12 Toilet Rolls 04/2020 © Richard Ansett 2020
In the tradition of the pseudo-scientific typology and ambivalent cultural gaze this high resolution study of the similarity and difference of the once humble and ignored toilet roll was, until Corvid19, the perfect foil for the absurdity of consumerism; a long lost idea of industrialisation replaced by the human engine driving the economy; our emotions manipulated towards excessive, pathological and unchecked desire for variety. Supply exceeding demand, like addiction, both the cause and solution to existential anxiety.
Not hugely original agreed but now Covid-19 has done what conventional politics could not; it has put at risk hard won structures of delicate persuasion that chasing of our own tail is the only sensible solution to a successful society. The capitalist model has been briefly questioned, perhaps optimistically even checked by this alternative reality and a new shape emerges when the once inanimate and valueless becomes a precious commodity.
Moving on from the discussion on our changing relationship to the object of desire, perhaps we can broach the sensitive subject of what Mr Sigmund Freud considered stage two of our essential psychosexual development, the anal stage or as I like to call it, the anal stage. I sense some reticence to read on but stay with it like a stubborn number two, you've committed this far (there are some hamsters on wheels at the end as a reward).
Someone very wise said that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing so I must declare that I am not a fully qualified psychotherapist. My understanding of this vast subject is not much beyond the first 10 pages of Google but from what I can gather The Anal Stage (2) is one of five stages through which we must all pass in order to have a functioning libido and healthy personality. Mr Freud posited that if at any stage the child's relationship to any of the 5 stages is frustrated it will lead to fixation and an anxiety that will be carried forward into neurosis in the adult. Threaten to takeaway an essential element in our relationship to our 'little precious' and there is potential for anarchy.
Has a downgrading of Freud's theories as part of national consciousness led to a new collective anxiety? That's a stretch but the projection of what appears on the surface to be an irrational fear onto the innocent toilet roll illustrated through panic buying, does indicate a perfectly rational anxiety. As the fear of societal breakdown rises our need for privacy represented by the anus is threatened. Its akin to the fear of being run over and being found wearing dirty underwear. Again it is related to the wealthy western mindset that affords us this privacy and other societies forced through relative poverty into more collective and communal living must be confused and amused by the hysteria at the loss of this thin veil between us and our erogenous dirt star.