Soul-ing Consumption (part II)

Edward O. Wilson’s biophilia hypothesis suggests that humans possess an innate tendency to seek connections with nature and other forms of life. I argue that, similarly, within each of us resides a longing to be touched by the essences, or souls, of the world. We yearn to perceive these souls - the sacredness of life - to satiate our hunger for aisthesis.

This desire for aisthesis increases in our modern societies. Aisthesis might be translated - or at least related - to Hartmut Rosa’s concept of resonance. The term resonance is taken from physics and commonly describes a subject-object relationship as a vibrating system in which both sides mutually stimulate each other. Being in resonance with our environment means that we are stimulated (or touched) by our environment, and we stimulate (or touch) our environment in return. It’s a reciprocal way of being in relation. According to Rosa, modernity has undergone a process of acceleration, where societal and technological changes have significantly increased the pace of life, creating a sense of dissonance and alienation or a lack of aisthesis. In response to this acceleration, Rosa argues that individuals and societies seek resonance to counteract these negative effects and regain a sense of fulfillment and authenticity.

To experience resonance, we need to be affected; we need to be touched. In “Zombies in Western Culture: A Twenty-First Century Crisis,” Vervaeke et al. point out that  “Our penchant for touch is, ultimately, what distinguishes intimate relationships from non-intimate ones, not only relationships with people, but with animals, objects, and concepts. The more “in touch” we are with something, the closer and more connected we are to that thing. Touch is the medium of intimacy. … Touch is the arbiter of “real.” Assertions of verity are always made with permutations of a touch metaphor. Those with whom we are intimate are more real to us. Objects we have handled are more real to us. Emotions we have felt are more real to us. Losing touch costs us our grasp on reality”.

Consumption - buying that fits pair of jeans or that bigger apartment - ceases to touch us. Because we don’t perceive the essence.