55 statements About the Culture


From New Republic (August 21, 1995)

by Douglas Coupland

  1. Abundance renders all issues personal and apolitical.
  2. All inflection of individualism has been codified.
  3. Art about art is over.
  4. Art-for-art's-sake remains valid.
  5. As elites dwindle into pointless cliques, they cease constituting a boutique audience.
  6. Borders are interesting because they generate difference and hence newness.
  7. Bourgeois torpor is infinitely superior to living in an ant colony.
  8. Commodity fetishism is a recognizably biological impulse.
  9. Consensual hierarchy is not necessarily oxymoronic.
  10. Consumeristic cultures being forced to share intellectual hegemony with less consumeristic cultures is not going to be a graceful process.
  11. Desire seems to have boiled down to shopping.
  12. Demonize the symbolic analysts.
  13. Detachment is now a sentimental viewpoint.
  14. Elites are too preoccupied with bunkering to waste time coddling avant-gardes.
  15. Even the most individual statements, if copied enough, become assembly-line.
  16. Ideologies are often adopted as poses by people who wish to avoid engaging in discourses they find tiresome.
  17. If it feels exclusive, it's probably doomed.
  18. If we can tell it's yours, it will be taken away.
  19. If you possess a recognizable style, then good for you.
  20. If you wish to both steal it and vandalize it, it may well be art.
  21. If your authorship is detectable, you must conceal the tingle of pleasure you feel upon recognition.
  22. If your creation is recognizably yours, you must be punished.
  23. In the future everybody will be the same.
  24. Individualism exhausts most people.
  25. Individuals will not assign themselves social responsibility in the absence of perceived social cohesion.
  26. Leisure time is a joke.
  27. Linear time feels both laughable and terrifying.
  28. Making art while having an audience inside your head is corrupt.
  29. Making statements purely about society indicates a lack of individual character.
  30. Media manipulation seems dated.
  31. Money still dictates the taxonomy of newness.
  32. New York is too preoccupied with other issues to generate avant-gardes.
  33. One feels pity for cultures unwilling to subsidize difficult ideas.
  34. One sentimentalizes liberalism yet also recognizes its obsolete dimensions.
  35. Only art that speaks to everybody counts.
  36. Other people are irrelevant.
  37. Other people are the only possible future.
  38. Paint is a joke.
  39. Personal memory and corporate memory are so blurred together that individualism has become a shaky concept.
  40. Place is a joke.
  41. Pre-empting criticism through the clever use of strategy is boring.
  42. Relief from anxiety in exchange for individual identity is a bad trade.
  43. Security guards are the only modern component of modern art museums.
  44. Secretly yearning for a big new movement is laughably naive.
  45. Serial innovation by an individual human is the only respectable dimension of creation.
  46. Sexual art is often merely therapy.
  47. Skill is sentimental.
  48. Technology got us into this; technology will get us out.
  49. The middle classes are an historically transitory tribe necessary only for the studious creation of new technologies and will soon be obsolete.
  50. Victimology proved unable to generate objects of commodity value.
  51. You mistake the effects of social disengagement for dwindling abundance.
  52. You mistake the effects of dwindling abundance for social disengagement.
  53. You never hear the word "ego" used anymore.
  54. Your longing for an end of history reveals your anger at having to be an individual.
  55. Your own awareness of your own complicity in the commodification process is no longer of any concern.