Thursday 19 January 2012 – Accumulation…

As human beings we have an uncanny ability to collect and accumulate. Lets think deeply about this for a moment… We have been conditioned by our cultural environment and construct to collect and accumulate. If we are not accumulating materialistic possessions we are accumulating experiences. Perhaps the need to collect experiences is an underlying unconscious drive for the vast majority of the time and further, stems from our bodies, souls, spirits, etc needing to constantly evolve and devolve cyclically in order to gain what we are all ultimately searching for which is greater understanding or greater awareness.

But why the need to “hoard”. There are probably a number of factors: consumerism and the push from large corporations pressuring the consumer market through means of planned obsolescence. But allow yourself to go a step further in to time and observe our ancestors and what we know of them. Lets go back to our genetic lineage and trace our actions from there and how these actions have influenced our genetic code and perhaps even current behavioural patterns. You see what happens now is simply a repeat of what has happened throughout all of our existence, it simply presents itself relevant to the cultural context of today’s day and age. Back to our genetic lineage… In reality Palaeolithic human did not know when his or her next meal was going to be, life was dangerous and it was not scarce but it was difficult to survive, due to the lack of adaptation and evolution that had developed at that early stage. What we did figure out though was how to do the best with what we had and that was to accumulate and conserve, for this lead to a greater chance of survival. Interesting to contemplate, does it carry any relevance and truth to today’s world? I believe so, what are your thoughts? SS.

Accumulation = survival

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3 Responses to Thursday 19 January 2012 – Accumulation…

  1. Joe T says:

    Im not sure about the evolutionary roots of accumulation, but in modern times it appears as if accumulation is attached to our sense of identity. As you said, some accumulation is of material possessions, some is of experiences.. in any case, what we value is what we collect, and hence identifies who we are.

    In all cases our collections are a representation of either who we are or who we want to be. they represent which “tribe” we belong to. If we own a mac computer we are a cool “mac” not a bring clunky “PC” If we own a Harley we belong to a clan of people that can be clearly identified through out the world. If I’m a traveller, then my identity is rooted in the fact that I am free to go any where and see any thing. As a photographer, one collect instants in time, where i can say “i was in that place at that time and now i share this instant with you” I hope you get the idea.

    What ever you collect, it says a great deal about who you are. Who you want to be and what you hold dear

  2. Christian says:

    Nice idea,

    I think this a really interesting and complex topic that has a few possible dimensions to it.

    I agree that the accumulation of possessions and wealth is to some degree planted deep in the human psyche and is a common theme throughout human culture. However, while collecting physical possessions may fulfil inherited ‘hunter- gather’ dispositions, there may be other possibilities that act in parallel to cause this phenomena…

    Below is an extract from a paper that describes Terror Management Theory (Lykins, Segerstrom, Averill, Evans & Kemeny, 2007)

    ‘Terror Management Theory posits that humans possess an instinctive drive for self-preservation but also have an understanding of the inevitability of death, which can produce existential anxiety. Humans manage this anxiety by living in accord with a cultural worldview in which their lives are imbued with worldview-consistent meaning, permanence, and stability.’

    The next paragraph discusses what happens when our human vulnerability and inevitable death becomes available and prominent as either a non-conscious mental representation or at a conscious level (mortality salience);

    ‘Experimental evidence suggests that induction of mortality salience promotes worldview defence in the form of greater emphasis placed on personally and culturally valued, but extrinsic, goals such as physical attractiveness, materialism, and wealth.’

    Maybe it’s possible that hoarding and collecting of worldly possessions also provide a physical anchor and connection to our surrounding environment which offers us a quasi-security and solidifies our place in the world. Maybe hoarding can waylay our fears of death and the extent of our own vulnerability?

    If this is true, can one really be happy to rely on external objects and symbols that lie outside of the self as a means to feel secure and our minds avoidant to the inevitability of life?

  3. Stef says:

    Very interesting points guys… Thank you for the feed back, greatly appreciated. Another theory lies in more recent historical events with the introduction of culturally accepted consumerism as associated with possesions leading to social prestige and acceptance. These consequences have intense psychological effects on group think and also individual self perceived value and self worth…

    Nevertheless, interesting times…


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