Stuff Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything


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Mankind, it seems, has always searched for stuff, pondered stuff, hoarded stuff, and squandered stuff. The history of stuff is the history of mankind itself, and some of the earliest cave paintings show lots and lots of stuff. Throughout history, writers and philosophers have questioned the nature of stuff, and today we are constantly reminded that the surfeit of stuff we possess is almost certainly corrupting us.

Some notable proponents of the theory and origins of stuff include:

  • Aristophanes: The Frogs: "Really and truly though 'tis paltry stuff"
  • Homer: The Odyssey, Book II: "...And in his shrewd mind deep stuff did invent."
  • Plotinus: The Enneads: "What, then, is this Kind, this Matter, described as one stuff, continuous and without quality?"
  • Shakespeare: Hamlet: "And let me wring your heart; for so I shall if it be made of penetrable stuff"
  • Walt Whitman: Leaves of Grass: "Stuff'd with the stuff that is coarse, and stuff'd with the stuff..." (Walt really knew his stuff, apparently.)

It seems, though, that Ralph Waldo Emerson sums it up in his essay Compensation: "Everything in nature contains all the powers of Nature. Everything is made of one hidden stuff."

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