Postcards From The Concrete Jungle….Day 202

20 08 2012




One response

20 08 2012

Westerners see themselves in Asian consumerism and have for a considerable time. The images of Japan and Hong Kong I remember from the 1950s. It shocked me that these strange people basically wanted what we want. I thought we had a monopoly on want: that we Westerners could want record players and transistor radios while the ageless Chinese peasant would want rice.

The joke was on us for commencing in the 1950s and on Lamma Island, the not so timeless Chinese “peasant” (where the very word is inapposite given lack of primogeniture and freehold in China) said screw rice and started to make consumer goods such as junky toys. And started to buy the very gimcrackery he made because, liberal and environmental protestations aside, consuming crap makes us happy even a rare bird like me (I need for example to stay out of Commercial Press). Our monkey assed brain responds to something shining (and monkeys are notorious thieves, aren’t they?)

So round and round he goes, going nowhere, on his laptop bicycle, mon sembable, mon frere for we Westerners invented the idea of “working out”: and when I see the step aerobic machines at Fitness First in Shueng Wan (after successfully resisting the high pressure sales talk because yes I was considering a membership, do remember I am a consumeristic SOB in some measure) I reflect that they look like the machines the Chinese trod to draw water and mill rice, only the Fitness First machines have no output and are sterile.

[No I won’t join Fitness First I have the Beach.]

I suck at photography. On returning Friday from The City of Sadness and passing thru ContainerWorld, I saw again the giant fading ad for Kent Cigarettes and fumbled for my camera and discovered, of course, that it was out of power. Cigarettes occupy a unique place in the “structure” of consumerism: whereas ever since I saw the first Starbucks (at the end of a run in the predawn darkness of downtown Seattle in 1986) they’ve been trying to sell us something overly positive, something “too much” (the perfect Latte, the iPod which puts the Walkman to shame), the smoker seeks negation. Like a Potlatch-addicted Indian of British Columbia, the smoker seeks to give it all to Moloch including his health as a pure gesture…of defiance of commodity relations.

“You say I must buy something to be real? But I do not wish to buy anything. OK, I’ll become a smoker. That should show you that I did not choose this life despite what free market economists say.”

In what used to be known as the nuthouse and is now known as rehab the doctors like it when the patient starts to take an interest in commercials. One woman who was in Northwest Memorial with me during my stay very long ago manifested a genuine improvement when she started noticing shoes.

Commodity addiction is better than smoking but it’s still addiction.

Have you taken any photographs of the giant faded Kent cigarettes sign in ContainerWorld and can you link me to them, or other archeological advertisements from the 1960s? I suck at photography.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: