One of my favorite experiences is uncovering a gem in an unexpected place. For example, happening upon this quote that aptly summarizes the consequences of self-focused consumerism, in Christine Rosen’s essay, “The Flesh Made Word: Tattoos, Transgression, and the Modified Body,” published in the summer 2015 issue of The Hedgehog Review.
Cultures get the theory they deserve. The logical conclusion of our excessively individualistic and commodified culture is memoir masquerading as theory, and personal experience standing in for social empowerment.
The irony of my attraction to Rosen’s words does not escape me; me the creator of a personal experience seen by many as social empowerment which turned into a memoir-like book with weak hints of socio-economic theory. Perhaps sometimes we simply must run with the opportunities we are given and work through the irony later.
What might theory look like in a communal, non-commodified culture? What might social empowerment look like? An answer that comes to mind is, less selfies and more un-documentable relationship moments. Do a thought experiment with me. If today, this very moment, you could remove yourself from all documentation of your life, no Instagram or Facebook or blog or Snap Chat or even The Picture People, but at the same time have completely fulfilling relationships and community, would you do it? Would you opt for a perfectly fulfilled but un-documentable life?