Today I finished watching Once Upon a Time in the West. As my host pointed out while we were watching the beginning of it the other night, this is not a movie made for modern American sensibilities. Its length (2:45) defies our short patience, and its long, artistic scenes are more filled with characters’ themes than with dialogue. It puts the “spaghetti” in “spaghetti western”, directed and written by Italians. I liked it (though not as much as The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, another similar-length film by Sergio Leone), but those qualities in a movie were much more acceptable in the late 1960s than they are now, it seems to me. It’s a shame that the artistry and storytelling capabilities of such films has been sacrificed for the cookie-cutter commercialism of today’s box office crap.
And another thing! Nothing that you buy is durable these days! Planned obsolescence defines our globalized commodification of commerce. And let’s not even get into disposable, unusable packaging. This comes to mind because I walked into town earlier to get some small carabiner clips for the strap on my mandolin case. In order to get my total at the store up to the minimum for paying with plastic, I bought a set of camping silverware. I’ve been meaning to find a compact, durable set of these for a while, as until now I’ve been relying on reused plastic knives and sporks, which are disgusting and totally insufficient. Even the set that I bought today (while being advertised as “durable”) is pretty flimsy and thin. In my reading of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance yesterday, the narrator described how the question “Are you teaching Quality this semester?” drove him over the edge of insanity. I decry the degradation of quality in our material possessions today. It’s so repulsively wasteful to buy things that are unsuited to lasting more than a few uses, and yet what other options do we have?
There are many things to complain about in our culture at present, and thanks for indulging me while I assert these two complaints here.