Ian Usher, a bloke from down under, recently put his life on sell. He used the online auction company – Ebay – to sell his three-bedroom house, Mazda car, motorcycle, Jet Ski, and parachuting gear. He sold his ‘life’ for approximately $385,000.00 USD. The auction was not without drama. At one point, £ 1,000,000 bids were placed on his life. It later turned out that those bids were hoaxes generated from the UK. EBay then tweaked its method for verifying legitimate bids. Unfortunately for Mr. Usher, the bids dropped to a depressingly low few hundred thousand. However, the amount secured will afford him the opportunity to return to Britain and climb the Eiffel Tower. I am going to assume that ‘climb’ doesn’t mean boarding the elevator that takes you to the top of the tower.
It is hard to believe that all of this was generated because of a girl. Well, maybe not a girl. More like a grown woman going through her own crisis. You see, Mr. Usher’s wife left him for another man. That act triggered Mr. Usher, in melodramatic fashion, to question his existence. Far from angst, Mr. Usher was spurred into existential action. And, of course, in keeping with modern times wherein we actually think our belongings define us, Mr. Usher decided to auction his belongings.
Ian Usher was not the first to get the idea to auction his life. In 2001, John Fryer of the United States sold everything he owned on EBay. He then went and visited the people who bought his property. What was he looking for during his visits? Evidence of transformation? Or some evidence that the people who bought his property were somehow more similar to him? Maybe Mr. Fryer’s decision to sell his ‘life’ had more to do with loneliness than anything else.
I find the idea of selling one’s life to be…quaint. Mostly because selling your life in this millennium means selling things you have acquired. Woe to the immaterialistic among us. I had no idea that Nordstrom’s, Ikea and Crate n’ Barrel were the harbingers of a meaningful life. In times like these, I ask – WWHD? What would Heidegger do?
Barring a discussion regarding Being and being, I would have to say that stuff, like a Jet Ski and parachuting equipment, is just…well, stuff. It is the context of the stuff that makes things meaningful. I am reminded of Van Gogh’s painting “A Pair of Shoes.” The painting is as profound as any of his paintings and the subject is simply – shoes. However, I would have to say that, even within the frame of WWHD, stuff getting hustled through EBay does not have the same impact as a creative incarnation of Van Gogh. Somehow, EBay never manages to lift stuff beyond its ‘stuff’ status.
Now, what I would like to do is sell my brain on EBay. Not looking for a high dollar amount. Just looking for an opportunity to swap. After all, having WWHD stuck in my head is as depressing as a spouse leaving me. However, I seem to recall some prohibition of body parts on EBay. Gosh darn it!