In his review of Melissa Hobrook Pierson’s The Place You Love is Gone (Progress Took It Away) (a book given to such observations as, “Change is a violation of personal laws,” and “‘Progress’ is just another word for larceny”), Anthony Swofford observes of Pierson that “change, again,” is “this author’s silent enemy.” Change is, of course, the only reality we’ll ever know, so to declare it your enemy, implicitly or explicitly, is to invite a lifetime of unrelenting suffering. Pierson is right to be suspicious of attempts to portray change positively as “progress,” but she falls into the opposite version of that error when she portrays it negatively as “a violation of personal laws” or “larceny.” Change merely is. To speak of it in normative terms is to be mistaken.
“The disposal of trash is as abhorrent a concept to John as the keeping of trash is to some of us,” Rathbone writes of her husband. “He takes pity on everything. For John is interested in how everything is made and, once it is made, it seems criminal to dispose of it in so callous a way as most of us do. Most of all, he believes that for everything he gives up he should get something in return. Was this Scottish, I wondered, or was it just John?”
John abhorred wastefulness and could find a second use for almost everything, but his determination to preserve meant he believed that nothing should be discarded–so nothing should be altered.
I suppose that, looked at from the proper perspective, this could all be seen as comic, but I’m neither that enlightened nor that capable of irony.