by: Chris Lawer
I have now started reading Culture Jam by Kalle Lasn, of Adbusters fame. As is customary of someone like myself with a muddled and cluttered "mental environment" as Lasn describes it, I have only managed to get about 20 pages done in the past few days. Nevertheless this is riveting stuff, and I only wish I had discovered it earlier…
One early passage in the chapter "Ecology of Mind" resonated beyond its immediate meaning about the "consumer binge" into something more personal I have been experiencing of late:
While most people tend to associate suffering with scarcity and deprivation, there is a very different kind of suffering that's caused by plenitude. Plenitude is (American) culture's perverse burden. Most have everything they could possibly want and they still dont think it is nearly enough. When everything is at hand, nothing is ever hard won and when nothing is hard-won, nothing ever satisfies. Without satisfaction, our lives become shallow and meaningless. In this era of gigantism – we embrace the value of More to compensate for lives that seem somehow, Less. Eat the instant you are hungry and as the Buddhist master put it, "You will never find out what your hunger is for". Plenitude feeds malaise as it fills the stomach.
Now my unfortunate problem is that I am suffering real bad from a plenitude of plenitude, i.e a curse of consuming plenitude itself, i.e. a deep desire to consume all the books, articles, comments, papers, journals, magazines etc etc. that discuss issues of plenitude in modern consumer society. And its driving me nuts, to the point that sometimes I feel that I just want to give up – a real case of "Amazon Overload"!!
As Lasn continues,
Could it be that all these things together – the curse of plenitude, the image explosion, the data overload, the hum of the media that are always awake and bustling – are driving us crazy?
Well I am beginning to think that some days, Yes!! I'm finding it increasingly difficult to stay "on task" with all this stuff, and as Lasn points out with his own analysis of first-order plenitude, many people are experiencing higher-highs and lower-lows – "We soar the skies one moment, then feel slack and depressed the next" – I know what he means, and I am not afraid to admit it. It feels like someone is holding a magnet to my inner compass – pulling me constantly towards consuming more stuff about consuming more stuff…
Anyone else feel the same?!! When is enough about enough enough?