Awestruck, We Say

June 7, 2009 at 8:16 am | Posted in Book excerpts | Leave a comment

FootprintsIs scavenging like religion? Well, it jolts us out of the straight smooth streamlined world into another world where wonders manifest in gutters and where hunches come true. This separate scavenger-world looks like the ordinary world. And it exists within the ordinary world. We enter through the ordinary world into our world of chaos, uncertainty and surprise. In our scavenger-world, deals and freebies and finds feel like signals and signs. Like benefaction. Benediction. Divination. Questions answered. Secrets told. Rounding a corner in our scavenger-world can change everything. Awestruck, we say: Look at that! To us, finds feel like gifts and dispatches from someone, somewhere, who somehow knows all about us.

Scavenging is a calling, a vocation, and a vow. Just as when saddhus, nuns and monks take vows of silence, scavengers take vows of vigilance. Vows of patience, acceptance and adventure. We take vows of tolerance. We vow never to choose. We vow to almost never spend. We vow to never be seduced by marketing. To scavengers, these are all matters of the soul.

This is true for all kinds of scavengers. For full-time scavengers, whose entire lives are spent outside the comforts of consumer culture. But even part-time scavengers, even specialized scavengers, even on-again-off-again coupon clippers, know the buzz, the transubstantiation, of the find.

You’re sitting, standing, walking, riding, and —

Out of nowhere, or so it seems: the find.

Behold this strange sensation, which consumer culture with its processed, paved-over predictability has tried its best to take from us: the otherworldly, transcendental, epiphanic glory of the find….

This is the land of never-knowing. Scavengers live with uncertainty. The one thing that we know for sure is that we’ll never know what we will get or when or how or even if. We wonder: Is this happenstance? We are washed in the magic of the random.

(That’s an excerpt from our book, The Scavengers’ Manifesto.)

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