I have another: the things we own, we will rent, and things we rent, we will own. No, of course it isn’t as good. But it’s moving day here at the McCracken-DeCesare and we have spend the last couple of days committing our earthly possessions to cardboard bound by sticky tape which tape comes off the roll with a sound that resembles the torture of a raptor infant. Under the circumstances, it’s a wonder I can blog at all. I am quite certain the sky is going to darken at the next pull of the tape.
Anyhow, when we subscribe to satellite radio and we allow this radio to supplant our standing collections of music, something interesting happens. We have given up ownership for something closer to rental. It is clear why we might be tempted by this shift. Most of us have a new diversity of taste, in any one category there is often a lot of music that interests us, and the turn-over of this music is pretty rapid.
Assuming the cost of survey and capture is for some of us prohibitive. It’s just so much easier to let some else do it. Yes, there is a trade off: rootedness (of the kind that comes from listening to "our favorites" many times over) vs. staying current (the demands of which now precludes even a little repetition, let alone a lot.) Ownership is comforting but it is also expensive.
Or, put this another way. Google has become a way of remembering and ordering the world. It is a kind of intellectual prothesis or superstructure. So might the rental model deliver this higher order value. The DJ becomes our musical intelligence, now resident outside the head and our "CD collection."
The move from ownership to rental is driven then by a simple motive: rental may be more expensive and less emotionally satisfying, but it is so much more efficient as a means of staying in touch with a dynamic culture.
But what about owning what we used to rent? My case in point here is the sale of DVDs. This is one of the great mysteries of contemporary culture. Americans are buying DVDs by the millions, and by this time most of them know they are never going to watch these DVDs a second time. But there it is: we are buying what the world makes it really easy to rent.
It might be that we buy DVDs for the same reason we build "great rooms." Both allow us to play out the fantasy that one day the family will all get together for a lovely evening of film watching. Nah. It is perhaps some measure of the extent to which movies matter to us, that we want to own a copy of some films even if we never expect to play them a second time. In fact, does anyone watch everything in a boxed set? Kubrick maybe. But otherwise. There is something about ownership here that we find deeply________. Any and all suggestions gratefully received. Me, I have to go back to boxing…and ducking.