Tuesday, December 07, 2010

and nonsense

I've been thinking and reading a lot lately about stuff--material objects that we own, or want to own, or don't own, or love, or feel resentful about. I think it started a long time before I picked up this book, but seeing so much interesting information about the way human beings bond with objects all in one place was something of a fire starter.

Commodity fetishism and anti-consumerism have always struck me as particularly important and interesting, too. . . I think these topics are incredibly relevant to how ordinary people live their lives. The more I read, the clearer it becomes that I want to coalesce and present in an organized way. . .

Some things that drew me in:

-according to one of the videos I just linked, only 1% of what people buy is still in use six months later.

-advertising encourages us to adopt a "what we have" identity rather than a "what we do" identity. . . but the line between our experience and our possessions is hardly a sharp one.

-a willingness to spend money on non-essential possessions keeps a lot of people far more bound up in wage slavery than they might be.

-possessions often give people a deep sense of security, which is not unreasonable. With none, we would die.

I'm working my way through the literature on compulsive hoarding, after which I'll need to read at least Adorno's critical theory, and then some analysis of what an ecologically sustainable economy/consumption level would look like. . . And I want to interweave this with personal experiments. Suppose I track everything I acquire for two or three months; how many of the objects did I use? How many did I become attached to? What did I dispose of, and how? What could I have survived without? How much more did I consume than what would be ecologically sustainable? How do possessions influence my social status, place in the community, and ability to find satisfying connections with other people? How do these objects, and the other objects I own, interact with my sense of identity?

I am answer mining, from books and life.

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