Friday, August 31, 2007

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Bourgeois-Caress-My-Superego Guide to Happiness: Reflections on the Experience Economy

...which happens to be Harvard endorsed [which guarantees future networking with other happily caressed superegos]:

Caffeine-free Diet Coke: Reflections on the Experience Economy

Today's ethics are the ethics of the superego*; no longer circumscribed by moderation. One is encouraged instead, to limitless consumption, because the product consumed is in itself deprived of its "dangerous" constituent. There is an injunction to enjoy, and one is guilty if enjoyment is not desired and subsequently attained.
Decaf. coffee.
Fat free ice-cream.
Caffeine free diet coke.....(chocolate laxative has also been mentioned occasionally, but since I have never encountered it, I shall leave it alone till the fateful day when I do have that pleasure).
and my personal favourite - mass customisation - a product being its own counter ethic. Instead of removing action, one "balances" it with counter-action. Is being good, finally, being less bad?
...I want to begin with Coca-cola. It’s no surprise that Coca-cola was first introduced as a medicine. Its strange taste seems to provide no particular satisfaction. It is not directly pleasing, however, it is as such, as transcending any use–value, like water, beer or wine, which definitely do quench our thirst, that Coke functions as the direct embodiment of "IT", the pure surplue of enjoyment over standard satisfactions. It is the mysterious and elusive X we are all after in our compulsive consumption. The unexpected result of this is not that, since Coke doesn’t satisfy any concrete need we drink it only as supplement, after some other drink has satisfied our substantial need — it is rather this very superfluous character that makes our thirst for Coke all the more insatiable. Coke has the paradoxical quality that the more you drink it, the more you get thirsty. So, when the slogan for Coke was "Coke is it!", we should see in it some ambuigity — it’s "it" precisely insofar as it’s never IT, precisely insofar as every consumption opens up the desire for more. The paradox is thus that Coke is not an ordinary commodity, but a commodity whose very peculiar use–value itself is already a direct embodiment of the auratic, ineffable surplus. This process is brought to its conclusion in the case of caffeine–free diet Coke. We drink a drink for two reasons: for its nutritional value and for its taste. In the case of caffeine–free diet Coke, its nutritional value is suspended and the caffeine as the key ingredient of its taste is also taken away. All that remains is pure semblance, an artificial promise of a substance which never materialized. Is it not that in the case of caffeine–free diet Coke that we almost literally drink nothing in the guise of something? What I am referring to, of course, is Nietzsche’s opposition between "wanting nothing", in the sense of "I do not want anything", and the nihilistic stance of actively wanting the Nothingness itself. Following Nietzsche, Lacan emphasized how, in anorexia, the subject doesn’t simply not eat anything, he rather actively wants to eat the Nothingness itself. The same goes for the famous patient who felt guilty of stealing, although he didn’t effectively steal anything — what he did steal was, again, Nothingness itself. Along the same lines, in the case of caffeine–free diet Coke, we drink Nothingness itself, the pure semblance of a property. S. Zizek in "The Superego and the Act", Aug 1999.
*Since the association between super-ego and an injunction to enjoy may seem counter-intuitive at first glance, one needs to keep in mind the radical separation between superego and the ethics of desire. For Lacan, superego is vehicle for such that what appears as a renunciation of pleasure for the sake of duty may be a way to get off, to enjoy.
**Superego is the revenge that capitalizes upon our guilt--that is to say, the price we pay for the guilt we contract by betraying our desire in the name of the Good. Slavoj Zizek in The Metastases of Enjoyment (London: Verso, 1994), 69.
ps: I should have made links to terms such as "the experience economy", but I shan't. It isn't worth it, enjoyment-wise.

Friday, August 17, 2007


"A man can't whistle through clenched teeth but sees clearly through eyes blurred by tears."

American sentences - paul nelson; and
Dylan Sisson's gallery;

mad about mad men

'Smoking, Drinking, Cheating and Selling' that's how The New York Times summated this tv flick. "There were seven deadly sins practiced at the dawn of the 1960s: smoking, drinking, adultery, sexism,
homophobia, anti-Semitism and racism."
Can't say the times have changed much. But there is something about the vintage 60's that draws me to it. The men are stoical, suave, politically incorrect, and downright sexist. The women are either 'conflicted' professionals or 'blissful' homemakers. And, its a cut-throat world of an advertising agency in the heart of 60's New York. Nothing really has changed much if one thinks about it. Then what is it?

I still can't justify my obsession with Godfather. And neither can I explain my obsession with (a Michael Corleone), or a Don Draper. I guess I will never know.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

60 years young...

Birthday reading for post-partitioners:

Sunday, August 05, 2007

2nd coming, 1st viewing

Every once in a while I go to watch live theatre. It has to be so because theatres are not as prolific as cinemas, and they have fewer plays per seasons. And also because it is fairly expensive...well, sort of. $30 per ticket. Of course, that is less than a haircut. Probably which is why one cuts hair occasionally as well. At a lesser frequency than one goes to the theatre.
Anyhow, this weekend was Curious's prelude show to its 10th season. A bit about Curious Theatre - it is housed in a chapel (that is, it used to be a chapel, but most of the curious weren't around for that) and stages plays that would I suppose be WAY-off-Broadway...about 1700miles off. The house is fairly small, in an intimate sort of way, a bit inconvinient with two columns supporting a balcony in the middle of the house, and a fantastic balcony. The plays are at best sharp and remarkably refined, at worst, err...erratic. But in the end, I sort of love this theatre.
Back to the prelude show - Robert Dubac's "Male Intellect: The Second Coming". Multi-talented is what he is, Dubac. Playright and actor in a one-man production; part magician and wholly super-technician. The play began as a familiar banter that goes on between the masculine, and the feminine set inside Robert's head. Through the comfortable chuckling, one could yet detect a purposeful set and precise lighting that allowed Dubac to slip effortlessly between the various shades of characters. He spoke, sang (I think), caricatured and... wrote on a blackboard...and erased from the blackboard, and wrote and erased...each time revealing and hiding the "truth" that he was trying to remember. It was a brilliant prop at so many levels. The second act, though a bit pedantic expanded the domestic into politics, culture and social hypocracy. The theme of the play was the same as so much of what today's political commentary is about - the polarised and the polite - only done differently. And thank goodness for that difference.

Robert Dubac's "Male Intellect: The Second Coming" plays at the Curious Theatre from Aug 4th to Aug 26th, 2007.