CONSUMED TRANSCRIPT

 

 

 

00:00

 

Advert:

Woman: I delivered the message. Now what?

Man: Now let’s check the second message.

Woman: ready.

Man: mum. The doctor’s deodorant discovery now contains M -3 to stop odour 24 hours a day. Remember now.

Woman: I know. For security reasons, mum’s the word.

 

 

 

Narration: Perhaps the most incredible story of the last million years is the rise of modern human culture. The cities we populate and the lives that we lead.

 

It is the world that our children will inherit.

 

But after a century of exponential growth in population and consumerism people are questioning the nature of modern life. Beginning to doubt our motivations and predicting environmental destruction.

 

This film uses evolutionary psychology as a tool to look at modern society. In understanding human nature our current concerns look smaller, more transient, with, potentially, a solution.

 

00:47

 

CAPTION: CONSUMED, INSIDE THE BELLY OF THE BEAST.

 

 

Geoffrey Miller: We’ve all got this weird mental illness called consumerism. We’ve all kind of gone collectively psychotic. Chasing status, in public, with people who don’t really care and neglecting your own lovers and friends and neighbours and kids.

 

Caption

Geoffrey Miller

Professor of Psychology

 

Caption

Jonathan Chapman

Reader in Architecture and Design

 

Jonathan Chapman: You know, this consumption of material items as a means to acquire status is as much of a trap as it is a set of freedoms. The pervasive nature of it has perhaps crossed the threshold of us being able to cope with it and process the information. The high street is actually a stressful, anxious place. We’re getting very little from it, but working incredibly hard to try and figure it all out.

 

Geoffrey Miller: We have the delusion that we really have deep insight into ourselves already. We’re very sophisticated now in the early 21st century, but we’re going to seem incredibly naïve in another hundred years. Our grandchildren will think – what were they on about? Why did they care about brands and having six bedroom houses if they were only one married couple and one kid. Why did they care about that?

 

03:30

 

Narration: There is a lot of baggage and meaning attached to the word consumer and consumerism: but for all the negative connotations consumerism and consumptive processes are merely descriptive words for something that feels very normal for the human animal to do.

 

Jonathan Chapman: They’re the result of a very natural human urge - to experience and to grow and to learn and to play out dreams and ambitions and aspirations. And in that respect consumption can be seen as something incredibly natural and incredibly normal for a stimulus hungry species such as ours to do. And as we now know what clouds are and we know what thunder is and we know why plants grow.. as things become increasingly understood, the need of mystery and magic is still there. But we need to synthesize and make ways of doing that.

 

Advert Woman: I just wish I had a decent kitchen.

 

Narration: In a subtle and satisfying way this consumption of products and experiences has now also become a significant measure for our lives.

 

05:00

 

Jonathan Chapman:

Caption: Jonathan Chapman

Author: 'Emotionally Durable Design'

 

There is this story that we’re all very aware of though no one ever sat us down and told us the story, but that we kind of understand, through media in many ways. We understand that landscape and where the milestones are. For example your first double bed, buying your first cot. I don’t thinks it’s necessarily production and consumption that’s driving that, it’s just that this is a human process and it’s a human way of structuring and making sense out of the future which is totally unknown. The difference is that we’ve chosen to structure it and signpost it with products and possessions.

 

 

Narration: This is my daughter Jessie, passing one of her milestones, riding her bike without stabilizers.

 

This is Alex, my son, taking his first steps.

 

They are hungry for experience, and living in a highly developed society,

the means to feed this hunger is unlimited. The planet has been turned in to a playground for us all.

 

Our lives have never been richer yet our need for more seems undiminished. Growth has become fetishised. But more money, more holidays, more work, more choice, more stuff in more houses is pushing us to the limit.

 

06:41

 

Geoffrey Miller: I think if you took a pre-historic human and transferred him into the modern world they would be really surprised that we aren’t happier than we are. They would think “You’re living in a golden age and you’re sort of squandering it on all these silly anxieties.”

 

Advert man; There are only two possible messages – buy and sell. But even if it did read sell the information would still be clear, if you know the code.

 

 

Narration: Addictions, depression, and mental health issues are becoming part of everyday conversation.

 

We are losing ourselves in the rush. Struggling to keep our head above water.

 

 

Jonathan chapman: The idea that we are sense hungry or stimulus searchers. I think we’ve made our selves that way by developing a contemporary experiential landscape where the majority of problems are already solved. There’s actually nothing for us to do.

