“Time and space – time to be alone, space to move about – these may well become the great scarcities of tomorrow” – Edwin Way Teale
Here we go again, here I go again, stuffing the recent past into the chaotic, effulgent meaning-making machine installed in my cranium.
It has been, for me, an unusually busy past four days. But the subject for analysis that stands out in the end is the same I’ve been trying to wrestle to the cognitive ground for a while: stuff. [Which, if it tickles your scholarly fancy, you can choose to think of as “materiality” or whatnot]. It just keeps getting more and more or at least it not on your life ever stops coming. Ever. Ever-ever.
Thursday we went to buy food&drink for Friday’s dinner with fam and friends. And so at the stores there was no end to taking stuff off of the shelf and chucking it into the shopping cart. Grab, chuck, seize, toss, take, throw, clutch and sling. One bloody thing after another: tomatoes, beer [top three are Paulaner, Brooklyn Lager (the black) & a dark one from our local Rathausbrauerei ], pastry dough, eggs [which then you keep maneuvering to the top of the cart as other stuff is added], crystalline bottles of fizzy waters in six packs that work your shoulders and lower arms, pasta [forever pasta , I can hardly think of a better staple], ham [for a complex, Simi’s-hands-made ham appetizers], melanzane, carrotts [which have advanced to our snack of preference], milk, Ramen [I keep buying these occasionally despite the fact that the Coop “Nest” Noodles are considerably cheaper and better in taste…but they come without those little condiment bags]… One could keep enumerating stuff from such grocery jaunts but the fact that, as one takes the food item and places it in the trolley, at least for me, the sense of being trapped on an infinite loop of EnergyAcquisition/EnergyDepletion is overwhelming. I come to imagine myself as this voracious, spoiled EatingMachine, which does nothing but munch, munch, munch. Perhaps that is not the truth but the sense of Pac-Man-ing it along a prodigal, ontological loop is unpleasant indeed. Not at all the earlier X-Massy spirit of giving, invoked just a week or so earlier.
I know there must be stuff and that we, that I am made of stuff. And that to maintain this self-stuff I must absorb other-stuff. It’s just that I experience vertigo from the perpetuum mobile aspect of it. Though, ironically, that is naturally what I am exactly not, no paradoxical bootstraps to pull me up towards infinity. It also means that I have to give up my cherished illusion of not being a rapacious consumer, because seeing with what horrific frequency I visit Coop&Migros and chuck nutritious goods, I absolutely am.
Though, I must say, the dinner with friends was absolutely lovely and worth it and all-around pleasing. They too contributed to the general accumulation of stuff until every horizontal surface in our living room was decked out in either comestibles or intermediately durable stuff like shower gels, books and workout-gear.
The German word for it is “Materialschlacht”, which means battle of material. In its martiality it implies both winners and losers and I wonder if one cannot be both. Stuffing stuff.
• • •
Next agendic item: the theoretical possibility of having a house. After having staid up late [3am like the name of that impetuous literary magazine] Saturday morning the clock rang early. Time for some bad old appt moving, actually from appt to house. Hadn’t been around for the “roof-raising” or whatever the hell it’s called but everybody gets a mail when it comes to giving a hand with moving stuff. Yet more stuff.
There was a big van, an SUV and a sizable trailer with which we did two and a half round-trips. Before that the owners of the house [what a label] had hauled 20 loads of hatchbacks from their old appt to their new place; to give you an idea of the material involved.
• • •
Detour: Lucerne [60’000] is pretty darn parochial. You try to be fancily individual and get stared at everyday or you more-or-less blend in, at least phenotypically. Then you take a 15 minute train ride out East, past ye’ rustic Rotsee [aka Lake of the Gods], down along the Reuss, you end up at Rotkreuz [POP 8’000, my own ballpark figure]. From there by car or horse-carriage you take a 10 minute overland trip due North and you end up in Rietsch, which is where their house is located. So if I care to use the term boondocks that would be empirically validated.
• • •
Back to main street: What spontaneously came to my mind when I first saw the house was: nice, f*&^ nice! This despite the fact that for the last few weeks, months and years I’ve been shooting off my mouth how I do totally do not want to own a house. And I still do not. Probably never will be able to, speaking gwap-wise. But the spontaneous, phylogenetically programmed reaction is that such a safe, warm, well-lit, electrified volume of space, presumably inviolable until proven otherwise, to call one’s own and raise one’s family in is a thing of considerable beauty. The sequence is evident to me: trees, caves, really good huts, apartments, this. Had to like it, did.
Now the house is not an architectural masterpiece at all, not a single structure I would have identified as “stylish” or “cutting edge”, just solid masonry, carpentry, plumbing and all the other crazy-named crafts that go into building a house. It still looks nice: big windows, three four floors [incl attic and cellar], well tiled&trowled and suitable furniture. Not even a pride of lion would feel cramped there, much less the two leos the couple is.
[to be continued…]