Often, when I write the word stick, I think of Stig of the Dump, I suppose because Stig and Barney used to go looking for sticks of firewood. We had to read Stig in primary school - and from today's vantage point, I marvel at the remanents of the '60's that infiltrated our school system: we sang Yellow Submarine as we sat in a circle, clapping our hands... And Stig - his den is made of discarded rubbish: what a social message! Just like the other song we sang: "Have you seen the old man, in the closed down market, kicking up the papers with his worn out shoes? In his eyes you see no pride, hands held loosely by his side, yesterday's papers telling yesterday's news. So how can you tell me you're lonely, say for you that the sun don't shine? Let me take you by the hand and lead you through the streets of London, I'll show you something to make you change your mind."
When I summon the social flux in those songs and stories, I find it a sharp contrast to the Cartesian 'clear and distinct' rationality, influencing Adam Smith's progressive visions which became the European economic system. As if life could be ruled by lines... Wasn't that part of the theme in Flatland?
Giambattista Vico in De Italorum Spaientia writes that to introduce geometrical method into practical life is like trying to go mad with the rules of reason, attempting to proceed by a straight line among the tortuosities of life, as though human affairs were not ruled by capriciousness, temerity, opportunity and chance.
And while we know that there are algorithms that attempt to accommodate chance, to cut the straight line out of the Platonic "Ideal" and attempt to draw it into life on earth is yet another messianic movement - of the kind that make and or break empires.
But the weight of the line is a didactic element, comfort is not an ideal, and to vilify that which causes us discomfort is like giving up on the race, half-way. It is not enough to recognise the problem. We are asked to make something of them. And if the economy, with its linear algorithms that attempt to reduce chance to a number, is in fact a fiction, we are reminded that even the line is a story, and that it is our job to illuminate the possibilities, rather than designate its actual limitations - like Randall wrote of the Romantic movement.
"Romantic idealists like Ficthe make no claim to the possession of literal truth: Kant had banished for them that illusion. What they proclaim is rather a faith, a faith that will give meaning to life. It is the claim of the idealists that science is not the literal truth either, that all renderings of experience are symbolic interpretations, that all discourse and all knowledge is a metaphor."
How much changes if, for example, we view what we have not literally, but as a gift. If we viewed even the 'difficult day' as a gift. Would we not be motivated to give back? So Barney plays with Stig, whose entire home is made from that which has been (temporarily?) tossed aside.