Category Archives: Books

It’s All Here…

…if you’re searching for a one-stop resource for everything and anything to do with Art & Crafts, and more specifically (in my case) Mixed Media, go directly to Interweave’s site here. Yup, they are the people that produce the bi-monthly eye candy called Cloth Paper Scissors.

Everything, and I mean even the kitchen sink, can be found on that site. If you want to learn how to carve your own stamps. If you’re curious about encaustic art. If you want to invest in some Gelli plates but don’t know where to start. If you’re curious about this thing called a “Sizzix Bigshot machine”. If you want to know the differences between watercolour, watercolour pencils and colour pencils. If you’d like to know the true capabilities of a Sharpie. If you’re after tips on making books by hand. If you want to learn how to do an emulsion lift transfer. If you’d like to know how to recycle household items into useful items. If you’re curious about Transfer Art Paper. If you want to know about Golden’s Ground Medium. If you can’t decide between Art Journaling and Collage, or want to do both.

It’s all here.

The magazine Cloth Paper Scissors embodies all aspects of Art and Crafts that utilise its namesake. I’d seen this bi-monthly magazine at my local newsagents, but they ran out of copies before I decided to buy it. The only reason I hesitated was because of the price – not Interweave’s fault, but rather the hefty profit margin that the newsagent slapped on.

Luckily, just as providence would have it, Interweave sent me an email (I’m on their mailing list) offering 50% off digital downloads of past copies of Cloth Paper Scissors. (This offer would have expired by the time you read this post, so I won’t bother with the link here. But don’t worry, there are other exciting offers on all the time). So, instead of paying nearly AU$20 per copy of CPS, for the sum of around US$79 I bought the links to download every single copy of CPS from 2004-2013. Yay, Happy Days!

But hey, you don’t have to buy anything from their site. There’s even a ton of FREE stuff you can download. Below is just One example from many.
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And, Interweave doesn’t just do Mixed Media. They also offer everything under the sun if you are into sewing, knitting, crotchet, beading, quilting, weaving, jewellery making etc. And they also do paint and paint techniques. The list goes on.

But don’t just take my word for it…those of you who already know about this motherlode of knowledge about Art & Crafts, will be nodding your head sagely. Those of you who don’t – why are you still reading this? Go online already and check out Interweave for yourself. You won’t be disappointed.

From Interweave’s own “About” page:

Founded in 1975 by Linda Ligon, INTERWEAVE, part of F+W, is one of the nation’s largest craft media companies with businesses in magazine and book publishing, interactive media, broadcast programming, and events for art and craft enthusiasts. Interweave’s mission is to inspire, encourage and support creative self-expression.

Interweave features:

18 craft-enthusiast subscription magazines and many more special interest publications.
More than 250 books in print and annually publishes about 40 best-selling, how-to craft books on the same subjects as the company magazines.
An extensive Internet network of more than 30 websites, including the popular online communities KnittingDaily.com and BeadingDaily.com, which bring together the best content from the company’s magazines and TV shows with free e-newsletters, how-to articles and patterns, with an emphasis on community.
Several major events for fiber and bead, gem, and jewelry making enthusiasts, including the Spin-Off Annual Retreat and Bead Fests in locations across the country, attracting thousands of consumers and industry manufacturers and advertisers.
A PBS television series, Knitting Daily TV and major sponsorship of Beads, Baubles and Jewels TV and Quilting Arts TV.
The company is headquartered in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Art Journals

As a digital mobile photography artist, I love how my medium is clean, with no mess to tidy up, no paint splashes to mop up, no brushes to clean or pencils to sharpen and put away. My chosen medium suits me to a T, really, especially as it’s the ultimate portable studio in a pocket. And also especially as in real life, my drawing or painting is at kindy level. 😄

Over the years, I’ve found myself drawn (excuse the pun) time and again to collage, altered art, altered books and art journals. Maybe it’s because I love colours, layers, textures, strange juxtapositions, mysterious scribbled handwriting, ransom-note-style lettering, ephemera, stamping and vivid washes of watercolour. Maybe it’s because these are artforms that anyone can achieve, with some imagination, passion and practice. It’s not high brow art, it’s accessible art and an expression of one’s creative soul, being highly personal.

