Thursday, October 23, 2008

the plot thickens

I had been reading Ken Alder (2007) Focus: Thick issues.
And this reminded me again of Sherry Turkle's Evocative objects, things we think with.
I keep thinking I should add a fanfiction site for Sherry Turkle but it has yet to happen, I would need more time.

Here's another thicker story:
In my childhood, we never had a wooden spoon. I had heard of these, they were after all a common entity, ubiquitous even had the word been known. But not in my family home.
My eldest sister and her friendly neighbour buried each and every one they came across. Or to be more exact, which came across them.
Or so I was told when I asked how come we didn't have one.
I know what wooden spoons are for, they are for burying in the garden.
Apparently they were also for hitting unruly children; stirring pots of jam, porridge, whatever.
I was never hit with one. They were all buried.
I have never owned a wooden spoon either. I had learned to live without this weapon. However, I have a spurtle. It's short, it's a Scottish variation; after all porridge is (arguably) nicer lumpless.
The shorter handle lends itself less to hitting.
And it's short length suits the modern size of saucepans, and the 'modern' cook who infrequently makes jam.
Has economics altered the ubiquity of wooden spoons?
Has birth control?
For myself, its also the less violent norms in domesticity.
A 'good' story provokes more questions, or so I am told.
A humble research approach doesn't tell others how their world is.
It suggests it might also be otherwise.

In providing a functionalist description of objects, Alder reminds me that this denies the incredible capacity for people to repurpose their tools. He says

"to reduce an object to its [stated] function involves more than a failure of attention: it is a slur on the human ability to repurpose the material world and on the power of things to reshape the contours of human experience."

As much as we think we shape our tools, they also shape us; there is push and pull.

Do you have a story? Write it with a backlink to here, I would be interested in 'hearing' it as I practice writing thicker stories.

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