A high-tech update of social-critical texts such as Subliminal Seduction and Amusing Ourselves to Death, addressing our penchant for self-pampering and its dire consequences.
The “notions” of the title are not point-of-purchase stocking stuffers. In the eyes of the 1 percent and their enablers, they and their surrounding texts might be read as platforms in a revolutionary manifesto: “We’re out of time. There’s not enough of it to plan, save and implement the good habits our bodies, relationships and bank accounts need.” “Pills are operating America.” “America is a lifeboat of consumption.” Each notion carries an accompanying text, some of a few pages’ length. Others are just a couple of paragraphs, usually leading to graphic representations of the theses that are indeed worth a thousand words. There is an Operation-style inventory of the 10 most prescribed pills in America (Lisinopril and Norvasc, anyone?), for instance, as well as a cartoon tableau of the foods the artist consumed in recent memory (animal crackers and Scotch to go along with your pills, ma’am?). The bookmarking feature is a little primitive, but this is an app for browsing more than studying, nicely punctuated by music and video. One of the best pieces is a bluesy steel-guitar–driven piece set in a dead shopping mall, the land of Arcade Fire transposed to the Mississippi Delta. Developers and co-publishers Heather McKenzie and Elaine Symanski aren’t shy in describing themselves as consumers, but though the app has plenty of glitz and glitter, it’s serious in its not-so-subtle messages: Take more time for yourself, go outside more, be a little nicer to one another.
Those are notions we can use. A fascinating exercise in appropriately scaled multimedia and a pleasure (if, for consumers, sometimes a guilty one) to read.