Mezikasa It has profound implications for self-identity and social relationships. How can I send a newsletter from my topic? How to grow my audience and develop my traffic? T he ubiquitous social media landscape has created an information ecosystem populated by a cacophony of opinion, true and false information, and an unprecedented quantity of data on many topics. Consumo, dunque sono The nature of a consuming society as opposed to our cultural language based on a production society is not well understood.
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Start your review of Consumo, dunque sono Write a review Shelves: social-theory The part of this book that I will remember next year rather than just next week is his discussion of how consumerism has changed our notion of time. So, Im going to start with that. In Ancient Greece they had quite a different notion of time.
They saw time as being cyclical. Not just in the sense of the seasons and their repetitions, but even longer cycles and repetitions. In a sense this is also a strong influence on Nietzsches idea of the eternal recurrence of the same this Greek notion of The part of this book that I will remember next year — rather than just next week — is his discussion of how consumerism has changed our notion of time. The dawn of Capitalism required a new kind of time — one that was linear and directional.
Hegel overcame this by talking of progress spiralling. There is still a kind of return, but on a new and higher level. Still, linear time gives a clearer notion of time as progress.
Change is omnipresent. So much so that it is like a kind of background hum we almost struggle to hear. To capture this new universe, Bauman has come up with the idea of pointillist time. Pointillism is a technic of painting that grew out of impressionism. It involves creating a painting by applying dots of pure colour onto the canvas. From a distance these dots interact with each other to form an image — however, up close they are a chaos, dots one beside another, a kind of meaningless noise.
Points are geometric absurdities, geometric abstractions. A point has no dimensions. No height, width, depth. Yet it is the fundamental idea of geometry. A point, then, is seen by Bauman as having infinite potential. Okay, so what have we got so far? We have images that are impossible to see the meaning of up close, but that are made up of points of infinite potential. We have a universe made from a point that went a bit crazy. Every point seems to contain infinite potential, inexhaustible in what it can tell us.
He says that the Sunday newspaper today probably has more information in it than your average 18th Century person would have come across in a lifetime. So, which bits are important and which bits can be safely ignored? Who would have known that this particular point in the universe was about to expand and become essential knowledge for a whole group of people more or les instantly?
Hard to imagine that there was a time when people wanted to be more than just consumers, admittedly. When you think about the metaphor behind consumption, the whole thing becomes quite unattractive. You know, fire consumes, TB consumes — it is a kind of laying waste.
It is certainly a one-way process. But even this directionality is overlayed with the idea of pointillism. Capitalism, consumerism, seeks to reduce the distance from showroom to rubbish tip. And often we even celebrate products becoming waste - at last I can now get a new washing machine The point is for you to be constantly anxious and constantly dissatisfied. Products are not really meant to satisfy your desires, but to constantly nearly satisfy them. Again we are back at the points in pointillist paintings.
And we can never stand back far enough to see beyond these points of infinite potential to glimpse the bigger picture. For these points are also pointless.
We are surrounded by so much information the effect is much the same as being surrounded by no information. Are earth tones in, or should I go with more vibrant colours? When I was a child we used to laugh at the idea of men wearing tights, now men get on pushbikes wearing lycra and talk about their PBs on their death rides.
Like the atoms that pop into and out of existence, it is impossible to guess today what will be important or even here tomorrow. We buy so much stuff as a way of expressing who we really are. It always seemed a bit strange to me — why people would want to pretend they were a machine? The Turing Test in reverse. But Bauman makes the point that to be a real subject in our society you have to first become a commodity.
To be a subject you need to be able to buy the stuff that makes you real. To get money to be able to be a worthy subject you need to sell yourself — you need to be a commodity. To consume you must allow a large part of yourself to be likewise consumed. You will buy things out of guilt for the people you live with because you have no time to spend with them and our society associates love with stuff. Then you might start resenting them as you only get to see them when you are tired. Anyway, they are ungrateful and infinitely obsessed with their own hand-held device — eternally scanning for the one piece of information that will turn from point to universe and help them make sense of it all.
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