“Our radically misnamed ‘materialistic’ civilization must above all cultivate the love of material, of earth, air, and water, of mountains and forests, of excellent food and imaginative housing and clothing.”
— Alan Watts (Does It Matter?: Essays on Man’s Relation to Materiality)
It’s often said that our culture is “materialistic”, but this is perhaps only true in a very shallow sense. A culture that glorifies the hyper-consumption of an endless array of junk that’s cheaply made, environmentally destructive, and intended to provide enjoyment for only a fleeting moment before being tossed into the landfill really has no respect for material, and therefore not worthy of being called materialistic.
A truly materialistic culture, however, is one in which people cultivate a more contemplative and appreciative attitude toward good design, valuing the virtues of quality, economy, simplicity, and sustainability. It would appear in everything from furniture to food. Only then would a culture be worthy of being called “materialistic”.
Photo credit: R. Thompson