Personal Branding as Invitation to let Capitalism into the Gene Pool / by Michael Garza

In an era so consumed with talks of self-worth, self-care, self-love, self-____ I hear somewhere in the language a forgetfulness, that we've lost all notion of that S Word apart from commodity. That money has hijacked our language, our psyche so thoroughly we have forgotten it's the shadow and not the tree, the icon has become the I. The dissolving of Donald Miller into the physical manifestation of Storybrand, the Artist Facebook Page for artists so we can follow your art activities apart from your day-to-day, every friend from out the blue who hits you with that Wish You Were Here invite....all the fruit of money. How money as a unit of value, backed by a treasury, formed into Trusts and Holdings all feign this idea of solid without having to show us their source.

I worry about this because I live under it's hand every day and seem to always be fighting against the one-dimensional bent of branding. Society can't help but group us because we can't get anything done without being on a list. The bins at Target though are cheap because they're meant to protect and store the unique value of the individual item. What I mean is we now live in a time when the individual is all there is, with every mild intellect not seeking to see through their tupperware but dismantle it altogether, having discovered all nuclei contains the power to pierce the cell wall. This isn't necessarily about Reductionism, but the way in which branding enforces singularity to shun complexity. We become The Football Guy, the Salsa Lover, the Avocado Whisperer (which are all wonderful things to be) but somehow, through a mental sleight of hand, end up nothing else at all. Don't overwhelm people's attention span with the fullness of who you are, give em just enough to make you stick. What's your shtick? Forget the song, what's the hook? Tell me who are in 20 words or less or I'll assume you don't even know yourself. Who told us this is OK?! I think i'll pin it on that old, little tyrant, sin. Even if we don't believe in "sin" classically the term pangs something in me every time I hear it. Could I be so broken only this vicious monosyllabic word can convey it? Even if I'm not THAT broken...why does it offend me? Perhaps there's some plumline between ego and sin, both too hideous and abrupt and true to deny.

What is it about ego that wants to be interpreted cohesively but the simultaneous promotion of a media -a social media - that wants us abridged, cliff-noted, summed up? The healthy step towards focusing one's life that Personal Branding comes off as stinks like a Hail-Mary effort to not be unknown, but to at least be known for _____. When knowing takes so fucking long, is so painful, that most of us opt to be unknown if that was the chief aim of all communication. Can't I just opt out of being understood if everyone's gonna be so mean, so egofull, so apt to pull a little bit of me off every time they touch and go? A poet quoting another poet recently wrinkled my brain with the maxim "Relating is overrated. Fuck relating." after referencing the story of student he was teaching who writhed over some work they read through remaining completely inaccessible to him. The poetry, even after consumption, could not be reached for comment. I'm skeptical that the internet will ever collapse under it's own weight because we don't let money thingys die (i.e.  the 2008 bailout), but I do wonder what kind of pain it will take to re-recognize the ancient wisdom of the book. Not exactly The Good Book or the kitschy love of books that infantalizes reading like it's the love of horology - a passion for the ash of the star, basically - but because books really are the most private, dignified, powerful totem for the need fulfill in us. Although I love video games not one has ever given me the kind of complete sense of missing a world I've never set physical foot in like the end of LOTR, or the bedrooms of Kavalier and Clay. I can't say there's no transcendence in "completing" Skyrim or in any digital experience - hell I'm banking on some right here. But I bow to books and how they uphold what they contain. Languages, myths, selves. Even branding in the most cruel and physical way gets circumvented, the body eats it as long as it lives and tries to bring it into the larger story. So I guess my personal brand is "Yes - but you're still a light for now and someone needs that" ? A little too long once you add the LLC if you ask me.