Why Cool Doesn’t Fit on the Assembly Line

“What eventually led to the undoing of these views was the failure to appreciate the competitive nature of our consumption and the significance of positional goods. Houses in good neighborhoods, tasteful furniture, fast cars, stylish restaurants and cool clothes are intrinsically scarce. We cannot manufacture more of them because their value is based on the distinction that they provide to consumers. Thus the idea of overcoming scarcity through increased productivity is incoherent; in our society, scarcity is a social, not a material, phenomenon.”

Nation of Rebels, p. 294

Panic All the Way Down

“But this was panic on stilts and steroids. This was a prison riot. The noise from that isolated chamber down below few more insistent. A metal cup raked across the bars. Guards! And somewhere farther up, unseen clammy hands were industriously attaching a nylon strap and winch around the upper portion of Chad’s chest and ratcheting it tight”

Evangellyfish, p. 35

Becoming Thus a Major Part of Mass Society

“Nowhere is the temptation toward exoticism more evident—or more lucrative—than in the burgeoning ‘alternative medicine’ industry . . . ‘alternative’ medicine is big money . . . The concept of alternative medicine is essentially a byproduct of the critique of mass society”

Nation of Rebels, p. 278

You Can’t Escape the Disease When You Are the Carrier

“Because so much traveling is a quest for authenticity through difference, it quickly becomes yet another locus for competitive consumption . . . When it comes to exotic travel, hell is other Westerners . . . This competition for tourist spots—call it ‘competitive displacement’—has exactly the same structure as hip consumerism. This time, though, the prestigious property being sought is not the cool, but the exotic . . . As more visitors pile into the area, it becomes more ‘touristy,’ less exotic, which ruins it for the people who got there first . . . Thanks to their unceasing efforts at scouring the earth in search of ever more exotic locales, countercultural rebels have functioned for decades as the ‘shock troops’ of mass tourism”

Nation of Rebels, pp. 270-271