Sunday, December 30, 2012

Clothes pegs, flotsam and the soul

I admit to having been a little hazy about the difference between flotsam and jetsam. So after I took this picture of a clothes peg, washed ashore on the beach, I looked it up. Flotsam comprises items that have been lost overboard from a vessel, but jetsam is debris deliberately cast over the side. Was the peg lost or rejected? It looks serviceable enough. Clothes pegs, in my opinion, are never thrown away until they break. But like socks, they do tend to get lost. So this is just a lost peg that spent some time in the sea. That admirable institution, the beachcomber is required to recycle this lost object. The beachcomber and the peg are both symbols of a sort although the beachcomber is an archetypal figure, the hermit of the shore. Regarded as eccentric, the hermit is sometimes wise and always withdrawn. He fashions the abandoned objects of the world into a lifestyle whilst rejecting a material world that fetishises objects, because his quest is the soul. For him, a clothes peg is most useful object, far more useful than a gold bracelet. The bracelet is a sign of opulence, wealth and status, but of little practical value other than the exchange value of the metal of which it’s composed.  It’s of as much use to a hermit as an iPad. But the humble clothes peg? It will always hang around!