Doors are approximately the height and width of a woman or a man. They are slightly larger, still, in order to accommodate for furniture, which is itself always measurable in body-centric formulations. For the most part, all furniture consists of various forms of resistance to gravity. Furniture always resists the flooring. Walls are also forms of resistance to gravity; they simultaneously serve as a shield against an outer world. Walls, however, are far less body-centrically formulated. Doors act alternately as both a shield and a breach. However, doors breach precisely in order to maintain the greater integrity and function of the surrounding wall. Furniture rarely affords any measure of protection. Doors are approximately halfway between a wall and a piece of furniture. Doors are humanized walls.
We reach for doorhandles whenever coming or going, on both hello and goodbye. This is one possible origin of the handshake, or at the very least, the precondition of its sensibleness. Of course, it could also be the other way around. Doors either obey or decree the logic of the threshold. They partition physical, mental and social space, most often into an Inside and an Outside. An ambiguity often exists between what is Inside and what is Outside, and not only with respect to doors. There can also be multiply-nested Insides and multiply-opening Outsides. Whatever the case, all such partitions are power-laden.
Doors primarily have two sides. Each side has a distinct meaning, depending on whether it’s acting as exit or entrance. It seems natural to locate privilege as an Inside, but something like penitentiaries either make for a notable exception or entertain their own clandestine form of privilege. Privilege may also always entail its own form of unfreedom; a secret burden. Francis Bacon says something like this, in his Wisdom of the Ancients. Under the heading Of Great Place, he writes:
“Men in great place are thrice servants— servants of the sovereign or state, servants of fame, and servants of business; so as they have no freedom in their persons, nor in their actions, nor in their times. It is a strange desire to seek and to lose liberty; or to seek power over others, and to lose power over a man’s self.”
Not just the key, but the pick and the torque wrench as well, used for picking locks, soften thresholds and embolden Man once again with “power over a man’s self.” If we carried doors around with us as shields, rather than keys as breaches, all rooms could remain doorless until they needed to be occupied. A door would signify both that the room was occupied and, if properly marked, the identity of the occupiers. Another possibility— one that makes me uneasy— is to abolish all doors and, along with them, the power of partition. This openness demands an absolute trust. The power of partition can be used by both the empowered and the powerless. Doors can be both a shield and a breach. Doors primarily have two sides.