Heaven and earth are not humane,
treating the myriad things as straw dogs.
The sage is not humane,
treating the people as straw dogs.
The space between heaven and earth is like bellows, empty and yet inexhaustible;
move it and even more comes out.
It is a better thing to hold the center.
Laozi, Tao Te Ching.
Everybody knows how like the street the two dinner-rows of people who take their stand by the street will be. The expressionless uniform twenty houses, all to be knocked at and rung at in the same form, all approachable by the same dull steps, all fended off by the same pattern of railing, all with the same impracticable fire- escapes, the same inconvenient fixtures in their heads, and everything without exception to be taken at a high valuation–who has not dined with these? The house so drearily out of repair, the occasional bow-window, the stuccoed house, the newly-fronted house, the corner house with nothing but angular rooms, the house with the blinds always down, the house with the hatchment always up, the house where the collector has called for one quarter of an Idea, and found nobody at home–who has not dined with these? The house that nobody will take, and is to be had a bargain–who does not know her? The showy house that was taken for life by the disappointed gentleman, and which does not suit him at all–who is unacquainted with that haunted habitation?
Charles Dickens, Little Dorrit.
there are some characters in literature that achieve a phantasmagorical, and – in this case – a ghoulish status in a culture. in society. ‘little dorrit’ presented mr merdle. he is inseparable from the city of london, as is the cheap cladding holding together the hastily erected blocks of flats ‘regenerating’ it’s south east.