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Existential Vacuum and Self — 4 Comments

  1. I very much hope that this current economic shift from quantity over quality you’re observing, special k, will last and spread! It sure would beat amassing places & garbage next to fields of asphalt….

  2. Have you noticed all those storage places ammassed on the side of the highway! That’s scary…considering that most of that crap ends up in a dump somewhere for all of eternity. The current economy is chisling a new ethic: QUALITY over QUANTITY. It’s not about massing friends on facebook, it is about the connections we have, close or far, long-term or brief, that speak to something essential, rather than just occupying some space.

  3. These are great thoughts, CC! I hadn’t thought about the way we’re viewing The One is similar to the one product that’ll make us happy. Very interesting parallel!

    I now have an image of your roommate wrapping herself into curtains…

    I just finished reading Susan Blackmore’s Short Intro to Consciousness. She talks about the free will discussion. The whole book is fascinating because there’s so much in science that seems to contradict our every day experience: Doesn’t it feel like we’re conscious? When you ask yourself “am I conscious now,” don’t you answer with “yes”? Well, what about the times you don’t ask yourself? Are you only conscious when you ask yourself that question? And if consciousness is an illusion – albeit a useful one – where does that leave free will? If I don’t consciously decide anything (because consciousness isn’t real), I don’t have free will. But this would then leave us in the state of robots and that’s not our experience. Maybe your point that consumerism (and religion) creates the illusion of free will suggests another reason of why consumerism is so powerfully attractive: It reinforces our wish to have a free will.

  4. Are we being trained to consume other people the way we’re being trained to consume material goods? I mean, are we being taught to “shop” for a partner in order to pretty up our life the same way we’re taught to shop for the perfect set of curtains to brighten our living room?

    Having had a roommate whose sense of self-narrative was very tied up in her curtains (figuratively speaking, though the literal interpretation would have been more fun), I definitely agree with Loy that consumer capitalism can be construed as a religion–though I hadn’t thought of it that way before.

    Also, regarding the existential vaccuum: this ties into the question of whether or not there is such a thing as free will, a very interesting debate that is more rooted in science and neurology than some people (well, me for instance) may realize initially. Most of us want free will to exist. Consumerism creates an illusion of free will and control. So does religion.

    Just thinkin’ out loud here. . .
    CC

    P.S. Kind of off-topic, but—isn’t the Container Store the most egregious byproduct of our consumer culture? We have so much stuff we have to have a store that sells stuff to put our stuff in! Actually, I totally love Containers. But only because I have so much freakin’ stuff.

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