Thursday, January 13, 2005

Consumption unlimited

I'm trying to sum up the boredom and convenience question. If the modus operandi of capitalism is to reify every possible thing so that profit may be made from its exchange, then surely its no accident that time is increasingly reified under the guise of efficiency and convenience. And once we are aware of time's value, of time needing to yield something measurable, we become acutely aware of boredom as failure, as inefficiency, as squandering. Steffan Linder, positing a supply/demand curve for time, culturally produced as a scarce commodity, suggests we want equal productivity from our leisure time as we give in our work time. (But why must this be?). Paradoxically, time becomes scarcer in a world full of time-saving efficiencies because of crowding in the world of consumption possibilities. With so much more that we theoretically want to consume, and with that pile growing daily (with every reissue of entire TV series on DVD, for instance), we run out of time to consume it, and we want to be able to expedite our consumption of everything -- hence everything tends toward the immediate, the disposable (cultural goods have less meaning, less staying power). Like the phenomenon of more road-building leading to worse, more congested traffic, so does the increase of time-saving devices lead to consumption congestion, to an ever-greater sense of being crunched for time.

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