Today's globalized culture wants to deracinate us
A nation is a story that a people chooses to tell about itself, and at its heart is a stumbling but deep-felt need for those people to be connected to the place they live and to each other. Humans in all times and places have needed ancestors, history, a place to be and a sense of who they are as a collective, and modernity and rationalism have not abolished these needs [for belonging]. […] If we want to see what a world without belonging would look like, we have only to look around. If an identity is an alliance between people and places, then airport-lounge modernity means taking the places out of the picture. All that is left is people who could be anywhere: citizens of nowhere, consumers of objects and experiences, connected by their little screens […].
[The word] parochial denotes the small and the particular and the specific. It can also mean insular and narrow-minded, but it doesn’t have to, any more than ‘cosmopolitan’ has to mean snobbish and rootless. This negative meaning has attached itself to the word because contemporary globalised culture is resolutely anti-parochial. It sets out to destroy local particularity and our attachment to it, because if we remain attached to it we may not buy into the placeless nowhere civilisation that is being built around the globe in the name of money.
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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.