Saturday, May 18, 2013

crafting complaints



A couple of Sundays ago I finally got around to visiting a local crafts show that takes place around here twice a year. I'm not what I would consider to be a real craftsperson by any stretch of the imagination but anyone who's looked at phantysythat these past few years will be well aware I do occasionally fall into the habit of putting things together that weren't there before. This is one of those things. I went to the craft show, didn't see any little silk beaded boxes, and thought I'd make another. Naturally, the first thing I did was to forget totally how long it took me to make the first one. I think it was a week. The new one took four days so I guess that's an improvement.

It turns out that just about any time I decide to work on something there will always be an element that must be purchased before I can get on with the project. This time I needed some embroidery thread and had to look online for a local place that sells this now quaint item. What struck me then (as it has before) when I looked through the listings is just how many people use Yelp to complain about businesses. Most of us will either not notice or not be bothered by a salesperson who isn't completely attuned to our needs during a transaction. Some people, though, will take umbrage at anything they consider a slight or an insult to their self image. These people will rush home to their computers or smart devices and immediately sign in to Yelp to write a furious complaint. Years later that record of temporary grievance remains even after most everyone involved is long gone. I'm reminded of those people who give one star reviews of books they've purchased from Amazon because a page was bent. Cretins.

All this reminded me of a television program made for the BBC by Adam Curtis in 2002 called The Century of the Self. Sigmund Freud may have invented the Self, full of unspoken dreams and desires, in 1900, but it was his American nephew, Edward Bernays, who packaged it and put it on to the market. Suddenly, everyone wanted one. And, of course, no one wanted one that was quite the same as anyone else's. Bernays's great genius was to first sell Uncle Siggy's ideas of the unruly subconscious to the American public and to American business. You no longer had to offer people what they needed; by linking your brand with their deeper hopes and fears, you could persuade them to buy what they dreamt of. Equipped with our subconscious wish-lists, we could go shopping for the life we had seen portrayed in the advertisements.

In Bernays's future, you didn't buy a new car because the old one had burnt out; you bought a more modern one to increase your Self-esteem, or a more low slung one to enhance your sense of your sex-appeal. You didn't choose a pair of running shoes for comfort or practicality; you did so because somewhere deep inside you, you felt they might liberate you to 'Just Do It'. And you didn't vote for a political party out of duty, or because you believed it had the best policies to advance the common good; you did so because of a secret feeling that it offered you the most likely opportunity to promote and express your Self. 'Our people,' said Herbert Hoover, 'have been transformed into constantly moving happiness machines.' Century of the Self is a truly great series that happily is available to watch free online if you've never seen it.

In case you don't have time right now to watch a four part, four hour documentary, I'll attach a short film that pretty much gets the point across:

Shave it from 3DAR on Vimeo.


By the way, I had to order the embroidery thread online. Thank goodness for the benefits of the internet. 

21 comments:

linda said...

ok... let's try this again.

i cannot seem to leave you a comment that is more than about 5 words long via my ipad, which is extremely irritating. i think it's probably the device but either way, it never fails to make me want to throw it across the room. it is very convenient except when you really want to do something with it........................ ;)

i'm now on my laptop. i'm rarely on it these days as it's heavy and i tend to hurt myself on it, typing. weird i know... i love your little box. she's very sweet. and what lips she has, so pouty!! ;) i like all the little details you have worked into her. what do you do with her now? i know what you mean trying to find a fabric store other than that awful michael's is impossible now. i used to go downtown, park my car and walk around, buying everything i needed from the drug store, the groceries, fabric for my latest quilt, even the nursery, before getting back into my car to go home. gone are those days here. i think maybe they exist only in the imagination.

interesting about the ego and our attachment to self driving just about everything consumed these days. i would say maybe food is driven by another appetite? those early shrinks were quite a bunch of "thinkers". maybe they had too much time on their hands. nowadays imagine what they could do with the internet?! amazon for the psyche, satisfaction being the ultimate selling point. hmmm... i bet there's a shrink employed in most every internet enterprise today.

hoping you're having a good weekend with excellent weather!
xox

susan said...

