I'm actively following Gaurav Mishra's "The Marketer Who Went Off Consumption," in part because I find the idea of a person volunteering to live the super-frugal lifestyle (no cinema, no restaurants, no new clothing, no groceries beyond the basics, etc.) fascinating -- and, admittedly, amusing. ("Look! Gaurav wants to live like I do! Why????")
But today I was inspired to write (another) response to Gaurav's blog.
It all started with... a zippy bag full of carrots.
The last two or three times I was at the grocery store, I grabbed a big pile of carrots. Super-cheap, easy to peel, break them in half and throw them into individual zippy bags. I spent many a rehearsal with a bag of carrots by my side, crunching them inbetween talking to the actors.
A few days ago, I bit into a carrot to discover that it tasted... kinda like barf. Or, maybe, that eating it made me want to barf. Either way, it was repellent. It was one of the last ones in my current batch, so I figured it was probably past its prime and tossed it out; and the next time I went to the grocery store got a new pile of carrots for peeling and bagging.
Except all of these carrots tasted awful, too. My cast would ask me "why are you eating those carrots if they make you make those faces?" (Self-discipline, I suppose. Or a fear of wasting food.)
And then my peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches started tasting like cardboard. I had eaten the same sandwich nearly every day for six weeks, and suddenly I couldn't stomach it anymore. I would force them down, for food's sake, but...
Then, thankfully, the government threw me a little cash to use towards food, and I had all-new, different kinds of tastes.
So, Gaurav, riddle me this one: our desire for consumption comes from our desire for new stimuli, yes? Arguably I am not consuming any more food now than I was last week, but it is different food, and so I am satisfied.
Unfortunately items like clothing and cinemas are different from food, in that they do not eat themselves and there is no "excuse" to perpetually renew them. But I'll tell you this, also -- I used some of my book sale money to buy some new clothing (J. C. Penney's had a BOGO sale) and I am just pleased as anything to wear something that isn't faded and saggy. We can call it my desire to be "fashionable," but it's my desire for new stimuli as much as anything else.
So. Can we expose ourselves to new stimuli w/o consumption? We can certainly do it without buying anything (like your movie parties, or visiting a library, or Freecycle) but can we actually do it without consuming anything? Can we create new stimuli without leaving some kind of environmental footprint?
Or does the depression of perpetual sameness -- the literal gagging on the carrots -- force us to destroy/invent/stimulate/consume?
Clearly not a new argument; but would love to hear Gaurav's (and all of my readers') take on it.