Thursday, December 23, 2010

Pop Psychology: Photo-Recycling/Holiday Edition

The other day, I wrote that a pocketknife can set the tone for an outfit.  A commenter wondered what I was smoking, and I thought I would elaborate.

1. Perhaps you're doing Christmas with the in-laws and everyone's slightly dressy and you will be called upon to open obstreperous packaging.  An elegant pocketknife that coordinates with everything else is a lovely touch.

2. More importantly, who cares if nobody sees it?  Maybe I'm fetishizing Stuff here, but a gorgeous piece like this, or the more functional one with my grandfather's initials on it, makes me feel more confident just knowing I have it on me.  Not because I expect to have to use it, but because it's pregnant with emotional meaning and memory.

Until I started to receive thoughtful, unique gifts like this one, I didn't understand why dads dutifully wore the ties and sweaters that their kids got them for Christmas.  I don't have kids, myself, but I understand now.  We encode happy memories onto physical objects associated with those memories.  Wearing the sweater or carrying the knife reminds us of those memories, reminds us of Good Times, reminds us of why we work the livelong day.

As a result, our attitude that day changes--we are happier, so we carry ourselves better, so we feel more confident, so we are more confident.  Thus: the pocketknife sets the tone.

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