Metamorphosis

Imagine a technology which removed advertising from your field of vision. A curious invention for a capitalist company. The cynic inside us asks where the catch is. No start-up company presenting the idea of such technology to a venture capitalist would have got very far without the promise of profit.

The cynic inside has already eaten away something of us, was forced to do so. Capitalism teaches a moral that seems universal but is a truth which stretches only as far as its own boundaries, that “if it looks too good to be true, it probably is”. As a moral it has the reality principle on its side, seemingly, and so can always win, but perhaps only because it can make hard-headedness, mistrust, cynicism the shibboleth of entry into the adult world. We come to share the cynicism of the same ad-men temporarily held back by this technology, men and women who have graduated with MBA’s, degrees in Advertising – subjects which universities actually teach – men and women who have learned to become adept in pulling the wool over a fellow human’s eyes. That there could be an ἀρετή in Advertising is something one would hope would make Aristotle balk, rethink his own category.

“If it looks too good to be true, it probably is”, these consumer rights programmes tell us. Caveat Emptor: it is really the consumer’s responsibilty to beware the deception of advertising, not the State’s responsibility to regulate it. Far be it from the State to legislate against illusion. In any case the advice is given in full knowledge that few will heed it, since the ‘free’ market relies not on consumer information (Hayek) but on lack of it. Only thus persists the production of exchange values which are no longer even use values.

If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. As the developer’s own example perhaps inadvertantly shows, we are to be liberated from the distraction of advertising at the cost of remaining computer-enchained brutes. Gregor Samsa need not worry about being Willy Loman, salesman, he can wake as plain old Gregor Samsa, insect.