From an issue of Australian Adbusters (?#94?)
A Unified Theory of Mental Pollution
Into this difficult question has stepped one of the greatest living philosophers, the eccentric Michel Serres, who has written the inaugural philosophical work of the mental environmental movement Malfeasance: Appropriation through Pollution? Is a radical reconception of pollution that cements its primal relation to advertising. The big idea of this recently translated book is that animals, humans included, use pollution to mark, claim and appropriate territory through defiling it and that over time this appropriative act has evolved away from primitive pollution, urine and feces, to “hard pollution,” industrial chemicals, and finally to “soft pollution,” the many forms of advertising.
Consider how, in the following quote from Serres, the critique of advertising resonates viscerally when the relation between advertisements and pollutants is not mere metaphor. “The captain who unloads waste in the high seas has never seen, or rather has never let, the countless smiles of the gods emerge: that would be too demanding, or even creative. Shitting on the world, has he ever seen its beauty before? Did he ever see his own beauty? And so, he who dirties space with billboards full of sentences and images hides the view of the surrounding landscape, kills perception, and skewers it by this theft. First the landscape then the world.”