Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Schlock Of The New

“All of our values are simulated. What is freedom? We have a choice between buying one car or buying another car? It’s a simulation of freedom.”
- Jean Baudrillard, 2005.
Whenever I buy something new, I set it aside for a while and leave it boxed or wrapped. I do it with everything – always have. From an early age, I was aware that people acquired and consumed so much stuff not because they needed it but because of the sense of freedom, happiness, confidence, or esteem that clever marketing promised it would give them. As I got older, I found myself buying into the marketing bullshit too. I hated it. I felt so duped. So now, whenever I buy something, I try to pretend I didn't, just to make sure I really need it and I'm not just cluttering my life with another meaningless trinket.
There are other reasons. I grew up wearing clothes from charity stores. Most of our houses were furnished from them too. My parents were often poor but they also harboured a mish-mash of non-consumerist, and nomadic ideals that included a lack of sentimental attachment to possessions.. Each time we moved house, we bought second-hand furniture then gave it away when we left. If we stopped using something – a saucepan, a shirt, a toy – it was given away.
Even after I became an adult, it took me a long time to feel at ease with possessions – especially if they were new.
My boyfriend encourages me not to be so self-denying and monastic, especially when it's merely habitual. I can't help but see through what Baudrillard, who died yesterday, referred to as simulation. Still, I hope I can become a little less paralysed when the mindless impulse to indulge myself comes over me from time to time.

4 comments:

Sunil said...

Great sentiment in posting this here. I try to hold off buying anything until my wife and me are absolutely sure that we really need it. You are right, the marketing machine has lulled us into thinking that choices in the marketplace is emblematic of freedom...

The Painted Sky said...

On the rare sight of a cheque from a gallery, I cannot resist but to quickly squander it all on the illusory pursuit of temporary happiness.

For a small fee, I can help you to do likewise ;)

Cheers :)

LIZZA said...

For two years we lived in American Samoa, an island in the South Pacific. There were no commercials on TV. There were no fancy boutiques or shoe stores etc. The spirit of acquisition simply rolled off me. No competition for ostentatious display
===Instead, we all made wish lists from the Sears and Roebuck catalog. Then we let the list sit for a few weeks. Lo and behold, we no longer wanted anything on those lists!

vette said...

Rollo May's book, "Freedom & Destiny" attempts to define what freedom really is - that freedom lies entirely in the act of conscious choice - in the art of choosing well - which of course is not as easy as it may sound.