The other day, while lurking about my local scrapbooking store (Made With Memories in Rockingham, Western Australia), looking for creative ideas and inspiration, my eyes lit upon an Art Journal sitting on the shelf behind the counter. Having never come across a real life Art Journal before (I know, sad, huh), I was naturally curious about it. So I asked if I could take a look at it, hands on.

Made With Memories holds courses on scrapbooking and journaling, aside from selling scrapbooking papers, stamps, embossing equipment, inks, decoupage kits, washi tape, art paper, glue, pins, brads, all manner of twee adornments for journaling etc.

This particular Art Journal belonged to one of the teachers, and had notes on her courses in it, as well as examples of her work. Some of the pages were held together by bulldog clips, which I dare not disturb in case anything were to fall out. The journal was heavy in my hands, filled with flashes of emerald greens, blues, yellows, bits of paper sticking out here and there. I caught glimpses of stencilled on text, intriguing stamped and embossed symbols, glued on birds and flowers, pieces of twine were dangling from between pages, there was even fairy dust. The book was so thick it couldn’t even close properly.

Oh, it was a glorious mess.

I loved it.

I’m not sure if I will ever make my own Art Journal, but I might give it a try. I found this book up in town, and it’s really motivating me to get started. And I don’t mean digitally, I mean the really-make-a-mess-and-clean-up-afterwards-hands-on kind of activity.

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Art Journal Art Journey: Collage and Storytelling for Honoring Your Creative Process https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1440330077/ref=cm_sw_r_awd_ESO2ub0TSWPRQ

Meanwhile, I can dream, right. And drool over these examples of Art Journals and altered book art, that I’ve curated from Google:

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I think I just might take on this challenge. I have dozens of failed tissue paper prints of my digital artwork that I can use as background colour, and several old dictionaries that I can tear pages out of, lots of washi tape, stamps, ephemera, stencils etc that I can use.

Okay, I’ve convinced myself…😄

The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

I’d seen these inspirational cards at my local bookstore, but they were selling for $24.95, which I felt was a little steep. But I did wonder about them, and I also contemplated getting the full-length book of the same name.

A couple of days afterwards, out of the blue at my local thrift store, the manageress winked and smiled at me, and drew out from behind the counter the very deck of cards I’d been thinking about. Their price? $6.50. Snap!

For information about Don Miguel Ruiz’s book and philosophy, and where you can buy the cards and/or book, read here.

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The deck is also available as an App for Apple iOS here. Sadly, it’s not available yet on Android.

The “4 Agreements” are based on ancient Toltec wisdom, and are encapsulated in this card below (from the book):

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The cards and deck are by Hay House publishers, here is the link to their website if you’re interested in this title, and many other inspirational titles published by Hay House.

Here are some of the cards, some showing their fronts or backs only, others showing both fronts and backs. I’ve used Google Images today, (because it’s too bloody hot today and I’m too lazy to work up steam for a home photo shoot).

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Art Abandonment : Rockingham Part I

Okay, this is not strictly the abandonment of Art. My 2 printers are currently in hibernation…oh alright, they’re both being perfectly beastly and won’t print true colours but rather just reds and blues. And there’s nothing wrong with the ink cartridges or nozzles, I’ve checked. I was going to print off some of my artwork, to abandon on our foreshore, but I can’t now, as I really don’t specialise in just reds and blues.

So, instead, I’ve decided to recycle some inspirational books that I’d previously bought from our local thrift stores. Someone else can benefit from reading them now. And who knows, it just might brighten up someone’s day, to find a nice little gift on a park bench.

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I just decided to wrap each book up in brown paper, stick on an Art Abandonment label, tie it up with some twine, and Bob’s your uncle. Yes, alright, I ran out of twine halfway. ;)

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I posted about this on Facebook’s Art Abandonment page. Got quite a lot of interest and encouraging comments too. Then, as is usually the case, someone, a Mod from the Group, I think, pointed out that if I wasn’t Abandoning Art but rather books, my post would have to be removed from their wall.

