There is, believe it or not, a natural order to things. While at times, the world around us may seem random and chaotic, much of it, in fact, is ordered, structured and even sensible.
Which is not to say “to our liking.” Or predictable.
For example, I think people should respond to email from professional colleagues and co-workers. It seems a simple, polite and deserving form of professional conduct.
But such is not the case. Here, the natural order of things is: respond to that which pleases you, ignore the rest. Like work.
In many cases, maybe most, the thing determines its outcome. Marshall McLuhan might have said that. Maybe he did. It is a kind of twist on technological determinism. Which, another Canadian, Harold Innis, is responsible for and the other guy appropriated.
But back to the Thing and its Outcome. How something operates predicts what will occur, or what has to occur, in order for the operation to happen. What something Is, determines how it Does.
Take liquids, for instance. Once containerized, liquids are intended to be poured.
We do not scoop or shovel milk, after all. Though I suppose one could. But it would not be especially efficient, never mind satisfying. And if one were younger than 35 years, say, it could make one impatient.
“Let’s see, I’d like a glass of milk . . . Now, let me go to the garage to get my shovel.”
Trouble with this relatively simple concept began in recent memory. I’m virtually positive it was initiated with hand lotion. And, of course, the only time one needs hand lotion is in the winter, when skin dries out and becomes Uncomfortable. Which we do not like.
Up until recently, one would take the bottle of hand lotion, give it a shake, and then squeeze and pour the lotion out and onto one’s hand. You know the remainder of the operation.
Suddenly, this became a bad idea. And instead of pouring, pushing became the preferred method for dispensing. A pump was installed at the top of the bottle. One pushed down on the pump and, if one was lucky, out came hand lotion.
Until, that is, one got near the bottom of the bottle. More exactly: once very little, but still some, lotion remained in its container.
Then there was only a sucking sound. Which some people objected to. Again, the issue of “comfort.”
OK. Alright. We can live with this, can’t we? What’s the difference when your already-slippery-from-lotion-hand can no longer smoothly operate the pump? Try therapy. And get over it, for Pete’s sake.
But, as these things tend to do, migration occurs. It’s kind of like the 1960s “Domino Theory” about Vietnam: if one southeast Asian nation falls, so too will the remainder. (Liberals at the time scoffed at such foolishness. And were then later proven wrong and the “theory” right.) It is, in fact, part of the natural order; see the first sentence above.
Now pump action – which I previously associated only with shotguns – is part of many bottled products. Shampoo, for another example.
Why is this a good idea? One is standing under rainfall, greased-up with who-knows-what-expensive-soap, one grabs for the shampoo and, oops, the container slides away.
Here, I thought I wanted to wash my hair. Guess not. Instead, there I am, at the gym and in the men’s locker room shower area, running naked chasing a shampoo bottle.
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