Friday, February 23, 2007

Boron cubes are best in potato soup

Well, now. I glanced at a couple of blogs over break at work today. One of them had a link to the ikeahacker blog. I read a couple of the posts, and was intrigued. First, I was intrigued at the stark industrialism that seems to pervade the 'design-chic' aesthetic right now. Just like a MacBook, it's all about brushed steel, raw wood, single colors, thick lines. So it seems to me. Then I was thinking about how I bought cheap chairs when I moved into the house that are now all mostly broken, and that we need new chairs. I thought, "Maybe I should check out ikea's online catalog, and order some chairs. They might be more expensive, but they'd probably last longer." I also thought about seeing if a friend I know who is a carpenter would build me some chairs. I also thought about building my own chairs.

Now, more to the point of this little article. I thought about Fight Club. Yes, Fight Club. Which I have to admit to having seen. It includes a line wherein the nararator says, 'I would flip through catalogs and wonder "what kind of dining set defines me as a person?"' The movie, while being violent and profane, is also a social commentary on the consumerism that our culture is sinking to. Me? Well, I admit my computer desk at home is black. I admit that I bought it because it was black. I also admit that it was cheap and on sale at the office supply store. My desk, while perhaps spartan and stark, does have some simple trinkets on it. That's right, trinkets. Not 'pieces of art that demonstrate my cool', not 'conversation starters', trinkets. Momentoes. Gifts. I have, outside of my computer and related accessories, a rock from the Mediterranean that my neato twin sister gave me, a onyx turtle from Turkey that my Dad gave me, a twigcil, a picture of my sister, and a cool lemur that my older sister gave to me.

My dining room table is a mass-produced piece (that came with the 4 chairs that are now one chair because the rest have broken), I have a couch and matching chair that I got second hand cheap, my parents' old "great chair", that is seriously one of the more comfortable chairs in Western Civilization to seat and read in, a coffee table that I nicked from my parents. My bedroom furniture is mostly second hand, my CD collection is housed in a functional, black piece of molded plastic, and my bookself was built by my dad twenty, twenty five years ago. Heck, even my 'dining service' is either second hand, or standard K-Mart fare. I have eight glass 'beer steins' that I bought at the Dollar Tree.

Why do I rant so, you may ask? I think about some of my friends. Good people. Have ikea-esque houses, apartments, whatever. Brushed steel. Stark wood. Art pieces. Funky shaped glasses. 'Nice stuff.' I ask myself, "Is my lack of conformity to the designer chic inhibiting my ability to have a girlfriend?" Maybe, just maybe, if I filled my house with ying-yang coffee tables, modern-art couches, maybe then someone will finally love me. Would it be worthwhile to make superficial changes to my life in a most likely vain attempt to attract the long term interest of an attractive and successful female?

Interrelated to all of this is a post that I read from Jeff Atwood of Coding Horror. In the post, he talks about his office, and how and what he has arranged in it. Now, I think Mr. Atwood is a highly competent and entertaining writer, and I read most everything he posts. This is not meant as a personal denegration, more of a lifestyle comment. If I needed to pack my personal effects at work, and leave, I could do it in two minutes. The only things that I have that I don't normally take home with me are a coat, a mug, and earbud headphones. That's it. The extent of decorations in my office is an old battery that came out of a dead scanner, wall art also known as project flowcharts, and two pages of xkcd printed out. When I move, it will probably take me two or three hours, at most, to transfer items from house to transportation mode, then from transportation to new location. It might take longer if I take the couches and dresser, but not that much more.

Get to the point, you're yelling! The point is made thusly.

People get their identity wrapped up in different things. For some people, they proclaim their identity throught their decorative tastes. For another set of people, it is proclaimed through their job. Others, their families, religious beliefs, hobbies, sports teams, music, fashion, geographic location, politics, community involvement, food, ideology, relationships, whatever. Me? I don't know how I proclaim my identity. While all these things mentioned above can be used to describe someone, there is usually one characteristic that overridingly defines that person. You know people, everyone does, that if you say one word, and it describes them. Here, let's play a fun, insular game. I'll name three characteristics, one of which can be used to simply define someone, and you post back on my blog, and tell me if you can easily and quickly guess which three friends I am referring to. The characteristics are football, tutoring, farming.

See, that was pretty easy, wasn't it? And additionally, no offense to any of the three people, but if you don't know them, you can make some mental extrapolations off of the fact that those characteristics define them, and come up with what might be a fairly accurate description of that person.

Which, again, leads back to the point. What word is a defining characteristic of me? Is that how I want to be defined? Because whether I want to or not, those definitions are what is prevalent in the minds of others. We can't help but seek for ways to classify and categorize people, to better understand them. If we're smart, it becomes less of a labelling game, and more of a 'construct the Venn diagram game'. But, really, what defines me? Do I need to work to change that perception? Am I unaware of the perception? Is this a problem, or not?

Marginally, I would also like to ask if anyone can understand why I whine out to the dark internet like this?

Oh, and the answer to the word that defines me is not emo. I don't have the haircut (the mullet is God's gift to men's hairstyling) or the eyeshadow, thanks!


Anonymous said...

I am reading it but I don't know who the people are so I didn't comment. I think maybe the football one is Brandon.

-By someone who thinks your desktop lemur is really cool. Maybe you should get a desktop femur to match. :)

Anonymous said...

Brandon, Christopher, Nathan. This is a fun game

Brandon Toll said...

Jenna, Jonathan, Your Dad. Now do one for me! Do one for me!