The Enjoyment of Objects

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Objects play an important, though often elusive, role in my life. They are always there – on the desk by my computer, in the kitchen cupboard, in the glove-box of the car, on the dresser by the bed – and while they are not in any way necessary, they seem to inhabit some fundamental dimension of my existence. They seem to create only small ripples in the surrounding environment so as to be hardly noticed in my daily life, but if I go to look for one in particular and discover it is lost, there is a feeling of sadness and small-scale grief. Perhaps like the death of an admired personage who one never met but felt some kinship with.

There are some objects that I love purely for aesthetic reasons – my collection of various coffee-related equipment, the wooden place mats that are seldom used but which look nice on the table, half-used candles, tooth-picks and the bowls placed on every table which do little more than collect receipts and old screwed-up shopping lists. I would mourn these things if they were to disappear yet I don’t really care for them either. They are small things that make up the landscape of my home – neither important nor particularly lovely.

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Then there are the objects which are have useful purpose – though these I don’t feel such love towards. If they break I replace them, as they are needed for the household operations, but they are largely interchangeable – the next one replaces the last without any noticeable effect on my emotional state.

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As an overly empathetic child, I felt an acute anthropomorphic concern for the objects in my room. I factored in how it might feel for them to be where they were placed, what they were near to and how comfortable their view and arrangement of structure. I would experience a deep and consuming pain if I felt I had neglected to show them genuine concern and attention, and I tried my best to not exhibit favoritism or admire one object over the others. To me, they weren’t just objects, they were my children.

Perhaps this is why I feel the way I do now about the scattered objects of my existence, why I feel loss when they are missing, or grief when they are accidentally destroyed. Regardless of this, they are part of my landscape – somehow important, and not at all.

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