2022 Abstracts Stage 2

Desire and Consumption: an Investigation of Consumerism via Pasolini, Tiqqun, Deleuze, and Guattari

Sally Lynch, 2022, Stage 2

We’ve had Athenian civilisation, we’ve had the Renaissance, and now our civilisation centres round the arse.
-Jean-Luc Godard, Pierrot le Fou

Since World War II, capitalist society has experienced a proliferation of consumer goods and items so vast that, according to Jean Baudrillard, they have come to take on the nature of flora and fauna. Our streets are lined with shops and restaurants, while our houses are filled with various nonessential items. For some, almost every moment in waking existence is related to consumption. For others, consumption is a type of leisure, a break from a life spent in an office doing paperwork. But how did we end up in this endless cycle of consumption? Why is consumption a lifestyle for so many people? How could such a large societal change be enacted in such a short space of time?

Judging by how quickly capitalist society has accepted and embraced consumerism, it would seem as though humans have an endless capacity to consume, and that consumer capitalism frees us to pursue this natural end. However, I will argue in this essay that consumerism is an oppressive identity and force that makes us desire its oppression. I will do so by opening the discussion of a consumer identity through Jean-Luc Godard’s 1965 film Pierrot le Fou. Following this opening, I will use Pier Paolo Pasolini’s critique of consumerism to show how consumerism acts as a force of social homogenisation, and also apply this critique to Pierrot le Fou. Then I will use the concept of the Young-Girl from Tiqqun’s book Preliminary Materials for a Theory of the Young-Girl to show how the consumerism as a form of social control has developed from the 1960s, and how it has created an identity that engenders more consumption, and therefore a degree of self-oppression. Finally, I will use Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari’s book Anti-Oedipus to show how the social and the political directly produce subjects and how desire comes to desire consumption, even if this leads to its own oppression.

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