Re: aesthetics of existence

Alan Aycock wrote:

> (stuff deleted) . . . my argument would be that souci de soi is peculiarly
>adaptable to techniques >of the self that are associated with one perspective
>on women's power/knowledge, i.e.,
>shopping practices and the "soft virtues" of comfort, convenience, safety,
>style, and care. in fact, i'm writing an article along these lines,
>collecting store brochures and mail catalogs to use as data on consumer

Can you elaborate here? Your approach seems mighty superficial and very
much contingent on marketing demographics -- or else I'm totally
misunderstanding where you are headed with this. I am all too familiar with
direct mail catalogues and brochures for luxury items (makeup, clothing,
household gadgetry) that focus on packaging the female body to conform to
male standards of beauty or which depend upon stereotypically banal images
of home-and-hearth feminity to sell their stuff. The "lifestyles" depicted
in the the bulk of these catalogues and department store brochures (check
your Sunday ad supplement) which attempt to "sell" luxury, convenience,
style and safety to women are more often than not not so thinly veiled
normalizing techniques designed solely to fuel consumption, i.e. sell us
stuff that we really don't need -- stuff "guaranteed" fulfill a longing or
desire that can never be satisfied by "stuff." Women (and other key groups
in various ways) are demographically targeted for this kind of consumerist
crap. In your application of Foucault's care of the self to women and their
shopping practices how will you account for so many pre-existing (need I
say culturally ingrained) assumptions, biases and stereotypes? I guess I
tend to see women's shopping practices (as they are encouraged in our
culture) as a way of caring not for the self but for everything but the

Kathryn Zervos


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