Saturday, May 26, 2012

Excess and sobriety as reflected in correction tape

One thing having a phone camera (and a good one at that) has taught me is that the culture of excess can creep up on you from everywhere. Going overboard is most obvious in shopping, in those reality shows that involve really wealthy celebrities (but Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous is still the original when it comes to this), and when spying the six or more shiny luxury cars and SUVs parked in somebody's garage when there's probably no legitimate reason to own six or more vehicles. These circumstances are observable and therefore easier to make adjustments in when called for.

But for me it all started when digital cameras became the norm. Camera film becoming unnecessary meant indiscriminate and nearly endless shooting away because your shots weren't limited to 12 or 24 or 36. Now who would be reminded of the value of sobriety, of thrift, when taking hundreds of shots -- at no extra cost -- were an option?

Also, since a dude holding up a mobile phone and taking pictures of her friends (or herself) is such a common sight nowadays, very few people probably hesitate to photograph anything, even the most mundane scene or object (a window display, a celebrity sighting, a bowl of soup...). Is it surprising, then, that "tama na" or even "huwag na" hardly occurs to anyone who feels the sudden urge to whip out the phone just because something is potential material for an instant Facebook upload?

The temptation is strong but it can be resisted. The choice, after all, is yours to be made and no one forces you to take snapshots at gunpoint. So when I was at a bookstore recently and saw the assortment of colorful correction tapes hanging from a rack, my sudden urge to take pictures was tempered by reminders of the "excess" tendency I described above. You may ask, why in the world would anyone want to take pictures of correction tape? I'm not exactly sure but in my case, it has something to do with amazement over the evolution of little things easily taken for granted. If you grew up in a time in which carbon paper, correction fluid and the Touch and Go type of correction tape (which requires typing on a small strip over the error) were still in heavy use, you know what I mean.

Seeing these implements felt strange. I had seen students use them during my brief teaching stint at a high school in 2005 and I found them fascinating. If it's so easy to delete something you wrote on a piece of paper and the error can hardly be spotted, wouldn't this make you spend less time thinking before writing, less careful in the whole writing exercise? The ordinary rubber eraser has a way of damaging paper and dirtying up an otherwise immaculately white sheet; besides, working those things can be such a hassle. I wonder...

Contemplating on this reminded me of the time my family and I moved to a new home. Packing was a challenge; deciding on which things to keep and which to discard was even more trying. I ended up taking photos of some stuff that had to be thrown or given away, and some of them would be considered vintage items by now.

Back to the modern-day correction tape. So as I decided to photograph the lot, I told myself I'd take only a few shots -- not a dozen or so that would include all angles from which the implements could be documented. And there would be no uploading on any social network!! (Blogging about the experience --with substantial insights -- would be good)

Hence, excess in the realm of documentation and information sharing for that day was kept at bay!

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Feel like reading a piece that dwells on another "vintage experience"? You might enjoy this one. Nothing about carbon paper and correction tape in there! But it does mention "rotary-dial"...

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