Every time I think that now I’ve seen and heard everything, modernity disabuses me of this smug notion.
In this instance, modernity’s power to render me speechless is reasserted by the Dutch designer Mark Sturkenboom, who introduced a startling innovation at the Milan Design Week.
It is a tastefully finished ‘memory box’ that makes sure that the heart isn’t the only organ in which a grieving widow can cherish the memory of her loved one.
Called 21 Grams, the box contains a glass dildo and a small gold-plated urn for storing the eponymous amount of the deceased’s ashes. 21 Grams can be opened by a gold-plated brass key the bereaved woman can wear as a necklace.
And that’s not all. The box is also equipped with a scent diffuser to be loaded with the dear departed’s aftershave (or perfume, if such was his wont), an amplifier for the couple’s nostalgic music to be played during the loving act, a slot for a wedding ring and a little drawer for a keepsake, such as a scarf, handkerchief or death certificate.
The kit, says the proud inventor, “opens a window to go back to moments of love and intimacy,” and so it undoubtedly does.
Mr Sturkenboom modestly refrained from outlining the ballistic possibilities, but they are endless. The grieving widow will now be able to re-enact all sorts of acrobatic variants the deceased last tried many years ago, when he was still young, supple – and alive.
She may even want to explore some naughtier options by asking a third party of either sex to operate the device. If the dear departed was a bit of a prude, this may enable the sorrowful widow not only to relive the old experiences but also to explore some new ones, such as a threesome.
Isn’t this exactly the kind of solace a modern widow should seek? Isn’t this the way to glue a broken heart together again? Of course it is. And to Mr Sturkenboom’s credit, his inspiration wasn’t just commercial but mainly sentimental:
“I sometimes help an elderly lady with her groceries and she has an urn standing near the widow with the remains of her husband,” he said. “She always speaks with so much love about him, but the jar he is in doesn’t reflect that at all.”
Hence the dildo, as a fitting reflection of love. Can’t you just see it? An old Dutch woman, her hair in a bun, her eyes full of tears, giving the young inventor a nice cup of herbal tea, then sending him on his way and whipping his brainchild out. A picture worthy of the brush of any 17th-century Dutch master.
I’m sure 21 Grams will be hugely and deservedly successful. It tugs on all the right strings of a heart fine-tuned by modernity.
Ghoulish? Necrophiliac? Perverse? Sick? If any of these words have crossed your mind at any moment, you ought to be ashamed of yourself. You are a close-minded, cold-blooded person out of tune with modern sensibilities.
Even worse, you’re deaf to the very notion of progress. Progress, as the word is these days defined, outpaces even the most fecund imagination.
Aldous Huxley and George Orwell thought they were creating grotesquely nightmarish fantasies of the future. Yet neither of them could even imagine the sensitive young Dutchman who out of the kindness of his heart helps old ladies with their groceries and, while he is at it, redefines morality.
If it feels good, it’s moral, according to Ernest Hemingway, Huxley’s and Orwell’s contemporary. It’s also healthy, normal and in good taste. Honi soit qui mal y pense, as Edward III once said, albeit in a slightly different context.