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Marking time in January 2004

Sunday 18 January 2004

Materialism: the drawing cure

Danny Gregory’s everyday matters blog is one of my daily diversions. He is a compulsive sketcher who makes drawings that examine the way he is living. In today’s post he feels a surfeit of objects around him: I feel like I own too much and appreciate it too little. Having diagnosed his own condition, Danny prescribes a cure for himself:

I like the idea of a journal diet. Draw everything you own. Everything. Every single book, every stick of butter and shoelace. Now that would be a humbling experience. Or just draw everything you eat for a week. You’ll be thinner, calmer and happier.

He begins the treatment with an inventory of his wardrobe.

Some shirts from Danny's wardrobe

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Thursday 1 January 2004

2004

It’s the day to imagine a new year — instead of glumly auditing compliance with my old resolutions to sharpen saws, work safely, or improve myself. It’s the day for a fresh cliché.

Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.

William Morris’s dictum will do — not as an absolute rule, more as an ideal to move towards. And while I’m quoting Morris, here’s another one:

Simplicity of life, even the barest, is not a misery, but the very foundation of refinement; a sanded floor and white­washed walls and the green trees, and flowery meads, and living waters outside; or a grimy palace amid the same with a regiment of housemaids always working to smear the dirt together so that it may be unnoticed; which, think you, is the most refined, the most fit for a gentleman of those two dwellings?

Simplicity of life is a relative thing. I can imagine Morris longing for whitewash as a counterpoint to wallpaper, as Marie An­toi­nette might long for the life of a dairy-maid.

We can be thankful that we are not troubled by housemaids — two small girls can manage all the dirt-smearing that needs to be done around here.

Damask pattern horsehair cloth [Emil Rotter] Horse tail hair [Anping]

I am pleased that an old material that signifies usefulness and beauty is still available. I’m referring to horsehair cloth, still offered by manufacturers in Germany and China. Is this the year of horsehair-covered dining chairs? I doubt it, but some of the bentwood chairs might get new cane bottoms.

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Materialism: the drawing cure
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