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Re: [microsound] hype

Hype and fashion are nothing new. It is natural that in order to sell new
products, new desires must be created within the marketplace. The hype
machine merely takes advantage of the fact that many individuals are so
ideologically blinded that they believe their individuality rests on having
consumption patterns that are avant garde and ahead of the curve; whereas
surely what makes individuals properly individual is their ethical substance
and their manner of thinking and behaving, not just the cultural artifacts
they choose to consume. Unfortunately, freedom for most people is precisely
nothing but the freedom to consume from a wide a variety of commodities, and
individualism is simply the ability to make the smart, hip, or ironic choice
and buy the coolest commodity.

>From a Marxist viewpoint, it is not HYPE that transforms the use value into
exchange value. The very nature of commodities as commodities, is that they
exist only for their exchange value. The use value, on the other hand, is
not in the mathematical sense a value, cannot be measured, varies from
individual to individual, and indeed can be and is created after the fact
through the process of advertising and socialization that teaches consumers
to desire specific types of goods available within the capitalist

To say a commodity has use value is merely to say that some individuals
desire it enough to purchase it. Hype, and all marketing generally, exist to
create and enhance the desire for objects which exist for the sake of their
exchange value. In essence, use value, especially for cultural artifacts, is
to some degree created after the fact. Commodities exist only to be
exchanged, and not because there is some inherent demand for them within the
market, because that demand itself is industrially manufactured by the
advertising industry. While humans do have specific desires, it is a mass
social process that must be undertaken to transform these general human
desires into desires for particular commodities.

Here is the classic quote from Marx on commodities in his chapter on
commodity fetishism:

"A commodity appears at first sight, a very trivial thing, and easily
understood. Its analysis shows that it is, in reality, a very queer thing,
abounding in metaphysical subtleties and theological niceties. So far as it
is a value in use, there is nothing mysterious about it, whether we consider
it from the point of view that by its properties it is capable of satisfying
human wants, or from the point that those properties are the product of
human labour. It is as clear as noon-day, that man, by his industry, changes
the forms of the materials furnished by nature. The form of wood, for
instance, is altered by making a table out of it. Yet, for all that the
table continues to be that common, every-day thing, wood. But, so soon as it
steps forth as a commodity, it is changed into something transcendent. It
not only stands with its feet on the ground, but, in relation to all other
commodities, it stands on its head, and evolves out of its wooden brain
grotesque ideas, far more wonderful than if it were to dance of its own
accord."  ~Karl Marx


On Sun, Sep 7, 2008 at 3:49 PM, Kim Cascone <kim@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:

> excerpt from longer article found here:
> http://www.nplusonemag.com/issue-six-mainstream?q=node/473
> 'No, the problem with hype is that it transforms the use value of a
> would-be work of art into its exchange value. For in the middle (there's no
> end) of the hype cycle, the important thing is no longer what a song, movie,
> or book does to you. The big question is its relationship to its reputation.
> So instead of abandoning yourself to the artifact, you try to exploit
> inefficiencies in the reputation market. You can get in on the IPO of a new
> artist, and trumpet the virtues of the Arctic Monkeys before anyone else has
> heard of them: this is hype.'