Michel de Certeau and the presence of absence

Was it fate? I remember the marvelous Shelburne Museum in Vermontwhere, in thirty-five houses of a reconstructed village, all the signs, tools and products of nineteenth-century everyday life teem; everything, from cooking utensils and pharmaceutical goods to weaving instruments, toilet articles, and children’s toys can be found in profusion. The display includes innumerable familiar objects, polished, deformed, or made more beautiful by long use; everywhere there are as well the marks of the active hands and laboring or patient bodies for which these things composed the daily circuits, the fascinating presence of absences whose traces were everywhere. At least this village full of abandoned and salvaged objects drew one’s attention, through them, to the ordered murmurs of a hundred past or possible villages, and by means of these imbricated traces one began to dream of countless combinations of existences.

- Michel de Certeau
Memorable passage from The Practice of Everyday Life.

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