I’ve been thinking about the objects that adorn my life. Some of them are special and have a sense of soul, and others do not. What gives an object soul?
Below is a candleholder I bought many years ago at a flea market, and I don’t even know who made it. It’s not the most elegant candleholder in the world, but it’s my favorite, because it has soul. It’s made from an old coffee can, and you can feel the hand of the maker in this simple piece.
Here’s another object with soul. It’s a dreamcatcher my mother made, and it hangs in my living room. The feathers that she used on the piece are from birds that she knew, and the twining vines are from her own yard. It’s a very personal piece.
The picture below is a different sort of object with soul. This is The Moosewood Cookbook written by Mollie Katzen in 1977. It’s mass produced, but has the feel of being a one-of-a-kind object. No typesetting here! Each page is lovingly hand lettered and illustrated by Mollie herself.
In a recent article, Charles Eisenstein talks about the impact of living amongst soulless objects. Charles says that to have soul is to be real and to be fully unique. Mass manufactured objects are all identical, and mostly without soul.
The enormous distance between manufactured objects and their original context helps make us oblivious to the ecological harm they may represent. What is less obvious is the aesthetic harm, the psychological harm that comes from living among alien, standardized things. The eyes cannot rest easy; they are ever searching for the soul of what they see. It is a strain for a living soul to live among soulless things.
Why do we take the time and even spend extra money to make objects with soul? Charles says it’s for love, “a devotion to something or someone you love beyond the thing itself.” He feels that the unmet needs that drive greed come from acquiring soulless objects, and that objects with soul better fill our needs.
What’s your favorite object with soul? I’d enjoy hearing your thoughts. You can share them with us in the comments section below.
With love and appreciation,
Painting at top:” Labyrinth,” 36 x 36 inches, repurposed acrylic latex paint on canvas