past lives’ touch
reclaimed by the wild —
Master of the monomyth Joseph Campbell said that “[l]ife is without meaning. You bring the meaning to it. The meaning of life is whatever you ascribe it to be. Being alive is the meaning.”
One of the ways that we create meaning in our lives is by surrounding ourselves with meaningful objects, things that imbue our lives with a unique sort of character. We have so many of these that it’s hard to count, but I’m compelled by this line of thought to consider the things I have which gain the least amount of use, yet I choose to hold on to them anyway: metal lunch boxes, 3D glasses, binoculars, Legos, Rubik’s Cubes, typewriters, safety razors, small glass bottles — utilitarian elements of times past; some were made even before my father was born, although the Legos are, for the most part, newer.
I remember the visions of the future we were brought by the late 20th century media, how everything was so austere; clean, white surfaces, friendly rounded corners and flowing edges, curved elements. Clutter was a thing of the past, presumably because everything we used was either hidden behind clever wall panels or consolidated into a single device. It was a vision of delight, if you like boring sterility in a world where everyone wears jumpsuits and latex gloves.
What happened to those spartan environments? Where are they now — all those post-modern living spaces reminiscent of Kubrik’s A Clockwork Orange? I don’t know a single person so devoid of culture and character as to want to live in a place like that.
We surround ourselves with stories in the form of physical items: mementos and tchotchkes, nicknacks and bric-a-brac, the flotsam and jetsam of a life worth its spice — a unique, real-world memory palace. We cast them against a backdrop of richly stained wood and painted colors from nature — because where else would colors come from? Note that we traditionally named the shades and hues after flowers and birds, elements like the sky and the sea. Without even thinking, we make our living places an extension of the natural world that has hosted our presence since time out of mind, because we could never divorce ourselves from it. How could we live in these bastions of sensory deprivation?
If I were asked what object my friends would most closely associate with me, I would find it hard to answer because as far as I know, I have no signature accessory. When I polled Facebook via status, I got answers ranging from my Jeep to my mohawk. Obvious answers, and perhaps telling because I couldn’t finish the phrase “he never goes anywhere without that dang _______!” Things like my car, my hair, my keys, my wallet, and my phone just don’t count.
But hey, how many people can you only associate with their phones, am I right?
What do these items I’ve collected and surrounded myself with say about me? Well, maybe they say that I’m a man of fine distinction with a penchant for not letting go of a fading past; or maybe — just maybe — I’m someone who misses a world where everyone’s nose is not buried in a smartphone.
Maybe tomorrow I’ll post a photo gallery of all my cool stuff.
You would have to be a fountain pen, because seriously, your writing is just something else. Not a ballpoint pen, but a fountain one, because you have flow! You’re still a bellend though my favourite blog buddy 🙂
I love these Brythonic vernaculars!
Can you translate that into eejit for me?
Brythonic = of or related peoples in and around the UK whose ethnic origin is relatively indigenous, ie Irish, Scots, Welsh, Cornish, etc.
Vernaculars = slang (common speech)
Oh I see! When you’re famous your second book can be called Educating and Eejit and other stories 🙂
Lol I’m sure by then we’ll have plenty of material!
It’s going to be a busy two weeks then 😛
*snort* — laughing uncontrollably —- what a great title!
no fair, you’ve got near roots in the British Isles… I didn’t know that either.
I thought your name was from the same area — means tricky, doesn’t it?
I love the Online Etymology Dictionary entry for this: the surname apparently is from Old English *prætt (adj.) “cunning, astute;” related to late Old English noun prætt “a trick” (see pretty)
Very good, Rob. But I would say my affinity runs much more to Jutland, i.e., Denmark. My mother’s parents are still quite Danish in their culture (their surnames, naturally, are quite Danish, too), and my mother-in-law seems quite fond of their Danish genealogy (although Cimmorene claims to be more “Heinz 57”). She reintroduced me to kringler, and Cimmy and I recently got an ableskiver pan from my maternal grandparents.
I have a great deal of Danish as well, through my maternal grandfather, that name is Shull and comes down from the Holland Van Ettens. As far as Danish culture goes I have to admit I’m pretty lacking, but between that and the Scots I’m pretty much hitting the majority of my lineage.
Ooh, ooh, ooh ! =) Post snaps of your cool stuff… great idea !!!!! =)
Great post well said…i too yearn for the days of eye contact
Thank you, and thanks for stopping by — we can’t let communication fall by the wayside. 🙂
Absolutely fantastic post Rob — I really enjoyed how you worked so many different elements into it — well done, and as usual, a pleasure to read 🙂
Thank you Pat. 🙂
Reblogged this on the tao of jaklumen and commented:
Rob’s getting a reblog, just because of the Joseph Campbell reference 😉
[…] my last post I said I’d post a photo gallery of some doodads and thingamajiggers that I surround myself […]