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bags, ink pens and status anxiety [a short discourse]
Anxiety symptoms

Image by the|G|™

luis vuitton, mont blanc and status anxiety [a short discourse].


when we talk about such things as louis vuitton luggage and mont blanc pens we are talking primarily [and almost entirely] about status symbols.

in a utilitarian sense, [and arguably an aesthetic sense] a louis vuitton bag or mont blanc pen is no more useful or beautiful than a similar product costing 10 or 20 times less.

given this fact, what is the purpose of such products as louis vuitton luggage and mont blanc ink pens?

the real purpose behind products such as these is not necessarily to please the owner, their social utility resides in what they communicate to everybody else who looks at these products and thence whoever owns them.

and if the viewer is aware of the language, the message that the status symbol ‘should’ send to the culturally initiated, then they may read the story.


stories through product.

every single thing we own, every single thing we wear, every single thing in our homes tells a story about us.

owned objects tell stories about those who own them.

though some objects have developed into ‘personal advertisements’ which behave in a very particular way.

many [usually expensive] objects are bought primarily not as useful or even beautiful things, they are bought simply as objects to be seen by other people.

to be clear again, these objects are called status symbols.

with respect to a piece of louis vuitton luggage, or a mont blanc pen, there are no good utilitarian, qualitative or aesthetic reasons whatsoever for buying these products.

they are not even necessarily ‘the best’ of that particular product a consumer can possibly buy.

there are products that serve exactly the same purpose, and work equally as well as those products which are status symbols, but cost considerably less.

but these products do not function successfully as status symbols.

this is because they do not communicate those things which the buyer of a status symbol wants their purchased status symbol to communicate.

a mont blanc pen or louis vuitton bag exists primarily as a signal; it exists as a recognisable physical manifestation and personal advertisement of the perceived status of the consumer that owns it.

again, the status symbol product very often functions no better in any utile sense than their non-status-symbol equivalents, but costs ten, twenty or thirty times more.



a strange thing regarding status symbols.

of course, the strange thing about status symbols is that the people looking at them need to know exactly what the object is worth to receive the signal the owner wishes to send.

they need to know exactly what the status symbol is meant to mean.

what that status symbol is meant to say.

if a person owns an £800 mont blanc pen, and the person looking at the pen is entirely unaware of the brand or the ludicrously high price, then the pen simply becomes the same as every other pen.

when the viewer is unaware of what the status symbol ‘should’ be saying, the status symbol ceases entirely to be effective in terms of communicating the correct social and status signal to the viewer.

it is reduced to the status of base product, and as such communicates nothing other than the fact it is yet another product. yet another purchased object amongst countless other purchased objects.

this is why advertising and fashion media outlets make sure as many people as is possible know the correct signal any given status symbol should communicate.


product – the lingua franca of the socially anxious.

in effect what we have are groups of peers signalling to each other their social status using purchased products.

in order to understand french people i need to be able to speak french.

in order to understand what a person’s status symbols are saying about that person, i need to understand the language of their status symbols.

so it is not any notion of quality or craftsmanship that makes a status symbol expensive, it is its power to tell those who understand the status symbol something [often entirely false] about the owner.

alain de botton proposes the theory of status anxiety in his exceptional book of the same name.

i think the behaviour patterns that come about as a result of status anxiety have existed for a very long time indeed.

that said, i think we now live in an age where status anxiety and conspicuous consumption can be said to be amongst the primary driving forces of almost every human being in any given developed nation.

as i mentioned, much more often than not, the function of a status symbol has little or nothing to do with its utilitarian, or indeed, aesthetic value.

it exists to tell other people exactly how much you spent in buying it.

this seems pitiful to me.

are the vast majority of people so personally and socially insecure that they need to commit themselves to purchase ever more products to ensure their position and status in their given peer group.

once again, i assert that these people are displaying the symptoms of mental illness.


we buy to be who we are not.

as we can see with the preposterous rise of the ‘designer label’.

anything can be called a designer product.

a pen; a car, a table, a pair of sunglasses, an item of clothing, a camera, running shoes, a handbag, and item of crockery, and item of cutlery.

anything can be called a designer product.

anything can be a status symbol.

you simply have to convince people of the correct ‘story’ it tells with regard to the owner.

once you can do this successfully, you can sell any monkey buyer ‘shit with a ribbon on’ [as my father used to call products of this nature].


a distant acquaintance twice removed has a daughter.

a few years ago the daughter found herself in a position of owning a great deal of money in terms of personal debt. thousands and thousands of pounds.

she asked her parents if they would buy her a mont blanc pen as a birthday present for her.

once again, i have a say that this is, to me, mental illness.

i can see no other sensible name to give these patterns of behaviour.

my apologies to natalia :)


links of further interest:

alain de botton – status anxiety:

TED lecture – tim jackson – economic reality check:

NB one very important thing i will add.

if you change your circle of friends, you can change your life.

i think you know very well what i mean.


