One Dimensional Man -or- Mass Consumer Art and Veblen Effects

"We are weighed down, every moment, by the conception and the sensation of Time. And there are but two means of escaping and forgetting this nightmare: pleasure and work. Pleasure consumes us. Work strengthens us. Let us choose." Charles Baudelaire

Matt, Australian Student 22

I've also been having reoccurring quest dreams lately, with a lot of growing robotic Sci-Fi A.I creatures. I'm going into buildings that are like labyrinths, where I find myself correcting people on they display methods of exhibiting their obviously fake artwork and completing totally random assignments. I'm always with people on my assignments although it never feels like they are trying to help me, it's for their own gain. Images of shooting tranquillizer darts, running away and being chased, and wanting to get out of the maze.

Mr Hagen's Reply: Global Dream Labyrinths and The Rat Race -or- Eco's Faith in Fakes

As Walter Benjamin in The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction understood, that we live in a modern consumer dream world of mass culture. In your dream, you are correcting others who are exhibiting fake artwork. The images of your dream, as the images of art are the stuff "kitch" is made of. Umberto Eco's "Travels through Hyperreality", was originally named "Faith in Fakes". Sound familiar? Our dreams have become dominated by "Veblen effects",  that have created narcissistic consumer dream patterns of conspicuous consumption, status seeking, amusement and alienation. Thorsten Veblen, "The Theory of the Leisure Class", had long ago recognized the dangers of a society built on the narcissistic foundations of consumerism and conspicuous consumption.

The American culture industry and the Hollywood dream factory has cultivated a growing global mass media culture, where false narcissistic needs become created and are satisfied by the dreams of conspicuous consumption. True needs, in contrast, such as freedom, creativity, or genuine happiness have become subservient to the consumer culture industry. In similar voice as Veblen's, Herbert Marcuse in "One Dimensional Man"  argued that mass media, advertising, and industrial management, had created a society predicated on a social order of consumerism. Many dreams sent to the IIDR speak about the behavioural economics of narcissistic driven consumers.

No wonder in your dream, eveyone wants to escape the maze. We are told, that we live in a so-called democratic society, however our freedom has become defined by our everyday advertized choices to buy happiness. The everyday behavioural consequences for ignoring the psychologically destructive effects of such a mass mediated consumer society and culture is evident in your dream. The dream has the feel of rats in a maze. "The Rat Race" is a poetic dystopian place, where no one is helping the other, instead everyone is selfishly out for themselves. From a game theoretical perspective, these social trap type of games are called zero sum games, where everyone competitively wants a narcissistic piece of the pie, before they die. Playing the game this way can only lead to motivational symptomatic patterns of pathological narcissistic communication and social behavioural dis-order. These psychological patterns are clearly evident in many dreams received by the IIDR.

Further Reading;

Daniel Boorstin The Image -or- What Happened to The American Dream



All material Copyright 2006 International Institute for Dream Research. All rights reserved.