Monday, June 25, 2007


I picked up a book from the op-shop on the way to Mum's, my kind of price $1. It's called 'Slaves of Chic' an A-Z of consumer pleasures by Joanne Finkelstein and it was published in 1994 and after reading the introduction and the first chapter, I find consumer pleasure hasn't changed much in thirteen years.

"Take the example of the Filofax diary: this expensive item is ostensible for the purpose of keeping better records, of having on hand all the bits and pieces of information we may require during the demands of a working day. With the Filofax we can immediately know where to take a client for lunch because we have listed various restaurants, their telephone numbers and notes about their style of cuisine and cost of wine. We also have on record our exercise program, calorific intake, the golf handicap of our partner, what outfit was worn on which occasion, and a map of the Paris Metro. These data files make us think we are in control. And the Filofax is marketed with that promise, it is advertised cheekily with the French promise of being an aide-memoire. But at the same time, contrary to what we think we are doing, we are unkowingly weakening memory; the Filofax diary, with its accumulation of incoherent fragments actually prevents the formation of those mental links that constitute memory."

Now all you have to do is substitute 'Blackberry', computer laptop or mobile phone for the 21st Century and the above still rings true. How many out there have panicked when the mobile can't be found, when the Blackberry goes missing, when the laptop crashes? And a new horror is about to be released, the iApple, which removes the need for iPod, mobile phone and Blackberry. Already it's the 'must have' for the younger set, several of whom I watched being interviewed. They were almost drooling at the thought of being the first to own one.

I have a mobile phone with emergency numbers but all my friends are in address books where I, being old-fashioned, write down their particulars including birthdays. I have these books by the side of every telephone. I have a huge calendar in the kitchen. I write down websites in my paper computer book. You might call me a 'memory' tragic. I can't remember my own mobile number so it's on the phone in case of emergency when I might have to call myself. My mental links are permanently broken in the use of numbers of any kind but I used to use them before my brain aged.

I think this is problem with us oldies. I need to hold a piece of paper with written words before it becomes believable information. Memorising spelling, arithmetic, multiplication tables and grammar was great for the brain but don't ask me now to do any of that without a pencil and paper. I admit to some envy when a 12 year old picks up a mobile and performs a routine akin to a space shuttle launch countdown but how much is familiar use and how much is memory? A moot question since the radiation will probably burn his grey cells to a crisp before he's 15. Get a pencil and paper kid, the worst you can get is a paper cut.

'Slaves of Chic' promises to be terrific blog fodder.


phil said...

Rings true JT. I find I have to read something - of late, an increasing number of times but let's leave that - for the content to make sense. Some folks are more aural - I can never do anything but the most simple stuff on the basis of a phone call.

And I regret that I'm increasingly technophobic 'cos I reckon it's a bad thing: learning to use new stuff should help you retain mental agility. We bought our first computer in 1983 and our first PC in 1987, I was making up databases without the instructions, but now I get a new mobile and I go to putty. It's self-induced so it should be something I can overcome.

Andrew said...

We transferred all important names, phone numbers, addresses and birthdays from computer to written, well printed labels and put them in a paper diary. Much more convenient and they aren't going to crash. R broke me up the other day as we were two lanes across a busy four lane road when he suggested that perhaps we should get blueberries.

Unknown said...

I'll look forward to hearing more. I make frequent reference these days to my frazzled and frayed synapses. Would this be a prelim to Old Timers disease?

JahTeh said...

Phil, I still carry the mobile manual in my bag. I can't learn from the computer screen, I have to print out, turn it inside out and re-write it several times before it sinks in.

Andrew, I don't feel bad for sacrificing a tree in the interests of posterity and you can't take a computer to bed to read. Well you can if it's a laptop but men shouldn't because they give off too much heat and that's not good for the little swimmers if you balance the laptop in the wrong place. Blueberries - muffins - hungry.

Miss Eagle I think it's just that we have lived long and the disk space on the internal hard drive is running out. I love people who write about their lives and put in all the details when I can't remember the 80's.

iODyne said...

Lucky Lady to forget the 80's.

big frizzy hair and stuffed shoulders for some, tennis-mania for others,and disco dancing in lycra.

I remember the hangovers.

JahTeh said...

It wasn't a hangover if you remember it. The thought of me disco dancing in lycra hahahahahha!

Middle Child said...

Who can read of a screen and think? Like you I have to have are not so odd...all humankind has needed a paper, papyrus scroll whatever to read from...