Thursday, March 26, 2015

Winter 2014 from The Seasons

It's hard to write a blog post like this one when you expect that no one will read it.

Mixed Meters posts announcing new long versions in my series called The Seasons get the lowest hit counts.   Writing an essay lamenting this fact would not be much fun.

In fact, the more I bitch the more likely you are to not to read what I write.

Go ahead, skip this essay.  Just do it quickly because I'm about to change the subject.

Advertising is everywhere. We are bombarded by messages telling us how to make our lives better. In reality these ads do not solve our problems.  They actually create problems which we can only solve by giving our money to the people who posted the ads.

Take diamonds, for example. Surely you've seen advertising suggesting that a diamond ring will tell your beloved how much she means to you - provided (of course) that you spend at least two months' salary for it.

Here's a NY Times article about the woman who, in 1947, wrote the line "A Diamond Is Forever". This is from the article:
Last year, Americans spent almost $7 billion on the rings. But in 1938, when a De Beers representative wrote to N. W. Ayer to inquire whether “the use of propaganda in various forms” might boost the sale of diamonds in the United States, their popularity had been on a downward trend, in part because of the Depression.
N.W. Ayer conducted extensive surveys of consumer attitudes and found that most Americans thought diamonds were a luxury for the ultra-wealthy. Women wanted their men to spend money on “a washing machine, or a new car, anything but an engagement ring,” Ms. Gerety said in 1988. “It was considered just absolutely money down the drain.”
Still, the agency set an ambitious goal: “to create a situation where almost every person pledging marriage feels compelled to acquire a diamond engagement ring.”
Promoting diamonds to men as symbols of undying love for women did solve a problem.  The problem was: how could a company with a lot of extra diamonds sell them at a high profit?

Here's a better article on the subject, especially about how De Beers maintains its monopoly.  It's called "Diamonds Are Bullshit", written by Rohin Dhar.  Here are a couple quotes:
The next time you look at a diamond, consider this. Nearly every American marriage begins with a diamond because a bunch of rich white men in the 1940s convinced everyone that its size determines your self worth. They created this convention - that unless a man purchases (an intrinsically useless) diamond, his life is a failure - while sitting in a room, racking their brains on how to sell diamonds that no one wanted.
We covet diamonds in America for a simple reason: the company that stands to profit from diamond sales decided that we should. De Beers’ marketing campaign single handedly made diamond rings the measure of one’s success in America. Despite its complete lack of inherent value, the company manufactured an image of diamonds as a status symbol. And to keep the price of diamonds high, despite the abundance of new diamond finds, De Beers executed the most effective monopoly of the 20th century. Okay, we get it De Beers, you guys are really good at business!
The next time you see Leslie (the lovely woman to whom I am married) ask her to show you her wedding and engagement rings.

And if you're interested in actually maintaining a good relationship with your spouse or significant other, here's an article that rings true: Ten Habits of Couples Who Stay Together.  Leslie and I do all of these things - except number one.  I suggest you read the article quickly - because I'm about to change the subject again.

My musical project called The Seasons is now entering its fourth year.  There is one short bit of music averaging about 8 seconds in length for each day since Thursday, December 22, 2011, divided up into chunks corresponding to the calendrical seasons.

Winter 2014 (the long version) is over seventy minutes long.  Well beyond 80% of it is total silence.  Weird, huh?

What kind of crazy music has four minutes of silence for every minute of actual music?

Click here to hear Winter 2014 (long version) © 2015 by David Ocker, 4232 seconds and find out for yourself.

Links to all The Seasons articles are here.

No comments :