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Future Cities Lab, The Aurora Project, 2009, detail of installation at Van Alen Institute, from Megan Born, et al., Dirt, MIT, 2012
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BODY AND SOIL
by James Croak



“Dirt is not dirt, but only matter in the wrong place.” Variations of this quote have been attributed to William James, Sigmund Freud, Mary Douglas, John Ruskin and a host of others, but an 1883 issue of Longman’s Magazine confirms its author was Lord Palmerston. He aired his starched Sunday shirt on a gooseberry bush only to have it flitter into the mud, but he donned it anyway, uttering this now famous line.

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