FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Off With Your Appurtenances!

by BEN TRIPP

In light of impending disaster, we must throw aside the trappings of bourgeois complacency. I am fond of these trappings, and in certain cases even aspire to upgrade, but if it comes down to me or my stuff, I’ll take me. Albeit with great regret. Human history, and the 200,000 years before human history during which we were still identifiably human, if a trifle stooped, is marked by calamities that have presented individuals of our species with a simple choice. Those that made the correct selection, survived. Those that did not, plotzed. Here is this choice which has so often been arranged by one mechanism or another (an ice age here, a war there) to prove the mettle of mankind: you, or yours?

You, or Yours. Vous, ou Vôtre? U, of van U? Faced with calamity immediate or pending (angry mob/ dwindling petroleum supply) will you choose to adhere to the interests of your stuff, or will you choose to adhere to the interests of your self, understood to mean you the entity, to be construed as including for the sake of this argument both the Hobbesian sense of a material, atomistic being, and Descartes’ ideational modality in which the self is a causal commitment? You can see why most of us go for the stuff. It’s easier to explain.

But the times, they are a-changing, as that guy in the Victoria’s Secret commercials used to say. We can’t remain so attached to stuff, or we’ll be verklempt when it’s distrained upon by creditors. They don’t call it the trappings of bourgeois complacency for nothing: it traps you. Here, then, is this exercise you may remember I was foing to tell you about. (I meant to say going. ‘foing was just a typographical error. Oddly enough, sforza is not a typographical error, but rather the Italian word for ‘it strains’, and also the name of a family that ruled the duchy of Milan from the mid-15th through early 16th centuries.) This exercise requires one of those trappings I mentioned, viz. a digital camera. One could use a film camera for the same purpose, but why?

Take a photograph of everything you own. You don’t have to print the pictures, you can just put them all in a folder in your computer somewhere, or if you have a magical camera, you can cause your pictures to orbit Saturn. What matters most is the picture-taking. Be methodical. Start on the outside of your dwelling, tenementum, or messuage, where there isn’t usually quite so much stuff. Garden hose, bits of old tricycle, dog toy, chair. Move indoors, going carefully from room to room. Curtains, rugs, Pink Floyd poster, pillow, table, favorite mug, hat; get a picture of everything you personally own. If you rent, disregard the items furnished with the rental. I will allow certain efficiencies, such as photographing all contents of a drawer in situ, as long as you can get most of it into the picture. No sense turning the place upside down. Ditto bookshelves. You don’t have to photograph each book separately. If you have any first editions of Swift, let me know. Keep taking pictures: bathroom cabinets, attic, crawlspace, under the kitchen sink. The car, and the stuff in the car. Clothing can be shot where it hangs, like Mussolini, but shoes get one picture per pair. There is stuff you can’t get pictures of, like your attachment to place, your daily routine, your Big Plans for the Future, consuetude generally. This stuff isn’t even stuff! If you didn’t get a picture of it, it doesn’t exist. Ironically, it’s the stuff that doesn’t exist that gets most of us killed.

What you will end up with is approximately one half-million pictures. These pictures represent your stuff. Review the pictures. What do you notice? If it was somebody else’s stuff, you wouldn’t care about it. It’s all rubbish. That’s part one of this exercise. Part two requires the collapse of the American way of life, replete with economic and societal disaster, catastrophic environmental change, war, and costly gasoline. Will you pile all your stuff in the basement and defend it against the IRS tanks until you run out of ammunition? Will you suffocate in a mud slide because you refuse to leave your stuff behind? Ixnay, I say. Leave it all behind and start again. Our duty is to go on, not to perish on principle, as hard as that is. In fact, now is probably the best time to get rid of it all, not after things have gone wrong. If you miss the good old days, no worries. You can always look at the pictures.

BEN TRIPP can be reached at credel@earthlink.net.

His book, ‘Square In The Nuts’, has been held up at the printers by thugs but will be released as soon as hostage negotiations conclude.

See also www.cafeshops.com/tarantulabros.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

January 19, 2017
Melvin Goodman
America’s Russian Problem
John W. Whitehead
Nothing is Real: When Reality TV Programming Masquerades as Politics
Mike Whitney
The Trump Speech That No One Heard 
Conn Hallinan
Is Europe Heading for a “Lexit”?
Stephen Cooper
Truth or Twitter? Why Donald Trump Is No John Steinbeck
Binoy Kampmark
Scoundrels of Patriotism: The Freeing of Chelsea Manning
Ramzy Baroud
The Balancing Act is Over: What Elor Azaria Taught Us about Israel
Josh Hoxie
Why Health Care Repeal is a Stealth Tax Break for Millionaires
Kim C. Domenico
It’s High Time for a Politics of Desire
Shamus Cooke
Inauguration Day and Beyond
Clark T. Scott
More and More Lousy
David Swanson
Samantha Power Can See Russia from Her Padded Cell
Yoav Litvin
Time to Diss Obey- The Failure of Identity Politics and Protest
Kevin Carson
Right to Work and the Apartheid State
Malaika H. Kambon
Resisting the Lynching of Haitian Liberty!
January 18, 2017
Gary Leupp
The Extraordinary Array of Those Questioning Trump’s Legitimacy (and Their Various Reasons)
Charles Pierson
Drone Proliferation Ramps Up
Ajamu Baraka
Celebrating Dr. King with the Departure of Barack Obama
David Underhill
Trumpology With a Twist
Chris Floyd
Infinite Jest: Liberals Laughing All the Way to Hell
Stansfield Smith
Obama’s Hidden Role in Worsening Climate Change
Ron Leighton
Trump is Not Hitler: How the Misuse of History Distorts the Present as Well as the Past
Ralph Nader
An Open Letter to President-Elect Donald Trump
Binoy Kampmark
NATO and Obsolescence: Donald Trump and the History of an Alliance
Zarefah Baroud
‘The Power to Create a New World’: Trump and the Environmental Challenge Ahead
Julian Vigo
Obama Must Pardon the Black Panthers in Prison or in Exile
Alfredo Lopez
The Whattsapp Scandal
Clancy Sigal
Russian Hacking and the Smell Test
Terry Simons
The Truth About Ethics and Condoms
January 17, 2017
John Pilger
The Issue is Not Trump, It is Us
John K. White
Is Equality Overrated, Too?
Michael J. Sainato
The DNC Hands the Democratic Party Over to David Brock and Billionaire Donors
John Davis
Landscapes of Shame: America’s National Parks
Andrew Smolski
Third Coast Pillory: Politicians and Rhetorical Tricks
Chris Busby
The Scientific Hero of Chernobyl: Alexey V. Yablokov, the Man Who Dared to Speak the Truth
David Macaray
Four Reasons Trump Will Quit
Chet Richards
The Vicissitudes of the Rural South
Clancy Sigal
“You Don’t Care About Jobs”: Why the Democrats Lost
Robert Dodge
Martin Luther King and U.S. Politics: Time for a U.S. Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Jack Sadat Lee
I Dream of Justice for All the Animal Kingdom
James McEnteer
Mourning Again in America
January 16, 2017
Paul Street
How Pure is Your Hate?
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
Did the Elites Have Martin Luther King Jr. Killed?
Robert Hunziker
Global Warming Clobbers Ocean Life
Patrick Cockburn
The Terrifying Parallels Between Trump and Erdogan
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail