Oct 3, 2006

Some of you feel sorry for this LÅMP

Remember that commercial where there's a sad looking desk lamp that gets put out on the curb, and the happy homeowner is seen bringing in a new Ikea lamp and setting it up inside? And then it starts to rain, and the inside looks so warm and inviting and there's the old lamp, its neck bent shamefully downwards, getting rained on next to the garbage can. The narrator comes in all of a sudden and goes (in a Scandi accent): "Some of you feel sorry for this lamp. But you are crazy!..."

WAIT, why am I trying to describe this when we have YouTube????



Anyway.

I was thinking about the lamp commercial because I was thinking about the mysterious life-like properties of things that are clearly not alive. The idea of objects having feelings is interesting. Some people know that the lamp has no feelings, but we still feel sorry for it because it's sort of anthropomorphic. I started thinking about how women are probably more likely to feel sorry for the lamp than men are, and lo and behold I came across this when I was searching for the video: "Women Feel Sorry for Lamps and Old Chairs and Shit."

While it totally cracked me up, it fell into the category of "It's Funny Because it's True." Not all of it, I mean whoever wrote it is probably a fifteen-year-old virginboy. My favorite part is:

"What if someone came in and took one of those objects away — for repairs or something? As a man you would think this was jolly good. Most things need repairing after all. It’s good to know some man is doing it and not some woman. A woman, however, women would be heartbroken.

“The poor item!” she would say. “He’s being taken away from all his other item friends!”
But it IS true that women seem more likely to tacitly understand the living qualities of the unalive. I mean, just Saturday afternoon when Courtney and I were at the flea market, I found myself asking a guy if one of his lamp globes could come with me, or if he had to stay with his friends the other lamp globes. I just meant, can I break up the set, you know? I wasn't even trying to be cute. And the guy was like, "Uh, yeh, he has to stay with his friends..."

Closely related is the question of why some objects seem to be universally satisfying and some seem just unsatisfying in a way that one can't articulate. Here are some examples:

Satisfying: cue ball, key, jade plant, Ipod, bowling pin, Rubik's Cube, bubble wrap, hard-boiled egg, brick, wheel, gear, pint glass.

Unsatisfying: dry-erase marker, futon, toothbrush, zucchini (ok, that's not universal, but I hate it), plastic bag, dry cement, toilet paper roll, coaster, CD-case, shower curtain.

I know I'm not alone in subconsciously assessing daily objects for this intangible quality of being "satisfying." It gets even more interesting when you start talking about totally abstract things like numbers, letters, or colors. This morning, our intern Kristen and I were talking about my OCD quiz, and she asked me why I didn't prefer 2 or 6 or 8 to 3. She claimed that 2 is nicer, and 6 or 8 are even better because they are even-numbered groupings, and groupings are nice and everything's nice and even. I was pretty horrified, 'cause 6 and 8 aren't even prime, and here she is saying they're awesome. Likewise, she was really appalled that I like 7 as maybe my second favorite, which she finds completely hideous and pointy.

What is your opinion? Are you a guy who has friends on your shelf? Are you a woman who throws out familiar objects with abandon? Is it a gender thing? If so, I prefer to think of it as a positive thing to have a rich imaginary world of good and bad, but it definitely has its shortcomings when you really want to run around the park clockwise, but you can't... because... well, because of G-d and his pesky counterclockwise mandate.

P.S. I noticed at services on Yom Kippur that my prayerbook actually spelled out God. Is that because we went to the reform services? The Rabbi was definitely a stinky hippie, but I still didn't know you were allowed to spell out His name in a book.

11 Comments:

Blogger lil miss dubin opined...

HOW CAN YOU SAY A DRY-ERASE MARKER ISN'T SATISFYING?! THOSE ARE THE BEST!! and they smell soooo awesome!
ps: that video about the lamp is hella sad, sniff.

10:50 PM  
Blogger capella opined...

I don't like most prime numbers. My favorites are generally multiples of 12. Nice and round. The number 11 is enough to make me physically ill... all squashy and dissipated with nothing inside it.

I have a ring that I wear whenever I leave the house. It feels weird to even take out the trash without it. When I am very upset, I wear it in the house too.

The IB won't speak to me, even to acknowledge our "breakup". I thought we were friends, and now we aren't, and I don't understand why. It's late, and I'm going to brush my teeth and put on my ring and go to sleep.

11:43 PM  
Blogger amanda bee opined...

Isn't it all about design?

There was a guy who lived out of his truck with his mangy puppies in Greenpoint, selling furniture. Mostly he wore these worn out keds type kicks and very short cut-offs and he was quite tan and fit. I don't know how I got him started but I was chatting with him one day and through his thick polish accent he was telling me that no one appreciates good dezzin anymore. The dezzin. No one understands the dezzin. I was a block away before what he was talking about finally clicked.

The secret truth is that we *do* appreciate good design, but too often we do so unconsciously. So we know that deep down a cue ball is appealing, but we don't really think about why a smooth, heavy object that perfectly fits in your hand might be more satisyfing than a smelly (sorry aDub) thing with a label you can't really digest and a cap that jams.

I really like three and eight. I like how they are bulbous. I like two, because it is modest.

11:12 AM  
Blogger lil miss dubin opined...

unrelated: my sister kicks major butt.

1:32 AM  
Blogger Bob V opined...

I fall on the side of anthropomorphizing things, though I suspect that's due to my obsession with Eastern religions. I try to intuit what something wants to be doing and let that happen. Think of it like how a sculptor is trying to let the sculpture trapped within the rock break free except I am far more lazy. I think of all objects as having their thing that they are doing, and I should be respectful of that. This is very useful when trying to justify why one should not clean the apartment.

11:29 PM  
Blogger Megan opined...

aDubin!:
You sister is freakin' awesome, except for being completely wrong about numbers. Yeah, there's a lot to be said for prime numbers, but they aren't softly rounded and gentle like even numbers. They aren't friendly, or anything.

Anything for transportation, cars, bikes, roller skates, is obviously female and should be treated with thanks for all the work she does for you.

12:49 PM  
Blogger Bob V opined...

I've heard that the best lottery numbers to play are largish prime numbers since they tend to be played by others less frequently (leading to fewer split prizes when you win).

10:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous opined...

Two observations:

(1) on dry erase: chalk, there ain't nothin' wrong with that.

(2) what's your beef with zucchini? my favorite cookbook devoted to it (good for living in New England at the end of the summer when your neighbors are begging folks to haul it away).

(3) non-primes: ain't nothin wrong with them either. Ask TJ to construct the finite field of order four for you. It's kind of like mini-sodoku, and, incidentally, part of our (informal) homework that he doesn't know about because he bolted out of our 1.5 lecture after 25 minutes last week.

12:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous opined...

D'oh. That's three observations isn't it.

12:34 AM  
Blogger Dick Masterson opined...

"...whoever wrote it is probably a fifteen-year-old virginboy."

That's insensitive to teenagers of all sexes.

As a man, I can distance myself from the insult and realize it's impact on those less-fortunate. It's called social responsibility.

-Dick

7:38 PM  
Blogger Dubin opined...

Oh my goodness, you're right. How could I? I was probably PMSing when I wrote that.

8:34 AM  

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