And I remember that some of it wasn't very nice, but most of it was beautiful. But just the same, all I kept saying to everybody was, ‘I want to go home!’
Dorothy – The Wizard Oz
Like walking, the concept of ‘home’ has been the subject of much scholarly debate over the last two decades. Scholars in disciplines such as literary studies, environmental studies, rangeland management, social work, geography, political science, and philosophy have all published articles exploring our everyday understanding of home. Home can mean many things. It can be a fixed place, such as one's native soil or city of birth, a house or other abode, a street where one grew up, a school, a person or even one's own body. It can be an idea, such as family, security, comfort, familiarity or a sense of belonging. Today, it can even be a GPS point on a car's satellite navigation system, a folder on a computer, a tab on a word processing program or a button on a smartphone.
Phenomenologically, the concept of home overlaps with the important philosophical concept of dwelling. In this chapter, I want to explore the narrative theme of ‘trying to get home’ in a handful of films where walking is relevant to achieving this goal by paying particular attention to home as dwelling. My first task will be to situate my theme in the narrower philosophical context by introducing the views of Heidegger and Levinas on the phenomenology of home.
We can situate the locus of Heidegger's meditations on dwelling in Novalis's claim that philosophy is a form of homesickness. Philosophers, he asserts, philosophise because they are driven by an ‘urge to be a home everywhere’. What does this mean? Heidegger explains:
To be at home everywhere – what does this mean? Not merely here or there, nor even simply in every place, in all taken together one after the other. Rather, to be at home everywhere means to be at once and all times within the whole. We name this within the whole and its character of wholeness the world. (Heidegger 1995: 5)
One way Heidegger characterises world is to ascribe it to Being itself as a whole. Ontologically, a human being (dasein) is a ‘being-in-the world’ who is restless to return to Being as a whole.