The marks of decay

April 28, 2023 by Lucian Mogosanu

This article is for the most part a rewrite of the older piece on the failure of marketing, but more importantly, of (Western) civilization as a whole. It's been more than seven years since then, so let us revisit the matter.

For starters, let me reinforce the statement that I'm not even going to discuss the moral decay involved, although that's very much part of the whole recipe. For once we here at The Tar Pit shall endeavour to be first and foremost pragmatic, and in being such we shall consider mainly the practical perspectives of said decay. We may ask, for example: what in this practical context of ours constitutes decay? or: when did this decay start to become visible to the naked (yet trained) eye? or even: what's that "deep, technical fault" that lies in a culture where education is impossible? actually, what the hell is this "education", even?

Well, as far as the matter of civilization is concerned, education -- among other practical pieces of the panoply constituting "civilization" -- is, or rather was first and foremost a standard; and so are, or rather were all the other pieces concerned: the bus arriving at a certain hour, the fork and the knife, the toilet, the soap and what have you -- these are all standards to be upheld by all who enter civilized society, standards which used to distinguish actual people from mere bipedal animals. Mind you, not just the items I've mentioned, certainly not some other select subset, but in fact all of them. The entirety of civilization was built upon a scaffolding of interrelated measures such as those provided in the previous practical examples.

In this context of standards, "decay" is, simply put, the lack thereof, or more precisely their erosion up to the point where all that remains is substanceless form. I suppose for example that you're familiar with Ballas' piece on grade inflation from way back in 2011, when most fools still dreamt of pantsuit utopias such as "ending world hunger", "no child left behind" and other such bedtime stories. Do you remember those, by the way? because I certainly recall some of y'all getting me irritated with this fabled progress. Well, it looks like the world has progressed indeed! only far from the direction and sense that you were expecting.

To get a better sense of this decay, let's get back to the practical example of markets and commerce and, as I possess nothing else to speak from but experience, let's turn the tape back to years 1985-1990, specifically in Eastern Europe, when Romanians had jack shit. They had no McDonald's (until 1995) and even with the entire centralized economic system built by the communists and their subjects, normal food was quite hard to find by the end of that decade. But assuming you were interested, you know what you could have? you could have sane computers built and sold locally. Quite an achievement for such a small country, wouldn't you think? and if not, then how do you explain the fact that they don't have any of that stuff anymore?

But let us delve deeper into another example: in 1990 chocolate was a relatively rare commodity. The older ladies who'd gone through hunger back in the 1940s knew how to make it at home out of cocoa, milk and butter and some of them even taught their daughters how to produce such wonders. Still, assuming your father was a Major in the Romanian army, you could get your hands on decent Western chocolate in limited quantities, for the most part on holidays such as Christmas. The overall scarcity drove even common folks towards some effort to getting their hands on basically anything that held the living standards to what they considered to be a decent level.

Fast forward fifteen to twenty years later, everyone and their dogs could get a chocolate or two from the local supermarket and I shit you not, on Christmas they'd buy like ten pieces per child, photograph it and upload the image on the platforms. Chocolate turned really cheap and at the same time it still held the image of high social status, at least among some folks -- and if chocolate doesn't do it for you, then just think of some more expensive item, or whatever helps you follow my point.

Now, by 2015 or so, chocolate became dirt cheap; and while the purely subjective assessment of quality-as-"taste" wouldn't amount to much, what I can say for sure is that chocolate helped decay in humans themselves. In 2011 I could see way more chubby kids on the streets, while in 2016 I would read about the rise in diabetes and cardiovascular diseases among the younger Romanian folks, while by 2020 everyone cowered in fear of The Great Cough. Bitch all you like at my sarcasm, but do you remember anything but the political matters? chief among them your time spent in isolation. I'm not even joking, I almost lost one of mine to the damned thing, and I saw many others crippled by the long-term effects, but tell me -- do you remember any of that? Because I bet your memory can barely hold whatever narrative Reality is pushing today on the damned Tubes, let alone the taste of chocolate from ten years ago or the illness from three years back.

Nowadays basic resources such as electricity, water and gas are marketed day in day out as precious commodities, while today's agitprop gang is hell bent on convincing you that washing daily is a terrible idea, crapfoods are the future and other such nonsense. I could speak about Western Europe and the US, but I started this piece with our Romania and thus I'll limit myself to it: our dear Romania is reliving its 1980s and most folks are poor and happy, or however you may put it in whatever doublespeak terms get packaged and sold to you on the very same Tubes. Either way, I did mention it a couple of years ago, didn't I? Don't you even dare bullshit me, as my domain name providers notified me just earlier today that they're unable to keep up with inflation. In other words, the time for cheap shit has passed yet again! Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Remember how back in 2004 Romanians were all about to up their standards, each and every one of them? Well, it's still ten hours or more by train to Timișoara, while there's no fabled highway connecting Bucharest to Oradea, no fabled town where folks don't obnoxiously crowd their streets with cars bought on credit, no fabled restaurants where you don't have to rely on a fucking menu to order, no fabled street without litter, no fabled group "consisting only of them good folks", and in general none of the fabled good stuff outside of what's on TV. A whole bunch of things are nowhere to be found, either because they disappeared or because they weren't there in the first place.

Imagine: a beautiful porcelain figure plagued by a gazillion microscopic cracks, readily disintegrated at the lightest touch. Perhaps I'm exaggerating, but in my exaggeration I can only observe that this is what the fabled ideals of the Enlightenment have been reduced to.

Well, enjoy whatever's on the menu!

Filed under: asphalt.
RSS 2.0 feed. Comment. Send trackback.

3 Responses to “The marks of decay”

  1. [...] is just a lateral point; the main point is that they're cheap, and as the cost of maintaining standards keep [...]

  2. [...] only fair, don't you think? The man was asking for minimum standards, nothing more. I repeat myself, but that's precisely why they're called "minimum standards": so you [...]

  3. [...] the traditional approach was to hold on to simple tastes resembling the homemade stuff and to avoid sugar overdosing. Makes one wonder whether communism wasn't in fact the peak era of this particular [...]

Leave a Reply