I didn’t reply to that comment, as it was past midnight by then and I needed my beauty sleep. But just before I drifted off, it occurred to me that I could add some of my Lenormand cards to the packages, and that would count as Art, for the sake of conforming to the group’s requirements. I have a couple of decks where the printer’s cutter did not align properly and left uneven borders. I would perform a “borderectomy” on those cards first thing in the morning, and include them with the books.

That would then be Art Abandonment AND Random Acts of Kindness.

However, when I woke up this morning, my post had already been removed by the Mod of the group. Without even waiting for my response grrr. Maybe they’re in America and didn’t realise the vast time difference between Australia and their country?

No worries, I’ll just do the borderectomy, include the cards with my packages, take more photos, then re-post to the Art Abandonment group page.

Commencing Borderectomy…

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Ready to rock-n-roll! Tomorrow The Kid and I will cycle down to the Rockingham foreshore and leave these babies here and there, for people to find.

A new creative project: Steampunk Art

This just came in the post today, yippee!

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It’s Dover’s Steampunk Sourcebook, which I bought from The Book Depository (a great online bookseller, especially if you live in far flung places, as all their items come with Free Delivery as standard). This book comes with a CD-ROM, so I can load all the images therein onto my computer, for future reference. I’m already a fan of Dover Pictura, the division of Dover that specialises in selling royalty-free images for online download.

I’ve already amassed a collection of copyright free Steampunk images from the British Library’s archives. Add this to my arsenal, and a few other images from my collection of scrapbooking papers, and I should have the makings of a Steampunk Lenormand cards deck. Or even a Steampunk Oracle cards deck. Hmmm, I might even create some t-shirt designs or canvas art using these images. How exciting!

Here are a few photos showing the contents of the book, to whet your appetite.

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The Smell of Books

I’ve always loved books, ever since I picked my first one up at the age of two. I still remember that book, it was a “Dick and Jane” phonetic storybook, back when Dick was still an acceptable boy’s name. (Hehe, I just looked up “Dick and Jane” on Amazon, just to make sure my memory was accurate, and the books are still going strong!)

Since then, I’ve read and re-read countless books, fiction and non-fiction. Being a believer of total immersion, I read up on obscure and not so obscure subjects such as teddy bears, keeping angora goats, recycling and upcycling, cheesemaking, handbags, felting, needle-felting, beading, handmade books, paper-making, Origami, motorcycling, Freemasonry, perfumes, macarons, French patisserie etc. What can I say, I’m an eclectic magpie.

The rise of e-technology has seen a decline in real books and a phenomenal increase in virtual books. Hardly anyone carries around a book anymore, they’re more likely to be reading an e-book on their smartphone, tablet or e-reader. My Kindle Library has hundreds of titles. But still I buy books for my shelves, even though these days I don’t have the time to read them. My excuse is that I’ll have more than enough time to read them when I’m old and my legs have given up on me. Hopefully by then my eyesight will still be good enough to read with.

And hopefully by that time my nose would still be working. Because, you see, I just love the smell of books.

New books, old books, it doesn’t matter. When I open up a new book, the first thing I do is to bury my nose into the pages and inhale their perfume. How can I describe the smell of a new book? Crisp, clean, with a whiff of vanilla, slightly sweet,
slightly metallic.

I’ve to be more careful with old books. They have their own distinctive smell, but there’s an underlying mustiness, a mouldy, damp, mushroomy scent. I’m paranoid that I might accidentally inhale some spores that may make me ill. With brand new books my nose is right up to the pages; with old books it’s a good 6 inches away.

If I were a parfumier, I’d describe new books as having a fresh, floral base, and old books as having an earthy, mushroom base.

There’s a word that beautifully describes the smell of rain as it hits the earth – Petrichor. I haven’t found one yet that describes the smell of books. Someone please make one (or two) up!

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Here’s a snapshot of the books on my top shelf, which will give you an idea what I’m currently into. Yes, I occasionally take them down for a good sniff or two! Glue-sniffing at its best, I say, and totally harmless.

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And if that’s not enough, for those of you who miss smelling real books because you’ve digitised your entire library, fear not, help is at hand. This blog lists the top 25 paper-scented perfumes and candles. Indulge your senses!

