Saturday, December 08, 2007

Die, Mad Consumption Cycle, Die!

To add a little more color to your knowledge about consumerism destroying the human quality of life, check out:

The Story of Stuff

Thank you to the friend that sent me the link for it. She sent it to me a couple days ago, and I only got the chance to watch it this Saturday afternoon, right after I woke up.

Nonetheless, we started in on a good conversation around the topic simply because I mentioned that I rarely check out these video things. For the same reason that I don't click on many links (someone else told me that I should check out The Zeitgeist Movie because it will blow my mind about society) nor do plenty of fun, educational or activist things, I have so many things taking away my attention that I can't make many more partitions, even short term ones for 20 minutes or an hour, except for maybe a movie or spending time with friends once or twice a week.

The last comment/question I made really sparked the conversation, though: "What's it like to have free time?" Sadly, the fried said that she nor any of her friends knew what it's like, the lack of time is a part of the mad consumption cycle in which we live, which was an awesome response. . .especially since I had a recent reaction to someone who wanted to find happiness through some degree of consumption but didn't necessarily contribute their labor to it. I went off on a rant about my reaction to people who don't feel a calling, a dream or simply want to provide/help other people and find meaning in a relationship in the society/culture around them by trying to improve it or their lives.

Not only have we started a really cool e-mail conversation about the topic, but it has provided my mind, subconscious and conscious, to mull over for my bachelor's project/novel. There's an argument out there that corporations outsourcing into 3rd world countries is a good thing because it provides poor people and families with a means to provide themselves. It may not provide them with as good of conditions as if they had executive positions or the positions or anything, but they don't have marketable skills, so it's better than nothing. What that argument fails to take into account, though, is that the corporations and Western civilization have done a fair amount to create those bad conditions in the first place. Maybe if that's not totally true, though, and it's the vice of their own country people that have made things hard, there's plenty that could be done instead of trying to help them with sweatshops.

The video brought up another issue that I've contemplated but never in the terms that it presented. Whereas I thought about literature and culture enriching people and the importance of it but feeling guilty because I'm coming from an ivory tower, the video argued that people consume to such a degree that they then have to labor and work to the point of exhaustion to support their physical quality of life while probably allowing their emotional, mental and spiritual lives suffer (my note: just look at all the debt issues in the United States alone -- good way to keep a country stable when people could pin all types of vice on things: allow them to consume then worry about how to pay off the costs of that consumption). And to bandage the suffering of their minds, emotions and souls, they go out and buy more. A lot easier and less time and labor consuming than actually trying to develop these facilities.

All the above really helps to bolster the foundation to my novel, a society that provides salvation through consumption, consumption, consumption, identifying with an image, trying to transcend themselves to embody that image only for that effort to get mutated into losing your soul. And crap. . .I hate revealing my interpretation of my own work, but I'm just way too excited right now about this topic to stop myself.

I feel like I can apply to my current paper this information and its relation to the theory I'm using for my project. My mind is mulling over how to do it, but it's kind of difficult since the paper is on a utopian community back in the mid-19th century, roundabout when mass consumption was in its primordial stages. In many ways, I think some of the people back then sensed the issues at hand, but it will take a fair amount of work and research to translate the current argument to that much in the past. Maybe some of the identification and transference ideas that I'm trying to use the novel will help. . ..

But dangit, I've got to clean up around the house, maintain the family's conspicuous consumption and address some holiday consumerism.

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