Saturday, August 23, 2014

Post-Modern Appetites

I want to begin with Coca-cola. It’s no surprise that Coca-cola was first introduced as a medicine. Its strange taste seems to provide no particular satisfaction. It is not directly pleasing, however, it is as such, as transcending any use–value, like water, beer or wine, which definitely do quench our thirst, that Coke functions as the direct embodiment of "IT", the pure surplus of enjoyment over standard satisfactions. It is the mysterious and elusive X we are all after in our compulsive consumption. The unexpected result of this is not that, since Coke doesn’t satisfy any concrete need we drink it only as supplement, after some other drink has satisfied our substantial need — it is rather this very superfluous character that makes our thirst for Coke all the more insatiable. Coke has the paradoxical quality that the more you drink it, the more you get thirsty. So, when the slogan for Coke was "Coke is it!", we should see in it some ambiguity — it’s "it" precisely insofar as it’s never IT, precisely insofar as every consumption opens up the desire for more. The paradox is thus that Coke is not an ordinary commodity, but a commodity whose very peculiar use–value itself is already a direct embodiment of the auratic, ineffable surplus. This process is brought to its conclusion in the case of caffeine–free diet Coke. We drink a drink for two reasons: for its nutritional value and for its taste. In the case of caffeine–free diet Coke, its nutritional value is suspended and the caffeine as the key ingredient of its taste is also taken away. All that remains is pure semblance, an artificial promise of a substance which never materialized. Is it not that in the case of caffeine–free diet Coke that we almost literally drink nothing in the guise of something? What I am referring to, of course, is Nietzsche’s opposition between "wanting nothing", in the sense of "I do not want anything", and the nihilistic stance of actively wanting the Nothingness itself. Following Nietzsche, Lacan emphasized how, in anorexia, the subject doesn’t simply not eat anything, he rather actively wants to eat the Nothingness itself. The same goes for the famous patient who felt guilty of stealing, although he didn’t effectively steal anything — what he did steal was, again, Nothingness itself.
- Salvoj Zizek, "The Supergo and the Act"

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Urbanity

There is something about this quietness, the sun having gone down and
the sky so full of color.
What are all those ferryboats doing going down so quietly, all by
themselves, down the river?
The buildings, standing there so still, what are they doing there?
What is all this darkness?
Where are all the people?
O, they'll be all around again, don't worry, they'll all come back again.
They'll be here again after the darkness, after the dawn: they'll all be
here again.
-Robert Clairmont, "N.Y. Harbor: Sunday Evening"

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Play "Misty" for Me

My name is Misty
I'm only three,
My eyes are swollen
I cannot see,

I must be stupid
I must be bad,
What else could have
Made my daddy so mad?

I wish I were better
I wish I weren't ugly,
Then maybe my mommy
Would still want to hug me.

I can't speak at all
I can't do a wrong
Or else I'm locked up
All the day long.

When I awake
I'm all alone
The house is dark
My folks aren't home.

When my mommy does come
I'll try and be nice,
So maybe I'll get just
One whipping tonight.

Don't make a sound!
I just heard a car
My daddy is back
From Charlie's Bar.

I hear him curse,
My name he calls,
I press myself
Against the wall.

I try and hide
From his evil eyes,
I'm so afraid now
I'm starting to cry.

He finds me weeping,
He shouts ugly words,
He says its my fault
That he suffers at work.

He slaps me and hits me
And yells at me more,
I finally get free
And I run for the door.

He's already locked it
And I start to bawl,
He takes me and throws me
Against the hard wall.

I fall to the floor
With my bones nearly broken,
And my daddy continues
With more bad words spoken.

"I'm sorry!", I scream,
But its much too late.
His face has been twisted
Into unimaginable hate.

The hurt and the pain
Again and again.
Oh please God, have mercy!
Oh please let it end!

And he finally stops
And heads for the door,
While I lay there motionless
Sprawled on the floor.

