Economics of loneliness: Service and Management | 孤独经济: 服务与管理 2020
18 5月 2022
Video, 4K , 20’20’’, 2020

The Manager started out as a blogger who sold products infused with original personal scents online. Her customers regularly ordered used lingerie, underwear, stockings and shoes from her. As the pandemic broke out, forcing many to quarantine at home, the demand for specialized online sexual content began to grow. Gradually, the content of the Manager’s business started to shift, as some of her most loyal customers started asking for more “sophisticated” services, from BDSM sexting sessions and chastity belts to a supply of her urine and feces… At the height of the pandemic, she was sending her urine and feces, labelled as food and via cold-chain delivery services, to her clients’ front doors. 

Soon enough, the Manager’s feces gained a wild reputation among its gluttonous connoisseurs. It tasted richer than the other purveyors’ dung, and smelled stronger too, which gave it an outstanding recognizability. After many servings, they began to label its unique aroma as plum flavor. Just as there are no two identical leaves in the world, every helping of the Manager’s dung had its distinct taste and smell, but they all shared the same trace of scent—“the Manager’s plum flavor.” From then on, there were only two kinds of bespoke fodder on the market: the Manager’s gold standard, and other people’s. 

Rumor began to spread regarding the Manager’s secret formula. Some said she possessed a digestive system superior to the ordinary person’s, that hers was naturally a great set of cookware, capable of processing food into the strongest-tasting dung. Others speculated that the Manager was born with a uniquely pervasive body aroma, which explained why even her “holy water” had a plum-like sour taste. Still others, conspiracy theorists, believed that the Manager was a straight-up liar—that she cheated by using artificial spices, spoiling the last shred of authenticity in the food chain; now that the Manager had set this bad precedent, more and more purveyors would follow, and there would soon be no more zero-pollution, zero-additive gold-standard product! 

In online forums, calls for the Manager to disclose her production process escalated. Before the Manager arrived on the scene, video documentation of the production had been a standard verification method for purveyors in this niche industry. The purveyors would record themselves at it with a TV playing the daily news in the background to prove their wares were farm-to-table, and the diners would usually watch the playback while eating their purchases to increase their appetite. Once the client and the purveyor had established a sufficiently long-standing and trusting relationship, they would have regular, private eat-in sessions. The pandemic put a halt to these eat-ins; then came the Manager. Her price point far exceeds the market average, she only does delivery, does not accept rush orders, and once an order is on its way neither order details nor video verification are provided, but anyone who has had a taste will invariably repurchase. Her social media continues to promote underwear, stockings and high heels with original scent. 

Some clients started offering high prices for eat-ins, and before long there were many videos posted on sex forums sharing eat-in experiences, but there was no public response from the Manager. After all, the Manager has never disclosed her identity or face—only close-up photos of her breasts, legs and feet, not enough to verify whether it really is the Manager in the videos. 

It is generally believed that the sadist is the reverse of the masochist, that the two are like opposite sides of the same coin, so that  understanding masochism is also understanding sadism. But this is not the case. Just as male and female do not constitute a perfect whole, sadism and masochism are just two of the mutually independent failed forms generated in response to the incomplete totality. Or, to put it differently, each of them alone constitutes a whole. The masochist delights in waiting and suspension; they venerate the glorious rule of denial. The process of denial affects the masochist’s experience of sexual pleasure: As pleasure must always be indefinitely postponed and finally denied, the masochist must deny the existence of joy when experiencing it. The masochist completes production through consumption and moulds their idols with obsessive infatuation, before eventually denying they have performed an act of moulding at all. The executor within a masochistic relationship is not a sadist, because he or she is enmeshed in—and therefore an inherent part of—the scene in which the masochist indulges; he or she realizes the masochist’s fantasies. The executor provides services, while the masochist excels in management.

Who would guess that the Manager is a scatophile himself? Behind the scenes the Manager is biologically male, but of ambiguous gender. He does not enjoy any form of penetration, and even his scatophilia is of an extremely rare kind, which is precisely why his product is so unique: He only loves cat shit.

The pleasure of eating cat shit is complex. A typical street cat’s diet consists of various kinds of cat food—both dry and wet, of different brands—and sometimes includes fish soup and fresh meat from cat lovers. Just as the cats wait for their unpredictable sustenance, the manager waits for the felines’ own unpredictable gifts. Since street cats always carefully conceal their shit outdoors, the Manager had a hard time finding his delicacies in the beginning, and when he did they were oftentimes already mixed with mud, which ruined the flavor. But the hunt was necessary: if a street cat is adopted and becomes domesticated, its poop’s flavor loses the element of surprise. Thus, the Manager came up with a solution to maximize his benefits: Every day he would bring a street cat to his home, which is already prepared for poop collection, and await the call of fate. 

Tongue moist, mouth watering, stones broken by thunderbolts for the spring to flow. The flavor overtakes the nasal cavity, the shape determines the taste, and what enters the mouth is the unknown…

During a meal, the cat poop enters the Manager’s body. It was once sulfide, dead bacteria, partially digested protein and cellulose; fat, taurine, minerals and vitamins; thickener, meat extract paste, crude ash and antioxidants; chicken, beef, fish, seaweed, sweet potato, cranberries, avocado, apple… All of which were once canned, packaged, boxed in a factory, transported in a van or a cargo container, in the mud, in the ocean… They did not expect to be cooked again by a new group of bacteria, repurposed into “the Manager’s plum flavor.” No peace, no rest, once again to be canned, frozen, sent via the most advanced delivery service to another craving mouth…