The Horn of Plenty
How do we define or measure luxury? Not with money or time, but diversity. Yet contemporary modes of living luxuriously have lost sight of this reality. This is why theory is needed to provide a course correction. As in evolution, luxury drives both diversity and a variety of forms in the history of individualism, too. In the same way that natural luxury breeds biodiversity, human luxury breeds ego diversity. Without natural luxury, individual luxury, too, will die out.
The book traces the history of luxury parallel to the evolution of subjectivism and individualism from the 14th century to date.
1. Uniform luxury: Democratic luxury – more of the same – quantitative and qualitative luxury – the currencies of luxury – money, time, diversity of forms
2. Individual luxury: Sources of luxury – artworks, ideals, lifestyles, novelty value, transience, fashion, self-realization, avant-garde, spontaneity, sexuality, history and experience, sustainability – attention and the human body
3. Enacting luxury The ascent of Mont Ventoux by Petrarch as an act of luxury – necessity and inclination – surplus of significance – luxury as necessity
4. Natural luxury: luxury and excessive behavior in evolutionary biology – abundance, diversity, beauty – luxury as risk spread and transgression
5. Inner Luxury: individuality and inner depth – originality and self-realization – Rousseau, Romantic Period, Bohème, Hippies
6. Aristocratic luxury: Cities as drivers of luxury – subculture and high culture – the emerging luxury industry – nobility and eccentricity
7. Fleeting luxury: Haute couture and ready-to-wear – fashion as novelty value – marginal differentiation – changeability and formability of personality – egalitarianism and social prestige
8. Spontaneous luxury: Youth culture – sex – pop – spontaneity as non-calculated, authentic behavior – guitar solo – unisex
9. The luxury of heritage: scarcity effects – heritage – narrative value creation – enrichment – exploitation of the past – event and experience economy
10. The luxury of sustainability: Worries, care-taking and future prospects – scarcity of resources – sustainability as the great leveler – the dissolution of the individual in the species – austerity
11. Bodily luxury: Body enhancement – the standardized body – perfection as the contradiction of diversity – modular individuality
12. The enlightened way to practice luxury: Four forms of luxury practice – the fleeting form, the authentic form, the avant-garde form, the ascetic form – New Zealand as a metaphor for the enlightened contemporary practice of luxury – individual autonomy
CHARLES WOLKENSTEIN is a pen name. The author lives in Germany and Italy.
»Without natural luxury, individual luxury, too, will die out.«