the (ont)ology of a shoe

Child Labour in Nepal

a shoe is if anything an object of mobility. we use it to get places. at least this is to implicate the object itself. it promises to get us from point a to point b. but, what of the other implications?

take for instance the rubber (that most shoes are made of) that was melted down to form this shoe. most likely in another country where wages aren’t near as equal (this is debatable here even in the West) as in the west; which is itself already a judgment made simply by speaking about an object such as a shoe. in the first few seconds of this post, we are already met with the ethics of an object. that to simply stake the claim that ‘a shoe is just a shoe’ is to provoke all kinds of injustices. namely, the factory that this object (most likely) emerged from, which includes perverse ethical conditions. and so when we purchase a shoe, we buy into such oppression. we advocate it.

what of the store and our purchase. remember, a purchase is the commitment to buy the product (as-is) and use it as specified (not always as-specified, which implies plurality of value) – this object then carries with it a specified value or, at best, a promise of value-to-come (i.e., buying ice-cream so i can later enjoy its taste). the value then is not inherent to the object. the value is a promise of value-to-come. hence, why we cannot speak of commodity as something with inherent potential, but only as something to arrive. and so when we participate in such a trading system, we then participate in creating value or imposing value upon an object that might otherwise have no-value-at-all. we are value-makers. but what is value if not a form of meaning, a desire for meaning then resides within us and drives us to desire more meaning.

hence why, after we purchase the item, we want some use of it – to make meaning out of this new commoditized object. to find enjoyment in such an object. we need it to not only carry monetary value, but also utilitarian (use) value. the store itself plays both political voice, ethical voice and capitalist psyche which all promote the well-being of the state over the purchaser (although marketing would have you believe otherwise) for it is in the object purchase that commerce is infinitely recycled. and so the state finds its very purpose/enjoyment in the loss of an object into the hands of one of its subordinated subjects (i.e., we must use money; ‘money makes the world go round’ and etc.). it is the enjoyment of the object that draws us back to the object – chemical junkies. we then continue the practice through every facet of our experience, for we think enjoyment is at the center of what makes us human – and in doing so – create joy into machinery that over time begins controlling us (rather than the other way around). as you have already discovered: a shoe is never simply a shoe.

seven thirty bourke street

but do we not see the issue here, the object alone does not have value – we either give/impose/desire-to-come the object value so we can then feel as if we have a purpose behind such a purchase. and so it is the shoe that gives meaning to our mobility, or our desire for mobility.

and this relationship begins with a purchase – and this is important, the moment we make the purchase, we then are made subject to the object – for we have enforced meaning into the object, and in a sense the object becomes in a simple form – a big other – an object that informs my interpretations and translations of reality (i.e., without the shoe i might be not be socialized and possibly looked down upon, without the name-brand people might think i am poor, without the shoe i might be injured and so it keeps me safe from harm and etc.)

the purchase itself is represented in the form of a transaction. the relationship between the purchaser-the object(i.e., the shoe)-and the vendor becomes solely about the exchange of value. the commodity. but it stops being about the shoe once the transation begins and becomes more about transacting the relationship, for the relationship might not exist otherwise without the object mediating-for it. in our humanity, it seems we have become inundated with the paradigmatic prison of meaning. which means that we have learned to believe the lie that the only we can have/maintain social relationships is via some other object that mediates-for the relationship – even if that object is belief.


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