Convenience isn't always the answer, is it? There's been some talk around here of replacing one of ours (his, actually) with an i-pad but I'm against it. That's mostly because I'm a bit possessive of this one and just know it would have to work much harder when the i-pad won't do the job required.

I'm glad you like the little box. I have no idea what to do with it now so it's sitting in a small drawer keeping the first one company. Goodness knows what they're talking about in there but every so often I hear giggling.

It's certainly true that it's very hard to find the kinds of shops that used to anchor town and city centers. Even though Halifax is quite small it is the the Canadian east coast's only big city (Montreal is 800 miles away so no use for an afternoon shopping trip). Nevertheless, there aren't many stores in town except for odd little places that sell clothes and, of course, grocery places. What the place does have is a few huge shopping malls on the outskirts - including a Walmart. Ugh.

It's certainly true our society has been manipulated for a very long time and not for the common good either.

We're still getting one day of rain followed by a day of partial sun. It's strange.
xoxo

gfid said...

Linda - i have the same problem with my IPad, i think. i find that in order to continue with a comment, i must click 'preview' then 'edit' in order to continue after a few words... especially if i happen to delete or backspace. i want to know where the monkey got his shaver.... the one I have for grooming my dog is nearly useless.... i always end up using scissors to give him a haircut, and getting nasty blisters from them.

marja-leena said...

Lovely, lovely box, Susan. I think you have the gift of patience to work to do such fine work including your drawings and paintings.

As for finding things like embroidery thread, I miss most all the fabric stores that we used to have! I dislike Michael's for all its useless decorative junk (more waste!!) which you have to sift through to find the useful. Online shopping is not ideal for certain things like fabrics which I like to feel and see first and are not returnable. Okay, I'm grouchy, must stop.

Yes, to your notes on this cult of happiness while ignoring all this over consumption and waste! I know we are guilty in our household with the updates of computer technology, sometimes forced on us because it "updates' so often mean older things will no longer work (remember floppies, zip drives and disks, and soon CDs and DVDs) That's my pet peeve.

susan said...

Thanks for giving me another good reason for not getting an i-pad when Jer's macbook really does go kaput :)

I wondered about that shaver too. It was probably the most marvelous contraption in the video.

susan said...

That's funny. For years I've been telling people my greatest skill is seemingly endless patience for small tasks. I can still untie knots in thread that would confound most seamstresses but it's essential for beading.

I remember my dismay at seeing fabric stores disappear from the cities. Years ago my friend Inger and I made regular trips to a huge old place in Montreal that had been in business nearly 100 years. A lot of their inventory was nearly that old too, making it sheer delight for a pair of fabric and notions fans such as us. One day we went there to find the store almost empty. What had happened was a couple of women had arrived from LA the week before and had bought everything for a new business they were setting up back home.

I too prefer to be able to feel my way around a fabric store so rarely buy material now that I can't do that. At least the embroidery thread was accessible on-line but most of what I found advertised was for machine work. It's very disappointing.

We aren't left with much choice either when it comes to updates. A few months ago I got the first of many warnings from Firefox that my three year old macbook pro can no longer be updated with their only suggestion being that I need a new computer. Sheesh.

Ol'Buzzard said...

today we call it crafting. sixty years ago it was being thrifty and frugal and making and reusing to supply the things you needed. We have so much disposable income and disposable time now that sewing, knitting, and home made has become a craft - a hobby.
Not complaining - just an observation...and the box is neat
the Ol'Buzzard

susan said...

I know what you mean and agree. Forty years ago I was cutting up old clothes to make quilts but nowadays stores that sell fabric have special sections devoted to mix and match yardage for quilts. What can one say?

Glad you like the box. It's made from some of the leftover silk bits that I dyed with my already mixed silk dyes that had to be used up (rather than thrown away) before I left Portland.

