Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Religion "Chindogu"

I know I've been using Joe Carter a lot lately, but rather than talk about the Democrats in 2006, I'd rather talk about religion today, but in an offbeat way, inspired by Carter's "Yak Shaving Razor" series.

What's that? Carter helpfully explains:

Yak Shaving -- [MIT AI Lab, after 2000: orig. probably from a Ren & Stimpy episode.] Any seemingly pointless activity which is actually necessary to solve a problem which solves a problem which, several levels of recursion later, solves the real problem you're working on.

Now this feature of Carter's "handy little hacks" could- if only the ethos and aesthetics were modulated just so...result in not simply a seemingly pointless activity which is actually necessary to solve a problem, but a seemingly pointless and absurd activity which is arguably unnecessary to solve a problem you can live without. This brings us to the discussion on the modern Japanese art of Chindogu,...

he 10 tenents of chindogu

1. a chindogu cannot be for real use.

it is fundamental to the spirit of chindogu that inventions
claiming chindogu status must be, from a practical point of
view, (almost) completely useless. if you invent something
which turns out to be so handy that you use it all the time,
then you have failed to make a chindogu.
try the patent office.

2. a chindogu must exist.

you are not allowed to use a chindogu, but it must be made.
you have to be able to hold it in your hand and think:
'I can actually imagine someone using this. almost.'
in order to be useless, it must first be.

3. inherent in every chindogu is the spirit of anarchy.

chindogu are man-made objects that have broken free from
the chains of usefulness. they represent freedom of thought
and action: the freedom to challenge the suffocating historical
dominance of conservative utility; the freedom to be (almost)

4. chindogu are tools for every day life.

chindogu are a form of nonverbal communication understandable
to everyone, everywhere. specialized or technical inventions,
like a three- handled sprocket loosener for drainpipes centered
between two under-the sink cabinet door (the uselessness of
which will only be appreciated by plumbers), do not count.

5. chindogu are not for sale.

chindogu are not tradable commodities. if you accept money
for one you surrender your purity. they must not even be sold
as a joke.

6. humor must not be the sole reason for creating a chindogu.

the creation of chindogu is fundamentally a problem-solving
activity. humor is simply the by-product of finding an elaborate
or unconventional solution to a problem that may not have
been that pressing to begin with.

7. chindogu is not propaganda.

chindogu are innocent. they are made to be used,
even though they cannot be used. they should not be created
as a perverse or ironic comment on the sorry state of mankind.

8. chindogu are never taboo.

the international chindogu society has established certain
standards of social decency. cheap sexual innuendo, humor
of a vulgar nature, and sick or cruel jokes that debase the
sanctity of living things are not allowed.

9. chindogu cannot be patented.

chindogu are offerings to the rest of the world, they are not
therefore ideas to be copyrighted, patented, collected and owned.
as they say in spain, 'mi chindogu es tu chindogu'.

10. chindogu are without prejudice.

chindogu must never favor one race or religion over another.
young and old, male and female, rich and poor, all should have
a free and equal chance to enjoy each and every chindogu.

For example, the picture above depicts an almost-useless stick of butter. Except that this one I think might actually be marketed at somepoint; I've seen butter squeeze tubes.

Now my only comment for today is that it seems to me a some religions may really Chindogu in disguise, except for the propaganda and prejudice parts. Religions are indeed often created
as a perverse or ironic comment on the sorry state of mankind; the prejudice part is obvious. And I'd add that "patented" part ...well, Scientology comes to mind.

Many paths are tools for everyday life, though, and many paths - especially the literalist ones- seem to have a marked disdain for the pragmatic.

I wonder what a deliberately constructed Chindogu religion might appear to be.

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