Can We Create Ourselves Like Works of Art?
Danny Sheaf, PhD Candidate
Today, we are enmeshed in the practices and logic of consumer marketing. In this lecture, I will offer a critical engagement with the world of consumer marketing that sells us the optimistic notion that we can, like the corporate brand, continually refashion and reinvent ourselves in ways that celebrate our individual freedom and release us from any imposed ‘mass conformism’. In so doing, I will argue that this act of ‘self-branding’ is premised on a view of the self as an introspective ‘object’ and ‘project’; both the ‘thing’ that we are and that which we reflectively ‘create’. As such, we must relentlessly concern ourselves with our own and other people’s impressions and assessments of us. Paradoxically, this introspective self is positioned as the product of our own individual freedom that is fundamentally a-historical and a-political whilst, I suggest, remaining a product of our historical, political moment.