Apotheosis in a late stage capitalist society is dependent upon passage beyond our chains of self into material goods. Deification occurs when we transcend our own mortal existence to gain what we’ve always longed for and become a product. Only then do we live forever and manage to defeat the time trial that is our lifetime.
Our fear of death and the unknown has been heightened in the absence of true religion. Advertisers use our own mortality as a way to pierce our thoughts and sell us products that promise more than anything can truly offer. No, religion and the afterlife is now for zealots and the weak minded. Those of us raised on Coca-Cola, Saturday morning cartoons and Bisquik know that there is nothing after our own death. No heaven. No hell. No purgatorio as in Dante. Materialism and consumer culture is our new religion, and we worship at the altar of the flat screen. Culture and the media is our pantheon and it tells us to buy more, own more. And work more to do it. The things you own surely can’t own you? Inanimate objects are harmless of course, as harmless as the NRA would tell you that guns are. People are the real enemy.
And so fear of one another is bred as well. It’s only the material product itself that offers us any respite from the unnerving paranoia and distrust created by advertisers to sell us more…stuff. And it’s all vague, worthless crap anyway. Shoes, phones, little dolls with little doll eyes, DVDs. Products need no longer have a purpose, only a hook or an angle. A flashy advertisement that promises something we long for. It fulfills a need we didn’t even know we had.
Objects use to be created to fulfill needs, to accomplish goals. Man needed the wheel to move faster and cart grain around. Form follows function after all.
But now products are created simultaneously with the function built in. The necessity created afterwards in a conference room or a marketing office. When I was younger I didn’t know I needed a cell phone; now I can’t live without one. Products no longer fulfill needs, they create needs.
Those of us that produce culture and goods, our musicians, our artists, our leaders, our corporations are the high priests of our religion. We long to know everything about them. Others are paid to follow them around and capture every meaningless detail of their lives in a fish eye lens. And then they report back to us the glory and sanctity of their blessed day to days. Where they eat. Where they shop. And of course, what they buy. Celebrity is bestowed and created by the media.
When those celebrities pass on, as we all will, we immortalize them by turning them into products. Michael Jackson figurines. Kurt Cobain video games. Paul Newman salad dressing. And this is what we all long for. To become something other than flesh and blood. To become something that is useless, but is not subject to our own mortality and fickle desires. Something that can live on when we are gone. A piece of us that is not in all actuality a piece of us. Ashes to fashion, dust to rust.