December 18, 2009

Make Do and Mend

Worn-out things carry a stigma in our disposable culture. If it's broken or old, throw it out and buy a new one. The new one, whatever it is, will also be despatched when it breaks in due course. Consumer goods tend to come with two design features: they malfunction frequently and they cannot be fixed. If repair should be possible, the price of a replacement puts the cost of renovation in the shade. Why? Things date too quickly. Today's miracle of science is tomorrow's Ark. Nothing is worth keeping: even if it doesn't break we shall throw it out anyway in order to 'upgrade'.

This disposable ritual is unedifying. We are not so much upgrading as degrading ourselves. Long ago, I decided I should wait until the next technological leap forward before investing in a mobile phone, Blackberry, Ipod, TV, stereo, etc. Each time the great improvement occurred I resolved to wait again, and I find myself without all these things and not caring in the least about the paucity of gadgets in my personal arsenal. What I do have is not exactly steam-powered, but things work. I am not often perplexed by technological problems. I make do and find myself better off in mind and spirit, not to mention in matters financial.

I suppose the lament here is that it is impossible to find genuine quality anymore, since the life-span of goods is expected to outlast their technological utility. What surprises me is that where quality is an option, such as with clothing, frivolity trumps it. Instead of aspiring to clothes of elegant cuts and timeless styles, made with durable fabrics, we follow whim and fancy and spend a fortune in the process. Wardrobe staples will pay for themselves because they will stand being repaired. There is no shame in sewing! Even socks, if of good quality to begin with, deserve to be darned at least once before discarding. Shoes, if well-made, can be soled and heeled for years. Invest wisely in the first place and spend less in the long run. Thrift, and an eye for quality, are manly traits. Frivolity is decadent. Fads are empty thrills. Make do and mend.

1 comment:

  1. I echo the sentiments.
    An excellent blog... awaiting further thoughts on a civilized way of life and turn of mind!


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