Giving the Community CreditFlopping unsteadily from the zeitgeist sphincter comes Adam Phillips' newest diatribe on happiness and the laughably blinkered attempts we make at achieving it. A Child Psychologist turned Freud fancier, Phillips' latest book Side Effects (published July 27th) is a mental frottage on human desire in which he argues, citing the myriad banals of pornography as example, on the demands of personal appetite and consumerism's attempts to sate it.
"It's like the way pornography steals people's dreams. It gives you pictures of sex scenarios and so, unlike more imaginative forms of literature, stops you creating your dreams. Instead of having your own sexual fantasies the porn industry does it" (Guardian 19/07)
In Phillips' world we are constantly developing our taste for choice and, evolving alongside that, the capitalist supply chain grows to dazzle our aimless lusts. Dante's Handcart worry-possums fear that this masturbatory niche'ism is leading to greater and greater segregation, splitting not only along demographic lines but individual ones as well.
As a particularly aged and papery grandparent can tell you, in the Olden Days there was only one option. People drank PG Tips, listened to the BBC World Service, wiped themselves with Andrex Toilet Tissue and travelled each Summer for a six-day week in Brighton. Everybody was in the same, cheery boat and problems such as street-violence, Hepatitis and sodomy were unknown. The community spirit was still solidarity and not Vodka & Red Bull. Roll forward twelvety years or so and witness the growth of tailored market forces, a global shopping list from which even the lowliest pleb can assemble a lifestyle according to the minutiae of their so-called "needs". Pride events for every culture, websites such as "Rate My Penis Gourd", even the ostensibly harmless lesbian funeral are all indicative of segregation by the tiniest peccadillo.
Accuse us of being sweeping and over-simplifying if you may, but we believe a return to the ethos of hardship can only be a good thing. A sweeping and over-simplified excision of unnecessary treacles and luxury whimsy will allow every single sodding one of you moaning bastards the opportunity to whinge at your hearts desire. And if there's an inhabitant of this fair and speckled isle that wouldn't choose a good spleen-venting over and above a 74 inch colour television with stand, then bring them out and let's stone them to death.