The task of setting free one’s gifts was a recognized labor in the ancient world….the spirit that brings us our gifts finds its eventual freedom only through our sacrifice, and those who do not reciprocate the gifts of their genius [daemon, personal spirit that comes to us at birth] will leave it in bondage when they die.
– Lewis Hyde, The Gift
In a capitalist culture of commodification, people have been reified and things reanimated. Our national artists – the advertisers – have mastered this trick. People become persons through things, or the things images can secure; things possess a life of their own which they can impart to their possessors. Conversely, without such things one becomes a nobody, as the poor know so well. As long as you can convince people that objects and people are of equal value, the rest is easy. You can even declare that you are not an object to be used, even as you have bought into the culture of commodification through images. Daniel Boorstin put it this way in his classic study, The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America:
The deeper problems connected with advertising come less from the unscrupulousness of our ‘deceivers’ than from our pleasure in being deceived, less from the desire to seduce than from the desire to be seduced. The Graphic revolution has produced new categories of experience. They are no longer simply classifiable by the old common sense tests of true or false.
At no time is this…