Dear ITT Ideologist: Hot Products and ATM Inspiration

Pete Karman

(Illustration by Terry Laban )

Dear ITT Ideologist,

As we enter a new year and decade, I wonder if you could put aside ideology for itemology for a moment. In particular, what do you see as the hot new product in our future?

Don Draper, Sterling 

Cooper Advertising

Dear Mr. Draper, 

Happily, my answer does not require me to elide ideology. Both philosophy and product development have lately been informed by what Neoists have dubbed dialectical immateralism (DI). No, it has nothing to do with Hegel or Marx. It refers to insipid interactions, generally in cyberspace. DI has become the default mode of expression in a society locked into business as usual and no longer able to think outside of its various boxes.

What these boxes contain nowadays are ever lighter devices to match the insubstantiality of the messages they carry. These e-terations of cells, pods, berries and such facilitate DI encounters that allow one to dispense pointless patter and access flashes of useless information at speeds commensurate with one’s memory span. Thus you may instantly inform others that you have found previously unnoticed pizza drippings on your t-shirt while learning the name of the nail polish color favored this week by Adam Lambert. 

DI marks a departure from traditional triviality, which diminishes substance to drivel, as typified by Marie-Antoinette’s reputed suggestion that if the poor had no bread they should eat Ring Dings. DI, by contrast, avoids substance and treats the meaningless itself trivially (see any interview with Levi Johnston). 

Now to answer your question specifically, the next fruit to spill from the cornucopia of consumer technology will be My-Fi, a self-contained version of Wi-Fi that lets you network with yourself while leaving you free to bubble your lips. 

Dear ITT Ideologist,

I’ve heard that on Wall Street vast sums of money are necessary to inspire the best work by the best people. Is that also the case among ideologists? 

Phil T. Lucre, Cayman Islands

Dear Mr. Lucre, 

To be sure. I do my best ideologizing in financial institutions. I will go to a bank, nominally to check on my Christmas club account or get a roll of quarters to feed the parking meters. But what I’m really after are insight and inspiration. When a brain wave breaks over me, I quickly jot it down on a deposit slip, having no other use for it. I notice that my ideas improve if the vault happens to be open. Outside of banking hours, I often stand close to an ATM machine to get the old noggin working. 

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Pete Karman began working in journalism in 1957 at the awful New York Daily Mirror, where he wrote the first review of Bob Dylan for a New York paper. He lost that job after illegally traveling to Cuba (the rag failed shortly after he got the boot). Karman has reported and edited for various trade and trade union blats and worked as a copywriter. He was happy being a flack for Air France, but not as happy as being an on-and-off In These Times editor and contributor since 1977.
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