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 Consuming Shadows

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PostSubject: Consuming Shadows   Wed 17 Mar 2010, 3:23 pm

Definition of Consumtion (baudrillard)
The System of Objects, Ch 11

THERE ARE NO LIMITS TO CONSUMPTION. If consumption were indeed what it is naïvely assumed to be, namely a process of absorption or devouring, a saturation point would inevitably be reached. If consumption were indeed tied to the realm of needs, some sort of progress towards satisfaction would presumably occur. We know very well, however, that nothing of the kind happens: people simply want to consume more and more. This compulsion is attributable neither to some psychological determinism (`once a drunk always a drunk', and so forth) nor to the pressure of some simple desire for prestige. That consumption seems irrepressible is due, rather, to the fact that it is indeed a total idealist practice which no longer has anything to do (beyond a certain threshold) either with the satisfaction of needs or with the reality principle. Its dynamism derives from the ever-disappointed project now implicit in objects. Thus embedded in unmediated form in the object, the project transfers its existential dynamic to the systematic and limitless acquisition of consumption's sign-objects. This means that consumption must henceforward either keep surpassing itself or keep repeating itself merely in order to remain what it is -- namely, a reason for living. The very will to live, fragmented, disappointed, signified, is condemned to repeat itself and repeatedly abolish itself in a succession of objects. In this context all attempts to `moderate' consumption or to devise a grid of needs capable of normalizing it attest to nothing but a naïve or grotesque moralism.
[p. 205]

The systematic and limitless process of consumption arises from the disappointed demand for totality that underlies the project of life
. In their ideality sign-objects are all equivalent and may multiply infinitely; indeed, they must multiply in order at every moment to make up for a reality that is absent. Consumption is irrepressible, in the last reckoning, because it is founded upon a lack.

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PostSubject: Re: Consuming Shadows   Wed 17 Mar 2010, 10:04 pm

Quote :
THERE ARE NO LIMITS TO CONSUMPTION. If consumption were indeed what it is naïvely assumed to be, namely a process of absorption or devouring, a saturation point would inevitably be reached. If consumption were indeed tied to the realm of needs, some sort of progress towards satisfaction would presumably occur. We know very well, however, that nothing of the kind happens: people simply want to consume more and more.

Very true. They seem to have a hunger that is unquenchable.

Quote :
This compulsion is attributable neither to some psychological determinism (`once a drunk always a drunk', and so forth) nor to the pressure of some simple desire for prestige. That consumption seems irrepressible is due, rather, to the fact that it is indeed a total idealist practice which no longer has anything to do (beyond a certain threshold) either with the satisfaction of needs or with the reality principle. Its dynamism derives from the ever-disappointed project now implicit in objects. Thus embedded in unmediated form in the object, the project transfers its existential dynamic to the systematic and limitless acquisition of consumption's sign-objects. This means that consumption must henceforward either keep surpassing itself or keep repeating itself merely in order to remain what it is -- namely, a reason for living.

Yes, sad but true. I think in modern terms this is what we call "the rat race" and also "keeping up with the Jones's--a very familiar neurotic pattern seen everywhere.

Quote :
The very will to live, fragmented, disappointed, signified, is condemned to repeat itself and repeatedly abolish itself in a succession of objects. In this context all attempts to `moderate' consumption or to devise a grid of needs capable of normalizing it attest to nothing but a naïve or grotesque moralism.

The systematic and limitless process of consumption arises from the disappointed demand for totality that underlies the project of life. In their ideality sign-objects are all equivalent and may multiply infinitely; indeed, they must multiply in order at every moment to make up for a reality that is absent. Consumption is irrepressible, in the last reckoning, because it is founded upon a lack.

I think what Beaudrillard is saying here is that this drive arises from an emptiness within the individual that he continually tries to satisfy with 'proofs of his value' (consumer goods), but that do nothing to actually satisfy him, because it's not a lack that can BE solved with consuming, it can only be supplied with having an ordered view of his existence (which he does not have.) He does not have this because his values are not his own. They were given to him, by the culture he lives in , and accepted by him like a blank check. And that's the cause of his painful emptiness, in that he has failed to form his own soul.
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PostSubject: Re: Consuming Shadows   Thu 18 Mar 2010, 10:16 pm

Explorer wrote:
Quote :
The very will to live, fragmented, disappointed, signified, is condemned to repeat itself and repeatedly abolish itself in a succession of objects. In this context all attempts to `moderate' consumption or to devise a grid of needs capable of normalizing it attest to nothing but a naïve or grotesque moralism.

The systematic and limitless process of consumption arises from the disappointed demand for totality that underlies the project of life. In their ideality sign-objects are all equivalent and may multiply infinitely; indeed, they must multiply in order at every moment to make up for a reality that is absent. Consumption is irrepressible, in the last reckoning, because it is founded upon a lack.

I think what Beaudrillard is saying here is that this drive arises from an emptiness within the individual that he continually tries to satisfy with 'proofs of his value' (consumer goods), but that do nothing to actually satisfy him, because it's not a lack that can BE solved with consuming, it can only be supplied with having an ordered view of his existence (which he does not have.) He does not have this because his values are not his own. They were given to him, by the culture he lives in , and accepted by him like a blank check. And that's the cause of his painful emptiness, in that he has failed to form his own soul.
Spot on.

And this brings us full circle to all of the big thinkers, philosophers and social engineers who worked to create a system of reality that keeps man from nature (a hyperreality), and thus utterly bankrupt.

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PostSubject: Re: Consuming Shadows   Fri 19 Mar 2010, 12:03 am

C1 wrote:
Explorer wrote:
Quote :
The very will to live, fragmented, disappointed, signified, is condemned to repeat itself and repeatedly abolish itself in a succession of objects. In this context all attempts to `moderate' consumption or to devise a grid of needs capable of normalizing it attest to nothing but a naïve or grotesque moralism.

The systematic and limitless process of consumption arises from the disappointed demand for totality that underlies the project of life. In their ideality sign-objects are all equivalent and may multiply infinitely; indeed, they must multiply in order at every moment to make up for a reality that is absent. Consumption is irrepressible, in the last reckoning, because it is founded upon a lack.

I think what Beaudrillard is saying here is that this drive arises from an emptiness within the individual that he continually tries to satisfy with 'proofs of his value' (consumer goods), but that do nothing to actually satisfy him, because it's not a lack that can BE solved with consuming, it can only be supplied with having an ordered view of his existence (which he does not have.) He does not have this because his values are not his own. They were given to him, by the culture he lives in , and accepted by him like a blank check. And that's the cause of his painful emptiness, in that he has failed to form his own soul.
Spot on.

And this brings us full circle to all of the big thinkers, philosophers and social engineers who worked to create a system of reality that keeps man from nature (a hyperreality), and thus utterly bankrupt.

Yep. I wish there was something concrete I could do about it.. unfortunately, it's a very nasty, unyielding problem that doesn't lend itself to ANY easy answers. Sheesh!
Thank you for your comments.
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