Sunday, November 9, 2014

Reading

I'm an avid reader, or at least I try to be. My current 9-5 job doesn't allow me the opportunity to sit and read for 30 minutes, however, I've been trying to get through a new book on weekends.

The Thing Itself: On the Search for Authenticity by Richard Todd is that "new" book I picked up a few months back, but am still working on it. Only 52 pages in, it seems like it's been worth the investment.

Mr. Todd uses the pages to question what type of value we, as a general society, put on items that we come across in our daily lives. It can range from the little trinket you may see and buy at a thrift store, all the way up to the prospect of trying to figure out a world renown painting's reproductive worth (where I am now in the book). He pulls examples from his past and mixes them with current situations (or in the case of the paintings, uses names people may know).

The main question he keeps asking is why do we value objects so keenly and are gutted when we can no longer keep them in our possession (either by way of selling or throwing it out)? One man's trash is another man's treasure, only to hoard enough of specific items that we start telling ourselves it's worth it. In the end, it can be put in a closet, in a barn, stored away that we forget about it and it disappears from our minds for a while. It's of no use hidden away, but of worse use when we talk ourselves into wanting it. Original owners sell it for a reason, why does the buyer think they're getting a 2 million dollar object for 2 dollars?

Even if you, the reader, aren't guilty of wanting little pieces of glassware or CDs, you know someone who is. Personally, I've accumulated a few things in my lifetime, enough that when it comes down to yard sales, I have to really push myself into selling it. There comes a point where I see someone interested in buying it, I talk up the item like it's worth its weight in gold. I also have friends that have done similar things - collect the tchotchkes from places and display them like it's the proudest accomplishment of the week. I can definitely see Richard Todd's points he is making in the book, just based on situations in my own life. Again, we as a general society, put value on things that may or may not be beneficial to our lives in the long run. How will the fifty cent cell phone holder help me 20 years from now, when I may not have a phone? I love the alien shape of it - he seems to be hugging my phone, but will I still love it when he's destroyed? He's held up for a decade already... how much longer will I need him?

Grab this book while you can... very good insight into why we do what we do with objects. I can't wait to finish the rest of the book.. what else will I learn?