Among certain people it has become a common practice annually to update one’s Apple® products – iPhone, iPad, Mac, Watch or AirPods. The company facilitates the ritual by offering what appear to be reasonable trade-in values for the various products.  I assume there is somewhere a market for moderately used devices. In addition there is predictable hype surrounding the evolution of the devices to their latest rendition (though some people naturally question the depth of improvement if any). From my admittedly casual experience of technology, it is generally assured that new is better. There seems to be no limit to technological advancement.

In the realm of automobiles (an area increasingly influenced by technology especially upon the nascence of electric cars) the annual shopping spree is less common.  But keep in mind it wasn’t so long ago that a thoroughly modern vehicle had an on-board CD player – which in turn replaced the now antique cassette player.  I was reminded today of this evolution as I “synched” my iPhone to my car to listen to one of my favourite albums downloaded from Apple Music. The music – should you care to know – was the original motion picture soundtrack of Federico Fellini’s Amarcord by Nino Rota and Carlo Savina

In an Italian seaside town, young Titta (Bruno Zanin) gets into trouble with his friends and watches various local eccentrics as they engage in often absurd behavior. Frequently clashing with his stern father (Armando Brancia) and defended by his doting mother (Pupella Maggio), Titta witnesses the actions of a wide range of characters, from his extended family to Fascist loyalists to sensual women, with certain moments shifting into fantastical scenarios.

Carlo Savina (2 August 1919 – 23 June 2002) was an Italian composer and conductor who composed, arranged, and conducted music for films-and is especially remembered for being the music director of films such as The Godfather (1972), Amarcord (1973), and The Bear (1988).

Savina worked with many of the notable film score composers of the 20th century including: Ennio Morricone, Armando Trovajoli, Nino Rota, Mario Nascimbene, Stanley Myers, Stephen Sondheim, Philippe Sarde, and Miklos Rozsa. His work ranged from composing music for frequent Spaghetti Westerns such as Johnny Oro to being the musical director and conductor in Federico Fellini’s Orchestra Rehearsal.

Forgive the parenthetical detail. I have a passion for both Fellini and Nino Rota. Watching and listening to them transforms me.

Anyway…back to the subject of annual renewals, specifically automobiles.  Automobiles oddly enhance a curious relationship with their owners. It is not unheard of to catch someone going on about how attached they are to their automobile – as though they were friends, as though they had endured a palpable degree of commonality. At times the affection lapses into baby talk where for example owners have names for their cars or speak on them endearingly. Others – like my late father – repeatedly insinuated their vehicle with mechanical expertise which seemingly produced an umbilical alliance.

For those of us less attached to our motor vehicles, the observations regarding use and age are governed more acutely by critical economic evaluation.  In a nutshell, you can’t win at the game of cars!  It’s a pay-me-now or pay-me-later proposition. And even if one were able to amortize the original expense along an acceptable terms of years, I would forever agonize upon the reliability of the vehicle.  There is something about a warranty which significantly dilutes that anxiety – providing the capacity to escape either obligation or interest in matters mechanical. Granted it is an airy atmosphere, one in which fortune is overcome by expectation. But taking the risk is often considered desirable.

The deeper competition for shopping  – whether for electronic devices or automobiles – is that old spoiler “inevitability”, that irrepressible feature of certainty and predictability. In this instance the blitheness surrounds the double-edged sword of decay and disregard; that is, the confrontation of the certainty of decay and the logical disregard for its predictability. This equation is practically apodeictic. More strikingly it removes the air from shopping – though paradoxically it extinguishes the angst surrounding the future. What purpose could possibly survive the inutility of decomposing tangibles? Especially those that are inevitable. And about which there is no alternative?

It may be possible to legitimize the intelligence. Materialism is, is it not, such a losing proposition. A philosophic conundrum. Shallow comes to mind. Or meaningless. Not to mention profligate.

On balance however things matter. Especially nice things. Shiny things even. But quality things! And I know there is no accounting for what appeals to us; but speaking for myself I value substance, precision and artistry. And if the pleasure happens to be ephemeral, it’s worth the shot!

Within reasonable limits of course.