Hello! My name is Michael Christie and I am The Ruggist.
Welcome to Monologue. Short, concise, micro-pod-casts in which I share my opinions and thoughts about myriad topics as they relate to and intersect with the trade of handknotted and handmade rugs and carpets.
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Monologue – Episode 3 – Proper Names
Warning: Coarse language.
I’ve come to be describable as perhaps a curmudgeon. Irascible. Maybe even an asshole if you’d rather. And many times I am one or more of these things. I am also many others, some even endearing. But a la façon ‘Instagram versus Reality’ today I not only present the stylized, advertised, and marketed version, but also the negative, the unvarnished, and unpolished. As a dear colleague reminds ‘you must have the bad to appreciate the good.’
In doing so, in acknowledging openly both manifold perspectives as well as objective reality, we approach a degree of honesty humanity typically prefers to avoid – especially those far insulated from its harshness. As much as honesty can be measured, we should endeavour to embrace honesty to its maximum allowable extent.
In the trade of handknotted, no check that, in the trade of all manner of rugs and carpets, the advertising and marketing, the salesmanship, the press which self-interests itself, and yes of course my own critique of rugs and carpets must not only welcome honesty, but must also champion it above what is often not-so-politely called bullshit. I know I have in the past not always succeeded in this regard, but today is a new day. And each new day brings with it opportunity to make a different decision; to not spread manure.
The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their proper name.Attributed to Confucius
She was here on earth to grasp the meaning of its wild enchantment and to call each thing by its right name, or, if this were not within her power, to give birth out of love for life to successors who would do it in her place.Boris Pasternak
Instead of spreading bullshit we must, as Confucius and Pasternak remind, call things by their proper name. For example, silk which is to say the fibre produced by silk worms is silk. Period. Other so-called silks often strain credulity in their tenuous if not false connections to proper silk, yet owing to our aspirational capitalistic consumerist ways, there persists an endless array of synthetic and treated fibres masqueraded by traders as silk, pastiche as they may be. An old favourite of mine was what was once called ‘art silk,’ a deceptively clever shortening of artificial silk which allowed for many an incorrect inference to flourish. In truth this was mercerized cotton.
One of but many examples of ‘art silk’ in this era is ’bamboo silk,’ but in this instance the conversation becomes more complicated and nuanced. Is bamboo silk said in reference to bamboo fibre extracted via retting, similar to that of linen from flax, or is it in reference to viscose made from bamboo cellulose? The former is at least bamboo and is a lovely fibre, the latter nothing more special than viscose made from any other source, though it is not without its own merits (and flaws).
And that is okay. It’s a fibre, made by man, and it has application.
However let us not put lipstick on a pig and borrow the credibility of silk to promote a synthetic fibre. Rather let us embrace the fact that we – as a dangerously intelligent species – have created something with wide, debatable applications, across many industries. Let us call it by its proper name, viscose – a type of rayon – and let us take pride in the fact that we have willed into existence a fibre which brings lustrous charm to a wider audience than silk alone. The limitations of a reality governed by our aforementioned aspirational capitalistic consumerist ways prevent us from providing de luxe natural fibres to all of civilization, but we can provide both natural and synthetic options to meet the needs and wants of a wide range of clientele. There is no shame in this, and moreover we should be humbled by what we can actually do by calling things as they actually are, by their proper name.
Now don’t get me started on the types of wool…
This has been monologue monday.