Friday, December 13, 2013

My Distracting... Oh look, a bird!

Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful face on an empty head. (Proverbs 11:22 MSG)

     I get distracted. Easily. At times, that means I see the flowers other people miss. At other times, that means I'm looking at flowers while every other person is running away from a swarm of bees. I recently downloaded a background on my phone that mimics the conditions outside in real time. This morning, as I picked up the phone to check a notification, I noticed the sun was rising on my screen. I'd never seen this transition before and was fascinated by how it was animated. Then I realized; I'm standing next to a window. I could just open the curtains and watch the sun actually rising instead of watching a 99 cent imitation.
     There is nothing inherently wrong with distractions. Often times they are unavoidable and foisted on us by external factors. Where we fall into trouble is when the distractions become the goal. When the peripheral becomes the focus and the imitation becomes the real we begin losing our connections to life. The world becomes our world. This is the egocentricity that leads to falling in love with a pig because there's a gold ring in its snout. This is the egocentricity that leads to falling in love with a beautiful face on an empty head. This is the egocentricity that misses the point and is consumed with self to the exclusion of the other.
(C) Nathan D. Croy, 2013

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

You're Worth More When You're Worth Less

       I've already had some pithy post on here about More Being Less. This is not about that. This is about companies believing the only way people will purchase something is if those people think they need it. When a company is selling image, it is crucial for you to believe three things:

1. I want that image
2. I lack that image
3. I cannot create that image on my own.

     If you do not believe any one of these three things, you will not purchase what they are selling. The hipsters (ironically) have the market cornered on premise number one. They want for no image. They want for no image so much so that it has become an image to which companies are now marketing. Which is ironic. Which is what hipsters like. Which makes it not ironic. Which is ironic. I do not like where this is going and will stop this silly line of thought now because the point is made. I think.

     If you believe you want an image, but think you have that image (not believing premise number two), then there is no reason to purchase an image someone else is selling. These people are the aesthetes Kierkegaard wrote about. They are the poets, the perceivers of beauty, the writers of songs, and the pursuers of excitement. The fourth chapter of Seinfeld and Philosophy produces a compelling argument for Kramer as the embodiment of the aesthete. I, for one, couldn't agree more.

     Lastly, if you believe you want an image, you lack that image, but you believe you can create that image on your own, you will set out on an existential adventure of "finding yourself". Unfortunately, the idea of this adventure has been tainted by, of all places, marketing. There are countless offers of shortcuts and surefire means of procuring authentic identity via media and market shares. Everyone knows this is rubbish, but the allure is often too great to resist and can provide a long lasting distraction. This type of distraction can often be so lasting that, in the pursuit of the self, we can completely miss the self until, only upon the reflection of our deathbeds, do we realize we have missed everything in the pursuit of nothing.

     This is what media wants. If you find satisfaction, you do not need appeasement from the market. If you have found your image (that is to say, your self), then you have no need to look elsewhere. This type of self-defeating thought process must be continually perpetuated through the production of the newer and the better. Not only that, but the newer and the better must be made to seem unavailable to the greater and the common. A content individual does not purchase on a whim. This does not mean whimsicalness is incompatible with contentedness; it does mean that genuine whimsy is accompanied by intentionality.

     Please head over to NPR’s program Here-and-Now and see how companies like Abercrombie are working hard to make sure you’re not happy. It’s not just a suggestion; it’s their primary means of ensuring a constant flow of income. To them, you're worth more when you're worth less.

(C) Nathan D. Croy, 2013