Generation as expression for the Self

Generation is a notion that alludes to society in a relational way without disclosing these relations. Sociology papers drawing on Mannheim’s theory of generations outline it in relation to events located in time and space. These papers look at people through events to find resemblances that leads to claims about similarities and differences in people’s event experiences. Generation as a concept thus locates notions different from itself within itself that ends up referring to itself. Generation itself forms a circle with itself. Notions different from this self go their own way depending on how different they are that determines whether they circle back to themselves and this self.

A contemporary understanding that arises from this notion of generation is the reliance on generational categories, such as millenials and boomers, to express a virtuous stance. It is to affirm difference in virtue from a group with which virtues are associated with by the one who affirms. To say that millenials represent such and such virtues is to invoke the relations these notions represent in an ambiguous manner. This ambiguity plays on the notion of self as virtuous agent a person relates to as a member of a generational group that stands in relation with different groups consisting of persons alike and unlike themselves. The game is about finding relations between these notions to affirm a self as non-self that resembles a universal individual that’s “not characteristic of the Self but, on the contrary, forms and sustains the system of the dissolved Self” (Deleuze, Difference and Repetition, 1994, p. 254).

Consumer goods offer to alleviate this confusion that stems from ambiguity by folding this confused individuality within the fields of individuation where “individuating and individual differences […] ceaselessly interpenetrate one another” (Deleuze, Difference and Repetition, 1994, p. 254). Power and choice are such individuating notions that aim to replace and displace this confusion, but by interpenetrating one another, they invoke further confusion that demands alleviation. Consumer goods generation steps forward as a notion that contains choice, power and all individuating and individual differences within itself to proclaim to be the One, capable of differentiating one generation from another. It offers alleviation by subordinating all difference within itself without sublating them to be able to privilege one consumer goods generation over another.

Writer and critic from Hungary.