ILLUMINATING THIS CONSUMERISTIC WORLD
Strange to know nothing, never to be sure Of what is true or right or real, But forced to qualify or so I feel, Or Well, it does seem so: Someone must know. Strange to be ignorant of the way things work: Their skill at finding what they need, Their sense of shape, and punctual spread of seed, And willingness to change; Yes, it is strange, Even to wear such knowledge - for our fleshSurrounds us with its own decisions - And yet spend all our life on imprecisions, That when we start to die Have no idea why. -PHILIP LARKIN This poem makes me think about Commodity Fetishism and the notion of being clueless about the products we consume. We're all wrapped up in the culture of commodity fetishism following the lie that we have agency over our lives and power of the actions that we choose. But do we really have control over what we buy and if not, who does? I've recently been introduced to the notion of products having contained energy ratings. (the amount of resources used in their production. Here are some tips for working out contained energy rating.These are some images of what we're talking about. The disposal of E-waste is such a big problem. Click to start slideshow.
When studying media one often crosses paths with the work of Arjun Appadurai, who has written a great deal of work on the topics of modernity and globalisation.
The aspect of his work that interests me the most is his comments on the fetishism of the consumer and commodity pathway diversion.
His ideas are kinda a very complicated way of saying that things have lives of their own. One day they might be products on a shelf, the next they might be having a cruisey trip down the sewage pipes.
But the scary thing is that people forget that products have these lives before and after they hit the shelves, and people simply see them as objects for consumption without giving notice to the harm they may have caused on the way there.
Another one of Arjun Appadurai’s interesting ideas (that he partially credits Benedict Anderson for) is the idea of imagined meanings.
I’ll leave you with this wonderful quote…
“The image, the imagined, the imaginary – these are all terms that direct us to something critical and new in global cultural processes: the imagination as a social practice. No longer mere fantasy (opium for the masses whose real work is somewhere else), no longer simple escape (from a world defined principally by more concrete purposes and structures), no longer elite pastime (thus not relevant to the lives of ordinary people), and no longer mere contemplation (irrelevant for new forms of desire and subjectivity), the imagination has become an organized field of social practices, a form of work (in the sense of both labor and culturally organized practice), and a form of negotiation between sites of agency (individuals) and globally defined fields of possibility. This unleashing of the imagination links the play of pastiche (in some settings) to the terror and coercion of states and their competitors. The imagination is now central to all forms of agency, is itself a social fact, and is the key component of the new global order.”