Personal culture

By Mohammad Iqbal

Material culture is personal and different for everyone in society. Because people’s life experiences are distinct from others, life has its quirks and twists for everyone. It is similar to dancing – the rhythm and lyrics of a song make a person want to illustrate their representation in their own way. Culture exists through individual personality and the stages of life of people. One that is young describes it with toys or insignificant objects, while an older person would use bigger and more constructive objects. When talking about material culture, it should be remembered that these objects should enable individuals to gain knowledge and importance of the past or present, through triggering a memory or use of the object.  My personal material culture represents various standpoints and attitudes of today’s society.

rug

The most important personal belonging of mine is the prayer rug. The prayer rug represents discipline and the way of life I choose to participate in and the type of company I like to associate with. This is most significant to me because today’s world is becoming too man-centered and scientific to the point where people have lost track of what is important, what is real happiness, and the meaning of life. Working from dawn to dusk, celebrating every single week, gaming every night, tolerating taboos, is not the lifestyle I wish to support. Where is the fun in that? Does that relieve the internal exhaustion? By restricting myself to the rug and its beliefs, I can find my own happiness and be the happiest. This is the perception that many people lack today as they have grown too infatuated with many objects, i.e. films, sex, drugs, etc. They are obtaining happiness from sources that provide little to no education of the way life should be or help their inner peace.

pan

Sauce pan and/or Sauté pan are objects that are important part of life because I am not a restaurant person or someone who orders too much food. By owning these pans, I have the opportunity to make my own delicious food, hot and without having to wait an hour at a restaurant or for delivery, then opening a million containers and putting the food on my plate. Cooking also conserves money and is less expensive than eating at food places regularly. In today’s society where fast food is at every corner, many people limit themselves. Daily visits to restaurants or throwing huge feasts with friends is simply throwing hard earned money away during the present and not caring about the future. People are under the impression that money comes easy by working at any place. While that is somewhat true, they fail to understand why saving money is important. If serious about life, life requires time, money and dedication, and while people usually focus on time and dedication, they are often short on or wasteful when it comes to money. They rely too heavily on bad and awful restaurants when they could simply have eaten excellently made food at home with friends and family.

laptop

The tree of knowledge, growing with the world of technology and roots reaching every corner of the world, the laptop. I have not grown up with a laptop or an internet connection, but after life progressed and time integrated with technology advancement, I have become a laptop’s user. Through this means, I gain education and become informed of worldly events and passions. There is entertainment, and many other things involved also. This is the same way today’s world functions because everything is on the internet which requires some kind of medium such as a phone. The use of them shows that people do not like handling business face-to-face anymore. Need an application? Go to your laptop! Writing a paper? Go to your laptop! Entertainment? Laptop! Can’t own a book? Kindle it! Phone dropped in water? Lapto… Not! You need to hurry up and pull it out at this very second. We currently live in a world where duties are carried out easily and at our convenience, which allows us to steer life at our own pace. The use of laptops and other devices shows we have started to become a part of society where, in order to seek answers and construct our life, we need to succumb to a new technology-based world and learn its ways.

This post was completed as part of an assignment interpreting the “material culture” of home, and how objects, keepsakes, and ephemera from our domestic lives contribute to our social identities. For additional information on the assignment, please visit: https://americanstudiesmediacultureprogram.wordpress.com/the-concept-of-home-spring-2014-the-archeology-of-home/

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Capitalism Related to Domesticity

By Mohammad Iqbal

Consumption is necessary for domestic survival; consumption of some product supplied by some company. In  early years, when humans built products such as wooden beds or used kitchenware made from nature, their purpose was to meet the kind of domestic needs that made tough life simpler. Through nature, goods were widely available, and people began to see a change that seemed to benefit them in everyday life – a change promising long-term survival and shelter. Similarly, homes in the modern world have been affected, but in different ways since we are not still as close to nature. Domesticity also became a factor in regards to spending money wisely and maintaining status for a family. As technology advanced, homes became harder to manage as there were several components that needed refilling and maintenance. Consumption of capitalist goods became necessary. Some used the goods for recreation and some used them for necessity. By consumption of capitalist goods, changes were enacted on one’s comfort and status in the house.

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“Lawn King” 4/18/14. Courtesy of Library of Congress.

From the 1960s on, lawns became a US home’s main attraction. It came to the point where immaculate lawns indicated the entrance to new free-from-poverty zones, the suburbs. Residents of these suburbs maintained their lawns to display their own home and economic status along with pride that the homeowner’s family were good company, generous benefactors, and welcoming of everyone. When demand for maintaining grass and lawns arose, many companies became mainstream. One such example of those companies is ChemLawn, which provided its customers home services such as cutting/mowing the grass, spraying chemicals, blowing, etc., and thus easing customers’ lives. Lawn specialists in clean uniforms pulled up to a house in tankers carrying chemicals (Steinberg 73). Availability of these services meant more time spent with family and more sophisticated lifestyles for families. In the advertisement selected and published by Lawn King, the company aimed to provide services for the homes because domesticity – or, running the house – was an important factor to the homeowner. Saving time, energy, and money on the house through selecting a lawn service provided a family their comfort and status. Even if the service wasn’t up to par, at least family members were not having to mow their grass by themselves, which was something that only working-class people did, in their opinion. This changed the concept of home because people began to care for their lawn as part of their home and neighborhood and see it as an extension of domesticity.

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“Improvement! Improvement!” 4/18/14. Courtesy of Library of Congress.

