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August 2001 #1

 The Pool Of Consciousness...

...and other bollocks

I am currently reading "No Logo" by Naomi Klein. Enjoying it thoroughly, despite occasional lapses (on Klein's part) into a brutish pessimism. For those who haven't read it, the book deals with ideas of commercial branding, and the rise at the end of the last century of certain "lifestyle" corporations. Klein deals with the issues of incorporation raised when lifestyles we think we create are sold back to us as the "authentic" item.

The book itself is an item of interest. I've not finished reading the book, but already there are ideas that strike me as very important.

Firstly, the book is published by Flamingo in the UK, an imprint of HarperCollins, itself a subsidiary of News Corporation. In the opening chapters Klein talks about the way large companies, such as Coca Cola Schweppes and Levis Strauss, either bought or created smaller companies and brands that worked or gave the impression of being independent from the larger corporate will. While I'm all for self serving hypocrisy, we should remember that what we are being sold as an independent viewpoint is never isolated, and that our mediators haven't changed much in the past 20 years.

Secondly, while containing a copyright message, Klein also includes the following statement:
    Naoimi Klein asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work
In my opinion this signifies a few things. Klein has a postmodern viewpoint. Often she suggests the commandeering of corporate identities and tactics, in much the same way that those corporations and companies assimilate the other cultural items dropped in their paths. However, while copyright has a judicial emphasis, her choice to apply a moral argument as well suggests that she feels that there are stronger systems which humans apply to themselves than those enforced by a judiciary or government. I am sure that Homer applied his moral right to be recognised as the author of "The Odyssey" before twentieth century translators claimed copyright. This is something that the publishing houses, the major recording labels and the big brand websites can not assert in the same way as an individual or group of people. The book's contents, the important bit, is what Klein is branding.

When we talk about brands today, we are now talking about ownership of our choices in commercial fields. I know I'll go into a sports shop and try on one of the major brands rather than a cheaper company's offering because I'm familiar with their iconography, advertising and quality. Despite the fact that I hand over money to take ownership of the shoes, the trainers are still branded with the previous owners mark, three stripes or a swoosh, a tree or a truck.

And if anybody says they are not influenced by "advertising", they are lying. I'm all up for proving it at the moment too... yes, a good book.


Related Links:

Flash - _root.Macromedia.gotoAndPlay("myLife", "job")
da darrr - only they can save the world
Burn the Programmers! (or at least have a very large and noisy party if they object)



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