I just watched “Blood Diamond”.
The motto of the movie seem to be that home buyers wouldn’t buy a diamond if they knew it had cost a life. But, frankly, I think just the contrary. I believe that the only reason someone buys a diamond is because it does cost lives. That will stand for a temporary theory of value: the value of things derives from how much blood they did spill.
Putting a stone over oneself, which is basically the idea behind jewelry, is a way to enhance the value others attribute to us. It says: “Look at me, and respect me, because I am valuable, for who could get and maintain such a stone if he wasn’t powerful?”. It might sound stupid, if exposed too matter-of-factly, but the claim does not concern objective measurement, instead it tries to influence subjective value-attribution. Therefore, putting a stone over oneself does not need to be concrete proof, but instead to be a powerful appeal to sense. This is the idea: not to prove power, but to make it be felt.
And in that respect, money and sex and blood all have very much power. So, the more blood that is shed over a particular diamond, the more effect it will have over peoples’ memories.
The same approach is many times used by marketing. Putting an item into shiny packaging or getting a famous actor to suggest you to use the product. It is just putting something unrelated over the product to enhance it’s “value” even if it will not affect it’s impact. It would be like affixing a 5$ bill over the product’s box. Or hanging a diamond over one’s neck.
And it is easy to dismiss the attitude as not important because it does not concern objective, realistic, parameters, because it is not real. The idea is that what really happens to a person (if the cell phone is really lighter, or the computer really has more calculating power, or the tennis will really make you run faster) is more important than what a person believes or perceives is happening to her.
But rarely “real-effects” and “perceptions” happen at the same time and level or contradict itself. That is to say, a buyer does not choose between appearance or substance, no one picks style or matter, but instead we all are, all the time, dealing with both things at the same time, in the same situations, usually mixed in ways far more complex than simple opposition.
You don’t pick between the style tennis and the performance one. You pick between two sets of shoes, both of which have a particular style and a particular performance. And they both also have many other characteristics, such as who else have shoes of the same brand and if your mom will complain about cleaning those rubber thinguies that go under the heel.
What all of that has to do with jewelry and diamonds? (As, I must confess, I had almost forgot how the whole text had started).
The point is that it is naive to understand value in absolute terms, apart from a person’s life. For example, to view the value of diamonds as separate from the fact that people fight and kill over them, or the value of a tennis shoe without arguing under what situation it will be used.
I definitely don’t think any of those things cross a person’s mind when he is wearing a tennis or a diamond necklace, I just think that one’s actions are influenced by all those nuances, by all the subjective valuing, and therefore by all these connotations of blood and money.
PS1.: Ah, if I had Jennifer Connelly saying to me “Do you want me to stop?” Even more when she is acting a character I could very well get a crush on… Definitely on the top of my list.
PS2.: Don’t lipstick recall the impression of having put the mouth on some animal’s bloody and juicy carcass, as in meaning a successful hunt?