Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Like mountains beyond mountains

Tonight when I was putting together my shitty new crooked and wobbly metal shelf for my kitchen, and my shitty new wobbly particle board bookshelf to house all of our cookbooks, I got incredibly depressed.

It was a purely existential moment of fleeting despair at how fucking expendable everything feels. I made a commitment recently to only buy old furniture whenever I wanted a "new" piece of furniture. This would mean scouring thrift stores, antique stores, garage sales, etc to find that perfect sturdy old bookshelf to house all of our cookbooks. I love doing that stuff anyway, and finding a cool old table or shelf that you love is so gratifying. (Granted, this has only happened to me once.) But tonight I caved, proving as well how expendable my principles are. Natch.

We went to Target and bought a metal shelf for $17 and the particle board shelf for $20. You can't beat the price at least. But I felt defeated. We've been here almost 3 weeks and really needed this stuff, and I haven't found any suitable, or suitably old, ones. So I caved.

I've never been one of those people who wanted everything in their house to match, or who wanted a bedroom or living room "set." How dreadful. I want everything to be mismatched, and to have been collected, and to have a story behind it, even if it's someone else's story. In short, I want everything in my house to have been found, to have been discovered, to actually have some intrinsic emotional value. Instead I'm buying cardboard shelves at Target that will get thrown away in 2 years and added to all the crap squeezing out all semblance of life that's left on this planet.

Yes, putting together a shelf tonight has thrown me into an incurable depressive funk. It used to be that if you wanted a new set of dishes, you had to save for it, and go to a special place to buy them, and you took care of them, and valued them. I'm not so sure it shouldn't still be that way. I'm not so sure that simply being able to buy whatever we want whenever we want it isn't the whole root problem of everything that's wrong in our world. It's why humans are so unkind: because emotions are expendable. It's why no one values anything: because you can always just go buy another one. It's why we wage unwinnable wars against faux enemies: because resources will always be there forever to be exploited (or at least that's the common line of thought). I'm not convinced the future isn't going to look like the past. We'll probably all have to go back to riding horses and growing our own food and making our own clothes and everything technological will reverse (was that Herman Hesse who wrote a book about that?).

I've been reading the original Dracula by Bram Stoker this week and this afternoon I started to think about how annoying it is that the whole story is told through letters and the character's diary entries. When it then occurred to me that it's annoying because no one communicates like that anymore. No one writes 6-page, eloquent letters to each other anymore. It's a lost art, and the book, though only 113 years old, truly felt like a ancient relic. And then I decided I liked that it was all told through letters and diary entries. No one could write a book like that anymore. Think about it. Who now would write an entire 500-page novel told through snail mail correspondence? No one, that's who, because it wouldn't get published and no one would read it. Or if they did, it would be a gimmick. If anything, in this day and age, I think literature serves a purpose of reminding us how to read something more than 140 characters long.

I'm not saying anything new, I realize that. But I like this stuff.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

if it makes you feel any better, stuff from target is most likely bedbug free. vintage stuff, as lovely as it is, comes with risk. i made the same commitment as you to only get stuff used and with a story. then i started reading about the burgeoning bedbug problem and realized that story might be one of blood, bites, itchiness, sleeplessness, and infestation. just saying. hope your funk has lifted and you are enjoying memphis!