Monday, April 03, 2006

Things take us hard, no question

Things take us hard, no question.
--Adrienne Rich, "Demon Lover"

I will now take this line completely out of context to reflect on a weirdness of mine, which I've discovered could also serve as a principle of sustainable living. I've always thought of things as having feelings. Stuffed animals, it goes without saying, but also computers, cups, plastic bags blowing across the highway, clothes...just about everything. I suppose I attribute feelings to them mostly when they're being treated badly, i.e. thrown away or tossed unthinkingly aside. This has led to some problematic hoarding behavior on my part, and a tendency to apologize to whatever I do throw away. (OK, I don't always apologize to the coffee grounds.) The tendency is also stronger when the thing was a gift, but I don't think my sense of a soul in a thing has only to do with the person who gave it, or the (unknown) person or people who made it. Anyway I read somewhere awhile back that having a sort of animistic belief system like this can lead to conservation--a resistance to disposing of items at the first sign of trouble with them. But at the same time one needs to be less attached to things, less willing to drag home crap because you feel sorry for it.

I'm reading Rich's line to mean that we're hard on things and they feel it. But I don't think that's what she meant. I wonder if cruelty to things extends to misinterpreting words.

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