Suze Lindsay Mug, a morning favorite for over ten years.As I sit here this morning getting ready to start the day I am taking part in my normal morning ritual of a cup or two of coffee. It's nice this semester because I teach in the afternoon/evenings so after getting up between six or seven I am able to start the day with the family and contemplate the actions of the day. Today I am reading an essay by Suzanne Ramljak, called Intimate Matters: Objects and Subjectivity. Here is an exerpt that I was particularly fond of:
Returning again to the cultural role of intimate objects, we can see that their effectiveness derives from a number of converging features. In general, we need objects for our physical development and to keep us focused and anchored in the world. Etymology stresses this stabilizing function of objects. The word "object" stems from obicere, meaning "to throw in the way of or hinder"; as a verb the word "object" means "to oppose or resist." Without the grounding force of objects, we would be adrift in a void without measure or weight. Objects provide us with a tangible source of comfort, something to hold on to in a shifting world.
The overall importance of objects in our lives, coupled with the rewards of personal involvement, lends the intimate object an increased value. Our interactions with such objects become even more precious in light of the digital revolution now under way. In many respects, digital technology is the antithesis of intimacy; it removes us from direct contact with experience, with each other, and even with ourselves. The price we pay for such technological advance was captured in 1928 by E. M. Forster's disquieting story "The Machine Stops." In this futuristic, but not improbable, tale of life ruled by machines, people have become horrified by direct contact and have entirely ceased to touch one another. An epiphany at the story's end leads the characters to realize that the machine "has robbed us of the sense of space and of the sense of touch, it has blurred every human relation and narrowed down love to a carnal act, it has paralyzed our bodies and our wills."18 Although Forster's story is fictional, this impoverishment of our relations due to computers and other machines cannot be overstated. In spite of current efforts to make computer technology more human, it will always lack the "imponderable bloom" that is the essence of personal inter-course.
As I sit in front of the computer I have to chuckle at the irony of this excerpt. I am personally taking part in this digital revolution by writing in this virtual space, and in many respects I feel that at this day in age it is impossible not to be involved in the intangible spaces of the virtual world. This form of communication is so accessible, but within this I feel that a grounding is absolutely necessary. My "objects" are the handmade objects, and my interaction is both through use and making. These are the things that help to put things back into perspective for me and it seems as though anyone out there reading this who's a maker of pots/objects can relate. The personal touch puts us back into direct contact with someone else, and the conversation can continue on a very intimate level. The importance of touch and the importance of time can be found in these objects, and it is here that the idea of intimate object resounds so strongly with me. Enjoy your cup of coffee and hopefully it is from a handmade mug. Cheers.