 

Advert Man: stop or go. On or off. One of none. Go or no go.

 

07:55

 

Narration: There’s not just the individual, financial and psychological cost of modern culture. There is also an environmental cost. And in a rigorous study, behavioural scientist Warren Hern found the human race is acting like a cancer on the planet, displaying all the four major characteristics of a malignant process.

 

Ultimately cancer kills the organism that supports it.

 

TIM COOPER: I think it’s becoming increasingly clear that the kind of growth rates that we are getting around the world - 10% in countries like China and India, a norm of 2 or 3 % in most industrialized countries can’t be sustained.

 

08:37

 

Caption:

Tim Cooper

Professor of Sustainable Design and Consumption

 

 

The sheer through-put of materials, energy, resources that are finite, most of them- that cannot continue into the long term.

 

Narrator: The philosopher John Gray concludes the human population can only be maintained by desolating the earth, creating an era of solitude in which little remains of the planet, but us and the prosthetic environment that keeps us alive.

 

 

Tim Cooper: In Britain, the average household is as if there were three planets rather than one.

 

Jonathan Chapman: You can see that this very natural human process is beginning to mutate into something perhaps toxic and negative.

 

09:30

 

Caption: There are no passengers on spaceship Earth. We are all crew.

Marshall McLuhan

 

Jessie and Alex reading book

 

Narration: Modern society is the story of our age for good or evil.

 

Scientists, philosophers and psychologists have been looking at the evolution of the human species in an attempt to understand our meteoric rise and our recent detachment from the environment.

 

Alex:  It’s a little bug.

 

Alastair McIntosh: I think that the only way that we are different from other animals is in the type of consciousness that we have got.

 

10:12

 

Caption: Alastair McIntosh

Professor of Human Ecology

 

If you consider that we have only been walking around on this earth as homo-sapiens for two hundred thousand years, which is nothing in geological terms, it reminds us that we are just babies on the planet. And so we’re on a very steep learning curve.

 

Jessie: Can we have my story now?

 

Narration: Evolutionary theory says that we are indistinct from our animal cousins. We have, like them built in our genes two prime, sub conscious, motivators; survival and attracting a mate.

 

The principle tool human’s use to fulfill both of these needs is the brain. Our brain has tripled in size since we evolved from primates. It is what makes us unique as animals and research suggests if we understand the mechanisms of the brain we begin to understand our whole culture, consumerist or otherwise.

 

10:14

 

Geoffrey Miller: Most animals run around worrying about three things;

 

Caption: Geoffrey Miller

Author: 'Spent: Sex, Evolution and Consumerism'

 

food, predators and grooming themselves to get rid of parasites and infectious disease. Once we’ve taken care of that, once we have agriculture to produce food, once we’ve shot and killed all the predators around us and once we’ve got sanitation and medicine to take care of infectious disease we can turn our minds towards those other obsessions – social status and sexual attractiveness. So we spend a lot more time thinking about that and obsessing about those issues – social and sexual issues than probably any other animals have had the luxury of doing in the history of life on earth.

 

Most of our ornaments are mental and behavioral, and that’s mostly what we are showing off in courtship. We don’t really flash huge tails like peacocks. We don’t use that much sexual coercion compared with other species so we are relatively peaceful, we’re relatively naked and we do most of our courtship through language.

 

And showing off our brain capacities like our intelligence, personality, moral virtues. burning the calories in your brain to produce a good sense of humour, or to sing well or to produce interesting art or to show off your creativity in any of the natural human ways that we have evolved to do. In modern consumerist society all of that effort, all of that status seeking effort, all of that mating effort is now channeled into the economy. It’s channeled into the goods and services that we buy. So, the principal way you’re supposed to display your mental traits now is through your purchases. The economy tries to capture all our mating effort into these goods and services and turn them into our props for mating.

 

 

 

Narration: Products have therefore become a means of promoting ourselves beyond the talking. We use them as a signal. The foundations for this behavior were laid down hundreds of thousands of years ago, as we evolved a cultural trait called prestige.

 

13:38

 

Aimee Plourde:

 

Caption: Aimee Plourde

Reader in Archaeology

 

The big difference between humans and other animals in terms of rankings and social status is that they don’t have what I’m going to define as prestige.

