May 26, 2021

What Do We Own of Ourselves and Others?

Alexander Payne

PoetryThe High Top, 2021

Recently I encountered an advert for Smart Meters featuring a deep fake CGI Einstein. The advert uses typical aspiration-based language to draw parallels between people paying for a Smart Meter and attaining the genius of Einstein. This felt deeply wrong. It seems as if a man who has only been dead for 70 years has completely lost his right to not be used for profit without consent. There are still living people who knew Einstein, are they in some way culpable for not preventing this from happening? Or are they just representative of the ways in which we forget that behind every in-memoriam Vogue article, cigarette advert and Hollywood biopic, there is a private person with no choice in the matter? It’s not as if we can become Einstein, nor experience the truth behind his life through buying a Smart Meter. Only Einstein knew and felt both the highs and lows of his lifelong dedication to Physics. It’s these questions that are presented through my poem; who are we when we don’t even own our identity? Additionally, how can our experiences possibly be sold to a consumer when only we can experience our own truth, and our own joy?