Thoughts on Affluenza

Yes, it’s me again. For today’s post I would like to share some exerpts from the book “Affluenza” by Clive Hamilton and Richard Denniss. The book was published in 2005, and it’s focussed mainly on Australia, but its contents are scarily even more real today, nearly a decade later, and on a global scale, in first world countries.

Food for thought.

Af-flu-en-za n.1.The bloated, sluggish and unfulfilled feeling that results from efforts to keep up with the Joneses. 2. An epidemic of stress, overwork, waste and indebtedness caused by dogged pursuit of the Australian dream. 3. An unsuitable addiction to economic growth.

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Some psychologists argue that our actions are driven by a desire for ‘self-completion’, the theory being that we seek to bring our actual self into accord with our ideal self, or who we wish to be. Today, almost all buying is to some degree an attempt to create or renew a concept of self. We complete ourselves symbolically by acquiring things that compensate for our perceived shortcomings.

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The problem is not that people own things: the problem is that things own people. It is not consuming but consumerism we criticise; not affluence but affluenza. The signs are easy to see in others – the subtle and not-so-subtle displays of wealth, the one-upmanship, the self-doubt – and most Australians acknowledge that our society is too materialistic and money driven. But is much harder to recognise and admit to the signs in ourselves because that can be confronting.

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There is a trend for manufacturers of luxury goods to make entry-level products in an effort to attract consumers other than the very rich. Gucci and Armani attach their name to sunglasses that are bought by people who cannot afford to buy clothes or accessories with such a prestigious label. This is sometimes referred yo as the ‘democratisation of luxury': the people who buy the entry-level products feel they can emulate the image of the very rich.

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Sometimes advertisers try to make us laugh or make us think, but mostly they make us feel deprived, inadequate or anxious. It is axiomatic that they make us feel bad in a way that can be cured by possession of the product they advertise.

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The unspoken role of marketing is to keep consumers in the richest societies in human history feeling deprived. To be successful in the long term, advertising must sell not only products but also a very particular kind of world view – one where happiness can be bought, where problems can be solved by a product, and where having more things is the measure of success.

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Most people in consumer societies believe they need more money than they have, no matter how wealthy they are. Their actions suggest they are convinced that more money means more happiness. But when people reach the financial goals they have set for themselves they feel no happier. Instead of wondering if their yen for more money is the problem, they raise their threshold of sufficiency. This is a vicious cycle.

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The confusion between wants and needs is at the heart of affluenza. When people see wants as needs, it is not surprising that two-thirds say they cannot afford everything they need. And their feelings of deprivation are real, since thwarted desire is transformed into a sense of deprivation. Of course, the purpose of the advertising industry is to convert perceived wants into perceived needs.

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By some kind of financial alchemy, ‘saving’ has become what we do while we are spending. Bargain hunters can easily ‘save’ hundreds of dollars in the post-Christmas sales, but in order to save a great deal we need to max out our credit cards.

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Credit card debt, personal loans, car loans and store credit schemes are all growing rapidly – not to fund assets that will deliver benefits for years to come but to allow people to enjoy the ‘lifestyle’ they have been told they deserve.

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Not long ago, paying off the mortgage on the family home quickly was a common dream. A more recent dream appears to be to extend both the size of the mortgage and the period required to pay it off by borrowing against the home to fund a better ‘lifestyle’.

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Australians are increasingly prone to financial stupidity. People who are permanently in debt exist in a ‘money coma’ – a state of vagueness and confusion about their financial circumstances. One of the steps to recovery from uncontrolled debt is to be very clear about how much you owe and how you can manage your financial life without incurring more debts, yet retailers and consumer lenders work hard to undermine our resolve and confuse us about what taking on debts actually means.

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The upward spiral of desire, debt and consumption has fuelled massive growth in retail spending but appears to have delivered little benefit for national wellbeing.

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People afflicted by affluenza have an insatiable appetite for more things. Although our desire might have no bounds, our capacity to use things is limited: there is only so much we can eat, wear and watch, and a house has only so many rooms we can usefully occupy. The difference between what we buy and what we use is waste.

