Tag Archives: advertising

3. Diptych on Falsity, Part I: On Beauty

Behind the industry of advertising there is a factory that creates the grand delusion of beauty. Out of its chimneys pours the steamy vapor of poisonous white forms into a make-belief sky. Above our heads, we bend our necks up, to see an ideal world in the clouds that slowly drift by. Behind the factory walls ambitious youths work relentlessly, each one believing they are the critical vanguard, the outstanding heroes of progress, the representatives of a new future. And each generation has its own haughty youth. There was a generation of the steam engine and the railroads, a generation of the automobile, a generation of television. There was the generation of the computer, an internet generation. Each generation runs their mills with its own chimneys of deceiving smoke, its social change as a result of technological advance, and each generation has the accompanying smog of pollution and imploding parvenu egos that float atop and measure their volatile image of beauty by their fleeting sexy potency.

Near the end of the work day, around half past four, I started to feel more and more anxious, and I was incapable of doing any more work for the remainder of the day. All day, I battled to work on the practical assignments that added another little feature or implemented some improved business logic to the larger system. But as I fought to concentrate and complete these chores, I completely lost my spirit. The modern capitalist system was magnificently balanced to exploit you without exhausting you, allowing you just enough days in the week off to restore your composition without gaining your strength, allowed you just enough time for lunch in the middle of the day to gather yourself again for the afternoon, but never to find yourself again. It was humane enough not to collapse, for you must be able to keep going, always this endless turning of the wheels. Unrest built in my heart with the prospect of leaving soon, to be able to regain a little of my strength, getting away from my screen and desk that sucked me empty, evading my coworkers’ dull faces that stared back at me with equally half human looks, reflecting my own dullness, and I kept weighing when it would be reasonable to get up and leave or what excuse I could utilize, keeping a balance between provoking the worst and keeping the best. I angered myself thinking of being stuck, having let myself be trapped, raging inside, so strongly that I was ready to explode with hatred. I had always carried a seed of primal, rudimentary angst, like any healthy teen but it had never sided, which under the right circumstances could burn up to smoldering flames of anger enlightening engulfing fires. As a teenager I was an angry young man, be it not channeled, but in the course of the years I had funneled my energy in a passionate obsession for literature, easing my worst anger. But now a fire raged in my chest, so high it scorned all my reasonable thoughts.

By the end of day, I run out to escape this deteriorating predicament, which really becomes unsustainable at this point. I have to prevent myself from evolving into an uncontrollable eruption of gory violence, I must leave, no matter it’s early still. I feel losing my mind, approaching the edge of an abyss that I fear, afraid to lose my inner calm. The absolute self control that I possessed normally did little to sooth my fear of self, for there is nothing so sacred as self. To work however was impossible. So, I pushed my chair under my desk, grabbed my book and coat and hurled out. I exited the elevator in a hurry, stepped out and standing in the street, immediately, I felt utterly relieved. All my disquiet absolved in an instant, as if it was the inner walls of the building that were bewitched. I walked up Broadway and turned on Bleecker street, regaining the pace of being myself. The ability to appreciate life, that outside was everywhere, in the smiles on people’s faces, in the sexy fashion, in the bright light, the shadows, and a feeling of consideration for others, for myself reemerged, and with it a sense of identity. I still felt empty, mentally exhausted, but also vigorous for having lived another day, for still owning tomorrow.

I walked to the Village Tavern on seventh avenue and Leroy street and ordered a Yuengling beer. I sat at the window stool, staring out onto the street at the gorgeous women of New York passing by. The beauty of each one mesmerized me for a single second and washed away my disquiet in the instance of their impression. I felt so happily aroused, observing the sunset above the skyline, the dullness of the day slowly flowed away and stirred in me the happy inspiration of the orange night. I could be in love with each single one of them, even if I forgot the previous girl I had fallen in love with, as soon as I fell in love with the next. I sipped my beer and my eyes followed these goddesses on the street. The muscled, tanned calves, the exposed full breasts, the athletic asses and broad shoulders or the lean arms, the bright eyes, the fierce lips, the iron clad goddesses that battled on the front of each working day, these mighty birds and snakes of beauty that I would serve if I had the opportunity, if they were not so goddamn busy all the fucking time.

I could think again, eureka. I took my little notebook out and put it in front of me. I placed my pen to the paper and thoughts streamed out. It was as simple as that. The falsity of advertising lay not within itself, I realized, but within the falsity of men. It was worse than I had suspected before, but at the same time it gave me a motive to resign, to let my anger falter. Although I despised this caste of advertising, they served no other gods than any of the others did. They were all subject to the same submission to a dream, the same weakness of man that he could only overcome by the hope of something better. Man needs the delusion of a flight upward to accept the real limitations of life. The beautification of reality to create a lure beyond our resistance, to create an appearance of possibilities, was what made men get up in the morning, go to work, and be happy with their fates. To lure us by the best of illusions with the worst of products, simply in order to sell them, so that we want them, and so to boost the profits of the men who make or possess them, regardless of their utility and fact, regarding only their appearance, this was treacherous, this was advertising, but necessary within man itself.
It was innate to the mind of man to want to be better than he is, because we want to become better men, we believe we can do better, and as we aspire this ideal, no matter how false, to present ourselves to ourselves and to others in a better light than we could possibly deserve, and in the end simply to win over a more admirable beauty that we can never own. All this was treacherous, but innocent, necessary. Advertising is but the arena of this imperfect man, we cannot be perfect and stop advertising a better self to ourselves, this would be to admit to nothingness, and people choose to consume what they desire in order to become what they desire to be. All was simple, necessary treason. These are the gods we save by advertising. In the philosophical sense, advertising was an endless cycle of suffering, never sufficiently or permanently satisfying our desires to end them, but a suffering that brings at least a crumb of satisfaction and happiness to man. If man had a desire for honesty, if man had no desire for suffering there would be no advertising, but there is advertising, there is man, and there is suffering.