I chose to center around a specific room in a home, that being the kitchen. I enjoy cooking and baking for myself and for other people, which is one of the main reasons I chose this topic. In addition, I think that the kitchen itself is a place for entertaining, and really is essential to any home; you can live without a second bedroom, or an office, but you can’t really live without a kitchen.
After reading Levy’s Meditation on a Receipt, I was able to better understand his “good enough” approach in definition the everyday texts we’re exposed to. And specifically through submitting this Print archive, I can now see people’s “attitude towards them in the way they’re handled” (Levy, pg. 7). I could not agree with just this measly little statement any more. Consider for example my very first picture, which has (sacred) food next to garbage… or additionally, the many types of soaps, for whatever the reason is. As Levy also states, “If we are going to see in the nature of documents, we would do well to deal directly with the most abundant and ordinary of them” (pg. 8).
Overall, I found that half of my items served as satisfying hunger or thirst, and the other half of my items were a semi-necessity, although I felt I was able to critique the labeling well on each product. Most importantly, I realized that almost all of my items can be considered a luxury to some people.
1.) Box of Matzos and a bag with recyclable items in it: As you can see from the varying bottles inside the plastic bag, they all have some sort of text on the outside, whether it would be, “NO REFILL” such as seen on the Diet Coke bottle, or the “SHAKE WELL BEFORE OPENING” as seen on the blue cap of the Kefir bottle. These specific texts have the purpose of being instructional; to indicate to the user what to do, and what not to do. These texts are universal, and can be applied to anyone. On the other hand, one who might not be Jewish, would not known that Matzos are a special food, and to be eaten while celebrating Passover. The placement of a sacred food such as Matzos, next to what is considered as “garbage”, sticks out to me. Rhetorically speaking, all of these products have the purpose of satisfying one self through hunger, thirst, religion/faith, or emotion.
2.) Ice and water dispenser on a fridge: I remember when I was little, going to my friends houses was so much better when they had an automatic ice and water dispenser. Looking back at that, it’s so funny to me that I prized something so simple like this! Especially when I could just get water and ice from the sink faucet or freezer. I believe this dispenser to be pretty general in terms of offering water, crushed and whole cubed ice, although not every single fridge is equipped with this feature. These specific texts offer a variety of what is already likely available, i.e., water from the sink and ice cubes from the freezer. I believe this machine’s purpose to be obtaining these items easier for the consumer, although from a socioeconomic point of view, this simple feature is not available to all people, even in today’s society.
3.) Soap(s): What I find most interesting about this photo, is that there are 4 different soaps all placed by the kitchen sink…! One type of hand-soap (Meyer’s), two types of dish (washing) soap (Gain and Seventh Generation), and in the back, a baby soap (California Baby). Three out of four of these soaps are to be considered “natural”, with the exception of Gain. By definition, all of these products (whether “natural” or not), all serve the same purpose; to clean/wash something. But why so many? There are people in the world who don’t have access to daily clean drinking water, let alone soap, let alone four different types of soap. Having said that, these objects apply to most of the population, but not all.
4.) Cookbook(s): I found this Print text to be the most generalized/available to the general population. I believe this text is NOT a necessity, yet it has an instructional purpose; to guide or inform the reader on how to properly cook/make something, or to enlighten the reader on a new recipe. Even though I have mentioned that I don’t think cookbooks are a necessity, I think it is one of the most popular items in a kitchen. There are many people who “don’t believe” in cookbooks, or reading recipes because they rely on memory/recall. Overall, I think this text is the least offensive.
5.) Boxes of cereal on top of fridge: This variety of cereal offers a few purposes. Mainly, to satisfy hunger, which is a feeling that doesn’t always get fulfilled by every person. The Cheerios and Granola box on the right, and the Rice Krispies box on the left offer nutritional information, which could benefit someone who might be dieting. Additionally, the Fiber One cereal on the left does not display nutritional information, although it’s purpose would still be to benefit someone attempting to “balance” their diet. For most of us, breakfast is easily available, and something we (should) participate in, although many people and children do not have access to three meals a day.
6.) Pantry items/recipe’s: These items pictured below are a combination of the “Cookbook” picture and the “Cereal” picture, I think. The first item on the far left is a dietary (powdered) breakfast drink. The second item is a box of oatmeal with instructions on the right flap. The item next to the oatmeal is instant coffee, and the item on the far right is a Ragu pasta sauce jar with a Chicken Parmesan recipe. The purposes of these items like most already, are to satisfy a hunger or thirst, but these all can still not qualify as a necessity. Perhaps someone who wants to lose weight might not have access to special foods that’ll help boost the process. Oatmeal I think is a pretty general food, and instant coffee somewhat is, except for the fact that there are a variety of coffees that range in price. Still on the coffee container, the word “Enjoy” at the top catches my attention because of its style. Looking at the cursive and saying that word out-loud makes me feel relaxed. Which brings me to the question of; can one “enjoy” life without this coffee? And lastly, analysis of the Chicken Parmesan with the added words “No Frying” implies that fried foods are “bad” and should not be eaten. I somewhat agree with that, but I know that there are people who eat fried foods exclusively, that aren’t in the best health, and most importantly, enjoy eating fried foods.
7.) Pam cooking spray: Tied with the cookbooks, I don’t really consider Pam cooking spray to be a necessity in the kitchen, although I would assume that most people have a variation of this or cooking oil. Surprisingly enough, there are instructions on how to use this product, although some people might find it self-explanatory. In the table above where Pam is compared to butter, they list other “Pam” cooking sprays like “Pam Olive Oil, Pam Butter, Pam Baking, and Pam Grilling”. “Pam Grilling”… really? What is that even used for! Having said that, the purpose of this product is instructional, and it also aids in the cooking process.
8.) Utensil drawer: Not only do I believe that a kitchen/cooking space is an essential area in a home, tools and something to store food or utensils in are nearly a necessity as well. Pictured below, I find the “definition” of a kitchen; a pizza cutter, a wooden spoon, a spatula, measuring cups, beer bottle caps, a cookie cutter and a lighter. I’m sure there are people that might argue that NONE of these are a necessity, and that you can cut a pizza with a knife rather than a pizza cutter, but they still serve the same purpose; as being a tool. I think all the items in this drawer apply to the most amount of people, i.e., nearly everyone in the United States.