15 August, 2005


I went kayaking on the Charles River yesterday, which entailed passing through Park Street subway station. Presently it is tastefully decorated with a series of Dove soap advertisements. This precipitated a conversation about the effect of advertisement on public space, and some anecdotes from me about ways in which people have "encouraged" advertisers not to shit all over every vertical surface.

Culminated with one friend's comment (seconded) that such was the price to pay for living in a capitalist society (couched in the odious "if you don't like it then leave" syntax).

This crushes my heart.

I've long felt that advertising is one of the most awful things our society has produced, aesthetically and spiritually. If we had eyes that saw in other ways, we'd see ads as pitted and covered in mildew, oozing pestilential slime. Their minimal justification - that they inform society about important, desirable new products - is outweighed by their other properties. An advertisement is an article specifically crafted by an agent to manipulate the desires of the viewer. This goes beyond the mere suggestion that one purchase their products. Advertisers quite consciously instruct us as to who we are, what we want, and why we want it. This IS the linchpin of modern capitalism. Base human urges do not suffice. They must be built up; the consumer must be manipulated to propel the market beyond its normal bounds.

As an iconoclast, anarchist, free spirit, destroyer and creator, I'm unhappy that we so readily acquiesce to this sort of mind control. Are these the ideals of our society, that we should surrender our will to wealthy men, so they might reshape us into fitter instruments for their benefit? Shall we be pleased by the paltry knick-knacks we are rewarded with in return, the pablum that we've been taught to love?

Never mind that it's physically ugly, to boot.

I fear I'm going to end in a bad way. One day my mind will snap, and then I'll be, running, running for miles until I collapse, gasping for breath and clawing at the ground, trying desperately to escape what's all around me.

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