Spring Cleaning, 25
If cleanliness is next to Godliness, where does obsessive compulsive lie? Spring Cleaning is a practice of disinfecting a home and purging a house of unnecessary things. Spring Cleaning historically coincides with the warming of temperatures and melting of rivers and springs where our ancestors found the necessary cleaning tools of clean water and fresh air. This custom takes place in many cultures around the globe; where in Iran they call it khooneh kekouni, Japan they call it oosouji, and in Jewish cultures they practice the removal of chametz before Passover.
Roland Barthe comments on this idea of cleanliness in his essay "Soap-powders and Detergents" Mythologies, where he discusses the perception of depth and the notion of a deep clean. Until now, we never realized how dirty everything is. Today, a deep cleaning is required for just about everything; from clothing to carpets, tile grout to teeth, facial pores to butt-holes. They've found a way to clean it and now there's a product to clean it with. Sure it may not even be dirty or the bacteria is actually good, but fuck it. Where you once had a mop/broom you now we have a Swifter, a sponge is now a Magic Eraser, a toilet brush has been reinvented to be a disposable toilet wand, face soap is now a motorized Dove SkinVitalizer Facial Cleanser Massager, and the list goes on.
The body alone has a million different products; face wash, body wash, shampoo, toothpaste, enemas, Qtips (which doesn't even have a generic name) Then there are products to replenish the natural and essential oils we just washed away; such as face lotion, body lotion, conditioner, lube, etc. This phenomena has obviously moved into the home where there is something for everything; cleaners for different materials wood, metal, glass, fabrics as well as cleaners for different things. It's not surprising they don't already have Living Room Cleaner, Closet Cleaner, and Attic Cleaner. There is even a cleaner for you cleaner; i.e. wash for your washing machine. There's a cleaner for dirt and even devices to preserve you cleaning tools, such as sponge covers and vacuum protectors.
Let's not forget Vegetable Wash, because cleaning vegetables with good old fashioned soap and water just wasn't cutting it. It is amazing that civilization existed before all of all these products. How did anyone ever go down on a toilet without a Clorox Toiletwand and the Scrubbing Bubbles? Or dust without Pledge? Polish without Murphy's Oil Soap (which isn't soap)? Vacuum without a Roomba, Dust Buster, Hoover, or Dyson? Get a stain out without Oxi-Clean or Resolve? Get crayon off a wall without Goo Gone? Clean their bong without Simple Green? Or most importantly drink water without Brita? It is slightly overwhelming, where our ancestors would say "whoa, what is all this stuff?" and future generations may say "yikes, how did they ever get by with just this?"
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100 Objects of Popular and Material Culture is an blog exploring the manifestations of human consumption and commodity-ization. The purpose of this experiment is to explore material and popular culture in contemporary society by using objects and concepts to prompt wider questions and reflections. So by emulating The British Museum's and Neil MacGregor's format of A History of the World in 100 Objects I plan to satirically analyze and reinterpreted 100 material culture objects over the course of 2014. Material Culture is the study of our culture's consumption of stuff; namely the manifestation of culture through material productions where people's perceptions of objects is socially and culturally dependent. With this, objects reflect conscious and unconscious beliefs on the the individuals who fabricated, purchased, or used them, and by extension the society where they live. So examining materiality, cultural truths and societal assumptions may be discovered. As anthropologist Arjun Appaduai states "in any society the individual is often caught between the cultural structure of commodity-ization and his own personal attempts to bring a value and order to the universe of things." Objects and commodities make up a much larger symbolic system consisting of want and need, socio-economic status, fashion, etc. Often times form follows function whether the commodity, market, and or consumer forever evolve around one-another. Philosopher Pierre Bourdieu's theories of capital flow full circle; where regardless if you are a minimalist or a hoarder the world is made up of things and everyone will leave their footprint on the earth. So by humorously analyzing marketed objects and concepts, hopefully this blog will provide further incite into ideas of over-consumption, a disposable society, consumerism vs. anti-consumers, planned obsolescence vs. sustainability, as well as the greater good of mankind and future generations.