They have social status, rankings some have higher status than others but all of that status, the relative positioning of one to another is determined by dominance behaviors - so violence, threat of violence, coercion. Only humans have what I’m going to call prestige and that is respect or authority or social power that is freely granted from one individual to another. The desire for prestige is Darwinistic in the sense that it has probably been selected for, during the course of human evolution. Certainly, since it’s something that we don’t share with other primate species, that desire for prestige – and then perhaps the signaling component as well is something that has emerged over the course of human history. And I would say that it has done so that it is adaptive. As you say if confers a benefit; getting increased goods, services, respect, authority from others has got to have benefits therefore natural selection over time has shaped our psychologies, our behaviors in such a way that we both desire prestige and act in ways to try and acquire it.

 

 

Narration: There is one more important factor to consider.

 

Because the brain’s capacity has evolved to be the most crucial component in the survival and development of the human species, it has an in- built pre-disposition for growth. We are naturally driven to stimulate it.

 

It is why we feel boredom so acutely, why we are so mentally restless.

Our huge brain capacity is what makes us unique among animals and in its simplest form, consumption is nourishment. And so brain food is part of our daily diet.

 

 

 Archive voice: Led by the assistant the family procession forms to enter the vestibule of the church, where the rector and crucifer await the epistical service.

 

16:26

 

Narration: It is fair to say our survival instinct and need for personal growth and prestige has been up until recent times the principle driver for society to evolve.

 

Harnessing the brain’s ingenuity it has led from the agricultural revolution to the industrial revolution. From wind and water power to fossil fuel and nuclear power. From economic activity that started local and is now global.

 

The natural need to secure a future for ourselves, our children and our species has accelerated at a startling pace. With huge success.

 

We are the only species that changes where we live to suit us and when we have a good idea it spreads.

 

Swing wing advert. It’s a new thing, it’s a fine thing … it’s a swing wing, it’s a wing ding. It’s a brand new transagram fun thing. It’s a what? It’s a swing wing. Get Swing wing, made by transagram, where the fun comes from, …. Swing wing – it’s a what?

 

17:52

 

Narration: If we now look at modern society we can see how capitalism not only reflects our evolutionary tendencies but also amplifies and distorts it.

 

Marketing is like the air we breathe. It’s all around us.

Marketing gurus have learnt how to push our evolutionary buttons. They know status is a psychological pressure point – as is our need to promote our intelligence, creativity and emotional stability.

 

It means that by 20, the average westerner has seen one million commercial messages and budgets for advertising for kids has risen to over one billion dollars.

 

We are now indoctrinated to consume from birth.

 

18:50

 

Caption

'They aren't children so much as what I call evolving

consumers.'

CEO Prism Communications

 

 

Modern sales techniques were born at the front end of the 20th century. Sigmund Freud’s nephew, Edward Bernays, was living in America and after success working as an agent he was put in charge of propaganda as America entered the Great War in 1916.  He was so successful that when peace came, he believed that if people’s opinions could be moulded at a time of war, then why not while at peace. He coined the phrase ‘Public Relations’ and set about getting people to buy stuff. Fundamental in his approach was the use of aspirational marketing.

At the request of corporations, worried that people would stop buying once they had everything for a comfortable life Bernays set about making consumerism the way we show our success and our personality.

 

20:05

 

Alastair McIntosh:

 

Caption: Alastair McIntosh

Professor of Human Ecology

 

The corporations, especially in the mid twentieth century were actively looking at the way they could trigger off psychological impulses deep within us, that would cause us to desire new products that we had never ever thought of desiring before. So in that respect it’s pushed upon us. But, it’s only possible to do that because (as Microsoft would put it) there are security vulnerabilities within us.

 

 

Narration: The 1950’s saw consumerism come of age; a golden era where scientists, inventors, designers and corporations competed to meet the desires of the ever-hungry people.

 

Marketing culture was everywhere and with the dominance of Hollywood films and the invention of television it wasn’t long before the rest of the world got to witness how comfortable the other half lived.

 

Man in advert: See it

Woman: Isn’t it beautiful?

 

 

Boy in archive: If i only had a car like that I’d really be popular. Everybody would want to be friends with me then.

 

21:20

 

Geoffrey miller: One critical thing that advertising does is it tries to convince consumers that above average products can compensate for below average traits.

