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Thread: I'm only happy when I'm making things, part III

  1. #11
    Hasta Siempre Madrigal's Avatar
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    I should add that learning to cook a few things for once in my life was one of the main "edifying" points of the past year for me.
    Quote Originally Posted by Hephaestus View Post
    Heh. We've been here years now.

  2. #12
    No Thank You Blorg's Avatar
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    This isn't a new thing so I'm skeptical of the link between millenial impoverishment in particular with a desire for manual hobbies. Hunting was one of the trademark hobbies of the nobility in the middle ages. Many gardeners were of the artistocratic class in Britain. Needlework was often considered an essential skill of upper-class women. In the US, there was a continual yearning for the frontier among lower, middle and even upper class people that goes way back into the 1800's, leading periodic floods of immigrants into the Western wilds (and subsequent retreats when it proved too difficult for them to survive)
    Last edited by Blorg; 05-05-2020 at 07:36 AM. Reason: Grammar

  3. #13
    schlemiel Faust's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Madrigal
    What kinds of activities can you market to the poor? They don't have as much money to buy expensive clothes (so why not make them), eat out (so why not become a home chef), take courses (so why not teach yourself something you don't need to pay a professor for), buy items for interior designing (so why not start making them yourself), etc.
    I had brought up the question once, I think maybe to lethe, of whether there would be some benefit to having a non-profit service that helps impoverished people learn to cook delicious meals for any dietary target on a budget. Thinking, oh, maybe they just don't know how. I expect this is naive, and if you ask them, patronizing. They either already prep meals at home or aren't interested, just like the middle class. They could easily research it themselves, pretty much everyone has some internet access. Boxed products are convenient and addictive. I could stop the lady at the counter with 4 2L bottles of coke, frozen pizzas, a cigarette in her mouth and 5 kids clinging to her legs about the gospel of legumes but she'd probably just look at me with her eyes glazed over.

    Maybe it could be a useful service for anyone who wants it since better overall health is probably good for society, but I expect a solid school lunch program would be most effective. I don't think we'd find the political will even here.

    I think this is what corporations have managed to encroach on more and more over the past decades. Our personal mindspace.
    I agree. We're able to have near-constant shallow engagement with technology. I expect people have replaced a good deal of daydreaming and thought with dopamine hits from social media. The idea seems alarming to me but it's not obvious on the surface how bad it is for society.

    I've tried to remind myself that it's good to have time to do nothing, absolutely fuck all.

  4. #14
    Hasta Siempre Madrigal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blorg View Post
    This isn't a new thing so I'm skeptical of the link between millenial impoverishment in particular with a desire for manual hobbies. Hunting was one of the trademark hobbies of the nobility in the middle ages. Many gardeners were of the artistocratic class in Britain. Needlework was often considered an essential skill of upper-class women. In the US, there was a continual yearning for the frontier among lower, middle and even upper class people that goes way back into the 1800's, leading periodic floods of immigrants into the Western wilds (and subsequent retreats when it proved too difficult for them to survive)
    I'm not sure of the link between millenial precarity and this new fad, but the reason why it actually is "new" is that this fad is emerging after decades of having deliberately left these hobbies behind in the interest of women's liberation from domestic chores, reducing them to a minimum, either by purchasing processed food, buying more and more home appliances/miracle chemical products, or buying cheap mass-produced clothes items originally made in Asia for pennies. The move to "celebrate" these things instead of getting them out of the way as soon as possible is new, and it's primarily targetted to women who are looking for a creative outlet or just stress relief. It's kinda funny, in my opinion, that in their transition from the home to the workforce, they strove to relieve themselves of this burden, and now that they're fully immersed in the workforce, they are turning back to these tasks for relief.
    Quote Originally Posted by Hephaestus View Post
    Heh. We've been here years now.

  5. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Faust View Post
    I had brought up the question once, I think maybe to lethe, of whether there would be some benefit to having a non-profit service that helps impoverished people learn to cook delicious meals for any dietary target on a budget.
    Poor people don't cook because they don't have the time to cook from scratch, and they don't have the money for blue apron. Cooking a meal from scratch is healthy, cheap, and delicious but it is really time consuming. When I was cooking all my own food, I would prep a bunch of stuff on the weekend and then during the week, all I did was exercise, work, cook, clean up, and sleep. That's with no kids or pets. If you want to have a life, you need to use shortcuts like pre-diced garlic, ginger paste, pre-cut vegetables, etc. That stuff is much more expensive, and even then its still a lot of work. Now that I'm in grad school, fuck it. I just go out for a big lunch and eat pita chips or fruit or something for dinner.

  6. #16
    Hasta Siempre Madrigal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Faust View Post
    Thinking of my own pursuit of self-improvement, I've put a lot of effort into being in good shape.
    The ancient Greeks approve, btw.

