Monday, August 13, 2012


Iron kettle in Kawai Kanjiro's house, Kyoto.
Contemporary consumer culture privileges the owners of the big corporations (shareholders) and functions most efficiently for increasing owner’s profits when we live un-noticing lives.  To be divorced from the making of the inanimate objects that surround us enables the consuming populace to ignore the waste and lack of fulfilment created by this system.  The end point of the free market capitalism practiced by the First World is that the actual goods are meaningless. Rather than being a gathering of signs, a powerful distillation of ideas about culture, history and community, the products of a pure consumer culture are designed to cast off meaning.  Consumer culture works best when the objects we consume give off a range of signs all leading to the universal meaning that consumption is valuable, makes us happy and “happiness” is the end goal of any transaction.  If we are to believe that consumption makes us happy then the aspiration is to acquire and discard things in as rapid a cycle as possible.  This is the perfect goal for a self-sustaining consumption culture.  But in this model “happiness” can never be achieved and the environmental, social and psychological cost to communities is high.