 

Caption:

Geoffrey Miller

Author: 'The Mating Mind'

 

Boy in archive. Shirt right, tie right and coat right. Can’t be popular unless you know how to dress.

 

Geoffrey miller: So that if you’re not that funny, you’re not that verbally creative, you’re not    you don’t have any of the romantic skills that are naturally attractive you can compensate - don’t worry! You can get an engineering degree and make a respectable living, buy a bunch of stuff and still be viable and attractive on the mating market. I think that that is a delusion, it doesn’t actually work. You might attract a spouse for a while but they’ll get bored with you and they’ll leave you and divorce you and they’ll go looking for somebody else who’s more interesting. So what is happening now is that consumers are neglecting to develop the crucial naturally romantic traits. Saying “ I’ve got a Porche out front”. It might interest people of the opposite sex at a superficial level but it doesn’t pack the emotional punch that leads people to fall in love with you as a person.

 

Narration: Psychology research supports this argument. It has found that in studying marketing for music, while we are sold the idea that it is cool to listen to certain bands, being a mediocre singer or musician is a lot more romantically attractive.  

 

 

Geoffrey miller: I think the advertising is trying to insinuate it into the kids and the teenagers and the youthful consumers at an ever younger age. It has realized for example that if you sexualize young teens, if you make them think about mating earlier and earlier you can capture more of their money, or more of their parents money.

 

23:44

 

Jonathan chapman: I mean a brand as a family or as a collective is a wonderful thing. You get to assign membership to a group that has a certain value set and an image  and profile that you kind of like the feel of.

 

Caption:

Jonathan Chapman

Author: 'Emotionally Durable Design'

 

But at the same time you get to be an individual within that group. But what is also interesting… you know if everything costs about the same the brand is everything.

 

Geoffrey miller: I think the marketing revolution is convincing every consumer that you’ve got to be the center of your own world. You have to be an ardent narcissist. As people with draw into themselves and devote all their effort into social status and attracting mates, in the process of that they often forget to reproduce at all. They loose the Darwinian plot.

 

24:53

 

Aimee Plourde:

 

Caption:

Aimee Plourde

Reader in Archaeology

 

 I think to a certain extent our evolved predisposition to seek status and desire prestige are operating in a context now that are, that is, very, very different from the one which they originally evolved.

 

Jonathan chapman: We talk about the man-made and what we think about is motorways and buildings and Phillips screws.  But actually the man-made is also the meaning and values and systems and social structures that come with all of that.

When you look into an electronics store and you look at black, shiny, digital gadgets that are aimed at a particular person who is looking to wear that super hero costume and become the “organized, busy person”. That is what that prop- it’s not a product – It’s a prop – that’s what that is for. It’s a way for you to self actualize and fulfill that need. Feeling like you’re part of the i-pod generation is also a kind of shelter because by acquiring the product and putting the headphones in and walking the street in that way you become part of a group and  you’re safe now! Grounded within something that is perhaps real!

 

Advert: Here’s the biggest T.V advertising campaign ever seen in the history of the stocking business. We’re going to sell stockings of Adgelon yarn to millions and millions of women from coast to coast, through repetative selling in exciting T.V commercials. Here’s a preview.

 

Song: It’s new, new, new and two for you.

 

27:08

 

Narration: We have become lost in this modern landscape, living to consume.

Consumerism isn’t a conspiracy, it is very much a reflection of the human mind and this is why we find it so comforting.

 

Alastair McIntosh:

 

Caption:

Alastair McIntosh

Author: 'Hell and High Water'

 

When you’ve got an emptiness inside you that is basically insatiable because you have never dealt with the real cause of that emptiness and as with any addiction you keep on stuffing that emptiness full of stuff that can’t satisfy you.

 

Jonathn Chapman: You know the Ikea truck kind of drives away and you realize that you’re still the same person, you’ve just got all this stuff now and maybe it’s that kind of realization that what we thought was going to happen hasn’t happened, in which sense we’re barking up the wrong tree, if we’re looking for meaning and satisfaction through material consumption.

 

Geoffrey Miller: I think that marketing has very little effect on the fundamental parts of human nature. It’s not really changing the structure of the brain or the nature of human intelligence or personality. But marketing is having a huge effect on the way people think about themselves. On the kinds of display strategies they learn and invest in and in that sense it’s very, very powerful. I think that marketing is really at the heart of modern twenty first century culture.