PS – the question has been asked of me ‘why che’?

i think i will leave it to a flickr contact to explain the reason:


you see?

26 Kommentare zu “M3Clinician-report.depression.bipolar.anxiety

  1. A Dharma Bum Autor des Beitrags

    believing the stories these status symbols tell is the equivalent of believing in god.

    alain de botton rocks.

    but why che?

  2. rchrdstranger Autor des Beitrags

    (as always)
    "HALLOWEEN" Persona???

    A very HAPPY & SAFE




    (words & music, and as performed




    You will not be able to stay home, brother.
    You will not be able to plug in, turn on and cop out.
    You will not be able to lose yourself on skag and skip,
    Skip out for beer during commercials,
    Because the revolution will not be televised.

    The revolution will not be televised.
    The revolution will not be brought to you by Xerox
    In 4 parts without commercial interruptions.
    The revolution will not show you pictures of Nixon
    blowing a bugle and leading a charge by John
    Mitchell, General Abrams and Spiro Agnew to eat
    hog maws confiscated from a Harlem sanctuary.
    The revolution will not be televised.

    The revolution will not be brought to you by the
    Schaefer Award Theatre and will not star Natalie
    Woods and Steve McQueen or Bullwinkle and Julia.
    The revolution will not give your mouth sex appeal.
    The revolution will not get rid of the nubs.
    The revolution will not make you look five pounds
    thinner, because the revolution will not be televised, Brother.

    There will be no pictures of you and Willie May
    pushing that shopping cart down the block on the dead run,
    or trying to slide that color television into a stolen ambulance.
    NBC will not be able predict the winner at 8:32
    or report from 29 districts.
    The revolution will not be televised.

    There will be no pictures of pigs shooting down
    brothers in the instant replay.
    There will be no pictures of pigs shooting down
    brothers in the instant replay.
    There will be no pictures of Whitney Young being
    run out of Harlem on a rail with a brand new process.
    There will be no slow motion or still life of Roy
    Wilkens strolling through Watts in a Red, Black and
    Green liberation jumpsuit that he had been saving
    For just the proper occasion.

    Green Acres, The Beverly Hillbillies, and Hooterville
    Junction will no longer be so damned relevant, and
    women will not care if Dick finally gets down with
    Jane on Search for Tomorrow because Black people
    will be in the street looking for a brighter day.
    The revolution will not be televised.

    There will be no highlights on the eleven o’clock
    news and no pictures of hairy armed women
    liberationists and Jackie Onassis blowing her nose.
    The theme song will not be written by Jim Webb,
    Francis Scott Key, nor sung by Glen Campbell, Tom
    Jones, Johnny Cash, Englebert Humperdink, or the Rare Earth.
    The revolution will not be televised.

    The revolution will not be right back after a message
    bbout a white tornado, white lightning, or white people.
    You will not have to worry about a dove in your
    bedroom, a tiger in your tank, or the giant in your toilet bowl.
    The revolution will not go better with Coke.
    The revolution will not fight the germs that may cause bad breath.
    The revolution will put you in the driver’s seat.

    The revolution will not be televised, will not be televised,
    will not be televised, will not be televised.
    The revolution will be no re-run brothers;
    The revolution will be live.
    go to
    for more info on this brilliant

  3. lorac's Autor des Beitrags

    we are in the habit of cornering hard working and disenfranchised by decapitating them, digging out their guts and parading their image as a branding strategy. We think it is benign, that it is merely a benign, if romantic and infantile, co opt, but it is only because we do it so routinely. Like first nations people, Che, indigenous people, endangered species, fuck, we expect native american cultures that we spent centuries trying to destroy, to tell us how to save the planet. We worship youth but we don’t allow real young people to vote or have even a single voice in how the institutions we incarcerate them in for 12 years treat them, or about what they learn, we tell them they can wait to affect the world til they have credentials and"grow up" but we lift our faces and dye our hair and diet to try and look like teenagers. We are full of shit. we are living wrong. not a good day for me.

  4. fireblаde Autor des Beitrags

    status symbols for the wealthy(and what is wealthy) has always been there and always will be, it is passed on from generation to generation commencing at the schools the children are educated at, becomes a mind set and they know no different. i personally love the real wealthy because i make a decent living from them, but i have targeted them :) so they do have their benefits as shallow as they may be….so they can wear and buy whatever they want, i dont give a shit, as long as i treat my fellow being as i would treat myself. cheers.

  5. +gAbY+ Autor des Beitrags

    NB one very important thing i will add. if you change your circle of friends, you can change your life. i think you know very well what i mean.
    Just yesterday I gave a friend of mine 5 suits from Roberto Verino, Adolfo Dominguez, and Purificacion Garcia, all very expensive labels in Spain and she has no idea what I gave to her. And it felt so good!. I dont want/use them any more, dont do super executive company thing. Hope will never do it again.
    I was thinking that having this buitton suitcase means as much as not having it. Everything means something. We dont have big tv, we do not watch tv. but we have cameras. We leant how to read a lot just looking at possesions. Its property language instead of body language.
    interesting reading.

