I’ve been watching the BBC’s 2002 documentary, The Century of the Self. It’s the sort of artifact attack critique you want to show every man, woman and child, this is what it’s all about war terror talking heads, new + improved though I wouldn’t know what to expect or hope to follow. Y’all cogs are fools, capitalistic tools, me too tis of thee, all sorts of angst I thought I’s over, sidling up to thirty.
Paranoia. Social control. Virulent peace-time propaganda and the inextricable yet artificial linking of capitalism with democracy such that “good” business (effective, dominant, roughshod, bonanza enterprises operating regardless of ethics) means “good” government, with the best government existing only to indulge and legitimize business.
Meanwhile, psychology is imagined, not always without cause, but applied en masse with the intent of manipulation. Save our sick minds from national socialism, communism, perversion and too much isolation. Alone time, reflection, introspection is for weirdos—self examination better left to the professionals. Unconscious urges, the Freudian slippery slope, those sex bits were just the surface and in truth a diversion. Bait to freak out the proper folk dismissing it, while behind the scenes, the curtain, the machine is in motion, engineering consent, manufacturing desire.
I want some brownies. I’d settle for cake. But all the prepackaged quick-n-easy mixes require that I add an egg. Haven’t they figured this out yet? how to pulverize and include the egg I mean really. In my version of vegetarianism, I eat eggs when they’re “in things” but never buy them outright, the little pods of fetal chick goo gross that would rot in my fridge before I used them.
Later that day hello synchronicity in the next episode I watch of The Century of the Self, I learn that in the ’50s one of the first product focus groups, i.e., a group psychoanalysis session, uncovered that women felt guilty about using readymade cake mixes, which originally included all ingredients. While the purpose was convenience, readymade cakes were thought too easy. Housewives were cheating their families of their labor and their love. Betty Crocker changed the recipe to exclude the egg, which the woman had to add on her own.
Her own egg. A symbolic contribution. For her husband, her children. Sales soared.
Sixty years later, I’m too neurotic for a family. I have a problem with factory farming. But I still consume the products, eat the cruelty, yield the profit, with indirect complicity. I just need the right conditions—the right conditioning.