05 December 2011

The analytic apparatus

Many of you know that I am currently obsessed with the Saddleback Leather messenger bags. It's funny talking to people about them though, particularly their cost.

Now, I use a bag almost every day of my life, and I have two bags for two different situations: my North Face backpack and a Relic messenger bag that my parents got for me. I probably could survive with just the backpack, if I didn't mind looking like a nine year old going to Catholic primary school when I wear a blazer. The messenger bag is nice, but it's too small and doesn't have a handle on top. It's cloth, gets dirty and needs to match more or less with what you're wearing. You really need to distribute the weight over both shoulders when you're carrying a laptop and two or three books.

If I had one bag that met my needs and looked good (and I was certain what the criteria for those two things were and certain that they were unlikely to change in the short to medium term), I would be set, not just for the next year, but a potentially very long time, if the bag held up. I know what I like and need now, and my needs are unlikely to change in the potential careers I will go into.

So spending even £350 on a bag that meets my needs seems very reasonable to me, particularly if it's going to last and last, particularly if it's exactly what I have wanted, and particularly when all the time it makes everything I wear look better. A Saddleback bag will be iconic, something I am always with and which defines my style in the long term. Like the right pair of glasses. I know what I want, I know who I am: I'm this, not that. A leather messenger bag and rucksack, not a black backpack.

This and not that. I've blogged about it already: I feel secure, suddenly knowing what makes me comfortable in a way that I never have before. Is this what it means to be 30? I love it, I love the hell out of it.

What's the point of getting something cheap if it frustrates you and you're going to have to replace it in three years. I have a long grey overcoat: classic, I've had it for seven years and it looks as good today as it did in 2004, 2007 and 2009. I have a silver Swiss Army watch: classic, Yoko got it for me the year we married and it looks great. Classic. Craftsmanship over entry price point. Stability over acquiring cheaply and quickly.

Back to my point about what all this means. Consumerism keeps the damn economy afloat, but that's about all it does. The economy we've built up doesn't value you getting nice things that last and last. We've split goods up: the rich buy and dispose of nice goods and everyone else buys disposable goods that they can afford in the moment and then replace when they break because we spend all of our money month to month and can't afford nice things when we need them. It encourages us to reinvent ourselves, our style: to avoid the classic style and get this Autumn's style. The turnover of goods, however, doesn't serve you as an individual: it wastes your time, makes you have and deal with shitty things, perpetuates this constant need to acquire, and makes acquiring goods a form of entertainment. What the hell am I doing in the Apple store looking at iPads. I don't need an iPad.