The Pampering Hothouse

In his chapter, “Mutations in the Pampering Space,” Sloterdijk finally gets to describing aspects of the comfort space of the great interior of the palace—the boredom of the hothouse existence on the inside. I like his idea of a “pampering space” because it suggests the hyper-abundance of material goods and security in the overdeveloped interior.

Sloterdijk begins by observing that for the populations within the “comfort sphere” there is a shift from need and lack to “thinking in options.” While social life has always been concerned with relief for those on the inside, the overabundance of goods has brought about dramatic changes–mutations–in the historical patterns (212). Of course petroleum is the universal agent of this change as it facilitates the manufacture, transport and consumption of goods (214).

So what are the conditions of the pampered life for the populations of the comfort sphere? Sloterdijk offers his description in the form of an architectural metaphor of five floors in the hothouse:

  1. Income without performance. The complete severing of the relationship between personal performance and money.
  2. Political security without readiness to fight. “…the unthinking expectation of security without struggle…(217).
  3. Immunity without suffering. “The pampering purpose of the insurance system.”
  4. Knowledge acquisition without experience. The shift in subjectivity from an “educated self” who embodies their own personal history of learning, training and experience–toward a “user self” who, upon learning the basic techniques of information retrieval can fetch knowledge. “[Downloading] exemplifies liberation from the imposition of gathering experience. accompanying it, a post-personal, post-literary, post-academic cognition regime casts its shadow ahead” (220).
  5. Fame without achievement. Traditional meritocracies rewarded outstanding achievements with fame. Now he notes that one can be famous by “being-in-media.” Those “who are known for being known for nothing in particular” (221).

Sloterdijk concludes the chapter by observing that the constant demand for increased levels of relief may be at odds with moments where there must be “re-burdening.”

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