The time before plastics

The Long Now foundation has posted a talk about the past and future of plastic.

Most "Paleo dieters" and "CrossFitters" are also attracted to machismo, physicality, modern minimalist design... the best example is the interest in Thor's daughter.  The Scandinavian nations epitomize the type of Bauhaus-n-health-fascism typical of the Paleosphere.

Despite being of Scandinavian extraction myself, I don't appreciate Scandinavia.

One of my biggest difficulties is that my compulsions are insensible to most people.  Although I am attracted to Paleo, I am more of a Chap enthusiast type than a typical CrossFitter.  Anyone who thinks tweed and anachronism is incompatible with the type of "science-y-ness" and physical exertion promoted by Paleo-CrossFit hasn't heard of, for example, Simon Fraser and Bill Millin (who later became a nurse).

One of the great attractions of Paleo is its implicit rejection of modernity.  Although some people might object to this interpretation as a type of ideological "Paleo re-enactment," once one starts questioning many of the bases of the modern aesthetic, such as processed foods and sitting in front of the TV, the turn toward antiquity begins, I think, unless it is derailed by compromise.  As Melissa McEwen has said, after immersing oneself in the Paleo diet debates, one becomes not so much interested in food as in our origins and in the past itself.

Since becoming more interested in Paleo, I've become more attracted to the outdoors and physical activity.  I've also gotten rid of all electronics except my laptop and an electric piano that I can't afford to replace with a baby grand. I pretty much just wear wool and leather and metal now with the occasional bit of cotton.  Plastics are verboten in my world to the extent I can manage.

Susan Freinkel's talk on LongNow is available as an MP3: click on downloads:
Bakelite was invented in 1907 to replace the beetle excretion called shellac (“It took 16,000 beetles six months to make a pound of shellac.”), and was first used to insulate electrical wiring. Soon there were sturdy Bakelite radios, telephones, ashtrays, and a thousand other things. The technology democratized consumption, because mass production made former luxury items cheap and attractive. The 1920s and ‘30s were a golden age of plastic innovation, with companies like Dow Chemical, DuPont, and I. G. Farben creating hundreds of new varieties of plastic for thrilled consumers. Cellophane became a cult. Nylons became a cult. A plastics trade show in 1946 had 87,000 members of the public lining up to view the wonders. New fabrics came along—Orlon and Dacron—as colorful as the deluge of plastic toys—Barbie, the Frisbee, Hula hoops, and Silly Putty.