A DOCUMENTARY SERIES BY CASA COSTA
Philosopher Umberto Galimberti claims that societies are not complex. Quite the contrary: they are simple, or better said, simplified, because money embodies the most important values. He asks himself, “What is truly beautiful, true, holy, right?”
I also wonder what the relation between money and beauty, money and whatever is not a human being – feelings, nature, etc. –, money and compassion is? Tragedies which befall the world do not affect us because we are inured to them due to the countless tragic events we have witnessed – or do we purposefully reject contributing to a fairer world because we live and die by the word of Mammon?
‘Money makes the world go around’ – a mantra which, unfortunately, is chanted by the lion’s share of the people living on this planet.
Money engenders needs – and making money is decisive in this narrative. Whatever the cost, we produce goods to satisfy our needs, which in turn guarantee the continued production of goods which guarantee money. Capitalism: a perverted mechanism.
These processes are not the result of artificial intelligence or force majeure: the deus ex machina in this story is none other than homo sapiens. ‘Sapiens’ – what a funny word, as our intellect only seems to be concerned with producing and consuming. Sheer consumption whose goal is not to satisfy a need, but a means of production. Speaking of production: it can never be stopped. Who knows what catastrophe would strike should goods not be made!
Hyper-consumption has turned into a veritable need.
A need which is not a natural need, it was not bestowed upon humanity by divine intervention: sheer, raw consumption was created out of thin air just for us.
Created out of thin air. An intimidating idea, so let us stick to production, for now.
How does one go about creating needs? The rise of social media and marketing strategies bolstered these needs, to the extent that marketing goes as far as inventing products, not just selling them. A dog chasing its own tail, if you will.
It is more than that – it invents standards which go beyond good practice to define a brand. Marketing carries out market research, identifies “needs”, communicates them and, consequently, produces them.
Take experience, for example. Marketeers, supported by sociologists and psychologists, understood that experience is a successful gimmick. And, lo and behold, we were inundated with ‘experience’ this, and ‘experience’ that, all neatly wrapped in a package for our tourists. After all, you HAVE to do something when on holiday – sitting on a meadow gazing at the mountains gets a bit boring after a while, is what they seem to say.
Now more than ever, we have lost sight of just how important doing things for the sake of doing them can be. Painting for the sheer enjoyment of it is seen as useless unless it leads to a result, regardless of being a conduit for your creativity. Singing is seen in the same vein – nobody cares if singing is what makes you happy! Even birdsong is seen as a nuisance if it does not meet a need, and yet its chirp is how God speaks to the world.
‘Idle hands are the devil’s workshop’ similarly speaks to how idleness is perceived as a taboo. Yet when I think of idleness, I always think of the otium of Ancient Rome: time free from business, politics, or public commitments.
Marketing has transformed free time into an experience. This has given rise to slacklines and ropeways in the trees, non-stop cable cars and even a cinema on the summit of the small Cervino. Change is not all bad, mind you: take Jimi Hendrix, for example. A genius like no other, he shook the world of electric guitars, order losing itself to a wild energy and rush. An exalted experience which ennobles music.
Vacuous marketing claims seem to impact humanity, which seems to be racing towards a cliff’s edge to plummet into the gorge of stupidity. We have to possess what we do not own or it will be game over for us.
A paradox if there ever was one. One that is ruining us. We all think we need whatever marketing sells us. And self-restraint is not our best quality.
Tourism needs marketing strategies which promote the arrival of tourists to a destination, provided there are not too many. How? Tourism, by its very nature, knows no self-restraint and, therefore, our politicians need to step in to guide it in the right direction. As an alternative, we need external factors, something even more powerful and stronger which boxes us in.
The status quo, for now, is doomed to remain the same: as a hotel-owner I will offer something tourists can consume. And if you do not consume enough, I will come up with something better. Until the mountain that is tourism will collapse on itself.
We wish for tourists who can bask in the landscape, who understand the quintessence of hospitality, and change their approach to nature. How? Maybe we should start by self-educating ourselves.
The truth of the matter is we are a wealthy society which has become more and more beholden to its objects. ‘Things’ which should and must be replaced with new objects. But all is fine! As long as the sales pitch contains buzzwords such as sustainability, green, and so on and so forth.
Everything we produce is valuable only when linked to its short shelf life. This is a sine qua non: planned obsolescence. If a washing machine breaks down after 100 cycles, the implicit message it sends is that we should destroy it.
To avoid our identities from all being the same, we have to colour outside the lines, think outside the box, and act as people who embody values. We do have that potential as, according to scientists, we only use a fraction of our brainpower. Considering what we have done to the Earth with just that fraction, maybe that is not such a bad thing.
Today, I’ll go and listen to the hawk swoop in the sky, do something good, and be grateful for what I have. And love each other.
De bi salüc