Paths are the habits of a landscape
Paths are the habits of a landscape. They are acts of consensual making. It’s hard to create a footpath on your own […]. Paths connect. This is their first duty and their chief reason for being. They relate places in a literal sense, and by extension they relate people.
Paths are consensual, because without common care and common practice they disappear: overgrown by vegetation, ploughed up or built over. Paths need walking. In 19th century Suffolk small sickles called ‘hooks’ were hung on stiles and posts at the start of certain well-used paths: those running between villages, for example. A walker would pick up a hook and use it to lop off branches that were starting to impede passage. The hook would then be left at the other end of the path, for a walker coming in the opposite direction. In this manner the path was collectively maintained for general use.
When I design online ads for American Apparel, I almost always look for an angle that will provoke. Outrage, self-righteousness, and titillation all work equally well. Naturally, the sexy ones are probably those you remember most, but the formula worked for all types of images. Photos of kids dressed up like adults, dogs wearing clothes, ad copy that didn’t make any sense—all high-valence, viral images. If I could generate a reaction, I could propel the ad from being something I had to pay for people to see (by buying ad inventory) to something people would gladly post on the front page of their highly trafficked websites.
But entertainment has the merit not only of being better suited to helping sell goods; it is an effective vehicle for hidden ideological messages. Furthermore, in a system of high and growing inequality, entertainment is the contemporary equivalent of the Roman “games of the circus” that diverts the public from politics and generates a political apathy that is helpful to preservation of the status quo.