The Chicken as Portrayed in Soviet High Heroic Art

“The new product [free-range chicken] quickly caught on. The name evokes images of the open prairie, with chickens roaming about on the horizon, the wind ruffling their feathers. It is an image that could make sense only to someone who has never actually seen or touched a live chicken . . . . The idea of ‘free range’ is simply a projection of our own desires onto our food. No matter what we do, chickens will never be the rugged individualists that we would like them to be.”

Nation of Rebels, pp. 234-235

No, No, It’s Actually Consumerism . . .

“The most plausible explanation for the fact that everyone’s eating Yukon Gold potatoes is that they are really good potatoes and people like them. If the overall result is homogeneity, how can we complain? After all, in order to avoid this outcome, someone would have to get stuck eating potatoes that they don’t like.”

Nation of Rebels, p. 232

We Thought the Cart Was the Horse

“The assumption that advertising is able to increase the sales of goods has just not been proved, and corporations themselves make little effort to track the effectiveness of their ad campaigns. In fact, the most reliable studies don’t show that sales follow ads, but just the opposite; ads follow sales”

Nation of Rebels, p. 207

Chasing Butterfly Ghosts

“Cool is one of the major factors driving the modern economy. Cool has become the central ideology of consumer capitalism . . . Malcolm Gladwell enumerated what he took to be the three cardinal rules of cool. First, the quicker the chase, the quicker the flight. That is, as soon as we thing we’ve discovered cool, it slips away. Second, cool can’t be manufactured out of thin air. While companies may be able to intervene in the cycle of cool, they cannot initiate it themselves. When we add to these the last rule—that you have to be cool to know cool—cool becomes a closed loop, a hermetic circle in which not only is it impossible to either make or catch cool, but it is impossible to know what it is. Unless, that is, one is already cool, in which case you have no reason to look for it in the first place”

Nation of Rebels, pp. 188-189