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September 20, 2012

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Ian M

Interesting, the only line that jarred me: 'to endure the elements is to feel alive, to feel human' turned out to be based on the slogan of the brand you were advertising. I assume the rest was yours, as hinted by the notebook shots.

Endurance, hmmm... It doesn't sit well with earlier statements like 'I don't feel alien to it [the landscape]. I feel part of it.' But if you must 'endure the elements' of that landscape in order to 'feel alive' doesn't this imply some kind of separation - a barrier (literally in the clothes you wear) pushing that world away from your person, which you keep as a discrete, in fact alienated, entity? I've seen a similar sentiment expressed in another well-known brand of outdoor clothing: 'against the elements'. This sounds to me almost like a military campaign, resisting an enemy's incursion across your borders. I think real hunter-gatherers can't afford to view the world in this way.

You might like to read a short parable from Daniel Quinn's Tales of Adam - http://ondisturbedground.wordpress.com/the-cockroach-who-held-a-mountain-on-his-back/ - which addresses this subject, with a surprisingly relevant conclusion (spoiler):

'There’s almost always a way to move alongside the power of the elements. Never oppose them directly as though they were enemies to be overcome. If you do, you’ll be crushed like an egg under a boulder.'

Maybe this analysis doesn't apply to you, and you only spoke that line because Element paid you to. If so, maybe you could pass on my thoughts and tell them not to be so sneaky in future (ie: if they've got something to say they should say it themselves rather than putting their words in somebody else's mouth)?

best wishes,
Ian

Nick

Hi Ian,

Thanks for the comment- quite the analysis!

Good to hear your thoughts, I wrote the script for the ad, and tied in the brand ethos for the collection. The 'to endure the elements is to feel alive' mean't something else to me. Connecting with the landscape and feeling part of it is very much about dealing with what mother nature throws at you not fighting but as you say- working alongside. Certainly the clothing is a barrier against the weather, unless you like to wander about in your underpants in the wind and rain. but not against how you interact and think about the world around you and not about the clothes you wear.

I think a jacket back in the Mesolithic would have many a hunter-gatherer happy as larry and in some cases a fight to the death to steal it of the lucky bugger that had one!

Wish they had paid me, but at least i got the jacket.

Love & Peas.

Nick.


Ian M

Hi,

'quite the analysis!' - thanks, I do my best :) Reading back, though, it seems like it was riding a wave of passive-aggression. So, sorry for that and I'll come straight out with it: it bothers me to see an apparently sincere, heartfelt presentation like this combined with a product endorsement. Worse still, since I share many of the sentiments! I'm only exaggerating a little when I say that I might have thrown something at the screen if I didn't 'know' you to some degree from following your writing over the years... Well, I can see a whole army of comebacks massing on the horizon so I'll just close with a slogan: art is supposed to tell the truth; advertising is just a long string of manipulative lies.

That said, I see you're using the word 'endurance' differently from how I would usually associate it (to endure a boring lecture, a tiresome conversation, the terrorism announcements on the train etc.), meaning something like: building up your resilience by putting your body to the test. Yes?

I don't agree clothing (or any technology, for that matter) can be held separate from 'how you interact and think about the world around you' - I think even apparently insignificant things can have a big impact on overall outlook. An obvious example would be the feeling of walking around with a gun compared to walking around without one. I work as a gardener, and decent wet-weather gear makes a HUGE difference to how you feel at the end of the day or as you're going about your business. When I hit upon the idea of using a poncho to cover up my less-than-waterproof jacket I felt a profound satisfaction at this 'insulation' against the worst the weather could throw at me, combined with not a little smugness as though I had outwitted a sworn enemy. But all that happened at the end of the day was that my window of opportunity-to-work was expanded, while the window of sanity ('Huh, it's wet out. Maybe I should stay in today and read/play music/make love today instead.') shrunk correspondingly. I generally believe that material factors affect our thinking much more than we realise.

Finally, on jackets in the Mesolithic, you might be right - I don't suppose there's any way of knowing. Modern tribespeople have adopted many items of western clothing (eg: t-shirts in the tropics, cold-weather gear in the Arctic) as well as other technology, and there's a question of whether this is a smart thing to do or whether it adds to the myriad of other factors undermining their cultures. Still, others make a point of keeping their own traditions alive even if this doesn't make economic sense (when the external costs of western goods aren't factored into the price, ie: all the time). Point being that they keep their tribal identity alive by doing so. What especially interests me are the strategies that have evolved for limiting the relentless march of technological 'progress' and the inevitable unintended consequences that arise. I've heard of cultures that evaluate each new idea among all the sectors of society (paying particular attention to the voices of the elders) before coming to a consensus on whether or not to use it. Can't find a source, I'm afraid, but this interview with Martin Prechtel throws up many related insights: http://hiddenwine.com/indexSUN.html

Sorry for going on. Consider it a test of endurance if you like ;)

best,
Ian

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