17 Feb 2017

Transience, Pillar of Modern Society (Part 2)

In Part 1 of this essay, we established that theoretically speaking whoever strives to defy time would be able to make a claim for immortality. Thus whoever claims to be immortal has transcended the timely restrictions imposed upon their life as a human. The notion of immortality takes us back to the catchy aliteration of the timeless timeline of Time. Timelessness evokes magnitude, amplitude, uninterrupted vastness in space and time. It expresses continuity, cohesion and stability.

The Ouroboros symbolises eternity. (Pict source)

Transience, on the other hand, sits precariously on the opposite end of the spectrum. Transience implies a notion of time that is fleeting, brief, truncated, interrupted, non-lasting, whimsical and ultimately unreliable and inefficient. This is about discontinuity. There is a sense of disturbance to it like an underwater current. Beware the underlying chaos!
Now referring to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the noun transience is defined as 'the quality or state of being transient.' Synonyms: Ephemerality, evanescence, impermanence, momentariness. Antonyms: Endurance, permanence.

The adjective transient is defined as 'passing especially quickly into and out of existence: transitory. [...] Passing through or by a place with only a brief stay or sojourn.'

Bearing in mind the immediate adversity imposed upon us by entropy and mortality, the human prerogative aims to make the most effective use of time within a competitive production model. For should it not to be the case, the process would ultimately lead to doom.

Detail of the Vault, Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, Ravenna, Italy

However it appears that our production model has redefined efficiency under a new paradigm. Efficiency used to involve durability under a long-lasting good or service. This as a mission statement had a vision to it, to serve not only the present but the future too. Transience does not and cannot sustain durability. It does not build upon an impetus, it interrupts it. A society whose production model is built upon transience is akin to a transient (casual) friendship that you cultivate with somebody: it does not grow roots or leaves, it does not evolve and deepen because there is no commitment to it, no fire, no bond, no guarantee. It is a stunted affair that remains so until the transient element is corrected.

The faceless banking corporations and multinationals that govern us have cleverly refashioned efficiency since the industrial heyday - and have accelerated its process with the coming of age of mass-consumerism. We mostly have one person to thank for this, Public Relations spin doctor and business insider Edward Bernays - Simon Freud's nephew - and a top influencer in the world of advertising and consumer psychology. He used consumer profiling to serve private interests, using strong-arm tactics to influence purchasing decision. He is indeed the father of customer trickery.

Another representation of eternity. (Pict source)

Bernays was also a trendsetter who wrapped both corporations and consumers tightly around his little finger. He for instance encouraged women to take up smoking by glamourising the cigarette in post-WWI New York City by way of savvy advertising campaigns that centered around personal gratification and desire, concepts that still ring true to this day in advertising. He also engineered water fluoridation PR campaigns to get public trust. Apart from getting us into bad habits, Bernays also wrote a few influential books, including Propaganda, a PR treatise whose most fervent reader was Joseph Goebbels, that's right, Hitler's henchman and future Minister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda under Germany's Third Reich.

When efficiency used to be defined by the clever use of time in order to accomplish a task and deliver a good or service via a process that would bring a lasting effect in terms of quality (to stand the test of time according to our human proclivities), this is no longer applicable. In the third and final part of this essay, we will see how vested interests have corrupted the production model under a socio-political ideology in order to reframe and rephrase efficiency, with transience at the core. I will describe the areas which I have identified as being of a transient nature, under the remodelled paradigm of efficiency. (to be continued)

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Transience, Pillar of Modern Society is a 3-part series:  Part 1  |  Part 2  |  Part 3

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