When joy is directed outwards, it enters the public space where – in the eyes of others – it sometimes gets a darker shade. Appreciating music or parties is commonplace, but “indulging” in “stuff” is often not seen as a positive emotion.
It’s a bit weird though. Things can be fun. I very much enjoy my camera, a bouquet of flowers, a nice new shirt, my bike, vacation, the list goes on. Driving fast cars is fun. Watching beautiful people is fun. (Whom do I have to convince, this is the internet!)
Greed and gluttony are among the seven deadly sins, philosophy books have been written about minimalism, “consumption” is often at the center of societal critique from progressives and conservatives. But is our problem really “excessive consumption?” Or rather incomplete consumption? To “consume” something means to consume it fully, to take it all in, to enjoy it to the last drop. In this sense, it’s not the 50 unread books we consume, it’s the one which’s pages are tattered and filled with marginalia. It’s not the unworn dress that’s consumed, it’s the one that makes us cry the day it finally rips apart after the 27th day at the beach. Maybe there should be something excessive in the way we enjoy our things. If that also means we need less that’s a welcome bonus.
(The image is from the German Christmas Market in Taipei, 2021. Many German manufacturers presented their products, and especially the cars found many fans.)