{ A Meditation on the Size of Things }
Cara Gillotti

cell phone sizes - jen lawtonOnce it was enviable to own big things. Stereos, cars, and appliances were praised for their large size. This is because things were such that to make them better, it was necessary to stuff a lot of technology into them, which came exclusively in large pieces. Now, when I take my cell phone out of my purse, people react with alarm, as though something of its size could be used only as a weapon.
   The question is this: what does the thing store? Does it store excellence and advancement? If so, it is best to be small. The more excellence and advancement you can cram into a small space, the more impressive the thing. This is true for: cell phones, stereos, computers, clothing to keep you warm and dry during your outdoor adventures.
   We like it when things zip up small, with satisfying sounds. Or snap shut with a satisfying sound. We like these things to zip and snap because we like to make things smaller, and we like to make things smaller because it is the human urge to destroy.*
   Back to the question of storage. Does the thing store something tangible? If it does, it is most enviable for it to be as big as possible. This is true for: ovens, garages, refrigerators, beds. Unless your point is that you are above or otherwise exempt from a particular greed or want. If your point is that you are not burdened (or feel you ought not be burdened) with a spouse and children, then you can have a zippy sportster car, into which, for optimal enviability, not even you can fit.
   Do we, as a society, prefer to look at big things or small things? Amazon.com sales rankings tell us that we buy more telescopes than microscopes. But what if it is that we prefer to look at things that are far away? At the zoo, there are often more people looking at the bison and giraffes than at the fancy bugs. But here, again, the bison and giraffes are farther away than the fancy bugs.
   Will things get smaller and smaller until they disappear? Will the technological apotheosis of an item be the smallest it can be—the idea of the item? Then it would no longer be fashionable to have vast amounts of storage space. "How little storage space you require!" we would marvel, eyes bright with envy.

back home.

* Not to be discounted: the urge to see things whiz and flub around the room (see "balloons, letting go of"), and the urge to consume (see "cake, relative pleasures of 1) constructing from flour and eggs, and 2) eating).