As progress progresses, increasingly there are fewer things for which it’s worth paying what it costs to fix them when they break. I think that many of us are offended by the disposability of things like kids’ toys, Ikea furniture, computers that aren’t brand new, sunglasses, and mobile phones.
There are some things, though, that are worth repairing. I have examples and I’m trying to figure out what they’re examples of.
Item: Boats · We’ve been toying with the idea of buying a boat to simplify our visits to our cottage; the current logistics involve water taxis and become somewhat fraught on busy popular vacation weekends.
It turns out you really have to be in damn-the-expense territory to buy a new boat. They depreciate like crazy but then last a long time. When parts break, they can be fixed. In the used-boat marketplaces I’ve been looking at, there are lots of vessels for sale dating back to the eighties and seventies. The engines are what wear out, and they can be rebuilt or replaced.
Item: Musical Instruments · There are several around our house: A cello, a violin, an upright piano, and a djembé. The cello is the oldest, of prewar Czech provenance; it’s been rebuilt and repaired lots of times, and bears its scars proudly. Still sounds lovely, especially when someone with more talent than me plays it. But any one of these are 100% worthy of repair, should they suffer damage.
We also have a Korg Kaossilator, which let me tell you is a blast to pass around at parties; a rectangular slab of electronics which, if it malfunctioned, I’m pretty sure would be for the junk-heap.
Lenses · When I was in Brazil last July, my camera got kicked down a couple of stairs and landed squarely on the 40mm f2.8 Limited “pancake” prime lens, with which I’ve taken more photos than any other in recent years.
I’d been meaning to do something, but the to-do list is always too long; and it was probably good for my photography to kick away a crutch and make me think of other ways of seeing things.
Then one day I remembered reading, in the excellent Alex Waterhouse-Hayward blog, tales of his camera-technician buddy; see for example Horst Wenzel — Merlin & My Sword Excalibur. So Alex gave me Horst’s number and he sure enough, he fixed it. Horst’s basement has a mad-scientist feel, full of precision tools and steampunk optics.
Here’s a picture taken through the repaired lens.
Conclusions · I don’t see a coherent intellectual theme running through this laundry-lists of things it’s worthwhile to fix. But there’s a strong emotional one. I’m not sure it’s proper to talk about “love” in the context of things; but if it were, these things, the ones you should fix, would be the kinds of things that might attract and deserve love.