    Quote Originally Posted by Faust View Post
    I had brought up the question once, I think maybe to lethe, of whether there would be some benefit to having a non-profit service that helps impoverished people learn to cook delicious meals for any dietary target on a budget. Thinking, oh, maybe they just don't know how. I expect this is naive, and if you ask them, patronizing. They either already prep meals at home or aren't interested, just like the middle class. They could easily research it themselves, pretty much everyone has some internet access. Boxed products are convenient and addictive. I could stop the lady at the counter with 4 2L bottles of coke, frozen pizzas, a cigarette in her mouth and 5 kids clinging to her legs about the gospel of legumes but she'd probably just look at me with her eyes glazed over.
    I don't think this fad is actually for those people, I think it's more seductive to stressed-out professional women. Not really the single mom that collects coupons so she can buy enough dirt-cheap boxed products to last her the month, and for whom hot dog wieners are probably the highlight of a dish.

    I've tried to remind myself that it's good to have time to do nothing, absolutely fuck all.
    The number of things you solve and the daily mini-disasters averted just by having a bit of free time to think is unbelievable. Sometimes when something goes wrong, I realize, "If I had only thought about this beforehand, just for 30 seconds, this wouldn't have happened." And that's just for the little things.
    Quote Originally Posted by Hephaestus View Post
    Heh. We've been here years now.

  7. #17
    schlemiel Faust's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by starla View Post
    Poor people don't cook because they don't have the time to cook from scratch, and they don't have the money for blue apron.
    I think that depends.

  8. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Madrigal View Post
    I feel a little ambivalent about this. We've spent the last 70 years seeing these things as drudgery, and every new technological advance as a step towards liberation and the freeing up of time for career pursuits/self-edification, only to turn all the old tasks into a new mystique now.

    I do get that the simplification of domestic food preparation has led to processed/fast food and unhealthy eating, that the abandonment of needlework has led to more industrial waste, and that the choice to throw away instead of re-use or re-purpose has led to more of the same, especially with the simultaneous rise in less durable products. So I know this liberation came at a cost. But I'm wary of a fad that repackages old-school housework as meditation.

    Something's not entirely right about this, even as I recognize the tyrannical pressure to monetize our free time and the need to escape that. Even before this particular wellness movement, big corporations have been preaching "mindfulness" and other semi-zen approaches to employees, to help them manage the pressures of what is basically an increasingly warped work-life balance. But I think a reduction of the work day and the guarantee of a living wage from a single job are what's not being talked about.

    Now, in a new twist of zen-promotion, we are expected to clear our cluttered minds through the age-old mechanical and repetitve movements of cleaning and fixing. I'm not buying it. Don't get me wrong, I place a high value on life skills such as cooking, gardening and repairing. But this seems like just another way to avoid talking about the elephant in the room, which is the increasing invasion of our lives by corporations.
    My word choice above was a bit off. Instead of "celebrate" I probably should have said recognize and fairly compensate. I don't think we were ever totally "liberated" from this work. It's more that some of us have the privilege of outsourcing that work to poorer people. Yes, a lot of this work is drudgery, but that doesn't stop it from being necessary. It still has to get done by someone. Whoever is doing that labour should receive a fair wage that allows them to meet their needs and gives them access to their own leisure time. I don't think the problem is that this kind of work exists, it's just that it's not valued appropriately, and that this labour tends to fall disproportionately on women, poor people and people of colour to do.

    I think what Odell was trying to get at is that we tend to celebrate and financially compensate people launching new things, not the people who keep them running once the fanfare has ended. Our economy is based on inducing demand for new things all the time. It tries to convince us to wring as much productivity out of ourselves as possible so that we will have the money to buy all the things that we are led to believe we need. Maybe in our society we need to slow down the pace and stop working harder to be able to buy more shit that we probably didn't need to own in the first place. The allusion to Buddhism is apt. I think it's implied though that she's speaking to an audience with a certain amount of privilege. No one's trying to tell people who are struggling to meet their basic needs to just be happier with less.

    I'm also really skeptical of the whole self-care movement because it's essentially about tooling people up to tolerate a system that is fundamentally unfair and unhealthy for a lot of people, and it places the burden on the individual to adapt to the situations they're in, rather than trying to change them. To a certain extent, we all need to be responsible for our own well-being but in some cases the pressures on us are systemic and affect a lot of people. In those cases, we need to take collective action to make those things better.

    But can cooking and cleaning be self-care? Sure, in the right context. If people choose to do them and get benefit out of it then that's great for them. For some people cleaning is not just cleaning, it's feeling a sense of control and ownership over one's space and satisfaction in making things look nice. Cooking is not necessarily drudgery. It can be the mental challenge of mastering new skills, improving your nutritional intake, or the social connection it facilitates with family or friends.

    If these things are your job that you do all day, or you don't have other options for things to do with your leisure time, then you'll probably feel differently about them, but I don't think that's the audience she's trying to reach with this.

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