Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

This and That: Ingratitude, Relativity, Dyseloquence, and Cat Beards

Dyseloquence is a word now.

I have wanted to write lately -- I even have some posts in the works -- but I have felt stupid and heavy of head, too exhausted to say anything coherent. So here are a few random things.

1. Brandon is writing a series on vices; this past week's focus was on ingratitude.

2. The shrinkwrapped brick in front of our door when we arrived home from vacation turned out to be Restoration Hardware's various spring catalogs. Our style overlords have finally allowed that maybe some people like a bit of color in their lives. They have devoted three -- three! -- pages to chairs in colors such as pale spruce and pale amethyst before they drape the remaining catalog full of upholstery in sand linen, sand brushed twill, sand velvet, and sand cotton duck. Of course, this marries well with the fifty shades of neutral decor that the professional designers have so carefully leached of any tone that might suggest life. Because when we have money to spend, we want to buy a room full of depression.

3. Think you know pretentious? Ah, but Restoration Hardware has launched a line of tableware. From the introductory essay at the beginning of the Tableware Catalog:
"The world as we created it is a result of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking." 
Clashing with authorities as a child and writing that the spirit of learning and creative thought was lost in strict rote and repetitive teaching, Albert Einstein went on to challenge conventional wisdom and redefine many of the sacred scientific theories developed and embraced. His great intellectual achievements and originality have made the name Einstein synonymous with genius. 
Einstein refused to let his thoughts be defined by current thinking, often stating his belief that "Imagination is more important that knowledge." His curiosity to look beyong the current realities enabled him to constantly define new ones.  
That is the philosophy we embraced to imagine our new tableware collection. Beginning with a quest to develop the perfect plate, one that would inspire us to replace our existing ones, we reconsidered every aspect - the material, the shape, the size, the weight, and the glaze - developing prototype after prototype until we explored every possibility and exhausted every option. 
...Now, we're not trying to claim that our new tableware collection can be compared to Einstein's theory of relativity; but we do believe that like the bending of light, with a change of thinking, one can re-imagine almost anything, even a plate. Then again, it's all relative. Thank you for teaching us that, Albert.
4. Albert didn't teach us that "it's all relative." That’s called relativism, not relativity.

5. I was tempted to make my only commentary on the tableware pomposity something along the lines of, "I mean!", but I realized that would be playing into one of my current pet peeves: the inability of writers, particularly on the internet, to write like adults. Apropos of nothing I want to discuss, I recently ran across a piece about the puppeteer of Elmo, who was embroiled in a scandal in which a young man accused him of seducing him when he was underage. (The pair were in a relationship; the young man was not underage.)
Some people seem to think Clash should be fired even for the legal age difference alone, that a 45-year-old having sex with an 18/19 year old is sketchy and gross enough. (Others are simply horrified to learn that the voice of Elmo is gay, which: GTFO.) While on the other end of the Internet Commentary Spectrum, there are plenty of folks who don’t think an older, experienced man having sex with a 16 year old is that big of a deal anyway. Which: Also GTFO.
I have nothing to say on the substance of the matter; the quality of Sesame Street has gone so far down since the days when the psychedelic pinball machine counted to twelve that I never turn it on, and Elmo is too annoying to watch anyway. But I do want to say that no matter your opinions on underage relationships or homosexuality, GTFO is neither an argument, an intelligent commentary, or a conversation starter. It is a statement that if you do not agree with the author on these two points, discussion is pointless because she's already stated that your voice should not be heard. And OMG, if we were, like, teenagers who were all,  "When I hear people being intolerant, I just wanna go GTFO, you know? Because, I mean, intolerance sucks!", this might indeed be an understandable, if not an acceptable, means of expressing oneself and one's vast realm of emotional experience that is just soooo hard to capture in mere words. But using words, and using them effectively, are the point of using writing to convey thought, and no amount of typing in ALL CAPS, YO, or being hip to the slang, or #psuedocategorization, or a bit of coding < / sarc >, or a wink and a Tumblr, is a substitute for what we in the biz* call "Using Your Words". Style and substance are not interchangeable. And if any reader thinks that makes me a tight-laced pedantic killjoy: GTFO.

*The biz, that is, of teaching young children to express their thoughts in clear verbal fashion, as opposed to grunting and pointing and playacting and being cutesy to get what they want.

6. If you are one of the many people with whom I've recently started a conversation with the strange juxtaposition of, "I'm thinking about painting my house. I read this article in the Wall Street Journal," here's the article about the creamy color of Paris.

7. Proving that leisure is not the basis of culture: your iPhone has more computing power than NASA in the 1960s, and you use it to look at cat beards.


Lauren said...

Ahhh, Restoration Hardware. Someone leaves the catalogs on the break table at work. If i wasn't depressed enough working in a basement of a federal building, I can spend my "break" time flipping through formerly opulent rooms that appear to have been hosed down with paint stripper.

I went to an antique fair a few months ago, and a number of the dealers had given there antiques the "Restoration Hardware" treatment. Stripped within an inch of their lives. Grey bare wood like a weathered fence. So sad.

Sooz said...

Yes and yes. Which is not to fall into the trap you described in #5, as to acknowledge that you have said everything that needs to be said on this subject. Thank you!

BurgoFitzgerald said...

I thoroughly enjoyed everything in this post - "for super serious, yo" as the students in my English and Communication course often say to me.