Marking Time

January 13th, 2009

Greg Beato ponders the enduring popularity of the calendar:

According to Publishers Weekly, there were fewer than 200 calendars for sale in 1976. Today, there are more than 6,500 from which to choose. Part of this proliferation is due to the fact that we once got the bulk of our calendars for free, from banks, insurance companies, and other businesses eager to keep their phone numbers in front of their customers' eyes throughout the year. But it's not as if those businesses were giving away more than one copy to each customer, or offering them in multiple formats. And yet, as we shift gears from 2008 to 2009, how many among us are not tacking up a Sarah Palin 2009 calendar in our kitchen, and clearing off a space on our desk at work for the Insult-a-Day 2009 calendar, and jotting down the year's first doctor appointment in our New Yorker Cat Cartoons weekly engagement calendar? Clearly, we are far more concerned about the passing of each day, each week, each month, than our carefree, calendar-lite counterparts in the 1970s.

I never buy calendars myself,1 but it seems to me that as often as not the primary function of the modern calendar is to serve as a collection of posters (Be it of images of the buyer's favourite musician, actor or movie series, or of a sequence of works by their favourite artist.)), with the use of the calendar to mark the passing of time of at best secondary significance.

  1. I've been carrying round some form of electronic device that serves as my calendar for longer than I care to remember.

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