Wednesday 7 January 2009

Utopian Dreams

Happy New Year. I’ve been reading a book by Tobias Jones called Utopian Dreams. It is about the authors’ experiences of living in various alternative communities in both England and Italy (he can speak English and Italian). I am about half way through at the moment and because I keep stumbling upon excellent bits I have decided not to wait until I finish it to write about it here.

Here is a quote that resonated with me. He is living in an Italian community called Nomadelfia. At Nomadelfia an editor called Domenico records programmes off Italian TV, removes adverts and any scenes of violence or explicit sexual conduct then airs them for the rest of the community to watch, after the news, in the evening. Jones is intrigued by the impact made by removing the adverts, he writes this:

"Ever since I’ve been here I’ve been thinking about how calm the life is and now, watching Domenico remove all the advertising, I’m beginning to understand why; it’s a kind of relaxation which derives from wanting nothing; a kind of apatheia, the setting aside of all desires. " (p. 73)

Later on Jones reflects on the way in which advertising manufacturers desire, he argues that in response to advertising:

"We become like Pac-men, those computerised pie-charts moving forward, munching everything that is put in our paths. Satisfaction leaves as quickly as it came but we have to keep ingesting, advancing but never becoming satisfied. Only now do I realise that all advertising is underpinned by melancholy. It nurtures unhappiness and envy, it deliberately creates a sense of personal inadequacy so that it can sell its cure." (p. 73-74)

Jones does not stop there he argues that:

"Because we know purchases will be unsatisfactory, we insist on pre-empting disappointment by buying objects which offer immediate gratification and which dissolve almost instantly….in the consumer world we remedy a problem simply by insisting on more of the same medicine."

….and the Landfill sites grow.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Morgan thank you so much, months ago I heard the author of the book speak brilliantly on Radio 4 about his experience and his writing, I took a note of his name, then promptly lost it, but you have reminded me and I am now going to buy the book (presumably I should I try and find it second hand somewhere.... any ideas?)