There are times when something, probably lack of sleep, calls me to question the very construction of our society and how ludicrous it seems if you look at it with any sort of scrutiny.
I’m sitting at a desk that’s made up of minced up bits of wood pulp, glued together and then covered with a veneer to make it look like wood and that for starters strikes me as bloody odd. Something as mundane as eating grapes, something I’m more than happy to do, and seeing they’ve been freighted from Peru also catches me out. Supermarket consumables from the land of Machu Pichu? That’s insane. To me Peru equates to the far off land Tintin explored and had adventures in, not some green house fruit producing place close enough to ship grapes to Sainsbury.
When I was little my home town had a small Sainsbury, a Bejam’s frozen food shop, and a green grocers. You couldn’t really buy fruit or veg out of season because it wasn’t possible to ship fruit and veg from all over the world. When you went to buy fruit, you had to use your judgement to gauge whether it was ripe, there weren’t best before labels. The the scale of odd, relying on a label put on automatically in a supermarket depot somewhere to tell you whether something is ripe or not rather than looking at it yourself, is a footnote of strangeness.
Some of this occasional and odd feeling of disassociation is probably due to my reading habits. I like escapist stuff like science fiction and fantasy. I’m reading my way through the final volume of the Wheel of Time at the minute and though it’s set notionally in a 17/18th century level of technology, the societal structure makes more sense than a lot of what we do. People make stuff and sell it; people have skills and sell their skills. On the other hand we have people trading in complex financial derivatives, and 4 American banks that are apparently exposed to a debt risk that’s several times higher than the world’s gross domestic product. Banking at least, is so divorced from reality, that it’s a fantasy world in itself. How can people trading in stuff that doesn’t really exist in any quantifiable physical form effectively plunge the developed world into recession? It’s bonkers.
I know a fair amount of history so know that there are historic, some might even say sensible, reasons for a lot of what I find incongruent but just because something has always been done that way, doesn’t mean it should carry on that way surely? For example, dividing the week into 7 days makes sense but who decided that the split between week and weekend should remain 5/2? Most of us that work are contracted for between 35 and 40 hours a week, something that could be done in 4 days without too much effort. Doesn’t a 4/3 split sound much more sensible? It’s not as if we still live in a manufacturing based society that needs to make stuff 24/7 or anything.
And still I sit here, behind my desk that’s made up of minced up bits of wood pulp, glued together and then covered with a veneer to make it look like wood.