Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Yin, Yang and John

New Zealand, as a nation, likes making an effort at being green. Failing that, it likes making an effort at seeming green. The telltale signs are everywhere. Case in point: the toilets.


We have these flush activators in America, with the buttons each being composed of one part for little flushes and another for bigger ones. But here they're everywhere --- homes and hotels --- as if the entire toilet-using population of New Zealand is in on the effort to conserve water whenever possible. The funny thing about these buttons is that they are composed of two organic, interlocking halves, which means they essentially form a yin-yang symbol. The one above --- found in my hotel bathroom --- even has little eyes, though one is weirdly winking. (Ol' Winky is for when you don't need to clean out the whole bowl.) And because I see these buttons every time I use a toilet, I get reminded of the Taoist symbol for spiritual balance between three and six times a day, depending on my fluid intake.

Toilet philosophy, of course, is nothing new. The bathroom is maybe better suited for pondering than any other room in the house. But in this case, the fixtures are mapping bodily functions onto existing philosphical concepts. Inadvertantly, yin (dark, negative and feminine) gets associated with the bathroom activities that require a full flush and yang (light, positive and masculine) with the less intrusive expulsions.

And, being male myself, I find these associations funny. But I'm pretty sure that I'm the only person to pass through New Zealand bathrooms and have this thought, so I guess the joke will remain an inside one.

As far as other matters go, the weather is fair but the kiwi birds remained hidden.

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