Monday, November 02, 2009

What feels good

Wall Street Journal:

... Mr. Eisenberg does eventually stumble onto the overarching argument inherent in his title: Shopping, in modern America, is fundamentally an optimistic activity. While our shopping habits are easily manipulated, they are not quite as irrational as critics like to believe. For most of us shopping, when done right, really does make us feel better. We buy because it "confers instant membership in a community."

"This worker, suddenly redeemed from the total contempt which is clearly shown him by all the varieties of organization and supervision of production, finds himself every day, outside of production and in the guise of a consumer, seemingly treated as an adult, with zealous politeness."

-- Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle; "43"

Special thanks to Montag, who introduced me to this text.

On a personal note, a younger colleague once confessed that he didn't like having time off from work because it made him "want to spend money."  While he resented many aspects of "work," he was more distressed by the prospect of having nothing to do in the event he did not separate himself from his money in the course of his "free" time.

9 comments:

k. said...

I like this "instant membership" idea. Very useful.

Montag said...

after some quick calculation, i realize that for close to half of my waking time, i am expected to be either in my place of employment or traveling to and fro. in the current economy! in better times there is more work available 'on the side' to fill even more of my time with productive work.

free time is scarce. so we have the advent of so called "quality time," and adding quality to time costs money.

i'd prefer to have "quantity time" to spend with friends and family just farting around.

DeBord discusses this kind of time also:
152. In its most advanced sectors, concentrated capitalism is increasingly tending to market "fully equipped" blocks of time, each functioning as a unified commodity combining a variety of other commodities. In the expanding economy of "services" and leisure activities, the payment for these blocks of time is equally unified: "everything’s included," whether it is a matter of spectacular living environments, touristic pseudotravel, subscriptions to cultural consumption, or even the sale of sociability itself in the form of "exciting conversations" and "meetings with celebrities."

JRB said...

Time is one thing we'll never get more of, so it's worth reflecting on how we "spend" it.

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