I’ve come to loathe malls. They symbolize so much of what is wrong with our society. The gross materialism, the preeminence of valuing things that were created to be used- over people. It is as the Canadian cultural critic and writer Marshall Mcluhan said “We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us”. And so it was written.
There was a time when humanity came together to place our hands in the earth to bring forth life. To tend to the earth and others. I concede this point with little romanticisation of it. Our lives literally depended on it and yet even in the midst of this partnership of necessity humanity worked together unselfishly committed to a common cause.
No such communal effort or dependency exists today. Now the meeting place of human interaction is the mall and for one specific purpose: to consume, to “out jones” one another if you may.
It is in this place that the capitalistic rat race that we’ve been programmed to believe is necessary to succeed is personified. It is in these shrines and totems to capitalism, these temples of our gross excess, where the individualistic pursuit of self is realised and brought to life.
It is said that we live in an age of post-modernistic secularism but our idols are crafty shape shifters, deities of our own design and yet cunningly imperceptible to our lust blinded eyes our gods reign in the form of corporate bodies that reside in tri-level, air conditioned buildings with glass sky lighting, its heavenly hosts swathing us with the gentle soliloquy of Muzak. It is indeed a heavenly experience but we are misled. Our gods have played this game for far too long-they know our weaknesses.
They entice us with the forbidden fruits of “buy one get one free” and “while supplies” last. Like the serpent in the biblical narrative they play on our innate sense of inadequacy, our desire to be known and loved unconditionally; our prideful but quiet cravings to be worshipped like gods ourselves once wrapped in these dead things that give us so much meaning and a false sense of “life”.
“Eat ye thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” but the serpent lied didn’t it? It knew the truth as do I. I see it now, my eyes opened to it like Paul on the road to Damascus. Consume, consume, consume, until ye yourself are consumed is the message being whispered amidst a cacophony of cash registers, percolating skinny cappuccinos and eager to please sales assistants……………………
“Money, once again; all is money. All human relationships must be purchased with money. If you have no money, men won’t care for you, women won’t love you; won’t, that is, care for you or love you the last little bit that matters. And how right they are, after all! For, moneyless, you are unlovable. Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels. But then, if I haven’t money, I DON’T speak with the tongues of men and of angels”- George Orwell