Shoddy, global clothing production, and lying in the grass

Postcard collection of Maggie Land Blanck

I found the above image on a page about shoddy, which is a kind of recycled wool yarn. The image seems unrelated, but what caught my eye was the person lying in the grass on the side of the road. It looks so peaceful, like there’s nothing else to do but enjoy the sun and the passing of time.

The article that initially lead me onto that postcard image was an article about used clothing. Attire is so plentiful, it seems we humans can finally quit worrying about finding something to wear.

Between 2000 and 2015, global clothing production doubled, while the average number of times that a garment was worn before disposal declined by 36 percent. In China, it declined by 70 percent.

I’ve been away from my computer for the last week or so. During that time I’ve noticed my idle phone usage rising, specifically on either Reddit or Instagram. It makes me feel cross-eyed after scrolling through posts for so long, often not pausing to look or reflect on something for more than a second or two. The pace at which I scroll through content is bananas.

What used to consume people’s time before print or online content? Maybe they just spent it lying in the grass.

Young woman lying in the grass – Paul Gauguin

Open tabs: Sedition, Charles the Fat, bicycle visionary

In the 1990s he took an overdose of aspirin washed down by water from a puddle.[3][9] He had personality problems,[9][10] sniffed the gas he used to weld bicycles, and was being chased for £492 owed in college fees.[3]

Open tabs: Stone money, parables of Jesus, Benzedrine-inspired pop hits

Yap Stone Money.jpg
By Eric GuintherEnglish Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

The monetary system of Yap relies on an oral history of ownership. Because these stones are too large to move, buying an item with one simply involves agreeing that the ownership has changed.

… a death blow to end the suffering of a severely wounded person or animal.


Sex and Throttling

It’s incredible that humans have such intimate power over both life and death. It requires a sense of touch to achieve both: having sex to create life, and throttling with the hands to end life. That’s intimacy. And that we can affect both so easily is insane.

We give such importance to life: it’s magic, it’s religious, it’s a phenomenon we know only to exist here, on our home planet, and we’re the top of the food chain. No, we’re outside the food chain. We have made our own food chains! We are the Masters of the planet that can make life. Yet, our lives don’t seem so big and important when you look at individual human lives on a non-human scale. Trees are the longest-living life form on the planet. The Llangernyw yew tree (pictured below) is estimated to be between 4000 and 5000 years old. The lifetime of a star is even longer. Our Sun has been shining for 4.6 billion years.  In the timeline of the cosmos, a human lifetime is basically nothing. To say a “blink” would be a gross overstatement. With this perspective, it seems to make murder via throttling easier to think about, since we have shed our emotional bias.

The Llangernyw yew.jpg

(By EmgaolOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link)

From the Earth’s 4.5 billion year old perspective, the death of a human is simply the returning of nutrients and matter of one human body back to nature, while also removing one dependent. From our human perspective, murder via throttling with the hands is heavy on the heart and mind. I think any person with at least a grain of compassion and empathy would feel bad doing such a thing. Why? Because they would hate to be in that person’s position. This is the power of empathy. I don’t want to throttled, therefore this other person probably doesn’t want to either. Yet it is within our feeble physical power to bring about this permanent change, this teleportation from the world of the living to the Other Place, where we will all someday go, but no one knows the location, conditions, or whether those words even mean anything. What power we have, over the small things that we are! I think to be a human without empathy would be like permanently having the point of view of a tree, or the Sun.

Luckily, the large majority of us have the imaginative powers to deduce and “try on” the feelings of others. This ability to create for ourselves an approximation of what it is like to be someone else gives us some common moral insight. Those without these common morals are seen as troublemakers, deviants, dangerous, evil, undesirable. To the worst of these people, we do awful things, like caging or killing. It’s curious that to these less empathetic humans we match their level of empathy and do things we wouldn’t normally want to do. My opinion is that these less empathetic people should be prescribed massive doses of caring and empathy. We should give them our best human love, tenderness, and understanding, in hopes of teaching them how it is done.

If, after our very best exhaustive efforts, we are unable to persuade the deviant in question, we should try and get them to explain to us our own shortcomings. If there is something to be learned from this very inhuman human, we should learn it and carry it forward. Then, we explain as best as we can that this person is beyond our help. What would they want us to do? Presumably they would want to be free to act according to their own will in the world they were born into. Obviously this would not be permitted. I think the person in question should be asked to please kill themselves so that we can recycle their nutrients, so that from them, flowers can grow. If they refuse – which is understandable – and if there is nothing more we can do to help them, I think we give them two last intimate sensations. First, sex. Second, throttling via the hands.