What’s consuming who?

“Whoever chains themselves to an unseaworthy vessel risks going down with it at the next tide. By comparison, surfing seems a safer option.

‘Eternity’ acquires a sinister flavour, unless it means an uninterrupted string of episodes: the perpetual ability to ‘finish quickly and begin from the beginning’. If the assets of long-term security are not available, long-term commitments are liabilities.

The future – the realistic future and the desirable future – can be grasped only as a succession of ‘nows’. And the only stable, hopefully unbreakable continuity on which the beads of episodes could be conceivably strung together so that they won’t scatter and disperse, is that of one’s own body in its successive avatars….

The overall result of all this is the ‘subjectivization and individualization of risks and contradictions produced by institutions and society’. In short, individuals are doomed to seek ‘biographical solution of systemic contradictions’….

There is a nearly ‘perfect fit’ between the characteristics of commodities the consumer market offers, the fashion in which it offers them, and the kind of anxieties and expectations which prompt individuals to live their lives as a string of shopping expeditions. Two irrationalities meet, cooperate and jointly self-reproduce through the rationality of sellers’ calculations and the rationality of buyers’ life-strategies.”

Zygmunt Bauman, ‘Consuming Life’. Journal of Consumer Culture, 2001, Vol 1(1): 9–29.

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