Wednesday, October 10, 2012


This afternoon, waiting in line for coffee, I noticed the hoodie of the fellow in front of me had a loose thread. The hoodie was new; he could not have bought it more than a few days ago ... it still had the crimping one expects from a new piece of clothing. The hood was thrown off his head, and the thread was in a place where he's unlikely to see it for weeks; perhaps a girl he knows will clip it off for him.

It put me in mind of something I have been saying since trying to watch TinTin on the weekend. I did not get very far. Spielberg is the sort of director who doesn't cost much emotionally for the viewer, making his work accessible ... but at the same time, he and his writers tend to broadcast their intentions for the plots they make with a veritable bullhorn. I got as far as the scene where the dog is chasing the cat around, knowing this would upset the boat and reveal the hidden item inside - which surely happened - to be witnessed through the window by the villain - which also surely happened. That was far enough for me.

There is a thing about furniture making, no so different from any other craft, where the goal is not to allow the nicks and chips of the chisel to make themselves visible to the buyer. Spielberg sucks at this. There's so many 'gouges' in his films that one wonders if he bothers to think on them at all. Perhaps he doesn't care. Perhaps Spielberg is the Walmart of filmmakers ... loved and cherished by the sort of people who do not care that their new clothes have loose threads, or that they're just good enough to be used and thrown out in three years.

No question: the Age of Shoddy that we live in bears so many nicks and scrapes from the manufacturer's tooling that as a culture we've come to expect it. In fact, as a culture we've come to identify shoddy crafting with homespun and geniune ... which has been a remarkable marketing achievement, in that all this homespun, genuine crap we buy in the culture's superstore is ALL machine-churned. Still, the fantasy remains. Anything seamless implies a threat, for the first impulse is to search for the flaw which we know MUST be there. This, too, has the marketing boys at Cheap-R-Us smiling proud. Lower expectations and rake in the profits. I'm surprised not to have heard a conspiracy theory that argues the Republican Party paid off the biggest dopes in the country to run against Romney and make him look good.

Crappy manufacture is the lettuce in the teeth of America. No one even mentions it anymore.

Recently, I wrote a post about how hard it is to convince people that something is true. Let me embed something here which you should watch if you remain a thinking person in America:

At five minutes into the above video, the lecturer, David Harvey, addresses the circumstance back in the early 80s when the elected right crushed the unions in America underfoot ... in part by rolling back their power, and in part by encouraging manufacturing to move overseas (aided by improved technology in transportational acumen). Now, I remember this happening. I was coming out of high school, where I had a particularly left wing social science teacher who would later wind up the head of the teacher's union for the province of Alberta. He was a unique fellow, who had won my respect two years earlier by ... well, I'll try to keep the story brief.

I started reading the World Almanac at the age of 7, mostly because I was fascinated with geography and with numbers. Each year I would get a new one for Christmas, and each year I would tear through it from cover to cover, comparing it year by year with the former information, particularly with regards to changes in population, national statistics, economics and recent history. It's where I got my grounding for the world creation I do for D&D ... its all part of the same rich application of knowledge that I came by early in life.

Because the Almanac was the most central thing in my life during those formative years, I carried it with me back and forth from school; it was always in reach, and I never gave a shit about people who may have thought that was weird. In most of my classes I kept the book on my desk, on the right hand corner - and if you don't think that's intimidating for a teacher who doesn't know the capital of Spain in Madrid, you have never taught school. Believe me, I intimidated the hell out of teachers, which I considered my right in exchange for the six hours a day of my life they were wasting.

This particular socialist teacher I mentioned above, the one I met in Grade Ten, was the first teacher I'd had who lifted the book off my desk to use it in teaching his class. I'd had teachers confiscate the book - you reading this cannot imagine how this once-twelve-year-old author righteously screamed about the freedom of truth and knowledge, though you may well imagine. Mr. H. respected it ... and thereby, respected me.

I remember discussing with him the events in the above film, while they were happening, in light of the media at that time. I was well versed in Current Events; I have been since. In '82, at eighteen, I was occasionally shouting at others about the Cruise missile's placement in Canada. So I have personal memories of the sort of shit Reagan and Thatcher were up to, and ways in which Canada was not on board because of the hated liberal Trudeau who had established this country's stance on such things ... the same stance that saved our ass in '08.

Yet there is hardly any way I can have a conversation right now that clearly admits those events without loading them up with a bunch of re-written history that is, frankly, utter bullshit. I am only a middle-aged man, and I am speaking of a span of time that is only thirty years ... but for all the accuracy I can expect to hear regarding that time, the freaking history may as well have been manufactured by the machine that made the guy's hoodie.

It is not in the interest of the ordinary person dwelling in this society to admit that the events that went on then actually happened. The same can be said for all the assorted events in the last thirty years - our history is not viewed in terms of accuracy, but in terms of convenience ... and not only just for the fools seeking office of the market sharks, but for the ordinary moron who just wants to believe that his or her country couldn't possibly be responsible for any of the bad shit that has ever happened.  They have to.  They are not well-crafted citizens; no matter how bad the stitching of their belief systems, they have nothing better.  Admittance of fault - or more to the point, admittance of guilt - would mean not only that their own lives have been stolen at the expense of other people, but that their cherished gods - their parents - were bastards as well.  Better to believe that it was someone else's mistake, someone else's error of judgment, someone else's failure to engage or adjust or simply improve themselves.

I said it above; we do not discuss shoddy in terms of its nature.  We dress it in patriotism and pride, that last being the seventh deadly sin that has always been touted by a certain class as a virtue.

I am not interested in shoddy.  I do not dress it up.  I do not seek to sustain those for whom shoddy is 'good enough.'   If its crap, I'm prepared to say so.  If it doesn't get the job done, I don't care whose feelings it hurts, or whose wealth it diminishes, or whose country it wrecks ... if the thing is a piece of shit, it has to go on the shit pile.  Calling Spielberg the greatest director in films, or America the greatest country in the world, or D&D the greatest game that's ever been made, doesn't change the thing.  Marketing the product doesn't make it work.

Fix it, cure it, re-educate it or smack some sense into it ... or take the fucking thing out behind the barn and shoot it.  If it can't perform the purpose for which it was made, then it has had it's day and it's about time we got something better. 


Ian said...

The difference is that what you see as the purpose of D&D is often difference that what others see the purpose of D&D is. Unless the same goal is in mind, a different starting point should be assumed.

Alexis said...

My perception of the purpose of D&D is that is should be so interesting you perceive it as one of the three fundamental activities of your life. How do we differ?

Carl Nash said...

... eating and fucking being the other two? Just curious...

JDJarvis said...

Sometimes folks keep using the same tool again and again expecting it to get the job done, they seldom stop and notice they've been trying to use that hammer as a screwdriver and have been getting terrible results. They like the hammer it reminds them of the one their dad used to have, except of course it was cheaper and not as well made, no one will be looking back on the new hammer fondly. In their disappointment they seldom bother hunting down that new well made screwdriver it will never be that trusty old hammer.

Alexis said...

There's nothing wrong with putting a hammer to the use to which it's intended.

If I had a hammer, I'd hammer in the morning. I'd hammer in the evening. I'd hammer out danger. I'd hammer out a warning. I'd hammer about the love between my brothers and my sisters, all over this land.