“The marvelous industrial implement which it [science] has created in our epoch is not capable of spiritually augmenting man, like poetry, painting, or music, but it creates the new circumstances and the unexpected dramas in which poetry, painting, and music can renew their nourishment.”—Elie Faure, The Spirit Of The Forms
Unable to stomach a small Christmas party in a thirty-something couple’s two million dollar mansion I baulked at the last moment, abandoned wifey, and drove to the mall for some quiet time.
The week has been hectic, and when I don’t get enough quiet contemplative time—enough Omphalos Cafe time—my hypos builds to a dangerous point. That’s hypos in the old Melvillian knock a cap off a cop sense.
Anyway, as unlikely as it seems, the mall can be just what the doctor orders. Throngs crowded the food court where I ate my dinner. They edged their way along the aisles of Chapters, where I perused the seasonal book offerings but had no difficulty resisting. They milled about, walked hand-in-hand, exulted in purchases, pushed perambulators, and pranced and preened in their hip techno-smartphone abetted courtship dance.
I sat sipping coffee, content to observe the panoply next to a clump of four indoor trees whose trunks rose from soil beneath an iron grate. Their bark was peeled and scarred with etches and carvings of names and hearts containing linked pairs of initials.
Rather than disgust at the rampant consumerism of our modern world I felt a profound sense of oneness with it all. Not the consumerism, mind you, but the milling exuberance, the excited, exhilarated sense of wonder, amazement. People of all shapes and sizes toted around brand name bags filled with their prized acquisitions.
Oppose it? Decry it? Why bother? The brand name bags, the fashions and the electronic gadgetry—the iPods and smartphones that everyone seems to need at some deep psychological level—the sense of connectivity and community they provide—in the absence of something else, something inexpressible, undefinable….amulets and talismans all against an abyss of emptiness.
All is as it should be. We are the mall, you and I. I spent two hours amidst the crowds and emerged refreshed. Besides my Thai dinner and a coffee I bought nothing. Nothing at the Apple Store, nothing at the book store, no clothing, no Christmas gifts, nothing.
Life is the greatest gift.
Footnote: Thanks for visiting and reading. I’ll be away from the 9th to the 18th of December, holidaying with the family in the Caribbean, exploring franchise opportunities for the Omphalos Cafe.
Beverly Penn said:
It’s ironic, I am so anti-materialism, but I have always loved going to the mall. I like to people watch (in a non-creepy way, I promise), and I love the feeling of anonymity it gives me. I can be so alone, eating my dinner, or drinking coffee on a bench, and yet so surrounded, so together with everyone. It is an odd and lovely paradox.
Absolutely Bev. The Christmas party, with twelve people, would have required talk; the mall, with five thousand, didn’t. It was an oasis.
Miss Demure Restraint said:
Now I would have never imagined that . . . the Mall.
“amulets and talismans all against an abyss of emptiness”
I like that. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it so aptly stated.
Enjoy your Caribbean Christmas getaway.