twitchell

Lux Populi

Isaac Mostovicz writes that ...

This week I came across an excellent essay by James Twitchell from the Winter 2007 issue of the Wilson Quarterly, a publication by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington DC. Lux Populi describes the commodification of luxury in an interesting and throught-provoking way.

Twitchell says that as Americans have developed an increasingly strong desire to associate themselves with recognized objects of little intrinsic but high positional value, they’ve been increasingly able to afford some form of luxury–it’s the “Twinkiefication of deluxe.” Twitchell argues that as everyone aspires to luxury, “luxury” is no longer something that differentiates.

There is very little cake a rich person once gorged on that a ­middle-­class person can’t get on his plate. You name it; I can taste it. So I can’t afford a casita on Bermuda, but I can get in on a time-share for a weekend. No, I can’t own a stretch limo, but I can rent one by the hour. Maybe Venice is out this year, but I’ll go to the Venetian in Vegas instead. I can’t afford an Armani suit, but what about these eyeglasses with Giorgio’s name plastered on them? Commodore Vanderbilt said that if you have to ask how much a yacht costs, you can’t afford one, but check out my stateroom on my chartered Majestic Princess. True, I don’t have my own Gulfstream V jet, but I can upgrade to first class on Delta with the miles I “earn” by using my American Express card. Is that my own Lexus out front? Or is it on lease from a used car dealer? You’ll never ­know.

Twitchell goes on to say that the very wealthy only have two genuine luxury items left: time and philanthropy. Overall it’s an interesting argument, and it certainly fits in with many of the trends we’ve been tracking on Janus Thinking. You can read the whole article here.

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