Thursday, February 4, 2010

Commodification of the Self


In preparation for tomorrow's essay at The Avant Guardian I'll share a little something I learned about.

Prior to the 14th century social stratification in Europe was of three forms: those who worked (the peasants), those who prayed (the clergy), and those who fought (the aristocracy). And this was all-good. For some reason I had this other image of the peasants as basically struggling for millenia just wishing they could shrug off the yoke of repression, getting burninated on by Trogdor. Now I have to revisit the image of the peasant as portrayed in Monty Python's Holy Grail.

All three categories were of a Great Chain of Being which was an attempt to understand how all the universe was, in essence, gradations of God. At the bottom of this ladder was the earth itself, which had only the property of existence, in the center was humanity (between the angels and the animals), and at the top was God. All of reality fit within a gradation of godliness. This would become undone, however, during the vicious cycle of famine, warfare, and plague that obliterated most of Western Europe. In the wake of lived apocalypse, people began seeking positive expression of God's existence, this pursuit of positive knowledge lead to the era now called the Enlightenment.

As you may recall I've been discussing the aesthetics of personhood over at TAG: that "who I am" is is an accumulation of responses to traumatic events, that "who I am" is possibly an agglomeration of pieces of other examples of who I could be, and that a central component to the currently-developing economic relationship called spectaclism is the exploitation of a sense of dissolution in celebrity and anonymity.

Tomorrow we're going to extend that conversation a bit and discuss someone in this video:

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