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by F?bio de Oliveira Ribeiro
Sunday, May. 29, 2011 at 4:44 AM
Pensive meditations on the civilization of consumption.
I read this on the internet today:
Lines to buy products Apple are constants. I've seen pictures of them in the U.S., France and Brazil. And I've done acid comments about them in the past:
I read, now I can not remember exactly where, that the fervor of Apple consumer products only have paradigm in religious devotion. The thesis may be controversial, but to me it seems quite appropriate. After all, since God is dead (Nietzsche), the political totalitarianism was defeated, studied and justly stigmatized (Hannah Arendt) and religion has become just another spectacle (Guy Debord) humans were forced to find other objects of worship. Consumption seems to have become this object of worship in general and the products Apple occupy a privileged place on the altars of the devotees.
The man and the world has not changed very much. What has changed is the receptacle of human passion. What is the purpose of devotion? In religion is salvation and exaltation of the creator. In politics it is the supremacy of the master race or to implement the more fair economic system. In devotion to the consumption the pleasure is the predominant principle. Pleasure that is also useful because we have to admit that the Apple products are not just toys. These tools can be used at work.
A few years ago I reviewed the book of Bill Gates. In the work the guru of PCs:
"... refers to urge people as 'consumers' and not 'citizens'. Choices made by the author leaves no doubt. The term is obviously employing more restrictive than the forged during the French Revolution. Only those who has the resources fit the profile of consumers, while all citizens may be considered whether or not consumers. It is indeed an irony the fact that the American capitalism recommended by the owner of Microsoft ideologically a spray of the fundamental concepts that the forces unleashed market the bonds of feudalism. "
Bill Gates also emphasizes how computers and programs are addictive:
"... the 'VR will be undoubtedly more involved than video games, and become more addicted.' And speaking of addiction, to recall their contact with computers in childhood, Gates sighs 'I was hooked. ' . Later admits that 'My father got addicted when he used a computer to prepare your income tax.' The phrase that best sums up this issue - 'If you give them a chance, it is almost certain to be hooked.' Could this not be compared to the subliminal message that sends when a dealer tries to seduce someone with the marvels offered by drugs? "
The iPad is defined as a laptop with virtual keyboard (the real keyboard is peripheral that can be bought for a few hundred U.S. dollars). Therefore, at present the product of Apple seems to be the perfect receptacle of devotion in the West. The object is portable as a small medieval altarpiece (before which the traveler could kneel and pray whenever I needed or felt the need) and certainly is as addictive as a PC. But most important is that this object of worship is also capable of producing the virtual transubstantiation talking for Bill Gates. The iPad has great potential to transform the citizen (that decide the fate of the community) in a simple consumer (the devotee of products designed, manufactured and marketed by Apple).
A passion for politics in the West was replaced by the passion of consumption. This seems to be a fact proven by the growing political apathy in Western societies. The same has not happened in the Middle East. There the policy, with its natural tendency to mix religious devotion when God is not dead yet and religion is not just a spectacle, and it is still a reality for some time. This is a clash of civilizations that some authors speak, but not for the reasons they cite. For me, however, is difficult to say which of the two civilizations is better. They are different in appearance, but alike in one crucial aspect.
In the civilization of consumption the man is or can be retarded by the cult of the object. In the Middle East is religion and politics that fulfill this task. But I'm sure that if someone, for the sake of social science and documentation of the experience, trying to get the Ipad2 of the hands of hiszealous owner in a shopping will find that his reaction is not very different from an Islamic face of the desecration of the words prophet Muhammad.
Basically there is no opposition between civilization and barbarism. We are all potentially barbaric as mentions Tzvetan Todorov:
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