obsolescence noun /ˌɒbsəˈlesəns/

“The process or fact of becoming old-fashioned and no longer useful: Depreciation refers to the loss of value of an asset due to age, wear and tear, and obsolescence. IE “Unless it changes, the industry faces the risk of technological obsolescence.”

Obsolescence is the state of being which occurs when an object, service, or practice is no longer maintained, required, or degraded even though it may still be in good working order.”

“The international standard EN62402 Obsolescence Management – Application Guide defines obsolescence as the “transition from availability of products by the original manufacturer or supplier to unavailability”.

Obsolescence frequently occurs because a replacement has become available that has, in sum, more advantages compared to the disadvantages incurred by maintaining or repairing the original.”

Obsolete also refers to something that is already disused or discarded, or antiquated. Typically, obsolescence is preceded by a gradual decline in popularity.”

From Wikipedia:

“Man only suffers because he takes seriously what the gods made for fun.”

Alan Watts

I haven’t done a ‘single issue’ post for a long time. My life, my heart and my soul have been elsewhere. Then a conversation got me thinking… why else do I get involved in eclectic conversations, but for these delightful moments! When I made this new thread of connections in my head – I do appreciate it is also a pain for some people – I stopped to jot this note, I had started a tangent and totally interrupted their flow of thoughts

That’s what this blog has always been about – unraveling my confusion of ideas, and hoping that someone out there gets it, or sees something they hadn’t, and maybe even point out something important I’ve missed. Singular perspectives are so limiting, and dangerous. And no doubt I’ll miss the odd ‘absolute’ or ‘preach’ sentence.

Yes I am definitely someone who “creates thinkively” and misspeaks so easily as my brain is often several sentences or ideas ahead of where my mouth is.

Obsolescence started bouncing around my skull the last 24hrs, sweeping up other ideas and musings that have been circulating at the same time. Why? Well there are three aspects to a modern socioeconomic system that repeatedly I seem to need to address – at least until next time my head gets in a knot!

I can broadly put the nature & customs around the following three headings as areas of fundamental problems, and practical solutions

  • “Money”
  • “Participation”
  • “Production”

Obsolescence – generally accepted as inevitable – goes unquestioned by so many people. But not all of us. Nothing in society is sacred or treasured anymore. Items of Production & even some Services are becoming obsolete at the point of first use. Products are born into a society that chases the new and the novel.

In my humble opinion this does not sustain life or ecology.. only bankers and their debt pyramid scheme. I’m going to use a few examples to highlight why I don’t think I’m the only person seeing this.

I know from memory than my grandparents had few new items. Many of their possessions they had used and maintained for years. One of my grandmas had been using the same upright washing machine since her 20s. And before that she’d used a wooden mangle and board – as did my other grandparents. I’m still old enough to remember regularly using the outside toilet. Wooden seat, charcoal dust, newspaper and all.

Spin 60 years ahead.. how many households have a washer, a dryer, flushing toilets, plastic clothes racks, plastic washing lines, that they replace every few years.

Spin 600 back… how many people had specialist items? how many people had to make do and mend with one tool with many uses? How many people had a fresh wardrobe or room every new season?

I am infamous in my own life time for driving an old battered Volvo for years, which was mostly metallic red. But it had a white wing and bonnet after an accident. And I got asked about it all the time. Like people just couldn’t grasp that I didn’t need to change the colour. It still functioned the same. And that it was so old, why didn’t I just buy a new car?

Same answer for both. I had no need. Neither the colour of the body panels. Nor the age of the vehicle made it obsolete to me. The main unnecessarily perishable items that always gets me with obsolescence are cars, mobile phones and computers. I don’t even update my clothes until they are literally threadbare. I built my house from as many recycled or up-cycled items as I could source.

I don’t chase the latest TV, and while I do chase new music and comedy – I also deep dive into the old, and the unfashionable. And here with this word is ‘the trick’ being used to distract from the fundamentally destructive economic habit of ‘permanent growth of consumption or sales’ within a finite ecological system.

I’ve been trying, and failing to create a more sustainable financial and environmental lifestyle for myself. And I still have many more steps to take. And I am not a paragon of the ideal. I have to struggle with the basic fights of life, and I know I’m still so very lucky to be in the top 1% of the planet, and was arbitrarily born into a system that gives me advantages others do not. But whatever happens to the least of my fellow humans, by proxy is also happening to me.

Anyway, before I forget my point and wander down another mental arboretum of ideas, what about ‘the trick’ I mentioned? It’s as basic as calling propaganda services, advertising services. It occludes certain perceptions or realities.

By focusing on the concepts on “innovation” or “fashion” the very nature & inherent dangers of a perpetual “obsolescence” are hard to discuss, never mind create solutions and resolve. Does that need further explanation?

I know it’s a splitting of hairs argument – but it’s a critical point of failure in the nature of our society. New music and new art will always contain this. But the nature of the consumptive culture, this confusion between what we need to survive and thrive – and what we’ve been conditioned to ‘want’ is destroying the very fabric of our man-made societies and our massively man-influenced natural environment.

Neotony, or the juvenilization of societies across the world is arising as a side effect of this planned obsolescence. Why do I suggest this? In the simplest form, the reduction of a human being to that of a “worker-consumer drone” has got a critical mass of people focused entirely on their self-image and societal worth related to those fashionable or innovative things they consume.

I’ve always had the god/consciousness/reality dilemmas rattling round my head.. & hell yes that’s helped me reduce the influence on me from the consumptive model of living. I know not watching TV (and the advert cycle) also helps. I’m trying real hard to create and add in more than I consume. At the very least, to be aware of the waste and consequences of my consumption. I suppose those long discussion with Cubans about just how they kept those 50s US Oldmobiles & UK antiques running showed amazing human ingenuity in the face of actual scarcity.

Yes here in 2021, ‘limited edition’, ‘rare and exclusive’ items create a ‘fake scarcity’ and a ‘fashion’ cycle that is in a complete disconnect from the ecology we must live in to survive long term.

If we can remove the designed obsolescence from our society, and deal with natural wear,tear & progression of ideas with merit over novelty – Perhaps as a species we could spend those surplus energies and resources on building a better future? – and not filling homes, shops, warehouses and waste sites with mountains of unused or old plastics and precious metals.

But hey… this isn’t a blog of my musings for nothing. My head feels clearer after that. And it know means I’ll have to discuss the other two prongs of my suggestions for practical solutions to global problems.

Changing the world, one action, one interaction, one idea, and one person at a time.

Or not. These are just my truths. But I’m not the only human to have thought these thoughts.

How many of us are prepared to walk the walk?

From my rotting body, flowers shall grow and I am in them, and that is eternity.

Edvard Munch

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s