About This Blog, and How to Find My Discussions of Some of Its Key Ideas

NOTE: I stopped actively adding to this blog in 2013. A quote from my first post on this blog: The purpose of this blog is to make a record of the salts and pepper sets I have collected–to account for why I collect them, to think about why they interest me both as individual setsContinue reading “About This Blog, and How to Find My Discussions of Some of Its Key Ideas”

The Power of Demotic Objects to Tell Grand Narratives

Be patient, please.  Eventually I am going to get around to talking about this set of salt and pepper shakers: But first, I need some context. A friend who knows of my interest in shaker sets sent me a link to a review in the New York Times Book Review of The Innocence of Objects, a bookContinue reading “The Power of Demotic Objects to Tell Grand Narratives”

Asa’s Ship Comes In

This is the salt and pepper shaker set my son Asa recently made and gave me as a Christmas present: It actually does work as a set of shakers: as the picture reveals, the mast is held in place by a cork that stops the hole where you can put salt (or pepper), and theContinue reading “Asa’s Ship Comes In”

Non-Specific Exotica

Since I’ve been looking at orientalist stereotypes, evocations of the mysterious East, this seems like a good time to take a look at this set: Not Asiatic, but still evocative of orientalism and the mysterious other.  I think these are maybe supposed to represent some kind of Africans–or Polynesians, or Indonesians or native South Americans,Continue reading “Non-Specific Exotica”

Shit, Kitsch, and Other Things that Stink

In my last post, I suggested that one of the actions scripted by novelty salt and pepper shakers is conversing about them as artistic objects: the invitation to “observe them more closely–perhaps in something like the way we look at paintings or other art objects, with an eye to understanding both what they represent andContinue reading “Shit, Kitsch, and Other Things that Stink”

Scriptive Things, Fifth Verse: A Little Bit Louder, A Little Bit Diverse

The question remains the same.  Generally speaking, what actions or responses do novelty salt and pepper shakers invite when they appear as part of a table setting for a meal?  Most obviously of course, they invite those at the table to shake them, i.e., to put salt and/or pepper on their food–and whatever kind ofContinue reading “Scriptive Things, Fifth Verse: A Little Bit Louder, A Little Bit Diverse”

A Cowboy in the Mountains

As I suggested in an earlier post, Banff, Alberta is represented in the world of salt and pepper shakers in a wide spectrum of ways:  a  a pair of golden hands, a pair of ungrammatical aboriginals, a lion and a grass-skirted person of African descent.  Here’s another odd addition to that very miscellaneous assortment:Well, perhaps it’s not soContinue reading “A Cowboy in the Mountains”

The Shaming of a Hard Old Man Like Me

In my last post, I discussed Tavia Nyong’o’s idea that “the shiny, hard, and brittle surfaces of racist ceramic figurines reflect back upon the psychology of scapegoating black children”–a view of “blackness as a hardened form of subjectivity.”  Nyong’o calls it, “this racial simile, a black skin is as hard as stone; not skin atContinue reading “The Shaming of a Hard Old Man Like Me”

Oppositional Curating

Looking for some ways of thinking about collections of objects of which one takes a less than purely sympathetic view–the one being me and the objects being my salt and pepper shakers–I came across “Racial Kitsch and Black Performance,” an insightful article by  Tavia Nyong’o (Yale Journal of Criticism 15.2 [Fall 2002]: 371-3910.  The “racialContinue reading “Oppositional Curating”