Man, I am an incorrigible instrumentalist, way, way down to molten core of my Being. Ever willing, ready, and eager to subjugate Old Realities to New Desires. It’s my yankee ingenuity talking: I’ve little to no use for the idea of Purpose— the idea that all things— life, love, and Easter Egg dye— have one, singular, teleological Purpose that they can either betray or remain obedient to. Even if it were so, I’d welcome the betrayal. I work hard to spite essences, rendering the world multipurpose through flagrant misuse. When I’m bored in class, I like to construct weapons out of paperclips, rubber bands, and ballpoint pens. Really, it sets the tone for a lot of the things I do with my freetime.
Elementary-schools should tutor our children to misuse the world, in a manner that transcends the letter and spirit of the instruction manual. Never trust anyone that insists typewriters are for typing, toasters are for toasting, or that irons are for ironing. These are the kind of lies many unscrupulous teachers are forcefeeding young and unsuspecting minds countrywide. Really, they should be socialized to perceive Standard-Operating-Procedure as little more than habits— mere social coincidence— lacking in the spirit that pushed the Teslas and the Wright Brothers of the world to eat electricity and jump off hills with paper bicycles. The more uses I can jerryrig into my cassette-player, electric toothbrush, or the family toaster, the more quantifiable Liberty I’ve manufactured. (I’ve read shady recipes where Montana backwoods gun-nuts, or “freedom-fighters,” use coffee-makers to culture botulism; its psychopathic, but you have to admit its also pretty clever.) Liberty is not the absence of restraints— it’s the production, the manufacture, of concrete possibilities. more Freedom, more items on the menu to chose from.
Its a wonderous thing, really. All this from an electric toothbrush. But the same goes for Xerox machines, coffee-makers, living rooms, ideas, shoestrings, sex, apartment buildings, personalities, sweatervests, Electro-Pocket-Pussies, emotions, kitchen utensils— marking the transformative passage from object to tool. This is roping anything and everything into that field of significance and strategy Heidegger called “readiness-at-hand.” Does any of this make sense?
Cooking omelets on the hotplate of a coffeemaker to avert starvation. Recording music on videocassettes. Running up the down escalators. Varnishing Confederate statues with ketchup and orange juice. Turning lefthanded gloves and mittens inside out, under mother’s orders. Wearing sweaters as pants and vice versa. Converting household cassette-players into mixers with electrician’s tape over the eraser head. Turning guitar amps into telephone receivers. All manner of détournement with household objects. Installing broken surveillance cameras in your bathroom. Turning your refridgerator into a salsa commercial (you had to be there). Salvaging boxes and boxes of “robot parts” from the carcasses of organ-doning appliances, with the subsequent frankenstein robots built from film projectors and remote control cars. Skateboarders skating on “skatestoppers.” Lightshows with compact discs in the microwave. Drinking Easter Egg dye and pissing rainbows. Rube Goldberg machines and 100-volt Operation games (for an element of danger, of course). Living in pantries and swimming in fountains. Entering through windows and riding in the trunk. Getting high on life. Making music with coffee-grinders and handheld massagers. Surrealist objects like “La Fontaine,” “Lobster Phone,” and “Objet á Détruire.” Quick and cryptic communications using the 1-800-COLLECT operators. Hijacking “Postage Pre-Paid” envelopes. Sexual fetishes for classic cars and women’s undergarments. Playing with the box before the gift. Misreading your favorite philosophers and misusing their ideas (like Heidegger). Making campaign bumpersticker collage. Impromptu magic with titanium knives, matchbooks, and non-dairy creamer as a poorman’s flash powder. Having fun with grave illnesses…
Never mind what it was meant for— it’s animating the inanimate, voodoo magic with household appliances. This is where it’s all heading nowadays. Get with the program. Think of the human universe as Play-Doh. With the only purposes as our own. I’ll clean my ears with whatever I damnwell please. I’ll play with my food. And in my weaker moments, I confess, I might even look to the instruction manual to tell me what exactly that little rubber piece was for…