  6. natalia love Autor des Beitrags

    if i’m the natalia you are apologizing to, i don’t know why. i do buy some expensive things, but only ones i really really like (and never the most expensive of their kind). and i don’t want anyone to know how expensive they are, because i feel ashamed.
    also i have very mixed feelings about Che.

    OH I REMEMBER — it’s because i said you shouldn’t insult your own mental illness by comparing it to behaviour of people who do stuff you think is bad/stupid/wrongheaded? (or something)
    oh yeah. well i guess the intention is that you are using it as an efficient phrase.

  7. leonardo italiano Autor des Beitrags

    the problem is with the west are the haves and the have nots. the haves really flont it and want to be noticed by everyone, look at me i am so cool. and the have nots just drool.i never was a slave of fashion and i;m not about to start.these people have a problem of self esteem and have to make others aware that they are better.the problem is that we got too much in the west.

  8. uoıʇnloʌǝɹʍol Autor des Beitrags

    i always wonder what Che would have thought of his image being appropriated by the very kind of people he would happily have had shot? of course, he wouldn’t have been elevated to saintly status without being martyred…interesting that the church once revisited jesus’s image in that "che style" .

  9. Fusty Box Autor des Beitrags

    Unsurprisingly, I am with you all the way on this one Paul.

    I would like to have a top quality digi camera – to make higher quality work – but I can’t afford one. At least my tatty camera collection won’t get nicked :)

  10. japanese forms Autor des Beitrags

    you can even have "designer" stubble… if you want…. well not if you’re female… well maybe for some…

    have you seen the ads with that oaf bono and his wife… for vuitton…?

    she "designs" "fair trade," "sustainable development" clothes… or whatever…
    organic clothes… green fashion… BULLSHIT !
    very pricey so not at all "fair trade"…
    eco-friendly? … FUCK OFF !

    i’ve gotten tired of the "che / the revolution will not be… " posts… but is still have a couple flickrready…

  11. the|G|™ Autor des Beitrags

    @ da boxster:

    we all consume, i just loathe the conspicuous variety :)

    @ japanese forms:

    have you seen the ads with that oaf bono and his wife… for vuitton…?

    you are kidding me aren’t you??

    fucking pornographically rich lalaland douchebag.

    used to love the band, it sickens me to listen to his hypocritical bullshit.


  12. Beyond.the.Box Autor des Beitrags

    [http://www.flickr.com/photos/the-g-uk]Well yes we do…perhaps I speak of the excessive…I am not a status kinda gal, you know this…my lot in this lifetime will be based upon what I do for others, not what an object can do for me…=)

  13. Beyond.the.Box Autor des Beitrags

    [http://www.flickr.com/photos/the-g-uk]You kidding? I’m still working with a Fuji FinePix 1500…about $160….I would SO invest in equipment if it were for work…made money for me to live…etc…but I don’t want for just because everyone has…well, not anymore! =P

  14. Peter Marler Autor des Beitrags

    How about investing for the sheer pleasure that it brings? Art is not (in my eyes) to make money it’s all about the pleasure that it can bring you and hopefully others.

    Spend some of your hard earned cash, why not? You can’t take the bloody stuff with you and, hell, you may have some serious fun with it! :)

    Spend, spend, SPEND!

    Err, sorry, got carried away…

    Viva la revolution and that ;)

  15. dou_ble_you Autor des Beitrags

    I don’t think people buy the status any longer… they rather buy themselves a labelled image – which may say "I am rich" "I am clever" "I am cutting edge" "I am different" "I am serious professional" "I am artist" "I am myself" (because the label told me so).

    You can test it. Go for a photo shoot with a model carrying hand-held point & shoot camera. You can only pull it off if you David Bailey. Otherwise, you must invest in your image and arrive on the stage with a bulky behemoth, ideally looking like a cross between bazooka and a sub-machine gun. This will say aloud "I am serious, professional photographer".

    analysed @
    on your mind

  16. *SARCASTICALIOUS* Autor des Beitrags

    How incredibly ironic the bastardization of such an iconic rebellious image can be,
    especially given the fact that the Irish Artist- (Jim Fitzpatrick) gave up all his copyright entitlements free.
    of course it can be argued that this is what has ultimately led to the rape of this particular image, and we only have Gordon Gecko to blame

  17. brancusi7 Autor des Beitrags

    I saw someone in Oxford Street recently wearing a Che t-shirt where the eyes, nose and mouth were covered by crude applique replacements done in the style of The Muppets. I rather felt that image was sympathetic in intent with yours here.

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