The absurdity of brands

“They deify what crushes them and find reason to hope in what impoverishes them.”

So said Camus of Sartre and Dostoyevsky.  (and the postmodern me am quoting him not from his text but from a wisecrack video.)

He could just as well have said so about apple fan boys and enfield fanatics; essentially, all consumers in the capitalist society. At least Sartre identified the absurd so beautifully. We consumers, feel the absurd, but are not brave enough to identify the absurd.

So when Dove talks about real beauty, instead of identifying the absurdity of a brand attempting at becoming the authority of beauty, we get drawn into the farcical dialogue about beauty that Dove hosts, empowering itself for the benefit of no one else.

Each quality that we use to define ourselves by – beauty, desirability, potency, intellect, etc – is subjective. And hence it is up for hijacking by brands by giving consumers a random objective yardstick to measure oneself with, in the form of a brand or a product. Enjoyment in soda. self-worth in cell phones and sneakers. Power in suits. Beauty in moisturizing soaps. Freedom in horse-powers. Sociability in beer.

There is no beauty. Or rather more accurately, there is no objective standard for beauty. There is no such thing as ‘beauty’ as it relates to an individual  (inside or outside). We simply exist.  It is a subjective judgement imposed by others, relevant to us because we let it become relevant to our lives . And hence we need objective validation. And hence we need brands.

We can’t change ourselves. When it comes to our personal lives, our identity, what comes naturally to us is resistance to change, to fight for status quo, to not make effort in getting out of our comfort zones. But the problems we face in our lives need us to move in certain directions. Since we can’t marshal enough mojo to change ourselves, we change what we associate with instead. Hence brands.

I don’t want to actually write everyday to get better. So I install evernote on my phone instead.
I don’t want to actually run everyday to get fitter. So I buy Nike and a gym membership.
I don’t want to actually work at my relationships, hence facebook.

Since when has an app, a shoe or a website become a necessity for us to actually do something? It hasn’t. But since we don’t actually want to do those things, but want to believe that we are the kind of people who would do those things, we need brands.

ibrand.

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The mysterious woman

I often see people staring blankly ‘in’ the face of a beautiful person…  Sometimes the gaze makes you wonder, are they really ‘leching’?  Not to condone such behavior, but it makes you wonder, what is going through these people’s heads?

They aren’t even conscientious of their act. It is as if they are not there. Their vacant gaze seem to come from the wall behind,  as if they have merged in the background and they are nothing but a pair of eyes, the only connection between here and a world inside their heads. uncanny.

Why does a person fly away momentarily out of the real world when their gaze land on the face of a beautiful person? It is as if their gaze is always in search of a portal to their inner world. And it gets unlocked only by the sight of a beautiful face. Why else does one compulsively checkout faces of others in a crowded subway? We are forever in search of the key to our flight.
An average face in the  sea of variety.  A plateau in the hills. A smoothed pebble in the real world of rocks and sponges. and so on.
My theory is,
A face with conventional beauty is beautiful because the others can project their perspectives on such faces without jarring the reality.  The average face very well may be of an average person. But given such a  canvas we can’t help but paint it with mystery and possibilities.
We welcome people with beautiful faces in our conversations or smiles because their face is the ultimate screen for our fantasies to play out. The welcome is an appeal to authority. In a manner of speaking, through these screens, we try to communicate with a higher power. We perceive the audience to be bigger than it is, wondering who else behind the screen might listen to what we have to say. We want them to remain mysterious, so we listen less and talk more or see without listing.
And that’s why ‘dumb blonde’ was born.  Dumbness is quite democratic.  Dumb people exist among all races,  all genders,  all cultures and so on.  But dumb utterance by a person with beautiful appearance is jarring. It crashes you back from a reverie to the real world with a certain unpleasant thud.