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Much of our consumption behaviour is designed to bridge the gap beyween our ideal selves and our actual selves. The advertisers work to persuade us that we can construct an ideal self out of the brands they promote.

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Of course, the marketing industry is devoted to persuading us to buy things we don’t need – and often to buy things we don’t want. But it is not just the marketing industry: it is the entire economic and political system that conspires to break down any resistance to buying. If we fail to keep spending, dire warnings are issued.

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Obsolescence is a feature of the consumer electronics industry…Slowly but surely, during the past few decades most Australians have moved from asking themselves “Do I really need a new one” to “Why should I make do with the current one?”

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…and that’s just from the first half of the book. I just hope some of these excerpts strike a chord in yourselves, and perhaps rally you towards making changes in your own lives towards the greater good. Isn’t it time we took charge of our own lives again, instead of letting our governments dictate how we should conduct ourselves?

And yes, there will probably a continuation of this vein of thought in a future post. You have been warned :).

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(Image Source: ABC News/Google. Yes, this is Australia’s biggest stocktake sale. Happening in every single mall in the country, oh say every other month and right after Christmas. Hurry, or you will miss out on buying stuff you don’t need and will never use the deal of the century that thingy that you just Have to have, you’ll know what it is when you see it).

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Let’s go LEGO!

Here’s a name that needs no introduction. You’ve played with it, your children will play with it, and all being well, your grandchildren and great-grandchildren will play with it too.

LEGO. (Yes, I know it should have the copyright symbol after every iteration of it). Yes, we all have fond memories of playing with these little coloured bricks. And one Maths teacher from Cleveland, Ohio, has taken LEGO to dizzying heights by using his mathematical prowess to design programmes that enable him to create domes and spheres etc.

Here are the facts, in a nutshell:

Arthur Gugick, 54, from Cleveland, has built hundreds of scale miniatures using just the colored bricks

Each model contains 5,000 to 20,000 pieces and Mr Gugick owns more than one million overall

The father-of-two has never used glue to hold pieces together and avoids using shop-bought models

He balances the hobby with his day job as a maths teacher at Beachwood High School in Cleveland, Ohio

(Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2782102/Maths-teacher-recreates-famous-artworks-portraits-iconic-buildings-using-LEGO.html?ito=social-facebook)

I’ve pulled together some of Arthur Gugick‘s creations from Google Images, so we can all goggle at them together.

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My soon-to-be 12-year-old son is a LEGO addict. You can never have enough LEGO bricks, it seems. No matter how many bucketloads you buy of the stuff, it’s always just a drop in the ocean.

If you’re at all interested in LEGO, there have been several books published about it recently, some of them showcasing Arthur Gugick’s creations. Mind you, there are dozens of books on LEGO aimed at a younger audience; the ones mentioned here are intended for a more serious and mature practitioner:

Beautiful LEGO https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1593275080/ref=cm_sw_r_awd_MLonub1MEFP0R

Brick City: LEGO® for Grown Ups https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/184533812X/ref=cm_sw_r_awd_kPonub17KF92E

Brick Wonders: Ancient, natural & modern marvels in LEGO® https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1845338871/ref=cm_sw_r_awd_7Qonub19YVBBK

The Art of LEGO Design: Creative Ways to Build Amazing Models https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1593275536/ref=cm_sw_r_awd_BUonub02JTJPW

The LEGO Neighborhood Book: Build a LEGO Town! https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1593275714/ref=cm_sw_r_awd_OVonub13YC8MQ

Build Your Own City: The Big Unofficial Lego Builders Book https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/3868526587/ref=cm_sw_r_awd_.Xonub0HGW4GW

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RETROSPECTIVE : DALIENUTOPIA

Another of my favourite mobile photography themes is Surrealism. Back in April 2011, when I first discovered the Baigup Wetlands just across the river Swan from where we were living in Ascot then, I devoted an entire series of iPhone photographs to the weird and wonderful Australian gumtrees in that swamp, as well as in the reserve on our own side of the river.  I even self-published my first Blurb book, titled “DALIENUTOPIA“, a play on the words “Dali”, “Alien” and “Utopia”. If you like it, please buy a copy!

