Are We Worthy of Our Kitchens?Via Arts and Letters Daily
By Christine Rosen
Judging by how Americans spend their money—on shelter magazines and kitchen gadgets and home furnishings—domesticity appears in robust health. Judging by the way Americans actually live, however, domesticity is in precipitous decline. Families sit together for meals much less often than they once did, and many homes exist in a state of near-chaos as working parents try to balance child-rearing, chores, long commutes, and work responsibilities. As Cheryl Mendelson, author of a recent book on housekeeping, observes, “Comfort and engagement at home have diminished to the point that even simple cleanliness and decent meals—let alone any deeper satisfactions—are no longer taken for granted in many middle-class homes.” Better domestic technologies have surely not produced a new age of domestic bliss.
Ironically, this decline in domestic competence comes at a time of great enthusiasm for “retro” appliances and other objects that evoke experiences that many Americans rarely have. We seem to value our domestic gadgets more and more even as we value domesticity less and less. Wealthy Americans can purchase an expensive, “old-fashioned” cast-iron Aga stove, but they cannot buy the experience it is intended to conjure: a cozy kitchen filled with the scents and signs of a person devoted to the domestic satisfaction of those who share a home. And middle-class Americans can buy machines that aim to make their domestic chores more pleasurable or efficient, but the ideal of transforming domestic labor into a “lifestyle” is a fantasy. The machines promise to restore peace and comfort to domestic life, but such nostalgia (whose literal meaning is “homesickness”) is not a recipe for domestic happiness.
samedi, février 25, 2006
the new electric servants
A very interesting read about how people buy pricey kitchen machines hoping the right gadget will make them want to cook. It won’t work: you can’t get domestic happiness so easily ...