Friday, October 14, 2005

Janitors of Our Possessions

On October 8, 2005, The San Francisco Chronicle ran an article by Arrol Gellner headlined "America may be at the peak of latest materialistic cycle." The article by this noted architect also ran on BellSouth News today, October 14. I wish I had read this article before I posted my observations on Simplifying Life on October 5. I sure could have made some connections there!

In this article the writer details the way in which Americans have seesawed "from extravagance to asceticism in bursts" over the last half-century. He points out that the typical new house "has bloated" to more than twice the size of the average home of 1950, even though families have gotten smaller. He tells how on a recent shopping trip near Portland he saw THREE boutiques selling clothing, diet supplements, and confections -- for DOGS. (If you are interested, here is one online dog boutique to check out.) If you'd like to see some funny dressed up dog pictures, just google those words -- there are hundreds to view, but I couldn't find one I could copy and post for free.

Gellner closes the article with a quote from Frank Lloyd Wright and some related observations of his own. He says:

Perhaps there is a point when too much really is too much. We've all seen that bumper sticker beloved by the terminally empty-headed: "He Who Dies With the Most Toys Wins." Yet few intelligent Americans would argue that having a huge house and a couple of Escalades, much less a larder stocked with dog pastries, has actually made their lives any happier. Some might even own up to the contrary. Yet we seem unable to perceive the siren song of materialism for the commercial sham that it is.

Frank Lloyd Wright once observed: "Many wealthy people are little more than janitors of their possessions." Today, it's not just the wealthy who are so afflicted. Rich and poor, old and young, left and right, we Americans seem poised to become a nation of janitors.

Food for thought.

1 comment:

Ruth said...

Some great posts Joanie. I had not heard the comment"Janitor of your possessions", But found it so very interesting, In a conversation with David tis week, I I was telling him about how simple it was to moved in "the good old days" when people did not own much of naything, even the house they lived in.