 

Alastair McIntosh:  Consumerism is another example of virtual reality and the problem with so much of where we are at now is we’ve allowed virtual reality to become more than just a game.

 

29:13

 

Advert. Man: Concentrate on the forehead now. We can feel the tension there. Keep relaxing and value the ability to make your mind a blank. Do these things to un-tense and we will approach each day with a better outlook. Poised, relaxed, that’s the way to let yourself go and have a better time going.

 

Narration: The environmental effects of unfettered consumption are well documented. But if we are to lead our children to a more hopeful future we need to understand how psychologically we have become untouched by destructiveness.

 

30:04

 

Alastair McIntosh:  I think we become dis-associated from the wild when we move out of relationship with hands on experience of elemental reality - of fire, air, earth and water. And when everything gets served up to us on a plate because we’ve got a highly mechanized, computerized, globalised supply system in which we have lost touch with where things are coming from in the natural living world. And as a result of that losing touch we’re no longer able to care so much because we just don’t feel it the same way.

 

Geoffrey miller: The irony is that as human technology and history progress we get increased mastery over the environment. With agricultural revolution instead of having to wander for miles looking for hunted meat and berries and fruits and nuts. We focus just on our little patch of farmed land. We plough it, we get a reliable food supply. With the industrial revolution you withdraw even further in to your little bourgeoisie house. And what you care about are the mechanisms that surround you. The refrigerators, washing machines, you know, the telephones… all of that. Now your reach is greatly extended – you have more technical control over the environment with the industrial revolution. With the marketing revolution you withdraw even further into yourself and you just worry about the brands that surround you. You’re not even worried about the technology any more. You don’t know how the plumbing works, you don’t know how your car works. You just know what kind of car it is, what kind of refrigerator you’ve got. So there is a gradual withdrawal of focus from the environment at large into yourself and your own narrative.               

 

32:04

 

Narration: It seems our ignorance of how nature works and what it does for us is exacting a terrible price.

 

More people are chasing fewer resources, food production is near the limits of growth, oil has reached its peak, the world’s population will pass nine billion by 2050.

Strong nations are reaching into weak nations to take what they need.  Forests are cut down and the oceans emptied; biodiversity is already collapsing.

But as long as our economies continue to grow, we pretend not to notice. We’re like the people on Easter Island, in thrall to our culture, throwing up structures that prove our mastery, ignoring the damage we are doing to the planet we share.

 

We’ve always done it.  Only now we have reached the limits of what the planet can provide.

 

Can the science of sustainability save us from this on-going destructive tendency?

 

Alastair McIntosh:  I would see sustainability as simply the ability for our species, our human species to survive long-term in its environment without damaging the carrying capacity of that environment..for the environment to support what is there.

 

33:43

 

Tim Cooper: I think that the issue of time is crucial to this.

 

Caption

Tim Cooper

Professor of Sustainable Design and Consumption

 

We’ve got this very short term mind-set and part of sustainability has got to go as far as changing that psychological mind-set towards a culture of permanence for, not the next few years, not the next few decades but for hundreds of years, thousands of years.

 

Alex: That one.

Jessie: Do you know the time Alex? Say yes or no.

Alex: No.

Jessie: No I don’t.

Alex: Daddy, do you know the time?

 

Tim Cooper: It’s no good to say we’ll put a label on a product and say it’s a bit greener than the other product and expect everyone to start buying the right thing. The problem goes deeper than that.

 

34:46

 

Jonathan Chapman: If you go to a waste recycling center and you look at what’s there you will find that, particularly with electronic products (e-waste),

 

Caption

Jonathan Chapman

Reader in Architecture and Design

 

you will find that what’s there generally still works in an utilitarian sense, it still does what it’s meant to do if you like. The computers still compute, the fridges still make stuff cold, they still work. And I think what it throws into light is that there are different kinds of durability and that other things are broken like desire can break, fascination can break, mystery can break. Things can loose mystery and fiction very quickly and all of these fantile properties that advertisers use very cleverly can break. They can die out, they can fade away. And so the challenge, the intervention if you like, is about looking at ways of designing products and marketing products and consuming products that have a sustainable kind of meaning. And a very durable set of values and desires so that we perhaps don’t fall out of love with them so quickly.

 

Like the way a pair of denim jeans, for example, picks up patina and age through use or can contain rips or stains that only the owner really knows what they’re about. And that links back then of course to narrative.

