c的笔记本对《Choice》的笔记(6)

Choice
  • 书名: Choice
  • 作者: Renata Salecl
  • 页数: 192
  • 出版社: Profile Books
  • 出版年: 2010-6-17
  • INTRODUCTION
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    .. But as soon as there appeared a glimmer of hope that the crisis might not mean total economic meltdown, the idea of choice re-emerged as the powerful ideological tool of consumer society. This time it was wrapped in discussions as to whether prosperity truly increases happiness and whether conspicuous consumption was the best way for people to spend their free time. But these very ideas about simplifying life became enmeshed in another version of choice. The consumer had to choose not to choose and often had to pay for advice on how to do this. Simply throwing things away or donating them to someone else was not an option: advice was needed on how to do it.
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    ..Choice brings a sense of overwhelming responsibility into play, and this is bound up with a fear of failure, a feeling of guilt and anxiety that regret will follow if we have made the wrong choice. All this contributes to the tyrannical aspect of choice.
    2016-03-18 02:26:58 回应
  • 1 WHY CHOICE MAKES US ANXIOUS
    Benjamin Franklin also cherished the idea of the self-made man: he stressed that the most successful men in history were of humble origins and were often self-taught. These men were marked by an ability to rise above the difficulties of life, to seize every opportunity in the pursuit of some honest and worthy aim. Underlying the ideal of the self-made man was the conviction that getting rich was the natural result of a man realising his particular talents.
    .. Above all, the self-made man is independent from social constrains. With sheer determination and hard work, he could rise above the social and economic conditions into which he was born. He confronts the world with an all-conquering will, and obstacles only help to shape him. By confronting and dealing with adversity in a heroic fashion, a man can become a true conqueror, of himself and of the world.
    A long-standing debate, unresolved to the present day, about what the state owes its citizens and what those citizens owe one another, peaked in the nineteenth century. The question was whether an individual was obliged to consider the welfare of all or whether his ambition should be given free rein. While critics of the 'laissez-faire' approach insisted on regulatory legislation and the active intervention of the state in economic affairs, defenders of free trade clung to the belief that good intentions, personal rectitude and the universal laws of moral retribution afforded sufficient protection. ..
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    At the turn of the twentieth century, however, the tone of many self-help guides to business slowly changed, the notion of picking off competitors and claiming scalps gradually gained acceptance. When a man tried to succeed in life, he was embarking not only on a struggle with his inner self or with the circumstances that he was born into; he also needed to focus on overtaking others who were in pursuit of their own success. Choosing the direction of one's life was thus linked to the post-Darwinian idea of the survival of the fittest, and life was perceived as a kind of battlefield where only the strongest or the most cunning succeed.
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    In discussions about the nature of victimhood the idea of choice has led to the idea that one can choose to be a victim or a survivor and that individuals can choose how they regard their suffering and can decide what to do about it. The mantra in scores of self-help books that only we can control ourselves and that we have a choice as to how we regard negative events and circumstances has become linked to the ideology of positive thinking, which often gives step-by-step prescriptions for how to overcome set-bakcs in one's life. While some self-help theories promote positive action and behaviour, others promote positive thinking. The first kind often foster unreal expectations about what people can actually do, and the second raise false hopes about the power of thinking. These theories play on the idea of the individual's omnipotence in a particular way. On the one hand, there is the idea of all-powerful individuals who with their sheer determination can change the world around them and thus increase their own well-being. On the other, there is a rejection of reality as such and a perception that individuals have power over the way they see reality around them and that by seeing things differently you can even change them.
    In these times of crisis and uncertainty the ideology of positive thinking plays an essential role in masking the need to rethink the nature of social inequalities and trying to find alternatives to the way capitalism has been developing. When individuals are made to feel they are the masters of their own destiny, and when positive thinking is offered as the panacea for the ills that they suffer as the result of social injustice, social critique is increasingly replaced by self-critique.
    The crucial point about self-help guides is that they manifestly do not work. Despite a huge and hungry readership, they have failed to create a happier and mentally healthier society. ..
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    ..The coach does not ask what is causing anxiety in her student's professional environment, for example, but focuses on how the student can change his behaviour. The ultimate goal of coaching is to reintegrate the student into the traditional roles of production and consumption. As a new form of social control, coaching encourages individuals to become more and more self-regulating, to adapt constantly to the changes in society around them. Whoever is capable of total self-control, of fully determining his desire, will fulfil his potential and realise his goals. ..
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    Clearly our generation has thrived on the illusion of progress, while privately the idea of ever-expanding possibility has only made us more anxious. The more we have tried to convince ourselves that choice brings greater satisfaction, the less we have actually seemed to enjoy having it.
    2016-03-20 00:08:22 回应
  • 2 CHOOSING THROUGH OTHERS' EYES
    ..Sports and entertainment marketing constantly drives home the idea that everyone should try to become a star, to rise above their social constraints. But in many cases the dream is twice removed from individual choice: first, it begins not with the player but with their parents; and second, the ambition is modelled on an already established career -- that of Maria Sharapova, for example, in the case of young women Russian tennis players.
