The Washington Post

Made to last

Let me take a stroll now down fuddy-duddy lane. I’m in the mood. Let me check my pocket watch and adjust my parasol.

Made to last used to be a term of praise, then it was regarded as quaint, and now has become an out-and-out liability. I only recently noticed this. Moving an old upholstered chair I discovered that it was framed with heavy oak the weight of an iron locomotive. New models can be lifted with a finger. The same applies even in architectural materials that actually ARE durable. Does anyone look at a granite countertop and think to themselves: THAT countertop will still be there in 100 years? No, granite was installed not because it was permanent, but because it was the latest.

Now people are eyeing those same tops with the gnawing feeling that perhaps granite may NOT be the latest anymore, and images of this kitchen incarnation being swept away into the landfill begin to dance in the mind. And look around at that cubicle you are in. Built for the ages? As we speak, there is a functionary on the floor above or below you already scheming to reorganize your space. One or two more times before the company is gone and the building is demolished.

These physical remnants of the concept of durability are only doing their pathetic best to keep up with digital architecture, networks and applications. The idea of durability in those areas is too preposterous to even discuss. It’s all speed now, and accelerating at that, and that’s just the way it’s going to be. Great fun when you’re in the fast car, though don’t assume your seat there is very permanent either. There could be something to learn from this, but the concept of wisdom is currently way too slow to keep up.

Tom Toles is the editorial cartoonist for The Post and writes the Tom Toles blog. See all of his cartoons here.


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