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Hogarth judge

February 2018



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Hogarth judge

The virtue of what's old and beat up

Mom managed to destroy an old saucepan last week. She was boiling sugar water for the hummingbird feeders, when the phone rang, she got distracted, and forgot all about the boiling sugar water until the smoke alarm summoned her back.

The pan itself caked with pure carbon. Nothing short of a bath in molten iron was going to clear that away, and since the pan itself is aluminum, this may do more harm than good even if the logistics of rinsing the pan in molten iron could be worked out.

That aluminum saucepan was likelier older than I am. It had turned the mottled grey typical of oxidized aluminum, and the insides bore the rings of stain that told you where what had been boiled in it before tended to reach to.

Its loss is a tragedy, though. Sure, it could be "replaced". But any replacement would be shiny and new, and shiny and new doesn't work in the kitchen. Its shiny newness is thought to be a treasure worth preserving. Every appearance of stain or oxidation on the shiny new replacement saucepan will become the occasion for much wailing and gnashing of teeth. The old one could just be used without having to worry about any of that nonsense. Eventually, it may be true, the shiny new saucepan will become as useful as the old. But every step along the path of making it useful will be marked by trauma and drama.

This is why old and worn is better than shiny and new.


That's a very familiar sentiment. You could try going to Goodwill or Salvation Army.