    It may be hard for us to accept that what we think of as pure individual choice is so often contingent on the perceptions and influences of others.
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    The image of a perfect body in the wedding photograph would remain for the bride as the ultimate identification with her ideal self.
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    One of the cornerstones of Lacanian theory is the idea that by learning to speak we undergo a process of symbolic castration, and that we are marked for ever after by a lack. The agent of castration is language itself. When we become speaking beings, something radical changes for us: 'natural' acts become much more complicated, and our existence per se appears to be devoid of some primordial jouissance or blissful pre-linguistic enjoyment. We suddenly need to use language in order to deal with our wants, and soon afterwards we also need to deal with desires that have no primal links to biology, but which nonetheless radically affect our well-being. Language and culture, which we encounter when coming into the world, soon become not only ways of expanding our horizons but also a space of prohibition and limits to what were, at the beginning, still natural impulses....
    Although the lack of that marks the individual is perceived as the loss of some essential jouissance, it is actually a cornerstine of subjectivity. Because the individual is marked by a lack, he or she will constantly try to recuperate the object that they perceive to embody the lost enjoyment that will make good that lack. The very fact that people are marked by a lack is thus the engine that keeps their desire alive. Thus we endlessly go on searching for the thing we hope will bring satisfaction -- be it a partner, a child or a simple consumer item -- and often feel dissatisfied by our choices. At the same time, however, we often feel that other people are experiencing the jouissance that we are searching for, which in turn provokes envy or jealousy.
    ...Capitalism frees the slave and makes him a consumer, but limitless consumption will end with the consumer consuming him-or herself.
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    ..Individualism has reached a new stage in which the subject increasingly perceives him -or herself as a self-creator.
    2016-03-20 01:08:07 回应
  • 5 FORCED CHOICE
    Forgetfulness is related not only to events from the past but also to capability to think ahead. Dementia in old age thus helps the sufferer to forget the future and so annihilates the anxiety related to his own mortality.
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    The paradox is that the obsessive attitudes promoted by the ideology of late capitalism actually leave very little room for choice. The highly controlled individual who is constantly on guard, who dreads disorder and who is petrified by the thought of dying derives very little enjoyment from playing out the supposedly limitless possibilities of choice. He is in the grip of an anxiety about failing to be the ideal 'chooser'. So he invents ever new ways of restricting choice.
    2016-04-25 23:52:55 回应
  • CONCLUSION: SHAME AND THE LACK OF SOCIAL CHANGE
    ..The trend to simplify one's life is in that sense a reaction to overwhelming consumer choice. Since a huge part of the world's population is offered very few choices and has to endure terrible poverty every day.
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    Today's capitalist society, with its insistence on the idea of choice, masks class difference as well as racial and sexual inequality. In 1987 Margaret Thatcher famously declared that, 'there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families.' This view has subsequently permeated every level of contemporary society. The feeling of shame for being poor and of guilt for not getting further up the ladder of economic success has replaced the fight against social injustice. And the anxiety about not being good enough has pacified people, leading them not only to work longer hours but often to work just as hard at their appearance. Choice can open up the possibility of change at the level of society, but only when it is no longer perceived as solely an individual prerogative. The success of the ideology of choice in today's society has been in blinding people to the fact that their actual choices are becoming severely limited by the social divisions in society and that issues such as the organisation of labour, health and safety, and the environment appear more and more beyond their choice. At the level of society we are therefore losing the possibility of choice in terms of change in power relations as we know them. Not surprisingly, the ideology of choice goes hand and hand with the New Age ideology that promotes living in the moment and accepting things as they are.
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    When any idea is glorified in a particular society at a particular time, it is necessary to be cautious about it. In Communism this happened with worker's rights and ideals of a classless society. In late capitalism this is true in relation to the idea of choice. When people were fighting against Communist ideals , the Party apparatchiks criticised them with arguments that power was already in the hands of the people and there was therefore no need to battle against the regime. Capitalism interprets choice through a similar ideological operation. Choice about the organisation of society is offered and denied at the same time. Liberal democratic capitalism glorifies the idea of choice, but with the proviso that what is on offer is primarily a consumerist model of choosing. The choice of a new form of social organisation, of different ways in which society might develop in the future and especially the possibility of rejecting capitalist society as we know it all appear not to be available choices...
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    .. We can choose whether to accept or decline the tyranny of choice -- and we can begin by understanding what is really on offer.
    2016-04-29 19:45:59 回应
  • 3 LOVE CHOICE
    Despite the particularly contemporary preoccupation with assessment and rational choice, internet dating actually revives a rather traditional view of love. Rather than meeting spontaneously, out in the open, where we know nothing about each other, we have imposed screening mechanisms that serve the same purpose as marriage brokers and family connections in the past...
    2016-04-29 21:22:11 回应