Here is the link to my DALIENUTOPIA, and here are some of the images from that Series. All photos taken and edited using an iPhone 4. (I’m so happy to have found my images on my external hard-drive. It’s very difficult to find anything there, as I wasn’t terribly organised then and things would be filed willy nilly without a care for chronological order, or titles. Consider this a Retrospective of my mobile photography career!)

Before you ask, Yes, I DID spend a lot of my time ankle or even knee deep in mud for the sake of my Art :-).

Dalienutopia 1

Dalienutopia 2

Dalienutopia 3

Dalienutopia 5

Dalienutopia 6

Dalienutopia 8

Dalienutopia 13

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Dalienutopia 22

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Dalienutopia 29

Dalienutopia 31

Dalienutopia 32

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Dalienutopia 35

Dalienutopia 42

Dalienutopia 49

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Dalienutopia 57

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Dalienutopia 100

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The Price of Affluenza

My local thrift stores often have book gems that I snap up immediately. One such book was Eckhart Tolle’s “A New Earth”, highly recommended reading.

I love my serendipitous trips to these thrift stores. I like to think of it as the Universe providing knowledge and information for me in a timely manner.

Another book surfaced last week, “Affluenza” by Clive Hamilton and Richard Denniss. I’ve only just begun to delve into this book, and already something has jumped out at me.

Here is an excerpt from the book:

“Nineteenth century economists predicted that the abundance made possible by technological advance and the modern organisation of work would result in the emergence of “post-materialist” humans – people existing on a higher plane, where their cultural, intellectual and spiritual powers are refined. In such a world the importance of economic considerations would naturally diminish. The 1960s and 1970s saw a flood of literature predicting a future in which technological progress would allow for us to work only a few hours a week and our main problem would be how best to enjoy our leisure. Futurists saw a future transformed by the fruits of sustaimed growth – a society in which humankind, freed of the chore of making a living, would devote itself to activities that are truly fulfilling. But, instead of witnessing the end of economics, we live in a time when economics and its concerns are more dominant than ever before. Instead of our growing wealth freeing us of our materialist preoccupations, it seems to have had the opposite effect. People in affluent countries are now even more obsessed with money and material acquisition, and the richer they are the more this seems to be the case”.

This book was written in 2005, even before the iPhone was a twinkle in Steve Jobs’ eye. And yet how relevant and accurate the statement above is today.

It seems to be the case of “The more we have, the more we want”. Today’s generation seems unable to appreciate what they already have, they always want the latest, the most expensive, the best. And they generally put themselves out to get it at all cost. Then they sit back and enjoy their latest toy…Until the next one comes along less than a year later. Then it’s a mad scramble all over again, to get THE latest toy.

When will it stop? In case the above was too lengthy to visualise, here is a simple analogy:

A city starts out as a village, which becomes a town, that grows and grows as it attracts more and more industry and with it, people. Its lanes soon turn into roads. Roads turn into highways. As more and more people drive cars, these highways get congested. So the city council decree that they need to widen the highways, from 4 lanes to 8. They say that will ease the congestion and make driving more pleasant and convenient. And so 4 lane highways become 8 lane superhighways. But what do you think happens next? Yes, now there are even More cars on the road, more people buying cars and driving, and the congestion builds up again.

“Build it, and they will come”…that saying has never been truer when reflected on today’s society. Perhaps the economists of the 19th century were correct in theory, apart for one oversight: that humans are not mature enough to make that ideal scenario a reality. We are still very much like children, squealing with delight at the latest shiny gadget and toy, we simply Have to have it, and because we’ve indulged, we’ve fed the industry that creates such shiny gadgets and toys, so they in turn create more and more for us. Then, when we find our money depleted, we shrug and simply find ways to get more money. To buy more stuff. And so it goes on.

When will we grow up? “Poor” countries don’t suffer as much from Affluenza as “Developed” countries. They literally can’t afford to be. They’re more concerned with putting food on the table for their families, staving off starvation, staying alive when wars break out. Affluenza is a disease of the haves, the wannabe-haves and the desperate have-nots.

Perhaps it’s time to step off the treadmill.
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