Submitted by cuz on Wed, 02/26/2014 - 10:44
Yesterday I had a little adventure around 선정릉 in Gangnam that has got my thoughts all in a flurry. I was on my way to a meeting of the City Knowledge Unit (CKU), which is an academic, business, and government group organized to promote Korea's model of urban development overseas. It has grown out of a similar group that concentrated on developing a strategy for expanding Korean construction overseas. On my way to the meeting I was reading the war machines chapter in A Thousand Plateaus, so perhaps I was just overly sensitive.
On the train (분당선), the first cognitive disjuncture was passing through Apgujong Rodeo Station (압구정로데오역), which explicitly evokes Rodeo Drive in LA. To me, this just seems like slavish mimicry and empty aspirations for conspicuous consumption. I increasingly fail to understand how anyone can fetishize the absurdly priced, supposedly fashionable objects offered for sale in the stores that populate such neighborhoods. Of course, the purchase of such goods is really to evoke the envy of one's peers and to assert one's equivalence or superiority over them. In short, conspicuous consumption is an external sign of power (generally). But I fail to understand why someone can believe that such competition can make them happy. (Perhaps it's just because I'm not wealthy!)*