Gentle Setting

America’s products are its defaults settings, and none betray a more political past than the “Gentle” setting on the Electrolux canister vacuum.

There are two settings on this well-engineered, reasonably-priced and durable household marvel- “Gentle” and “High.” It’s a simple tab that gets pushed to either side. Why are there two settings, you may ask. Why indeed – it’s  fascinating story.

Only one setting, the “high,” actually works, to vacuum that is. The “gentle” side, if the tab is mistakenly pushed to that side, will have the owner/operator assiduously attacking every corner of the house to no more effect than if she or she had blown soap bubbles at the mounds of dust. On the “gentle” tab, there is only the mildest of sucking noises, none of which even remotely raises enough of wind to airpseed the balls of filth even  a microdot. nothing happens but a simple sound, even after fifteen or so minutes of wondering why the art of vacuuming seems to involved so much pretense- the house looks exactly like it did when I started this infernal chore. Only then, in the depths of household ineffectiveness, does the electroluxian wonder – what the hell, is the damn machine working? What’s plugged where in what tens of nooks or orifices -where  is there a jam-ball of hair/crud/secreted sticks?

It’s the fabled “gentle” cycle scam, instituted in 1957 to placate a  Jainian-like cult that was sweeping the anti-communist hysteric wing of the Us household populace. Household mounds o’ filth were held to be sacred, never to be interred in some remorseless bag of death. Electrolux had to make a setting that only simulated the act and pressurized intensity of vacuuming, while leaving all Christian women (only christian women vacuumed then) with clear consciences before their humble Judge, who had clearly left all household accumulations to be given only back to the Lord with natural inside breezes and mice. Why this ancient superstition persists in a  mass-produced ubiquitous gizmo is only due to the enduring power of the idiotic, mind-numbed cults of irrationality-based monotheism, with hours of frustration for unsuspecting domestic chore-managers not tied to the bizarre fixation with pretend, zero-effective  vacuuming.

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