PRINT November 1976

Inside the White Cube Part III: Context as Content

WHEN WE ALL HAD front doors—not intercom and buzzer—the knock at the door still had some atavistic resonance. De Quincy got off one of his best passages on the knocking at the gate in Macbeth. The knocking announces that “the aweful parenthesis”—the crime—is over, and that “the goings-on of the world in which we live” are back. Literature places us as knocker (Mrs. Blake answering the door since Mr. Blake is in Heaven and must not be disturbed) and knockee (the visitor from Porlock bringing Coleridge down from his Kubla Khan high). The unexpected visitor summons anticipation, insecurity, even dread—despite that it’s usually nothing, sometimes a kid who knocked and ran away.

If the house is the house of modernism, what knocks can you expect? The house itself, built on ideal foundations, is imposing, even though the neighborhood is changing. It has a Dada kitchen, a fine surrealist attic, a

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