Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Echo-gnomics story

I am a stupid boy. I have been a stupid boy all my life in full knowledge of being a stupid boy. I think stupid things all the time. I am not so stupid that I mistake my stupidity for some kind of enlightenment but occasionally I have an insight to a stupid thing outside of myself. Take today for instance when I forgot to buy my daily reduced price newspaper. The monorail had just pulled into the station and I was in two minds as to whether I should run back to the campus tabacconist or to forgo the endorphin lift of the lunchtime crossword and jump straight on board. I then realised that If I chose to pay the full price I could catch the monorail and buy the paper at the other end. This is the convenience of capitalism I realised. I had the money and so I resolved to use it to avoid over exerting myself. A vision of an echo-nomy based around stupid boys forgetting to buy papers quickly formed in my head. Soon there would be a whole vast slew of revenue sources based around variously priced papers and levels of forgetfulness. We (the consumers) would soon forget that we ever wanted to read the news or indeed apply our brains to the lunchtime crossword and instead derive our endorphins from the sight of happy tokens appearing in our speculative accounts.
The next day at lunchtime I sit down with the paper. I unscrew my jumbo bottle of Bullpschit and pour it letting the glug glug fill up my senses. Now more than ever a good student such as I, Richard Britton, need it’s chemically sculpted stimulus. Glug glug fizz. I lift the beige plastic cup and toast the girl sitting opposite me in the newly revamped college canteen. We have the four corners of the globe all under one roof now each with its own respective tills and dishes of the day.  Harriet’s unremarkable prettiness makes me sad like it always does. She wants to feel wanted and it is written all over her face. Every move she makes reveals a longing to be loved. I am not the type of person to exploit this, however and it just makes me sad. Is life really this transparent? I pour another plastic cup of Bullpschitt and hand it to Harriet. She flashes her eyes and smiling takes a sip. “So what was that you were saying about homeo-watsistsname and advertising?” she giggles. I feel so old. “If by that you mean my observation that modern rationalist market forces bear more than a passing resemblance to the processes of homeopathic medicine then I shall explain. Fixing things has long been frowned upon and thus we are all filled with a desire to consume. Products leave us feeling empty and unsatisfied. This is because they have been distilled then further distilled down to the essence of pure desire. Now they all carry the faintest echo of practical substances. This being just enough to give the sense that we need them. Just enough being practically or rather essentially nothing. Pixels glowing in my palm remind me of the paper weight that once kept the papers on my fathers desk from blowing away while he click clacked on his Remington type writer.” Harriet bit her nails. I liked it when she did this as she seemed lost in herself and no longer studiously trying to get attention. “All of us has our own digi-pocket golf sale sign in our pockets pointing the way to more digi-pocket golf sale signs. These are the first things we see when we get up and the last thing we see at night. Now take something that can't fail to be practical like food. Even food sells the idea of what healthy food could do for you if you could be bothered to prepare it. Happy tokens are the digital capital sugar pills carrying the smallest residue of substance and material that we once had an idea that we needed. This needed thing or item became a wanted thing that we forgot about needing but we somehow replaced the word wanted with needed. Happy tokens used to be useful when your great grandfather wanted to trade a chair for some plates but the ceramicist wanted a clock. Now they are just an echo. The faintest echo of something we once needed. The essence has turned out to be nothing.” I look out the tall glass wall across the grand quadrangle and see another plane take off across the water. “Would you like to come with me to Switzerland Harriet?” I hear that there things still have value derived from labour, time and effort. We could visit the hills and taste the chocolate.” Harriet smiles, half pleased but with a note of confusion passing across her lips as she hesitates to ponder the correct response to such a request. 

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