Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Real Deal

I went to visit a friend of mine this past weekend. As is our custom, we were killing time & decided to peruse the local thrift store. We stumbled across a sack of tiny glass bottles- reproductions of the larger, authentic versions.  Some were yellow, brown or blue with a variety of designs. A few were nondescript & coated with  residue. She decided to purchase them  & show them to her father, who is a longtime collector of insulators, glass & other wares. I spoke for the nondescript pieces she didn't want.

When we got to the house, she lined the bottles up & her father acknowledged the majority were indeed reproductions. When he got to the glass I had chosen, he informed us one was most likely from the 1920's & the other two were probably circa 1880's. My bottles were ugly compared to hers... but they were the real deal.  I chose them because they looked most authentic, while my friend rejected them in favor of aesthetics.

I wonder how often we do either of these things as it relates to people? When nostalgia overrides authenticity, society tends to cast off the good stuff. Authenticity is the real deal. It tends to be rickety, rusted, covered in residue. It needs work. Nostalgia, on the other hand, is the finished product- either a reproduction of something authentic or something authentic that was invested in & restored. People tend to go for nostalgia. Most don't want to invest in the time, money & hard work that comprises the actual act of restoration. They just want something pretty. They want the finished product, so it can be put to use now.

Its my opinion that nostalgia is like a mirror that reflects a meager representation of who you are, while authenticity is more of an open door. Nostalgia is one sided. People don't get to see the real you... they see only what you portray for the mirror. Authenticity is about you & how you interact with others based on your life experience. It doesn't let you hide behind a mere reproduction of yourself or the glory of someone else's product. Authenticity is a door that makes you accessible, tangible, malleable. It encourages movement beyond the mirror of nostalgia...


  1. For the record - I chose the repros because they were small and based on Bitters' designs, knowing full well the authenticity and value were in the toilet. I like small things, so I kept the smallest bottles - not because I'm shallow! :) As you know...

  2. "Shallow" is your arch-antonym! I know prior knowledge had everything to do with your choices. It would be different if you had foolishly thought the smaller, flashier bottles were worth more than the nappy brown ones based solely on how they looked. I'm inclined to think this is how the majority approaches life... "bling" is better & all you have to do is "look the part" to get by. But as you know, authenticity is more than just "getting by", its existing with all the bumps & bruises & somehow thriving in spite of or even b/c of them! You do it so well...

  3. Awww, schucks. Everyone should read the Velveteen Rabbit and have a copy at home.