A Primer For Daily Life by Susan Willis

By Susan Willis

What occurs while a Marxist feminist is going to the grocery store? Why is Michael Jackson the integral expression of commodity tradition? In A Primer for everyday life, Susan Willis places way of life and its artifacts on the middle of her research of capitalist tradition. Interrogating the that means of such daily goods as kid's toys, plastic packaging, banana sticky label emblems, and aerobics sessions, Willis investigates the phenomena of contemporary tradition and commodity fetishism. Grounded in Marxism and guided through feminism, A Primer for lifestyle goals to increase the sector of cultural feedback to embody kinds and practices no longer addressed through the media or media feedback. Willis demonstrates that the trivial is necessary for an knowing of capitalist tradition and encourages the improvement of a serious point of view on way of life.

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The novel concludes with the long-awaited burial of Addie Bundren who, after ten days of Mississippi sunshine, has decomposed into a mass of fetid smells and burbling sounds. Burial signifies closure. It marks the fact that the mother has finally passed out of the family unit; and, in relation to the metaphoric interpretation I am developing, it marks the end of the world with which the mother is intimately bound up. Indeed, both the mother and her world are, in the novel’s final page, replaced.

It is analogous to the challenge Marx made to the working class in the nineteenth century, to recognize and seize the buried human relationships in labor and in the products of labor which have been abstracted and alienated by wage labor and the commodity form. Under capitalism our group social practice is commodity consumption. If we subscribe to the notion of gendering as process, and I think this is the only fruitful way to see it, then we must confront the fact that gender, like all our attributes and expressions, is bound up with the commodity form.

The nation, reduced to its name, becomes a part of a catchy title: Chiquita Costa Rica, whose syncopated effect is the welding of country to corporations. Because production is encapsulated in the logo, stuck on the banana and included in its purchase and peeling, the notion of production becomes, for the consumer, a feature of consumption. Today I am eating a Colombian banana, tomorrow I might have one from Costa Rica! The name creates the illusion of difference at the level of consumption, which, given the uniformity of the massproduced product, would otherwise be unremarkable.

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