t know why I waited so long to make this purchase. I’m not a particularly cautious consumer so that’s not it. And I do like to entertain when the opportunity arises so it’s not that I figured that no one would ever come by anyway. Some people will call it laziness, but I’ll just say that I had faith – faith that when the proper couching opportunity came around I would know it. Late last week I knew I had been called. The ButterNugget Interior Design Team was going to Ikea on Friday. A pilgrimage to Schaumburg. (It occurs to me that the religious themes are a little heavy here. Ikea as Mecca. The Cult of the Blonde Wood. “I don’t k now what happened. One day he was Jewish, the next he converted to Swedish Modern.”) I had taken the day off, but there was no sleeping in. We left early.

Like anything long-awaited, the build-up was more fearsome than the experience. Once we arrived it was easy. I was focused and determined. No one would have taken me for an amateur or a fresh initiate. I wasn't like those three schmucks who were walking around the store taking pictures of each other posing with every room accent and umlauted product name tag they could find. Fuck that newbie shit. I'm testing sofas for color, reclinability, and butt cushion coefficient ratios.

I wasn't going for anything too bold. That wasn't me. Or it isn't going to be me. Or something. Simple tasteful comfort. Something I can watch 16 straight hours of The Tick on DVD on one day and entertain some friends with a good malbec and light chatter about Lacan the next. Eureka! There it was. And it came in one piece so I wouldn't have to tear a rotator cuff working those darned allen wrenches. Prefab maturity. How glorious. Now lemme just also buy this coffee table, that bookcase, and, oh, that computer table and chair. And one of those stovetop espresso makers so I have something to sip on my couch under my new blanket. God, I love being betwixt and between!

Finally, I had my receipt in hand and a date for delivery and to be delivered. Adulthood thy name is Värnamo!

As a final note, to fully mark this occasion, I am hoping to have an Evandebacle Has Grown-Up (Furniture)! Party. Details TBA.


At 10:32 AM, Blogger Butternugget said...

We are proud to welcome you to this side of "betwixt and between". We always knew you could make it, even if it did take 13 months.

Next stop, wall decorations and nick-naks.


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