Light of the house of the mind

Whether anybody was home meant everything to a house. It was more than a major fact: it was the only fact.

The family was the house’s soul.

The waking mind was like the light in a house.

The soul was like the gopher in his hole.

Consciousness was to brain as family was to house.

Aristotle: Suppose the eye were an animal — sight would be its soul.

To understand the mind you pictured domestic activity, the hum of related lives on varied tracks, the hearth’s fundamental glow. You spoke of “presence” and “clutter” and “occupation.” Or, conversely, of “vacancy” and “shutting down.” Of “disturbance.”

Maybe the futile light in a house with three people separately absorbed in the basement and only one upstairs, a little boy staring at a plate of cold food, was like the mind of a depressed person.

— Jonathan Franzen, The Corrections

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