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This week’s Loose Thread comes courtesy of the nonist, who just introduced us to the Japanese concept of chindogu, or unuselessness.

The utili-tie to the left is a prime example. At first, it seems like the ideal combination of the sartorial charms of the necktie with the practical need to carry safety scissors, a set of paper clips, a ruler, a passport, and various other office essentials. But after you consider it for more than thirty seconds, it becomes clear that the tie is wildly inefficient at both its intended uses. It’s not entirely useless, but even if it existed, it would never be used. It is, in other words, Chindogu.

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The idea was pioneered by Kenji Kawakami in a series of books in the mid-nineties, and has been championed more recently by the International Chindogu Society, an organization whose main purpose seems to be providing material for blog posts.

Among the movement’s ten precepts is that each object must contain the spirit of chaos, which seems like a tall order for a noodle face-shield, but is closer to the truth than you might think. The idea of unuselessness is almost as old as the patent office—Rube Goldberg and W. Heath Robinson are clear inspirations—but the new iteration is uniquely suited to blog culture, and offers a fairly consistent parody of convenience technology in general. How much better is your phone for having a camera on it? Do you really need that extra pocket?

As we’ve found out with Loose Threads, the threat of the solar-powered jacket is very real.

—R.B.

CONTRIBUTORS

  • Russell Brandom