Prometheus

Prometheus stole fire from the heavenly lord and shared it with mere mortals. For this the lord condemned him to never ending torture. The Argentine thinker Jorge Luis Borges is partial to “universal” themes, believing there are only so many different ones which are repeated through history and within different cultures. This one may once again be coming into its own. In the days following the US inauguration, some demonstrators ascended a construction crane and unfurled a large “Resist” banner. In those first days after the swearing in there were many national and DC, as well as world wide demonstrations, most notably the Women’s March. Were these acts of resistance? Were they effective? After the passage of the Patriot Act many questioned whether resistance was even possible. Indeed the scope and intensity of any demonstrations world wide (including the US) was greatly dampened. The covert desire for resistance appears to be growing, yet is it politically possible? Commenting on the White House’s Steve Bannon’s claim that the news media is the opposition, the Washington Post’s Mark Shields stated this appeared to be an accurate assessment – there are no Democrat majority state governments to be found between the few that are situated on either coast (PBS Newshour 1-27-17). Political resistance appears de facto impossible. But what if we reinterpreted the current administration as being one of a corporate merger? Indeed, not only the nation’s chief executive but most of his cabinet are former business executives or associates of that largesse. What if instead of resistance politically, we consider resistance to brand hegemony? Historically, within the US, there are many instances of brand hegemony. Coca Cola was ubiquitous over a half century ago. Even the movie Dr. Strangelove referenced its esteemed precedence to the US government. In Italy it was claimed the logo was more widespread than crucifixes. Other brands, like Levi, Sony and ultimately Microsoft, influenced not only individuals, culture and national policy but also international relations and exchange. Resistance to brand dominance may be difficult but it has shown to be quite doable. What of the blatant merger of commercial branding with political governance, something as yet not witnessed by the world? Prometheus stole the lord’s fire and shared it with mortals, in essence making it generic. A brand’s identity centers on equating it exclusively with some quality, thereby instilling the myth of greater value. To be generic is to upset that equation, for one item or service is as effective as another, with some difference but little exceptionalism. The current administration is striving mightily with its opposition, the news media, in order to establish its brand—exclusive identity with quality leadership for the intended myth of inherent value. Notice the 45th president’s language. It is filled with superlatives and hyperbole (even “factual hyperbole”) for what favors the establishment of his brand, denigration and vehement vitriol for anything inhibiting that brand identity. The news media compulsively and obsessively counters with attacks on this new “exceptionalism,” with its strange take on facts, truth and ego. Each reference to the “exceptionalism” of the new administration only bolsters the administration’s quest for brand identity, contributes towards the creation of its brand identity. No resistance to be found here with this kind of “opposition.” Resistance appears to be found, rather, with the demystification and disintegration of exceptionalism and its exclusivity. What if we used the president’s superlatives and hyperbole to describe generic occurrences, everyday events? Like Prometheus, we need to steal the fire of exceptionalism and share it with the everyday. Acts of creativity and ingenuity, done because they are possible, are much more effective resistance to corporate brand government than any hoped for political machinations within the Republican Party. What an amazing and incredible night’s sleep was had in our fantastic bed! Everyone should be so blessed. Could a $2,000 a night hotel mattress supply a better night’s rest? The generic resists the brand mystique. It steals the fire of exceptionalism and exclusivity. Then again, there’s always the vengeful lord’s never ending torture to contend with. But that’s a story for another day.

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