Thursday, December 9, 2010

I'm back

I'm back, but not sure what I should do with this blog. I'll continue to post interesting bits from my reading, and perhaps updates on my fiction and nonfiction research projects. Now that I'm done with school, I shall have more time to produce both sorts of posts. I'll also post some reviews and examinations of certain types of objects that I have come to use in my daily life-- this last requires some explaination.
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I have come to realize that many of the items our culture uses in daily life have substituted convenience for elegance, and disposablity for practicality. Take men's shaving. The Sears Robuck Catalogues of 1905 or so displayed about 20-30 kinds of straight razors, and one or two safety razors, which consist of a handle and guard to which you attach a disposable single- or double-bladed razor. Safety razors really took off during the First World War, when Gillette sold safety razor sets to servicemen who could not keep a straight razor in the trenches. The safety razor was and is an elegant alternative to the highly involved process of straight razor shaving (which requires a sharpening stone, leather strop, and steady hand).


Modern disposable razors (like the Mach 3) have become expensive, premium goods. A month's supply of razors might cost 20-30 dollars. I used these sorts of razors for years before discovering the safety razor. Double-bladed safety razors are an example of an older technology that performs just as well as its successor, but that is cheaper and more elegant. It's one example of a lifestyle that I've come to aspire to-- the incorporation of older techniques and artifacts alongside contemporary or cutting-edge culture. Thus, I use an entire spectrum of writing tools, from Word 2006 to dip nib pens and goose quills. I keep a leather-bound commonplace book, as well as blogs.

At any rate, for content, here's a post from my commonplace book:

When I opened my office in Franklinton in 1811, there was neither church nor school nor pleasure carriage in the country, nor was there a bridge over any stream within the compass of an hundred miles... Goods were imported, principally from Philadelphia in wagons; and our exports, consisting of horses, cattle and hogs, carried themselves to market. The mails were brought to us once a week on horseback, if not prevented by high water.
Judge Gustavus Swann, in Fitzpatrick and Morris, Franklinton Centennial (1897).

The bicentennial of the City of Columbus is approaching in 2012, as is that of the War of 1812. Two centuries ago there was a small village at Franklinton and another at Worthington. It's interesting to visit these two places now, when they have long since been swallowed up by the relentless growth of the city. Franklinton has changed for the worse: known as "the Bottoms" because 20th century dam projects have raised the water level of the Olantangy and Scioto rivers, causing floods in that low lying area, its one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the city for crime. By contrast, Worthington is still as bourgeois as its New England founders must have intended, and many of its older brick structures recall the industrious town of Col. Kilbourne.