I’m not sure I’d be brave enough (or dumb enough) to burn all of my branded possessions. Without my iMac, I’d get no work done. Without my Skechers, I’d be digging NYC glass out of my feet. Without my Scientific-Atlanta DVR, I’d miss The Sopranos every week. Neil Boorman doesn’t care about things like this. A self-described “label-obsessed journalist and music promoter,” based in the U.K., Boorman is planning to build an enormous bonfire this summer, with every last piece of his branded stuff as fuel, and set it gloriously alight. Sure, he has a book deal to go along with this stunt (title: Bonfire of the Brands), but maybe he’s half-serious about how lost he feels in the sea of modern brands. Thus, on August 26 of this year, “I am going to gather every branded possession of mine into a warehouse, douse them with petrol and burn the lot,” he writes. “Jacobson chairs, Christian Dior shirts, a Louis Vuitton bag; I’m too frightened to calculate the financial cost of this action, but I know it’s a lot. Far more unsettling than the money is the emotional cost I’m going to suffer. You see, It’s not simply a pile of expensive clothes and accessories going on the bonfire. Neil Boorman is being destroyed too. … Until recently, I thought I knew who Neil Boorman was. I felt sure how the outside world regarded me because I had spent a fair amount of time engineering an image. I found the best way to understand and articulate ‘me’ was through the owning and displaying of things made by brands. They provided a source of comfort, a reassurance of my own self-worth, they project my identity to others around me. … Frustratingly, this attempt at branded self-identity has been accompanied with a numbed sense of dissatisfaction. Attempting to cure myself, I have sought comfort and reassurance by buying yet more branded goods, treating myself ‘because I’m worth it.’ I now understand that this behavior only made matters worse. For all the time and money I have devoted to collecting these brands, these symbols of self, I have absolutely no idea who I am. … With every new emblem of identity I add to my collection, I lose a piece of myself to the brands. They cannot reciprocate the love I give. They cannot transport me to the places I’m promised exist. I am not, nor will I ever be remotely similar to the people that appear in their ads. It is a lie, a lie I have believed in for too long.” He’ll presumably be knitting his own clothes for the occasion.
—Posted by Tim Nudd