Sunday, April 20, 2014

Exorcise Your Wind-Sucking Demon

Floors: people walk on them, how clean must they be? Don’t we do enough meaningless stuff already?
Desert thorns and sticks, tangled with dog hair, have long decorated mine. Bark fragments and ash from the wood stove, popcorn nubs from that addiction, and plain old wind-blown dust. Along with the classics: crumbs, crunched leaves, and the unknowable grey fluff.

When the floor gets so filthy I can’t stand on it—about twice a year--I drag out our ten dollar Used Crap Store “vacuum cleaner.” Worn out, it sucks, weakly.

It also chokes easily. Every vacuuming job includes semi-disassembly of the unit to dig out the wad of hair, pebbles, twigs--hey, a dime!

Sunrise, sunset. One day an angrily vacuuming son told me it smelled like burning rubber. OK, thanks, I’ll check it out. Months later, I found it plugged completely with stickers and fuzz, the “beater bar" seized, and the rubber belt cooked by the whizzing motor. Nice.

Two belts must be purchased, wrapped in cellophane glued to cardboard, though only one is needed. Classic marketing rip-off, still cheaper than a new used unit. The “beater bar” I took to work, blew clean with compressed air, and carefully oiled, a drop at a time, with a toothpick and motor oil.

All this, to keep my artificial floors marginally clean.

Vacuum cleaners are a typical bogus invention by the Crap Merchants. They convinced people that wood floors are better than dirt. Sold brooms and potions to keep dirt off the new wood floor. Then, rugs and carpets, which, hauled out and beaten occasionally, are a reasonable concept, if pretentious. But when they began glueing and stapling carpets to the floor, technology stumbled a step too far, and the electric vacuum came whining to life.

“Wall-to-wall carpeting” means that days at home will too often be spent pushing this roaring beast, instead of broom sweeping quietly and carelessly, or skipping it altogether. This is not an improvement.

Vacuuming makes people question their very existence: is this what we evolved to do? Do clean floors impress the God(s)? Or are we just slaves to appearance, worried what people will think of us?

Behind every perfectly clean house are stress, resentment, depression, ennui, feelings of helplessness, the eternal torture of free souls. Too much of what we do each day already seems pointless, which perhaps it is.

So, at the very least, let us all quit vacuuming floors. It’s elitist posturing--”Ooh, look at me, I’m rich! Carpeted floors, an electric machine, and kids [or if really high class, servants] to run it.” Homes with living humans have crud on the floor, compost, sawdust, mustard, blood. Give it up. Use a straw broom to sweep loose debris out the back door. (Roaches will stay outside if they are well fed there.)


When the rug begins to stink, rip it out. Live with the plywood or concrete underneath, without a care. Save your precious time and energy here on earth. Let the dust of the ages be your carpet. Truly, home improvement.


“What we refer to as nature or the “environment” or the wild world is our endangered habitat and home, and we are its problem species. Living in it well with each other and with all other beings is our ancient challenge. In this time of New World Disorder, we need to find the trick of weaving civilized culture and wild nature into the fabric of the future. This will take both art and science. We can take heart, however, from the fact that the actual physical world sets conditions that are some of the strongest guards against ignorant extremism and fanaticism. “Get real! Get a life!” is the daily message of Mother Nature.”

                                                              Gary Snyder, Back On the Fire, pp.24-25