The Return of Tactile

Sandwich Bread
Image by alexis22578 via Flickr

I love making bread. I’ve desribed the sounds it makes, I show pictures often, all because I love it. I love the feel. I love the progress, the transgression, the change. I love watching how this soupy, frothy liquid turns into this solid, dusty dough. I love the smell it emits in my kitchen. I love cutting into a fresh loaf and as the first slice falls with the sawing of the knife, the huge plume of steam that poofs out of the loaf. I love taking a pat of butter and smoothing it over that first slice and watching it melt faster than I can spread. I love experiementing with different ingreidents and noting how it changes the texture and taste. I love making bread.

When people ask me if I use a bread machine, I (sometimes smugly) boast, “I am the bread machine.” I learned from my mistakes. I created this thing my family actually wants to eat and asks for it. It is an amazing sense of success in this world of convenience.

Sandwich Bread
Image by alexis22578 via Flickr

We have dinners we buy on demand, get delivered, or put into an instant heating appliance (microwave). Our movies and music are found wherever we go on our laptops, desktops, and smartphones. We buy oodles of cheap clothing to last weeks without doing the wash. It doesn’t stop there. The art we appreciate is also affected. We cut corners on the sound we listen to and movies we watch because most of us don’t have the appreciation for the range. We use computer graphics to convey meaning instead of drawing a smiley face on our own. We live in a world of convienence.

An argument against CDs and other digital audio is often touted with the loss of art. A coworker reminded me, today, of the fanfare collecting album art used to have. Today, the cover of a CD is more often (it seems) a stylized vision of the artist. What happened to something great and exotic by, say, David Bowie?

I grew up on store bought, white bread. It was pulling teeth to convince my mother to try whole wheat. That was years before you could get sprouted wheat, seed filled alternatives. When we visited my grandmother, we aways had her homemade bread. In my twenties, I was surrounded by people who wanted to return to learning how to do things. We made beer. We made soap. We cooked lots of home cooked meals. And, one friend had a “how to book” on bread making. I remembered how to knead from all the times I had watched my grandmother and father. Getting the ingredients to work in a joyous combination has taken more time. But, what my family and I have found is that we don’t desire the convenient store bought bread. We crave my filling, flavor filled bread.

Sound and video are similar. In varied populations, the tactile is returning. Analog is making a comeback, if you will. Some die hard record enthusiasts always knew it would. The range of sound, the little things only analog can pick up spikes a purity and appreciation of the art that digital simply cannot compare. With how fast CDs erupted and morphed into DVDs and online sharing, with the resurgence in analog appreciation — I am very curious how our convenient future will look.

French Bread with Garlic
Image by alexis22578 via Flickr

It seems with every push on the pendulum to be convenient there is an equal resistance, and equal push back. This push back says, “Remember what it was like to create!” This push back reminds us of the importance of touching the paint that creates the image that is later copied onto an album. The push back reminds us of sitting around the record player listening to the scratch and wine as the next melody is queued. The push back reminds us to appreciate the dusty dough as it turns into nourishing bread. I love this return to the tactile.

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