http://home.comcast.net/~1hal9000/fanpaint.jpg I have a fan that is a few years old. Not very old by relative time standards. Yet this fan is a piece of shit. This shouldn't come as a surprise considering the fan was manufactured, engineered, and distributed to be a piece of shit. It's not the fan's fault. It did nothing to deserve this predetermined fate. It simply came into being as a little white piece of shit fan. Not knowing anything better the fan ventured into the world in a shiny new fabricated box that touted to the world what an amazing fan it really wasn't. Colored with the corporate logos and slogans the fan was led to believe everything it was told. "This cooling table fan delivers 90 degree continuous oscillation with vertical lift adjustments for greater control of air direction." Fuck, it almost felt important!
Now I say all this with the most fond affection because I love this fan now. Through the years I have grown to appreciate it's company and I have also learned a very valuable lesson. In certain "systems" manufactured goods are designed to have very limited life spans. Corporations do this, obviously, to maintain their consumer base. They wouldn't exactly be running a very sound business if all their fans delivered 90 degree continuous oscillation for, say, 100 years. No, this simply would not be good business practice. The market would flood with efficiently running cooling devices and the company would go out of business due to the lack of repeat customers. The more logical approach, when motivated by profit, is to engineer designs with finite time frames which regularly break, thereby forcing the consumer to jump in the car and commence "shopping". (I won't go into detail here about the ramifications of "shopping". Needless to say, when you go to buy a little white piece of shit fan you don't usually just end up buying a little white piece of shit fan. If you get my drift. Wink Wink, Nudge Nudge.) But I digress, where were we?
Capitalism, ah yes. Which brings us back to the fan. The fan, after only a few years, stopped working. It kept trying to provide it's intended continuous cooling oscillation but in the end it slowly stopped spinning and gave up it's ghost. Now normally this is where the story would end. Hop in the car, in my case bike, and venture to the store for another fan. I however could not let my little white friend go, I missed his cooling refreshment. When your're fucking broke it becomes more of an issue. I needed it's cooling refreshment, to be more exact, because I couldn't afford to go down and buy another one. Adversity seems to answer many of our questions. Why would we have turmoil in our lives otherwise? So it became my mission to fix this fan. It became an experiment in DIY mentality. How long can I keep this piece of shit fan working? How long can I defeat the corporate design? I had to eventually remove the fan guard, the body moldings, and all the knobs. I now have to start it like a small prop engine by giving it swift spins to get the electric engine to work. Just recently I have had to balance the rotor with a pen by sticking it in the center of the "prop" while I go through the above process. The motor gets really hot, there is no protection from the blades, it sometimes whines, and it's dangerous. But it still works. After all that it still works. It's providing cooling oscillation right now as I write this. Helping me to spew forth the script appearing on these very pages.
The experience has made me think about the reasoning behind my experiment and of previous conversations I have had concerning these very issues. I fixed the fan in the beginning out of poverty. But now I keep it going in protest. That might sound strange but for me it provides satisfaction. Besides electronics I don't own anything firsthand. My entire room is furnished with used "things". For some reason I find comfort in this. I have a tendency for what I personally refer to as Sarah Conner mentality. (Sarah Conner of course being from the Terminator series of movies. She had knowledge of the impending apocalypse and hence learned everything she could to ensure her future. This included a broad range of disciplines but in the end boiled down to elementary survival in a post-technological world.) This is quite obviously using an extreme example but it provides a good analogy for the mindset I have. It seems much more logical, when considering my personal beliefs, to fix things myself. I have taught myself many of the same disciplines that Sarah found useful because of this. It has encouraged me to make things from scratch and take the less traveled path of DIY. Being a self proclaimed artist this seems only natural for me. I live for creation and when you fix something you are in a way giving it new life. A new beginning or perhaps a reincarnation.
I can see parallels in life. Humans can have the same attributes as the above described fan. I can see myself in the fans of the world. Our minds are manufactured in the same way. This system of ours does not exclude us, we are just as integral to it's operation as the products we consume. We are raised and taught the same principles. We are brainwashed into faith. From birth we are shown the throw away culture. The discarded heaps of refuse litter our horizon and remind us of the generations of ingrained junk mentality. We can't escape it, we can only face the truth and cope. But in this I can still see hope. It has given me new insight into the reasons why we should "do it ourselves". I can see the benefit of stopping the cyclic behavior of consumerism. When we create we are adding something of ourselves to the new life. We are giving some of our own time and energy to help something that without us would die of it's own accord. I think this is so important. It delves into the reasons why I think human culture is quickly dying. Humans can be reawakened through this same process. They can be given new life in a philosophical sense. We can take this type of DIY mentality and apply it to all facets of life. But I think it is sorely needed in the activist community. We need to start applying this to everything and everyone we meet. If only in example the effect can still be dramatic. We need to come out of the closet with our protest and start applying it to the world around us. By fighting the capitalist mindset this way we can also slowly start to free ourselves and the people around us from it's grasp. You can't escape a bear with your head between it's maws.
To prove that this revolutionary conjecture really can work we all must contribute to the fight. No matter how small. The next time something breaks take a second look. The little white piece of shit fan might appreciate the gesture. Think to yourself first, "Can this be fixed?" Or better yet, "Can I build one of these myself?"