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For the Love of Stuff - The Atlantic
Count me in, I'm all for being a ninja in a cyber setting in glorious 8-bit! Showing 1 - 7 of 7 comments. Jester View Profile View Posts. There really is nothing better than a well done modernized retro game, where they take an aesthetic from an era and remove the limitations of that era. Bigger maps, bigger characters, more layers of scrolling, bigger soundtracks, etc. Can't wait to get my hands on it.
Last edited by drj3rk ; 28 Mar am.
For Neruda, children figured as materialistic in the purest and most playful sense, delighting in textures, noises, colours, the taste of a rattle, the subversive shock of a magic trick. He would give his toys away if guests asked, but expected the same generosity in return.
His poems celebrated objects both ordinary and unique — he wrote odes to birds, stones, socks, the Pacific ocean, spoons, salmon-bellied eels, which frequently segued into praising the often hidden beauty of working people.
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In recent years, a range of voices from science, philosophy, political activism and the arts have begun to suggest exactly that, coalescing into a movement that can ground us ever more mindfully in the material world. My Easter Island statuette means a lot to me because I commissioned it in person from a man who told me about his ancestors as he carved it from the same rock that they had used.
Is it really such a stretch of the imagination to believe, like the Rapa Nui, that these statues were animated by mana , the life-force that sustains all things? Some new materialists come surprisingly close to such a position, albeit by another route. Atoms, quarks, particle streams and matter-energy — the currency of physical science — are arguably just modern terms for what Lucretius called primordia : the building blocks from which we are all made. Also in the mix were fast-breeding rats that destroyed the palm nuts necessary for forest replanting, not to mention the impact of guns, consumer baubles, smallpox and slave-trading brought by colonial visitors — in short, a vast and interconnected web of cause and effect involving both people and objects acting upon one another in myriad ways.
Another name for this is awareness — a spiritual virtue increasingly cultivated in the West through the growing popularity of Buddhism and meditation.
The love of stuff
By focusing upon a raisin for 15 minutes, as I was once exhorted to do in pursuit of mindfulness, you can find yourself inside a sensory fractal of awe, tracing its tiny life from seed to sap to vine, to sun-baked plumpness, as if on some benign hallucinogenic trip. Indeed, it is often the seemingly insignificant objects that tell us most about ourselves.
In his celebrated debut novel The Mezzanine , the American cult materialist writer Nicholson Baker feasts with such relish on physical minutiae — the patterns in a recently vacuumed office carpet; a can of soup rotating slowly at the end of a supermarket conveyor belt — that it is impossible not to feel affinity with them. The entire timeframe of the novel spans only the seconds it takes for the narrator to ascend one floor on an escalator, so dense and vivid are the lives and memories that fan outwards from the things he encounters.
Museums and art galleries feed the same fascination with objects both beautiful and disconcerting — offering the original high-definition, 3D experience to rival all those screens at home. O n a recent visit to the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, I was disconcerted to see a display of mobile phones and computers that I remember using only a few years ago.
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Not any more, clearly. And yet, as the wistful nostalgia stirred by the phone and computer display suggests, we seem to miss that cherishing. So how can we get back there? One modest clue lies unobtrusively down an Edinburgh side street, only minutes from the Museum.
The social enterprise Remade in Edinburgh is one of a growing network of community repair shops dedicated to teaching ordinary people to mend and reuse household goods. Far from being a middle-class fad, Remade in Edinburgh draws clientele from across the social spectrum — and yet the suspicion remains that cash-strapped, time-poor households will continue to depend on cheap, disposable goods until something more fundamental changes.
This is why the much talked-about circular economy has to operate at more than a local workshop level, and be programmed instead into the DNA of multinationals who currently rely on the built-in obsolescence of things.
Which brings me back to my ailing two-year-old smartphone, suspiciously malfunctioning at exactly the time my contract is up. Built from non-conflict minerals, with an open-source operating system that allow users to get round obsolescence, it has two SIM-slots for those who might otherwise need to carry two phones for work and home. It even looks rather cool. But will it make enough money for any long-term market presence, if nobody needs to replace it? One of the things I found surprising about having children was the sheer volume of stuff they create.
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We have chalkboard decals on our walls and mini whiteboards and many other reusable canvases. The second your child goes to any kind of day care or school, she will bring something home every day, and you will have to figure out what to do with all those … masterpieces. Let me explain. This method occasionally comes back to bite me — a few times a year my older daughter will ask what happened to a specific piece of art, and I have to fess up to chucking it.