On Alienation


My studies (also known as the pressing need to complete three papers by January 23, 24, and 25) have recently lead me to read a lot of theory that simultaneously enlightens and disturbs me.  This is what I love about Sociology.  When something rings true, it just clicks.  And then, about five seconds later, another meaning of what you just read sinks in.  Suddenly you realize that this incredible theory that just enlightened you, told you why humanity works the way it does…it applies to you too.  Boom.  Disturbing.  Or, that might be an understatement.  Maybe the word is terrifying.

Because, as we all know, giving advice is easy, following your own advice is a lot harder.  Hence, understanding all these deep facts of humanity is, well, labor intensive, but do-able.  Applying these theories to your personal self?  A little bit less so.

So I’ve been thinking a lot lately, about the Marxist theory of alienation, which suggests that modern subjects are essentially separated from what they produce, what they consume, and from one another.  Our creativity, our revolutionary spirit, is gone.  It’s disappeared as the world became more and more atomized, and as we became deafened to the world around us by the TV screen.  After writing a paper discussing these views in relation to other people, the issue now is the way I’ve applied this terrifying theory to myself.

I keep thinking of this feeling I have, when I have a free moment not devoted to thinking about papers or classes or work or my future.  It’s a feeling of a sort of muted desperation, of this really palpable need to create something.  And I’ve thought to myself, rather uncritically, that I tend to express this desperate desire through expressions of commodified identity (ie clothes and makeup, see Willis or Hebdige) rather than by actually creating something.  What I mean is, lately I don’t take photos.  I don’t even write.

After this statement it seems obvious.  I am clearly alienated.  I consume things I don’t produce and I don’t produce apart from these papers I’m writing which have no use value.  In this moment I start spiraling into the hell where all the predictions of Beaudrillard and Adorno have come true and so I decide to write a blog post.  Because I don’t have the time or the energy to devote to editing the novel Flavio and I wrote together this summer, and I surely don’t have the energy to write anything more substantial than this.

So now I’ll publish this post, and I’ll feel that I did something, I created something and it has an impact because a few people will click on the link automatically published on my Facebook page and even fewer of them will “like” said link.  So for now I’ll be proud of myself for at least typing some words and submitting them to judgment, and tomorrow I will demand some more.  Like, after you go to the gym you should probably write a chapter of something.

One last thought: why do we treat creativity as a skill only certain people have?  I mean, everyone’s heard those statements… “You’re so creative!” News flash, we’re all creative.  We just express it in different ways.  Some of us write.  Some of us film.  Some of us paint.  Some of us tattoo.  Some of us design websites, or cook delicious food, or build chairs, or create policies, or businesses, or ideas, or children or…anything.  That’s the point at the end of it all.  Creative means that you create something.  Whether that be a mathematic formula or a blanket, it doesn’t matter, because at the end of the day it makes you feel good.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s