Randal Graves said...

All my friends know the lowrider.

susan said...

I'm convinced.

gfid said...

.... and i didn't even mention the beautiful boxes.... they're stunning! sorry, i'm running on ADDHD these days..... just finished the store's books for the monthly 20th deadline.... about 27 minutes before the time ran out...there are heaps of papers all around me that won't get put away or filed or tossed any time soon.. must send in EI report yet, post an ad on Kijiji for one of the rooms that's coming vacant..... and be up early for the trip to MH to spend the day cleaning the house and tidying the yard - there's an all summer project all by itself.... but i'm finding lovely irises and icelandic poppies and shrub roses and gooseberries and campanula and lilies and peonies and other grannyflowers to rescue. i feel like Eve, inventing the garden of Eden while the guys obsess over the critters. will send a note soon, that isn't all blether. happy almost summer.

okjimm said...

I am not crafty, but I used to be very sly. OK.....sometimes I think of what I do as, recycling garbage.....mostly with wood things. My CD rack is composed of old desk drawers I salvaged from the curb. My shelf unit for books is an old store bakery shelf. Other shelves are re-finished apple pickers crates. Sand paper and tung oil are marvelous things. Plus, when I am done....I know that no one else has what I have. I am also.....broke.... and cheap. hehehe....My ex has made a quilt for the daughter made entirely of the kid's old HS T-Shirts. She,, the kid, took the idea a little further (has more talent than her mom) Made a very cool dress out of my old dress shirts.

Hey.... I won't watch the video.... too busy recycling my old shoes. They make good planters for geraniums. Neat article. Youse, good, kiddo!!!!

susan said...

Not to worry about a little thing like that but I'm happy you think they're pretty.

Your level of required activity always amazes me and always has done. I'm assuming you file the monthly bookkeeping reports electronically so at least the internet is helpful that way as is Kikiji for the rental ads. I envy you getting to discover all the new/old flowers in the garden at MH. I bet they're all thrilled at being rescued rather than being ploughed under.

We're still having more rain and general cloudiness here but the trees are leafing and many flowers are abloom. Tomorrow will be the start of the new window work with brick pointing first - 7:30am til dusk and ordered to keep windows closed and curtains too (if we want to avoid accidental peeping). Happy almost summer to you too and if you have a second, check out the new link at the top to Susan's electronic portfolio. It's still in the building stage but live all the same :)

susan said...

You sound pretty crafty to me.. never mind your favorite brewers either. I have a feeling you have a pretty cool looking environment for relaxing in while you're at home. I'd love to see a picture of that dress. You and your ex have two kids to be very proud of.

:-) thanks.

gfid said...

I didn't't notice the link.... Some familiar friends there, and some lovely surprises as well. :0)

Sean Jeating said...

Phew! These were four hours well 'spent'. Thank you, Susan.
It won't surprise you that I'd rather prefer to kick the misogynists testicles, than to admire his work and its outcome.
And now you may not only laugh at but about me: Why is what you crafted called a box? Can you put anything into it?

susan said...

I just put it up yesterday. I need to do a better job but at least a lot of the pictures are more easily seen there than any other way I can manage.

susan said...

I'm very pleased you enjoyed it and glad too I posted the link. I agree with your opinion of Freud - his legacy has done more harm than good.

Life As I Know It Now said...

For some reason I can't get the video to load but I will try again later.

I have been on vacation and gone for about two weeks. I did lots of stuff but I missed my blogging friends.

I almost have my car paid off and I look forward to not making car payments ever month and I don't mind it if my car is mostly functional and not stylish or meeting my unconscious needs, the car gets me to point B from point A! :) Your craft is adorable of course!

Life As I Know It Now said...

every month not ever month ;)

susan said...

Welcome back, Lib. I hope you had a really great vacation, one you'll remember for a long time.

Most of the people we both know around here haven't been into that kind of purchasing routine. Still, it's interesting to know just how it was all manipulated to begin with.

Happy you like the craft :)