The Hidden Surplus

Very Girardian blog post at yesterday, analogising the way that the marketing of commercial products engages our mediated desires as a way to talk about negative theology:

“When an ad attempts to sell us something, the object is presented as possessing a surplus beyond its immediate function. …  This surplus that adverts sell us is not explicitly stated. It is simply expressed indirectly through the desire that the product is told to inspire in others (through the image of people looking satisfied by possessing it, or unhappy by not possessing it etc.). For, as soon as a product is demythologised, it no longer emanates that mysterious ‘x’, the surplus that supposedly will offer us more than the satisfaction of a particular need. The direct, dispassionate gaze dissipates this ‘x’.”

Don’t think I actually agree with his conclusions concerning negative theology, but his advertising examples and analysis are excellent descriptions of how we (consciously and unconsciously) desire not the object itself but the being of the other who seems to desire the object.


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