Passing by the local rubbish dump, a few thoughts were triggered off by what I saw discarded there. There were bicycles, televisions, computers, cordless telephones, 'old' sinks, 'old' parabolas, plastic toys, 'old' desktop printers, 'old' refrigerators, 'old' microwave ovens and 'old' electric cookers etc. Most of the electric stuff was probably still in good working order.
When I was young nothing was thrown away. Bicycles, for example, were lovingly cleaned, oiled, repaired, refitted with new tires when the old ones were worn down to nothing, and generally treated as if they were to last a life time. (Regular oiling was essential in those days which is also why one dreaded the possibility of the chain coming off ).
Metal or wooden toys were 'handed down' and clothes were too. Even socks were repaired ('re-darned') then. Televisions of course were a luxury. Those combined with radio were large, about a meter high and quite heavy. The tube and huge valves were lovingly cased in precious wood and one was perfectly at ease to watch 'Hopalong Cassidy' in black and white on the nine inch screen, from the other side of the room, and reasonably patient during the 'We apologise for the breakdown, normal service will be resumed as soon as possible' pauses, or on discovering the tuning signal instead of the program.
Below the screen on either side of the 'set' there were usually two double knobs. The left combination consisted of 'volume' and 'tone'. The right combination consisted of 'contrast' and 'brightness'. More often than not the 'television set' was equipped with a radio above the 'loud speaker'. When on, it would light up a beautiful, detailed display of wave band information that one rarely bothered to refer to. (I can't remember the radio's tuning knob. Probably because as a toddler pest at that time, I wouldn't have been allowed to touch it). And of course, providing it wasn't the precious tube, if ever the television broke down, it was always repaired. The repair man would even come to do the job.
Today one sits a foot away from a 25 inch, high colour resolution, flat-screen computer that is built to last about a year, or will in any case be out of date by that time, and digital televisions, now like home cinemas, are almost as regularly up-dated.
All our values, and what is considered to be 'old', have been completely revolutionised. But this leaves one, especially those who were brought up before the 'revolution', with an uneasy feeling about possible saturation and depletion of natural resources.
Although one is aware of the countless 'recycling programs', there also has to be a limit to the infernal consumer spiral input, down into which vortex spin so many 'obsolete', purchased products prematurely condemned by the power of commercial persuasion, fashion, gimmicks, formidable technological progress, innovations and improvements.
There is also a risk of this phenomenon encroaching on the way one works, for our brains as well as methods in certain domains are not so easily 'up-datable'. It is not always practical, advisable or desirable to 'up-date' the way one is used to working to obtain the results one wishes to obtain. If one is too hasty, such means thus methods could also end up going down the infernal plug-hole.
For similar reasons the local rubbish dump made me also think of fish markets.
I once visited the fish market in New York. So enormous that it seemed interminable. Never had I seen such huge quantities of fish. All different sizes and species. And all treated as though they were banal merchandise like any other.
It occurred to me even then- this is only one day, in one market, in one city, in one country. How can this possibly continue? Will we simply go on ploughing madly through all the species in the sea like so many dodos until we realise too late, that there should have been much greater awareness and attention regarding the natural balance between consummation and natural resources? And this of course applies to everything.
Natural oil and gas resources pertain to another topical, geopolitical question, for there seems to be no real justification for the erratic, disproportional costs. In fact it's likely that the problem regarding an alternative, ecological energy, will be solved and means of transport would be 'up-dated' in function, before natural energy resources have run dry. It's not difficult to imagine how this will make petrol driven vehicles belong to another age, though in some cases they would remain just as beautiful, as are for example, antique, hand driven sewing machines, or all things made with love, care and dedication.
Assuming such a logical conviction is also shared by the lordly administrators in countries blest with important oil and gas resources, or vindictive powers bent on monopolising on natural energy, it is unlikely that it would encourage them to consider that 'the client is always right'. One also doubts that the ever increasing doom's day clouds of pollution will discourage one of the world's oldest civilisations from increasing its production, at the risk of choking on its own success, or excess, for the many avid clients who may be less often right.
A modified Ouroboros endlessly perpetuating his own life and death springs to mind. An 'updated', infernal, dooms-day version. The once moderately balanced, eternal consumer, becoming too greedy, rich and inflated to be able to comfortably reabsorb himself, inducing his own gradual and irrevocable end through chronic indigestion.
Text and image © Mirino (PW) September, 2008