The Soul of Things
This circuit of desire and meaning within commodities is possible because capitalist mass production decontextualizes the object by removing workers - and thus consumers - from any direct relation to the manufactured commodity. It is consequently emptied of meaning - in production and consumption a concrete lived relation is replaced by an abstract one. The object is emptied of the meaning it once possessed in more traditional, agrarian societies. This is not a nostalgia for quaint objects or picaresque ways of life but the recognition of historical discontinuities that were created by very conscious decisions of capitalist production. We are all consumers. Advertising in general attempts to replace the lost meanings, to establish and control the new contexts of objects and consumption. Dichter’s achievement was to go to the site where the connections to things always resided; in our unconscious and our emotional attachment to objects.