What is real about me is what I discover about myself (usually in the form of fresh desire), not what I already know, which I have consumed already.
So the self, as a product, loses its enchantment for us and needs to be revitalized to the extent that it becomes familiar, known, understood. We love ourselves only as a novelty, a mystery, not as a staple product. We want to be able to apprehend ourselves as a new, desirable thing that we can consume and enjoy. This makes us feel relevant, marketable. We can imagine someone buying into the idea of us, and that helps us buy into ourselves. But inevitably our desire for ourselves needs to be renewed, and we will need to be repackaged.
Hanakotoba (花言葉) is the Japanese form of the language of flowers. In this practice, plants were given codes and passwords. Physiological effects and action under the color of the flowers, put into words from the impressions of nature and the presence of thorns with the height of tall plants, flowers and garlands of flowers through the various types. These are meant to convey emotion and communicate directly to the recipient or viewer without needing the use of words.
In this perspective, a thing is never just an object, but a fossil in which a constellation of forces are petrified. Things are never just inert objects, passive items, or lifeless shucks, but consist of tensions, forces, hidden powers, all being constantly exchanged. While this opinion borders on magical thought, according to which things are invested with supernatural powers, it is also a classical materialist take. Because the commodity, too, is understood not as a simple object, but a condensation of social forces.
“It’s like an Instagram incubator,” said Gaskell. “We want to gauge criticisms, and we’re making it private in order to have a curated, high value experience. People will feel like they’re in on something.”
The commercialization of empathy, the reification of it as a skill, also gives incentive to workers who must exhibit it on demand to optimize the effort it takes: This entails becoming emotionally simplified and demanding emotional simplification in others. It means contriving situations, work processes, in which “the other person’s point of view” is constrained to only a few conceivable ”rational” options. It means reducing empathy to routines. It means self-robotification among workers in hopes of streamlining what it takes to see from the other person’s point of view. This does the work of translating “social intelligence” into something ultimately code-able.
The point of authenticity discourse is never whether the products themselves are authentic. Ultimately, only the consumers can be authentic. One doesn’t have “authentic experiences”; one experiences authenticity. What is at stake is always whether the consumer feels authentic: whether the products permit you to contemplate your own realness. Goods are “authentic” only insofar as they evoke a self-conscious subjectivity, when they permit you to revel in the fantasy that you are uniquely you.
The culture-wide celebration of authenticity is not a revolt against corporate values but an expression of them. Authenticity is precisely the opposite of the image of a disinterested, spontaneous self that the word sometimes conjures. If you are not “authentic” enough to be exploitable in some way — if your personality can’t be “leveraged” — then authenticity is not really available to you. You can’t afford to be yourself.
This self-commodification does not diminish the user’s self-conception but rather makes the self conceivable, legible. The self as product is inherently not guilty of some of the deauthenticating aspects of agency which threaten the integrity of other versions of the self: being calculating, unspontaneous, manipulative, phony, etc. The self as product can be seen as something that simply is, a given thing articulated in a definite form. It enters the realm of the socially conspicuous.
Wu wei, as found in the Tao Te Ching and Zhuangzi, seems to denote two different things.
To think in more lightweight terms, which doesn't mean more fragile or less solid, more in connection with the way one manufactures industrial products, is a preoccupation of ours. When one manufactures a car, one predicts that it will have a life span of ten years, let's say. The cost/usage factor is completely under control. You could reason the same way about buildings! This would make them lighter, more transformable, maybe dismountable, or even involve their disappearance. It's very interesting to work with the idea in mind that you don't build for eternity, or even for fifty years. In this way architecture would lose its heaviness.
The Sage is occupied with the unspoken
and acts without effort.
Teaching without verbosity,
producing without possessing,
creating without regard to result,
the Sage has nothing to lose.