Manufacturing Desire: A Timely Meditation on Personal Identity in an Era Obsessed with "Brand"

By Kingwell, Mark | ROM Magazine, Winter 2012 | Go to article overview

Manufacturing Desire: A Timely Meditation on Personal Identity in an Era Obsessed with "Brand"


Kingwell, Mark, ROM Magazine


It is a heavy irony that one of the dominant features of our cultural moment--the notion of a commercial brand--harks back to searing the rumps of cattle. Yes, the word "brand" comes to us from the Germanic root for burning, and the figurative leap from scorching proprietary designs into cowflesh to the trademarks and colophons of goods purveyors is, by linguistic standards, relatively short.

Thus the branded retail item--lululemon yoga pants, Cartier watch, iPhone 5--is displayed with the same intention of announcing one's membership in an elite or hipster herd. More deeply, we may observe the otherwise rational person who is moved to tattoo Nike's "swoosh" logo onto his torso, or the crowds who leave devotional messages to the recently deceased founder of Apple on the windows of a downtown retail outlet. Brands offer religion in its acceptable mercantile form. They demand obeisance beyond mere purchase of a bedecked item.

Indeed, the perfection of brand success would logically entail dispensing with the material good altogether, leaving only the logo, the narrative, and the devotees: faith elevated to pure formal observance, without tiresome links to the physical world. I had a vague memory of just this trans-consumerist endgame, maybe some kind of art project, but I couldn't recall the name. (Warning: bad branding there.) When I googled the phrase "brand without products," all I got were a bunch of hits concerning products without brands. (Warning: not a good idea.)

Actually, Rob Walker, the critic who writes about consumer culture for the New York Times Magazine, has developed a brand without products. It's a website called Unconsumption, which details ideas for creative reuse or repurposing of already held goods. "At some point we decided that, like any growth-minded enterprise, we needed a logo," Walker wrote of the idea. They came up with "Mr. Cart": an image of an upside-down shopping cart sporting a wide smile. You can copy and apply the Mr. Cart logo yourself, to anything.

I like this idea; but I like even more that the two critical margins of the branded world--the two conceivable forms of brand without product--are a spectral postmodern art scheme and what amounts to an update on good old-fashioned thrift. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Manufacturing Desire: A Timely Meditation on Personal Identity in an Era Obsessed with "Brand"
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.