 

Tim Cooper: We are really only going to address over consumption as a society, as a community, individuals can do so much but ultimately we will just lose hope and will find it too hard work. And find it too hard for us to bear that burden of having to do the right thing when we go shopping all the time. We need to complement the small step changes that individuals do with a bigger vision that ultimately can only be introduced by far sighted industry people. And it needs industry, to think about new business models as well so that their profits don’t depend on selling cheap, throwaway rubbish. But in fact their profitability is built in to providing products that last and maybe their profits are dependant on them providing a service to keep those goods in service for longer.

 

37:02

 

Jonathan Chapman: Large producers are saying we would now like to consider making products that people want to keep for longer. We know how to make a washing machine that works for thirty years, we know how to do that. But what we don’t know how to do is to design a washing machine that somebody wants to keep for thirty years because we haven’t trained consumers to consume that way. There is a shift and there are changes happening and sustainable design, is at one of the edges of that shift.

 

Alastair McIntosh: I think that the politics of sustainability is only one part of it. There is all the old feminist maxim that the personal is the political, the political is the personal and you need both sides of that. You need to look at what a human being is, what our inner lives are about, in order to understand what the potentiality for political change can be.

 

Archive: The two major presidential candidates vote just like all the other citizens. One of them in New York city describes himself as a lawyer. The other up country where his home is puts his occupation as farmer.

 

38:17

 

Narration: Drawn to power and prestige politicians display all the traits that have got us in to this mess in the first place. The very competiveness of their nature marries perfectly with modern society and they are unlikely to find the answers we need.

 

 

 

Caption

Aimee Plourde

Reader in Archaeology

 

 

Aimee Plourde: Sadly, when you think of security, you think of how many resources we have in the world, and certainly there is plenty to provide for all and it seems odd that we have so much striving and insecurity given that’s true. But social status is sort of a zero sum game. No matter whether you live on the richest island or the poorest island in the world your social group will always have a low ranking person and a high ranking person and everyone in between. So there’s always a context for that striving to be higher status because it’s a relative condition to the whole group and we are, I think, shaped by evolution to desire to be higher status.

 

 

Narration: Our brains are programmed for survival, prestige and above all growth, and we have created a society that reflects and facilitates this. Humanity and its grip on the environment will continue to grow until everything the planet has to offer is consumed. It is just how evolution works.

 

39:50

 

Caption

Alastair McIntosh

Professor of Human Ecology

 

Alastair McIntosh: You know I was giving a talk in America and afterwards somebody came up to me and he said “let me tell you a story”. He said “I used to be a hippy back in the days when hippies were real hippies and two of my hippy friends wanted to go to Cuba to meet the great Che Guevera” so they got there and they managed to get an audience and the first thing they said as they shook hands with him was they apologized for being Americans. And the great Che said to them “Don’t you apologise for being Americans, you see, you are the lucky ones. You get to live in the belly of the beast”. His point being that stuck out in the Caribbean in Cuba, there wasn’t a lot he could do to impact on what was going on in the mainstream of the world. Whereas when you are actually in the belly of the beast you are on the cutting edge of the potential for change. And I would say that’s how as a human species we are just now. Right now we are living in that uncomfortable belly of the beast. We are living in the jaws of the tiger, but that is a powerful place for becoming aware and for deepening what it means to be human, to carry the future forward.

 

41:23

 

Narration: Is this a symbol of our children’s future? A future of struggle as our world unravels at the seams?  Is this how things will get changed?

 

The philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer said we are all just animals getting along with our lives.  Can we grow to be something other than this? 

 

42:11

 

Caption

'We don't ride on the railroad.

It rides on us.'

Henry Thoreau

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Caption

Jonathan Chapman

Reader in Architecture and Design

 

 

Jonathan Chapman: One of the problems is that the current economic system is based on volume and production. The very simply principle that the more you produce and sell the more money you make. And it’s a constant acceleration of production and part of that is market share and keeping up with competition, and out-doing and beating competitors which is survival, it’s Darwin it’s normal. But part of it is also a blindness to other possibilities.

