Sunday, May 30, 2010

conspicuous consumption

It may turn out that the life of idiotic ostentation makes humanity quite as despicable as the life of a drunkard, and that the image of God is less defaced in a saloon of the Bowery than in those jeweled birthday parties for dogs with which the New York Four Hundred disgust all civilized mankind. That much of this is, in the face of the world's needs, an enormity for which all defense is mere shamelessness no conscientious person will deny... Take the advertisement of a present-day 'millionaire's hotel,' with the assurance it gives of 'the very last word in sumptuousness.' Is this not one of the features of our time upon which we all trust that a wiser age will look back, not only with condemnation, but with a sense of nausea?

~1918 article in the American Journal of Sociology by Herbert Stewart, professor at Dalhousie University in Novia Scotia

If we allowed ourselves to see what we're doing every day, we might find it too nauseating. I mean, the way we treat other people-- I mean, you know, every day, several times a day, I walk into my apartment building. The doorman calls me Mr. Gregory, and I call him Jimmy... Now already, what is the difference between that the Southern plantation owner who's got slaves? You see, I think that an act of murder is committed at that moment, when I walk into my building. Because here is a dignified, intelligent man, a man of my own age, and when I call him Jimmy, then he becomes a child, and I'm an adult. Because I can by my way into that building.

~ Andre Gregory in 1981 Film My Dinner with Andre


It appears that I'm back. That may have been a record length hiatus. Sometimes real life takes over. In any case, I thought I'd ease back into blogging by posting these two quotations found in Rachel Sherman's Class Acts: Service and Inequality in Luxury Hotels, an excellent book for the record (which also reminds me, I'm about a year behind on book reviews). Blogger's Amazon Associates Integration ads has also reminded me that I should stop patronizing Amazon. If you click through the book link above, it'll take you to a social enterprise firm, Better World Books, a B Corporation... but I feel like a hypocrite because I just made an order of books off Amazon...

*Note: For professional reasons, I'd like to keep my blog anonymous. I'd appreciate it if you refrain from mentioning my name or identifying characteristics in the comments. Thanks! I am also contemplating getting rid of all my labels. They don't make any sense!


joven said...

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