Although people did not use commercial laundries as much, their influence on domesticity should not be ignored. Laundries, no singular company noted, proliferated in years of World War I and pre-Depression, and customers using this service were mostly women. “The items most commonly sent to commercial laundries were men’s shirts and collars and ‘flatwork’ – handkerchiefs, sheets, tablecloths, and napkins” (Cowan 106). Instead of washing clothes manually, usage of this capitalist service was important to women as it simplified the troubles of washing, ironing, clothes every day. By sending the clothes to mass laundries, women’s work load was reduced. In the advertisement by Bowen promoting his laundry company, he calls for people to bring their orders and leave it to workers who will provide the best service they can, which will also encourage customers to return to the company again. This is relevant to domesticity and social improvement because this chore has greatly reduced the burden of home labor and increased family time/care with children. During these years of laundry proliferation, women were mostly found in factories and stores after men were drafted to fight in wars. Spending most of the day washing laundry would be tiresome and exploiting this service would simply be an asset and a good cool down after a hard day’s work.

car

“Leave your family car home and use that special Hertz Rent-A-Car service!” 4/18/14. Courtesy of Duke University Libraries

Paying for gas costs too much when you own a car. With insurance, gas, and maintenance costs, it is not smart to own a car in tough economic times or struggling financial stages of life. What is better, renting to save money or use money every day that exceeds the price of renting? This is what the advertisement by Hertz Rent-A-Car System is aiming to convey. It is best to benefit from renting a car as it saves daily high purchases and then you can save money to devote to needs in the house rather than waste it on the expenses of owning a car. This affects domesticity by enabling a family to carry out more diverse homely activities and give a sense of comfort, or rather, a comfortable life for each family member. While owning a car emanates a high status, it also brings the person’s life down due to money burdens. The advertisement also shows the organized lifestyle and life of a businessman, assuming he is one by his attire. As a businessman who is knowledgeable of where money travels, he knows what choice he needs to make to prevent his home life and finances from being unstable. By choosing this car service, he has protected his family from being poor and shown he cares for domesticity.

This post was completed as an assignment for the American Studies course, “The Concept of Home.”  A list of the readings that informed this assignment can be found here: https://americanstudiesmediacultureprogram.wordpress.com/assignments-the-concept-of-home-spring-2013/  

Intercepting Message

How Effectively Personal Messages are Communicated

by Mohammad Iqbal

Letter from Iwao Matsushita to Hanaye Matsushita, March 6, 1942

This letter is from Iwao Matsushita, a Japanese man living in America, to his wife in Japan. The tone and arrangement of words are directly coming from his heart, words that describe loneliness, happiness, and sadness he is experiencing as a result of being far from his family. Despite there being a word limit for the letter, he mentions his perspective of the situations back home and hopes his wife to resolve them as he himself is desperate to help but restrained due to his service in the United States (Iwao). He seems firm and confident and genuinely cares for his family. This is important to the concept of ‘leaving home’ as it incites readers to experience a feeling of a person who used to be part of their family. There is nostalgia, personal communication, and intimate connection involved which expands to homesickness, and showcases significance of a family’s bond that remains regardless of distance (Matt, 23). People may or may not lie in their letters; that is a different story. But if that case is overlooked, homesickness proves  true and to be throbbing in people’s hearts through every memory.

“Midst the snows of Missoula 700 miles away I celebrate alone my Hana’s 1 day of birth.”

Excerpt from “Letter from Iwao Matsushita to Hanaye Matsushita” March 6, 1942. Image courtesy of solomon.imld.alexanderstreet.com.

Letter from Shigezo Iwata to Sonoko Uyematsu Iwata, April 13, 1942.

Shigezo Iwata, a Japanese man living in US, sends a letter to his wife Sonoko Uyematsu Iwata living in Japan. To quote him, “The world trend is changing and the road we must take will see a big change” (Shigezo). If analyzed, this statement proves to be valid and strong in terms of determination to resolve family problems. Shigezo must be family driven, passionate, and a powerful figure in the family to make such decisive and bold moves on behalf of the family. The words he wrote meant serious business. There was a reason as to why he left his home – to support his loved ones in the long run. When the main part of the family, the benefactor, leaves home, the situation at home is likely disturbed, and responsibilities, anxiety and bonds are likely to be affected. Through distance, no objectives can be achieved as a unit. Iwata and Uyematsu needed what was mentioned in the letter to keep the relationship active and give family members a better life. Iwata worked for a better home while staying away from home, so writing such a poignant letter would only encourage family members to support him in his cause.

“It’s hard to know when I’ll be cleared and will be able to see you. There is no other way but to keep calm, be prudent, not be hasty and do the best we can. “

Excerpt from “Letter from Shigezo Iwata to Sonoko Uyematsu Iwata” April 13, 1942. Image courtesy of solomon.imld.alexanderstreet.com.

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The poem is written by Daisy Sanial Gill in 1909. The author of this poem is a lonely man who mentions the characteristics and core examples of home. The urge to go home and be with his family is what he had been longing for because he could not find homely qualities while alone. Lines throughout this poem were meaningful and seem to give the author comfort – the comfort of being able to express himself freely as if he were at home.

“Home…  Daisy Saniel Gill, NYC, Andrew H. Kellogg,” 1916. Courtesy of memory.loc.gov.

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This letter is by Agness Wilson, a female cousin of George Wilson, living in Cincinnati, Ohio.  She is stating troubles at home. She sounds serious and seems earnest about her marital matter. By analyzing and understanding her tone, George can reconsider his decision in becoming involved with her ‘arranged’ marriage and, perhaps, resolve the situation. Words can mean many things but it is the background and emotions that validate and polish communication.

“Letter from Agness Wilson to George Wilson,” 1821. Courtesy of memory.loc.gov.

This post was completed as an assignment for the American Studies course, “The Concept of Home.”  A list of the readings that informed this assignment can be found here: https://americanstudiesmediacultureprogram.wordpress.com/assignments-the-concept-of-home-spring-2013/