U332: Ulterior Motive Purge

Utensils, Dishes, Glasses are ostensibly the category of this purge. I did this purge prior to moving from Arizona. I confess this particular purge was on my list because I share this alphabetical purge outline in my community newsletter and I had this great idea to collect cast off dishes, flatware, etc. for our community events. I even have a discarded picnic basket to store these things in between parties, potlucks. We shall see. I just distributed the newsletter.

The following is a rant by Bruce Sterling about possessions that I found entertaining for the eloquence as much as anything. Via Treehugger . . .
What is "sustainability?" Sustainable practices navigate successfully through time and space, while others crack up and vanish. So basically, the sustainable is about time – time and space. You need to re-think your relationship to material possessions in terms of things that occupy your time. The things that are physically closest to you. Time and space.

In earlier, less technically advanced eras, this approach would have been far-fetched. Material goods were inherently difficult to produce, find, and ship. They were rare and precious. They were closely associated with social prestige. Without important material signifiers such as wedding china, family silver, portraits, a coach-house, a trousseau and so forth, you were advertising your lack of substance to your neighbors. If you failed to surround yourself with a thick material barrier, you were inviting social abuse and possible police suspicion. So it made pragmatic sense to cling to heirlooms, renew all major purchases promptly, and visibly keep up with the Joneses.

That era is dying. It's not only dying, but the assumptions behind that form of material culture are very dangerous. These objects can no longer protect you from want, from humiliation – in fact they are causes of humiliation, as anyone with a McMansion crammed with Chinese-made goods and an unsellable SUV has now learned at great cost.

Furthermore, many of these objects can damage you personally. The hours you waste stumbling over your piled debris, picking, washing, storing, re-storing, those are hours and spaces that you will never get back in a mortal lifetime. Basically, you have to curate these goods: heat them, cool them, protect them from humidity and vermin. Every moment you devote to them is lost to your children, your friends, your society, yourself.

It's not bad to own fine things that you like. What you need are things that you GENUINELY like. Things that you cherish, that enhance your existence in the world. The rest is dross.

This material culture of today is not sustainable. Most of the things you own are almost certainly made to 20th century standards, which are very bad. If we stick with the malignant possessions we already have, through some hairshirt notion of thrift, then we are going to be baling seawater. This will not do.

The emphasis is mine as this was the central theme for me in my own purges and my own sustainability challenge, even though I could never have written it so well.

Having said that, I confess to my fantasies of tabletop beauty. Just the other day I caught my breath when I saw this image. Fiesta china is something I longed for, for decades. And, I’d forgotten. I will even admit that I used to keep a clipping file of table d├ęcor ideas. Feeding the eyes, doing more than just feeding the body is such a personal view I value. I kept aside a small set of fiddlefern flatware for special.

Last year around the holidays I sent my mom a whole bunch of visually delicious table setting images. This delight was something we used to share. When I spoke to her later she told me that the family gatherings are no longer seated around tables. I guess lifestyle changes or something has happened in the intervening years. That seems like a loss.

If my particular path wasn’t one of living alone with austerity and minimalism, I would approach this purge differently. (And I don’t close the door on this aspect either . . .) Sharing meals together is such a wonderful thing to do. Eating is the most basic thing we do daily that doesn't demand privacy and eating food together is a ritual worth cherishing.

Fiesta photo

Post Script: I had so many fuck ups in trying to post this, one could get dizzy trying to read it as I was editing every few moments. Sorry.

8 comments:

Rosa said...

We had some planned and some unplanned guests last night, so we had seven people at the table. I have the setup I do (cloth napkins, live plants on the table, tablecloth) for practical & environmental reasons, but it does make me really happy to have everyone seated around the table, passing dishes & pitchers of drinks.

You always find such beautiful images, I really appreciate the effort you put into making every post a visual treat.

katecontinued said...

Thank you Rosa. I find real pleasure in doing that and always hope that others see what I am shoot for in the format. The words are the heart and soul, but the visual dresses the body of my blog.

I am glad to hear you and yours gather around a table. All is right in the world . . .Ha.

Raw Food Diva said...

I love this post thank you for doing it!

katecontinued said...

I am always happy to see your name. Have a wonderful time these next few days - whatever you do and whatever you eat.

daharja said...

Re the problems with posting.

I used to have lots of ISSUES working with blogger, and now I do all my posts in a text editor (I use TextWrangler, which is free shareware, I think - It's so long sing I got it) and then copy them over to Blogger once they've been proofed and spellchecked. I still get errors, but a lot fewer yuckies from Blogger.

I don't know if this is a usefl tip, but it works for me.

katecontinued said...

You know, I do my posts in Word first. I agree with your tip there. My struggles are usually with futzing around in the formatting of photos, quotes, etc. for the thing to look correct. I had those issues here and simply forgetting to include some points.

What I am saying is I think this post went up to quickly without me fussing and proofing enough first. Being in too much of a hurry has steadfastly been my biggest hurdle with blogger.

daharja said...

Argh, yes, formatting photos is tricky and nasty and a bit fiddly at the best of times. I'm right with you on that one.

I'm also with you on being in a hurry. Often I'm posting with a four year old peering over my shoulder, watching what I'm doing. Or a one year old shoving a book in my face and demanding to be read to! So everything is done on the fly!

Life can be hectic, but I think (and hope!) our readers forgive us the old typo!

katecontinued said...

I forgive you. Your reasons are in the flesh - more allowances must be given.

When I typed that original sentence I was wondering if and what a reader might realize with a re-posting flurry. I also think of the RSS feeds. I don't don these, but I'd be curious to know if each posting is treated as a new posting with different versions. Just a curiousity . . . I don't mind the fussing and changing, I just don't know how it hits the intertoobs.