Friday, January 2, 2009

Farewell, faithful fan

A sad end has come for someone who'd become part of our little family.

Even as a new year dawned upon us, we had to say goodbye to Ivy, our clip-on fan with the flexible neck, soft blades and fascinating light patterns. She was could have been tailor-made to amuse and cool down our Sonny, but - alas - perhaps too much so. The little fella made it his personal project to explore Ivy extensively using his main research tools - his chomp-happy mouth and destructive fingers.

As chronicled previously (click here), Ivy duly lost one of her blades to Sonny's ministrations, yet kept on whirring bravely. From then on, we tried our best to keep her from harm's way. But inevitably, Sonny found a chink in our defences, darted in and ripped off another blade. A one-bladed fan isn't much good for much, though Mum tried one last move. She dismantled our valiant fan and sought to purchase some fabric so as to make new blades - but had to admit defeat after hunting around our neighbourhood shops.

Yesterday, therefore, she unveiled Cab, Ivy's replacement. She looks very similar, though more blocky of construction and clad in green rather than Ivy's purple one-piece. There's an ever-changing light-pattern too - with even more possible combinations than with Ivy's. Still, it won't be the same. Some might wonder how we could ever become attached to a Made-in-China mass of plastic, wires and circuitry. But half the time, it isn't so much the charm or personality of someone or something that matters as the emotional investment we are ourselves willing to extend: How much we see in it, rather than what it exhibits in and of itself.

Some philosophers like to remind us that anything we observe and encounter in the world is never "the thing itself", but rather a sort of joint project between our own inclinations and observational powers, and what is presented to us to be observed. Looked at it that way, there's no reason why a rock, or a tree or a fan, should not come to be seen as idiosyncratic, quirky or crammed with character. In fact, it pretty much follows that when we find someone, someplace or something bland or boring, it would be a reflection - not a flattering one - of our own failings and flatness of soul.