What Happened to Beauty?


Last week I discovered the grocery store had switched from red, plastic carts to black and gray, plastic carts.  The new carts are bulkier and uglier and don’t perform any better than the old carts.

“Performance in a grocery cart?” you might ask.  “What planet are you from?”

Okay, I get it that the store probably needed to replace their old carts because they all had two or more wonky wheels.  But we all know it’s inherent to the shopping cart species to rapidly develop one wonky wheel.  So pretty soon the new carts will be like any other cart, only uglier.

The ugliest carts were probably the cheapest replacements the store could get.  I do appreciate their attempt to keep my grocery prices down, but why should beauty suffer in the name of economy?

Look around town:  The most attractive buildings are the older ones constructed from brick or other masonry and designed with style.  The new buildings are metal stamps.  If a classic car drives by, it turns heads.  The new cars today all look alike.

It often seems like craftsmanship is becoming an endangered species.  My attraction to writing could probably be explained by my appreciation for the older arts.  And yet writing, as ancient as it is, adapts well to modern technology.

It’s no secret I have a love-hate affair with digital technology.  I love it when it serves me.  I hate it when it wants me to serve it (those people with nomophobia know what I’m talking about).  I also hate it when it doesn’t work, but that’s another story….

As is the case with true craftsmanship, the changes in writing reflect changes in the culture.  That’s why the stories we read today are not written the same way they were for Beowulf, or the Canterbury Tales, or The Scarlet Letter.  And yet folks can still enjoy works like those because good storytelling is timeless.

But when somebody like Mark Twain breaks new ground in fiction because he chose to write in the vernacular, writing can take on a modern tone and still be beautiful.  Yeah, people can write some pretty ugly things, too, but that’s their choice.  Those interested in developing the craft will keep to the higher standards.

It’s time for me to pack up my cart and move on out … darn this wonky wheel….

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