“always turn shit over”



The other day Reference Library posted an image from the Flickr archive of a brilliant junk collector and “seer” of things. It was of the UNDERSIDE of an old light bulb package: the red-striped ends of its six sides folded into an elegant overlapping “star” like some beautiful Japanese Packaging. The only editorial comment was in the form of the posts title, “Always Turn Shit Over”. Now there’s a life principle! Turn stuff over, on its side, inside-out, upside-down… to get a view you didn’t expect or might not have imagined on your own.

You can do the same thing with ideas: turn them over in your mind, every which way…

10 Responses to “always turn shit over”

  1. nameValerie 05.12.2010 at 12:35pm #

    Why must crude language be perpetuated? Turning the box over to see the star made by the over-lapping ends would have been delightful if a higher level of description had been used. A good vocabulary enables us to describe ideas and things more fully.

  2. Sally 05.12.2010 at 9:52pm #

    Hi Valerie. I hear what you’re saying and we probably could have titled it “turn STUFF over”, but I wanted to keep the roughish origins of this brilliant idea…so I left as is and put it in quotes. Thanks for writing and reading.

  3. Bonnie 05.12.2010 at 11:20pm #

    I’m happy to see someone else celebrating the sort of little surprises that privately delight me.

  4. Matt 05.16.2010 at 10:13pm #

    I don’t think language should have an effect on the end outcome of something beautiful.

    It’s irrelevant.

    But I do hear what you’re saying.

    I just don’t feel it lessens the beauty.

  5. Larry 05.17.2010 at 11:39am #

    A nice idea and a funny expression, a metaphore to encourage a second or different look. Then again the skunks at the farm take it literally – i recently learned that they are the ones turning over dried cow pats to find the tasty grubs that live underneath!

  6. Noname 02.07.2011 at 1:41pm #

    I think that by now “shit” is not what it used to be, and its “ugliness” is more in the ear of the beholder 🙂
    Just for the fun of it and only between the two of us, my husband and I started using “shit” to replace “thing” or “stuff”, pretending we’re young kids. After a while we had to control ourselves in public, and a few times we would stop halfway before saying it to a formal friend or even a client. But it has been a lot of fun doing it and it has made shit not offensive to our ears.
    But I just don’t understand why “shit” is less descriptive than “stuff”, “thing”, “everything”. What would be a better choice? I think shit is telling us to turn stuff upside down but is also subtly saying “use your curiosity more often, damn it!” with a smiley at the end, so people don’t get offended. 🙂

  7. Sally 02.07.2011 at 2:17pm #

    We decided to directly quote the original (and included quotes to indicate that) which was from the great Reference Library, because it seemed surprising and like itself, from the world we are drawing on. One of our missions is to point to things, the different ways people do and express things, and hope to do it in a looser way…

  8. michele 02.09.2011 at 4:23pm #

    just a little trivia about the word “shit”. back in the day when horse manure was shipped across seas and countries, they first loaded them on the floor. when the workers would go into the cargo to deliver, or check on the items, bags of manure would have exploded. some scientific reason about heat and manure and stuff. they figured out that if they placed the manure higher up, that it would not explode…so on the containers with manure, they would write, SHIT (Ship High In Transit). 😉

  9. michele 02.09.2011 at 4:24pm #

    here’s the link to the full and more accurate story.


  10. Sally 02.09.2011 at 7:02pm #

    Well, it makes total sense to me, though I never knew it and am SO happy to. (The redemption of the word SHIT, at last.) When I was a young kid at a camp that did organic farming, I tended the compost pile of horse manure and other organic stuff for a week as a part of my “barn chores”. The task was to turn the stuff over and over with a pitchfork so it would ferment properly and change into fertilizer. If you stuck your hand in the center, it was HOT. (Though I still don’t know why). Definitely could explode. (What an amazing thing to think about…) Thanks!

    Addendum…though, upon thinking about it, I still think it is probably just an urban legend. The origins of the word go way back…

Leave A Comment

subscribing = loving

If the Improvised Life is a source of creativity, inspiration, ideas and change in your daily life, please consider becoming a Friend with Benefits. A little bit goes a long way towards helping us publish fresh AD-FREE content each day.