Tuesday, September 19, 2006

God is a brand

It was one of those moments when you think of nothing and suddenly something distillates into conscience. It sounded too good and too important not to find it on the net so I googled for "God is a brand" and I found 17 entries out of 98.200 (yes, Google is getting weirder and weirder).
Now, when it hit me, it seemed like something really smart, but now I understand it is just obvious; I was the dumb one for not getting it sooner. People don't have holly wars on Linux vs Microsoft, they are having brand wars on Jesus vs Mohamed.

What started me is looking for furniture for my new rented apartment (expect a huge blog in a few days) and I found the same models in two different places, but with two different prices. My wife said that it was because the more expensive ones were better made, but they really weren't.
Then I realised that most commerce is run on brands, it's nothing new, it goes on from the beginning of trade. You buy from where you know it's good, or from where stuff makes you look or feel good. People are attached to the spirit of the thing, not the thing itself (well, most people). The Stradivarius violin can be made better and cheaper using modern computer modelling and automated manufacturing, but people care about the original Stradivarius, made by a human, a human that represents something. The enormous price of Stradivarius violins is not due to their utility, but the faith of the people in the original builder, the artist. Ring a bell? Original artist? The Creator? Yes! God!
The epiphany came when I explored the idea in my mind. People doing idiotic things because of their faith, the experiment where people were given to wear a t-shirt for 10$ and refused to do it when they heard it belonged to a serial killer or the one with the children that were given a "perfect replica" of an object that they loved and they prefered the original or the simple superstitions like avoiding number 13. Movies, as well, usually portray clones as imprefect, evil, empty of true purpose or life. People remain married for decades, respecting and even loving the other person, when all rational motives to stay together have withered in time. Of course, this is also linked to the way human instincts work, but nevertheless, there are people who do it and people who don't.
Somehow, the intricate mechanism of the brain puts values on associations rather that on the objects. I think this is important. It is obvious that people have inner representations of different things and people, but I've always assumed that the inner value is put on the thing not on the associations. I now believe to have been wrong. It makes sense: there is no absolute value, only when you put something into context it reveals its value.

Therefore, returning to the God is a brand issue, it seems to me that the branding is made on oneself. You don't buy the product, you become the product. You brand yourself with a god, then act in accordance with its meaning. Then losing one's faith would be like becoming an clone of yourself, empty of meaning. It could explain the feeling of loss of a person, when "there are other fish in the sea". It makes old people be grumpy, since no one truly understand the different deep meanings that they've attached to objects and people and behaviours.

I can't even ask myself "Do brands suck?". It would attack a defining feature of humans AND animals alike. This warrants a look into the idea of religious feeling in animals. It is not possible for everything to suck. Religion sucks, though.