Thursday, December 14, 2006

A material culturalist but not truly materialistic?

Two material possessions that this not very materialistic
person nonetheless likes possessing... ;S

Sometimes, I find myself wishing that I could live like a
Maasai. By this, I don't mean that I wish I could own and/or herd cows, live in an abode that's constructed out of cow dung and mud, have both one or both my bottom front teeth removed during infancy or -- perish the thought! -- have clitoridectomy performed on me at puberty! Rather, what I wish is that I could be as unmaterialistic and physically unencumbered as those who lead a truly nomadic existence.

Before I go any further here, I should point out that I'm the person who, once, when I told a businessman friend of mine that one of my anthropological sub-specializations was "material culture", got him laughing -- because, he told me, I'm the person who's the least interested in material culture (or, at least, its accumulation) that he knew. And it's true enough that to this day, I don't have stuff like a car, house or even a designer dress item to call my own. (Indeed, my computer probably is the single most expensive thing that I actually paid for and possess!)

Alternatively, since returning to live and work in Malaysia some three and a half years ago now, I've joined the ranks of those folks who don't just own a mobile (AKA cellular) phone but also have come to think of it as well nigh indispensable. Then there's it being so that, over the years, I've accumulated what quite a few people who've seen them reckon are pretty formidable sized collections of books, videos and...stuffed toys.

With regards to the books: Suffice to say that I started reading at a very early age -- and by the age of 5 years, was already reading entire books that didn't contain a single illustration -- and proceeded to amass a book collection not long afterwards. But lest there continue to be any doubts regarding the size of this collection, howzabout if I point out that before I reached full teenhood, my parents went ahead and constructed an extension to the family house so that I would have a little book room (i.e., a room to house my books -- and mine alone)?

Over the years, as I've moved from one living quarter to another, and sometimes also one continent as well as country to another, I've often found cause to rue my book acquiring tendencies. Alternatively put: One paperback novel may be light and small enough to fit into a jacket -- or even trouser -- pocket but a box of them can feel like they cumulatively weigh a ton! Furthermore, unlike such as clothes, they're not foldable and, consequently, often prove pretty bulky.

As I've realized full well, the last also applies to videos; at least, those which are in the form of VHS tapes. In part because of this being the case (and, also, because I feared that too many of my VHS tapes would develop fungus trouble in equatorial Malaysia), I ended up giving away at least two thirds of the VHS tape portion of my video collection prior to returning to my native land. And substituting or replacing many of my VHS tapes with DVDs (or, when they weren't available in that superior format, VCDs).

More than incidentally, I really only started accumulating videos after I came to the realization that I was taking out certain ones -- i.e.,
Supercop (yes, I first knew Police Story III: Supercop by way of its English dubbed version) and Wing Chun -- so frequently from the video rental store that it made more economic sense to buy copies of my own. Still, this accumulative practice only exponentially increased after I began experiencing difficulties with finding copies to rent of movies that I wanted to watch as a result of the depth of my Hong Kong movie enthusiasm and knowledge noticeably exceeding that of owners and workers of many a video rental outlet!

As for the stuffed toys: In my defence, I truly have been given the majority of that which I now possess (and this includes all of the Hello Kitty plushes plus cushions that I own!)! At the same time, I must admit to having personally purchased my Winki Pinki stuffed cushion and, also, three Totoros (including one which is two feet tall and wide, and another that's battery-operated to come across as though it's sleeping and snoring)!! ;b

And before anyone asks: No, this adult female has no intentions whatsoever
of parting with her stuffed toy collection just yet; and this especially so with regards to its Sanrio and Studio Ghibli representatives! However, I sure do miss the days when I could safely and conveniently trade VHS tapes, VCDs and DVDs with others (many of whom I had never met in person but, instead, only on-line).

As for my willingness to part with part(s) of my book collection: Funny, you should ask...for the inspiration for today's blog entry stems from my deciding plus making preparations to dispense with -- or try anyways to do so! -- some 170 of my books by way of operating a second hand book stall at this Sunday's
Little Penang Street Market! So to those of you readers who reside in Penang and are looking to buy some reading materials on the cheap: See you at my stall this Sunday? :)


Anonymous said...

From someone who was fortunate to be a recipient of many tapes from your VHS tape collection (for which I thank you again for the many hours of entertainment) I'm sorry to live too far away to attend your upcoming book sale. Happy selling and I hope you share the experience of having a Sunday stall with your readers.


YTSL said...

Hi SBK --

Thank you for the good wishes and alas, yes, it would seem that many of this blog's visitors and readers are in your position in terms of their being in a different country from me! Re sharing the experience of having a Sunday stall...let's see how it all goes first, okay? ;)

Anonymous said...

Book shopping is something I love to do and second hand bookshops can contain so many gems. I wish I was there, but since it can't happen, you have a great sale!

YTSL said...

Hi Eliza --

Honestly now: I'll consider it to be a great sale if I manage to sell even half of the books I'm putting up for sale, and a good sale if I sell one quarter of them! ;b

Anonymous said...

clitoridectomy? Are you a muslim?

YTSL said...

Hi anonymous --

What does being a Muslim have to do with clitoridectomy?! :O