You have meddled with the primal forces of nature, Mr. Beale, and I won’t have it…You are an old man who thinks in terms of nations and peoples. There are no nations; there are no peoples. There are no Russians. There are no Arabs. There are no third worlds. There is no West. There is only one holistic system of systems; one vast, interwoven, interacting, multivaried, multinational dominion of dollars.
— Arthur Jensen, Network
To realign ourselves with the Graces of Beauty, Mirth, and Blossoming, we are considering how the weeks between Imbolc and Ostara are an ideal time to create space for them to thrive. I would suggest that one way to do this is to be aware of how we are manipulated by and bombarded with advertising, and then consider taking at least a parital break, say, for a week or so.
This is not an easy or straightforward action. Yes, it is physically simple to turn off your television and radio for a week (although if you have kids or a spouse, you may get some serious resistance). But as I noted yesterday, some estimate that less than half of our “advertising exposures” come from major traditional media (TV, radio, magazines, and newspapers),
Can you shut down your computer for that long? (I would miss you, my friends, but I would understand). Many of us are dependent on them for our jobs, and of course, they are pulsing with ads at every turn. Even if we manage that, commercial messages target us from signs, busses, and those weird new rolling billboards. They interrupt the Muzak at the grocery store, and while we’re innocently on hold, on the phone. We are, in fact, trapped at every turn, with a real or virtual salesperson trying to hawk their wares to us.
Any attempt to reduce the glut of advertising in your life is going to be a tremendous challenge, because consumption has become the basis for our whole culture. To explain this, I share with you an excellent article from the David Suzuki Foundation:
The stock market collapse in 1929 triggered the Great Depression that engulfed the world in terrible suffering. World War II was the catalyst for economic recovery. America’s enormous resource base, productivity, energy, and technology were thrown into the war effort, and soon its economy blazed white hot. With victory imminent, the president’s council of economic advisors was challenged to find a way to convert a war economy to peace.
Shortly after the end of the war, retailing analyst Victor Lebow expressed the solution:
“Our enormously productive economy … demands that we make consumption our way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfaction, our ego satisfaction, in consumption…. we need things consumed, burned up, replaced, and discarded at an ever-accelerating rate.”
President Eisenhower’s council of economic advisors chairman stated: “The American economy’s ultimate purpose is to produce more consumer goods.” Not better health care, education, housing, transportation, or recreation or less poverty and hunger, but providing more stuff to consumers.
When goods are well-made and durable, eventually markets are saturated. An endless market is created by introducing rapid obsolescence (think clothing, cars, laptop computers). And with disposability, where an article is used once and thrown away, the market will never be saturated.
Consumer goods aren’t created by the economy out of nothing. They come from the Earth, and when they are used up, they will be returned to the Earth as garbage and toxic waste. It takes energy to extract, process, manufacture, and transport products, while air, water, and soil are often polluted at many points in the life cycle of the product. In other words, what we consume has direct effects on nature.
And then there are social and spiritual costs.
More about this next week.