The Right Stuff: A Brief Story of Accumulation

April 02, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

On Easter Sunday, my wife and I visited the Getty Center museum.  It was a cool, misty and overcast day, a perfect day for a museum visit.  Besides enjoying a bit of lunch up there, we viewed a new photography exhibit entitled ‘Japan's Modern Divide:
The Photographs of Hiroshi Hamaya and Kansuke Yamamoto.
’  Mr. Hamaya’s work was that of a traditional documentarian while Mr. Yamamoto sought a more avant-garde expression.  The images were mostly black and white and beautifully matted and framed.  We enjoyed the exhibit thoroughly.

About 3:30 a.m. this morning, I awoke with a thought in my mind about ‘stuff,’ in particular, the stuff we saw at the Getty on Sunday.  In recent years, in Western culture, there has been a movement to be satisfied with less stuff.  George Carlin, the comedian even did a great routine about ‘stuff.’  He started by saying something like, “A house is a place where you keep your stuff.”  If you moved somewhere else, you got rid of some stuff, and then accumulated more stuff to fill your new place.  It was a funny shtick and it got people to think about all the ‘stuff’ they had and how attached they were to it.

“A museum is a place filled with stuff.”  My quote here.  The photographs we viewed are someone’s ‘stuff.‘  People come from all over to look at all of that stuff.  If all that stuff is a reflection of an empty materialism as some would say, then why are we so attached to our stuff?

The thought occurred to me that if our ancestors had not made and held onto their stuff, archeologists would have nothing to dig up; anthropologists would have nothing that would describe to them our ancient past.  Stuff fuels our economy.  The stuff we viewed the other day told a story about two photographers and about the people and things appearing in their photographs.

‘Stuff’ tells stories.  Our stuff tells ‘our story.’  It makes me think about the ‘stuff’ my wife and I had accumulated over the years and how most of it is currently packed away in cardboard boxes and plastic containers, out of sight.  When we surround ourselves with our stuff, in essence, we surround ourselves with our personal story, reminders of who we are.

I believe that’s important.  In our society today where we are bombarded with so much information, I think we have a deep need to remind ourselves of who we are in all of that noise.  We do that by adorning our personal space with ‘our stuff’, the right stuff.

David


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