Anthropomorphism |


In my saner moments, I know my household items have no human emotions.

Still, I invest them with feelings of importance, pleasure and rejection. I can’t bear to think that those mugs and dishes languish on the shelf, wondering if they will ever get to perform the job for which they were created.

I have an easy rotation system. Everything used goes to the bottom of the pile, which insures that all the utensils and bowls have a turn. Sheets and pillowcases naturally rotate each week.

Every knife, fork and spoon goes from the top of the heap down to the bottom to allow all pieces a chance in the spotlight. My Chinese wok, though, seems to understand that I drag it out only for stir-fry dishes. And the big frying pan waits patiently for the mounds of chicken that I cook once a month.

And please don’t comment on my kitchen routine if you spot me doing this. I know it doesn’t make sense. But the thought of items sitting and hoping for a chance to strut their stuff makes me indulge in this bizarre form of anthropomorphism.

As a child, I naturally assumed that my dolls and other stuffed animals had feelings. Toy manufacturers encourage this childhood association. Little girls prepare for motherhood by caring tenderly for their dollies as thought they were real babies.

And let us not overlook teenage boys who name their first cars and lovingly wash and wax and shine their wheels. The automobile seems like an extension of their own personalities.

Couples newly in love often invest inanimate objects with names and personalities. I recall that my aunt and uncle had a G.I. Joe doll whom they named “Eggbert” and had many inside jokes about him.

Our ancestors certainly believed in an animate world. They saw gods in trees, clouds, mountains and other natural phenomena.

In a book called “Grandma Called It Carnal,” the author said, “Why do we make so much of overpowering Oneness with reference to God? I needed smaller, happier, lesser gods to celebrate the spring with or to enjoy the fragrance of flowers.” She probably invested the world with personalities.

Lots of grown people name their cars, their houses, even their yards. I think maybe motorcyclists have pet monikers for their bikes. We know that transferring human emotions to these objects makes no sense whatsoever. But many of us persist in seeing the world in a child-like manner. I’m one of them.

Mary Lu Leon lives in Grass Valley.

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