My name is Misty
And I am but three,
Tonight my daddy
Murdered me.
- Misty Nicole Ramsey (1996)

Monday, August 18, 2014

Newspapers are for the Birds!

CHORUS. Hi! Epops! do you hear me?

EPOPS. What's the matter?

CHORUS. Take them off to dine well and call your mate, the melodious Procné, whose songs are worthy of the Muses; she will delight our leisure moments.

PISTHETAERUS. Oh! I conjure you, accede to their wish; for this delightful bird will leave her rushes at the sound of your voice; for the sake of the gods, let her come here, so that we may contemplate the nightingale.

EPOPS. Let it be as you desire. Come forth, Procné, show yourself to these strangers.

PISTHETAERUS. Oh! great Zeus! what a beautiful little bird! what a dainty form! what brilliant plumage!

EUELPIDES. Do you know how dearly I should like to split her legs for her?

PISTHETAERUS. She is dazzling all over with gold, like a young girl.

EUELPIDES. Oh! how I should like to kiss her!

PISTHETAERUS. Why, wretched man, she has two little sharp points on her beak.

EUELPIDES. I would treat her like an egg, the shell of which we remove before eating it; I would take off her mask and then kiss her pretty face.

EPOPS. Let us go in.

PISTHETAERUS. Lead the way, and may success attend us.

CHORUS. Lovable golden bird, whom I cherish above all others, you, whom I associate with all my songs, nightingale, you have come, you have come, to show yourself to me and to charm me with your notes. Come, you, who play spring melodies upon the harmonious flute, lead off our anapaests.

Weak mortals, chained to the earth, creatures of clay as frail as the foliage of the woods, you unfortunate race, whose life is but darkness, as unreal as a shadow, the illusion of a dream, hearken to us, who are immortal beings, ethereal, ever young and occupied with eternal thoughts, for we shall teach you about all celestial matters; you shall know thoroughly what is the nature of the birds, what the origin of the gods, of the rivers, of Erebus, and Chaos; thanks to us, Prodicus will envy you your knowledge.
Aristophanes, "The Birds"

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Requiem for the Old Dream

It’s a gift to give love,
It’s a gift to receive love,
A shame to force one to dream
of you,
A crime to force one to love
you.

Dare to dream and fly away,
Feeling like a bird in any way,
Starring at shiny, pink lullaby clouds,
getting snappy,
Wetting your pillow with tears
while being happy.

Share your dreams, that’s the life,
Ignore the sad, blood drinking knife,
Which stabbed you while dreaming
of someone you love,
Feel free to tell that someone
that it’s your dove.

All you need is courage, daring,
Much passion for your darling,
These words are a requiem for a dream
to come true,
Fight with all your fury and passion:
you can cross the love’s rue.
- Mihailescu Andreea, "Requiem for a dream"

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Herbert Marcuse's - One Dimensional Man

Marcuse strongly criticizes consumerism, arguing that it is a form of social control. He suggests that the system we live in may claim to be democratic, but it is actually authoritarian in that a few individuals dictate our perceptions of freedom by only allowing us choices to buy for happiness. In this state of "unfreedom", consumers act irrationally by working more than they are required to in order to fulfill actual basic needs, by ignoring the psychologically destructive effects, by ignoring the waste and environmental damage it causes, and by searching for social connection through material items.

It is even more irrational in the sense that the creation of new products, calling for the disposal of old products, fuels the economy and encourages the need to work more to buy more. An individual loses his or her humanity and becomes a tool in the industrial machine and a cog in the consumer machine. Additionally, advertising sustains consumerism, which disintegrates societal demeanor, delivered in bulk and informing the masses that happiness can be bought, an idea that is psychologically damaging.

There are other alternatives to counter the consumer lifestyle. Anti-consumerism is a lifestyle that demotes any unnecessary consumption, as well as unnecessary work, waste, etc. But even this alternative is complicated by the extreme interpenetration of advertising and commodification because everything is a commodity, even those things that are actual needs.
from Wikipedia
The Consumption-Driven Lifestyle?