Thursday, July 19, 2007

Pocket lint

I've blogged in the past about the supernal human invention of the book. Five hundred years from now, a book of my day found in some dusty attic will still be readable, albeit perhaps with the help of a translator. By contrast, a CD-rom in that same attic would probably be absolutely useless, an utter mystery.

"Look, Bill -- I think I found some ancient earrings!"

"From what, Homer? Bigfoot's girlfriend?"

Now allow me to pontificate on another common item that people have tried to improve: the hum-drum little door-key.

I have good, old-fashioned metal keys in my pocket that have lasted a decade or more. My grandparents have keys to their house and outbuildings that are more than 50 years old.

In contrast, somewhere, hopefully not in the wrong hands by now, is a damnable little plastic lump that was given to me when I accepted my current job barely three years ago. It serves, or served, the purpose of a key, by some technological miracle of silent communication with a computer in the building when I held it in front of the door.

But being mere plastic, it succumbed to the rough and tumble of life in my pocket and eventually broke its plastic hinge, falling away somewhere. I'm amazed that it perished thusly, not in the washing machine where my wallet and cell phone periodically go swimming.

Which means now that in 98-degree East Coast heat and 1000 percent humidity, I have to walk all the way to the front of the building, not the employee door, and wait for the secretary to buzz me inside. This unpleasant ritual will continue for some time, as our overworked facilities guy averages about a year to replace things like this.

6 comments:

Chase March said...

We seem to live in a disposable society. Things are not made to last and stand the test of time anymore. I think that it will be sometime before anyone comes to realize that we are actually doing ourselves and history and disservice.

Chase March said...

Sorry for the typo there. I meant to say that;

We seem to live in a disposable society. Things are not made to last and stand the test of time anymore. I think that it will be sometime before anyone comes to realize that we are actually doing ourselves and history a disservice.

eastcoastdweller said...

Not only are they not made to last -- i.e., they wear out in a few years, but they are also defective in that they will eventually become useless even if they aren't used.

If I find a three century-old book, even one with the spine all crumbly and the pages yellowed, I can still read -- i.e., use -- it.

If I find an old key to an old house, I can still squirt oil on the lock and go inside the place.

But in 300 years, or maybe even a hundred, I could take an unopened, never-played CD-rom out of its climate-controlled box and be absolutely unable to do anything but play Frisbee with it, unless someone happens to have an antique CD player on hand.

rp said...

oh, no. Sorry that happened. Ah, the price of progress!

Mara said...

It's actually very normal this occurrence. We live in a consumerist world, right?
Services are rendered for those who can pay for them. Hence, society is based on immediate earnings (the American Dream might I remind you) and to certify that, ask any teenager or young person what they want to become ("a pillar of society" is not that common a reply).

What's the use in making old-fashioned keys and old-fashioned books and old-fashioned items? Here is the old-fashioned key to this puzzled post of yours. Fashion dictates trends. People want to show off, to be ahead of everyone, to stay on top. So fashionable is always in.

Fashionable doesn't mean reliable or durable, it means sales, profit, the Materialist Ideal. Why make good ol' fashioned viable merchandise if no one will buy it?

If it doesn't come in different colours engraved with Swarovsky crystals, equipped with GPRS, internet connexion and touch screen, it is practically non-existent on the market.

Society focuses on now and acts (shops) as such. We all want to live as comfortable as we can, have as many gadgets as possible to make our life a breeze (the most widespread marketing focus point if you haven't noticed is to make you feel your life without the advertised item is inferior, unbearable, obsolete, risible).

We post-modernists don't make history, we undo it, there is nothing being build, only torn apart. I long for another era, I was born too late. "Children are the key to the future" good thing they're not the magnetic card or the foton-activated portal. There's still hope if responsible parents take attitude and teach children to value true wisdom, instead of cleverly marketed vanity.

eastcoastdweller said...

Very true, Mara.

And in the materialistic rush, people forget or ignore the ancient proverb: He who obtains silver will not be satisfied with silver.

And they rush from fad to fad, fashion to fashion, buying the latest and greatest.

And happiness eludes them.