 

42:48

 

Aimee Plourde: I don’t think it is possible to disengage the emotional appeal, the emotional aspect from an evolved disposition that was selected for because of its survival and reproduction value. Our brains, if you will, our minds are shaped by the thousands of years that we lived in an environment where those who were more concerned with their status, who put more effort into it, are the ones whose genes we’ve inherited. And so it’s not something that we can step away from. But I also do think that it’s not that those things cannot be shaped and modified by our ideology, they certainly can. We are probably the most flexible species in both the way we think, how we derive satisfaction as well as our behaviours and so the fact that we have these evolved tendancies, I don’t think that we should think of that as a “sentence”, if you will, that we cannot change what we value or how we behave.

 

Jonathan Chapman: Erich Fromm talks about the distinction between having and being which is important in this context because although the two are linked and you could say that they kind of play off one another and feed off one another in some instances there is an important distinction; that being describes a, not necessarily an acceptance but more of just a state of engagement with you and your life and how things are, you are kind of being. As Fromm says ‘you are doing not doing’.

 

44:53

 

Caption: Jonathan Chapman

Reader in Architecture and Design

 

Whereas having is apositing those internal values and aspirations and existencies within things around you and it’s a more remote process is having but it’s also a more unstable and stressful process because your investing yourself in everything other than yourself. Your existence is basically vomited out of you onto this table full of things, objects that are trying to sort of help you exist, but actually don’t do that at all.

 

 

45:50

 

 

Narration: Can we be free? Or, as Milan Kundera questioned, can we live lightly?

Can we live instinctively, free from constraint and without expectation.

 

It is not to be mistaken as a flight of fancy, more what it is, to stand in a virgin wood and feel shivers down the spine.

 

This is the real issue, because transition towns, recycling, alternative power, enduring design, they are just attacking the symptoms, they are merely allowing us to continue living the way we are, they are buying us time, they are not embracing the root cause – our psychology.

 

46:47

 

Alastair McIntosh: In a funny way I don’t find it depressing and I’ll tell you why. I think that what we’re seeing now is an inevitable stage of evolution.

 

Caption

Alastair McIntosh

Author: 'Hell and High Water'

 

We are something that has never before been evolved on this earth as far as we are aware. So we are at the cutting edge of evolution and in one sense I see the present times we are in as almost being inevitable. It is something that had to come out of evolution and evolution is going to have to deal with it. I would suggest mainly in cultural terms rather than biological terms. So that’s what we are called to work out now and we are working it out for the whole planet, not just for ourselves.

 

47:20

 

Caption

Geoffrey Miller

Professor of Psychology

 

Geoffrey miller: I actually think runaway consumerism is a temporary historical glitch. A kind of exception to the human norm. For a couple of million years we did perfectly well socializing and attracting mates and raising kids, through this informal, face to face interaction, through ordinary language. And then we invented all of this stuff, all of this technology, the economy, the free market and we realized “oh maybe it helps us get a little bit of an advantage”. I think that is actually a superficial response to technology and I think we’ll grow out of it. I think once people understand their own psychology better we won’t care as much about consumption. And I think the result will be we won’t waste as much matter and energy and we will treat the planet a lot better.

 

 

48:24

 

Narration: We must acknowledge that we have become captives in a consumerist system. We cannot see the bars, or understand what keeps us in, but even if we have doubts, we are swept along by the stampede around us.

 

Things do need to change, we are wrecking the planet, but we must understand that revolution doesn’t come from within a system. Revolutions are born of you and me.  They may be as simple as a change of heart. They may be as difficult as saying I’ve had enough.

 

49:05

 

Interviewer: Have we all got to become hippies?

 

Alastair McIntosh: Ha, ha, ha, aren’t we already all hippies?  Ha, ha, ha… I mean it’s interesting the whole hippy thing. I mean, leaving aside the whole dirty hippy stereotype, you know the kind of person whose lazy and couldn’t care less, leaving aside that because I don’t think that is what the whole hippy thing is about. The real hippy thing is about being able to dance, being able to move from your hips, if you like. And I mean that metaphorically. I mean that in life, I mean that in the sense of going with the flow of life, being able to turn on to what’s around you, to tune in to the deep undercurrents and to drop out of what yields death and to drop in to what gives life. And we get our politics wrong when we don’t take account of that because we think it’s only about outward competitiveness and consumption that matters. We don’t realize that there’s much more to us, something much more beautiful to us.

 

51:08

 

Credits

 

51:47

 

Jessie: Is that done now Daddy?

Daddy: Is that what?

Jessie: Is that done?

 

 

 

 

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