Christmas shopping: three things

1: Momus’ recent post about Japanese v Western attitudes to capitalism:

[…] we in the West continue to designate certain things as “evil”, and therefore make them so. We do this because we like to think we’re outside certain things, getting our hands dirty touching them only when we have to. We do this with our necessities and our pleasures. Business is “a necessary evil” and pleasure is “guilty pleasure”.

2: Tom Stoppard at the Opera House on Sunday, in conversation with Andrew Upton and Geoffrey Rush: describes the pleasures of theatre as a “pragmatic”, collaborative artform, in which plays may have to be trimmed for length to allow cast members to get the train home, or to avoid having to pay overtime to the crew, and caps it with the quip: “this is because of a Faustian bargain. It’s called ‘capitalism’.” [laughter]

3: I’ve never understood people who sneer at “the commercialisation of Christmas”; shopping is part of the fun. Even leaving capitalism aside, any economic arrangement I can imagine, no matter how utopian, would have to have a way for individuals to say “I want this more than I want that”. A lot of the pleasure of buying something lies in this, I think – you are endorsing your tastes with your resources, literally buying into something you like. This is why I’m not interested in music downloading; part of me thinks “if you’re not willing to pay for your music, you can’t really like it that much.” Christmas shopping is fun because I get the pleasure of buying without the guilt of spoiling myself.


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