Part Two: "Star Warz" and the Mall
There is a city on the outskirts of Richmond VA that is the location of a mall. It has been a long time since I have visited a mall and this one is a beauty. The first time I ever saw a mall, it was a big rectangle of a building with one long aisle, with all the stores lined up on either side. This mall is different. It is a maze of beautiful open air courtyards or atriums. It seems to me, as I stare at this incredible mall, full of shops and merchants selling things, that we treat things far better than we treat people, in this culture of materialism.
Ever since we had the great honor of having a citizen like Buckminster Fuller and his implementation of sacred geometry in architecture it has been possible to have variety in building. Furthermore we desperately need more passive solar stuff in buildings. It has also been possible for awhile to do a free-form any way you want in metal fabrication and simply spray cement on it. But no, we have to have our punch press zoning codes, and their result ... EVERYWHERE.
Now here is this beautiful mall and it is not a rectangle but has beautiful architecture. But for what ..... for things???? The cathedrals of today are dedicated to things. Oh God !!!
I walk into the art store in this incredible mall. I see paintings that look like Kinkades. My sister the artist can't stand Kinkades. I know Kinkades are not great art but I think they are cute anyway. I happen to think they are very cute. What I can not stand is to drive down any American street in any American city. As far as I am concerned America looks like a big Kinkade painting. All the people live in cute little Kinkade-looking houses. They all drive little cookie cutter cars. And all too many of them have little cooky cutter lives and values.
A Kinkade painting is not a painting that tells you what America used to look like. The Hudson River School of Painting gives you an idea of just how many towering trees have died and grand open spaces been defiled. In those paintings the awesomeness of Nature is welI captured. Something is missing in America that great art whispers about and Kinkades do give us a hint.
I also realize that the value of a painting is highly subjective. I love the fact that Kinkade paintings are full of plush delicate vegetation. That is how things ought to be as I see it. Plants everywhere. But Kinkades have a bit of a cookie cutter look to them and it is that that my artist sister does not like.
I walk around the art store. The Kinkade-looking art is not hard to find. I see a person sitting behind a desk.
"And what kind of painting is this? I ask, looking at one big Kinkade-looking piece on the wall.
"It is a giclee print." came the answer. ( pronounced "jeeclay" )
"Oh my God. Not only is it a Kinkade-type thing, it is also not even a painting. It is a print.
"But it is artist-enhanced," came the shopkeepers voice.
"Ah" said I. "Oh yeah!" The walls of the store were dark and a very bright light from above highlighted the look of the "paintings". A dab of real oil paint was given to become the tiny lights in the tiny windows of the tiny house of the print, so that the luminous quality of real oil paint, relative to the non-luminous quality of print, made the dabs of paint look as if there were real tiny lights actually lit up in the "painting's" windows. This would only be obvious if there was very strong lighting on the painting with relative darkness elsewhere. When a buyer got the "painting" home the effect would probably all but disappear.
"Cute trick" thought I. "But not cute enough to warrant the $500.00 price tag."
I leave the art store and walk out into one of the beautiful atriums in the mall. I see, through a big shop window a scantily clad mannequin. I ponder to myself ...
"I wonder if the mannequins in the shop windows appreciate their surroundings? 'Anti-Kin Mannequin' I shall name one of them. Better yet I shall name her 'Anti-Kin Mannequin Skywatcher'.
She just stands there looking and not seeing. But then her human counterparts do not seem to see much either. They do not see that this mall and its grand architecture is wasted on her. Rather than a pretty mall dedicated to things I would have preferred far less of that and far more of wild America and the living architecture of Mother Nature. But things are changing back I hope. And a new culture may be in the wings. Punch Press America may be seeing its last days now. Skywatcher may soon find herself tossed out with many friends of like kind tossed as well. Soon there may not be enough consumers of the american dream or shall I say "american nightmare" to buy all the things that Skywatcher wears.
While Anti-Kin Mannequin Skywatcher stares out of her shop window at the luxurious mall, real americans are staring out of cold windows in houses that are foreclosed upon. The house owners are gone. Where they live now is anybody's guess. Some are out in the cold. In some foreclosed houses freezing people have, no doubt, broken in, and are staying there illegally. There is no heat and no electricity. There is no water. The flushing of the toilet and washing of dishes and clothes is very difficult. But in the foreclosed house the desperate people may be able to live through one more winter. Anti-Kin Mannequin Skywatcher is wearing a touch of lace and fluff. She is looking sexy as can be in her Fredrick of Hollywood garb. I can just imagine what the price tag is on that bit of nothing. Elsewhere warm blankets, a bit of wood to burn, and the luck to find a wood burning stove, may have eclipsed thoughts of things like Anti-Kin and her look of almost-naked-in-the-window. Even before the economic crash hit it was possible to find humans living on a cold winter night in a dumpster, in this land where Anti-Kin Mannequins are nice and warm.
"Between the mannequin and her Fredrick of Hollywood garb and this cheap print and its exorbitant price tag," I wonder, "what else is cheap about this mall?" I stood for a moment speculating. I was soon to find out.
I was headed to a certain computer store in the mall to get my computer fixed. The round trip to get to this store from my house in the country would be over one hundred miles. It was a risky trip in my 1988 Country Squire station wagon. I had done everything to make sure all was in as good condition as possible before heading to the mall. The car was well prepared for the trip and everything should be OK. I needed a working computer. I could only afford second hand. On ebay they had failed to tell me that my second hand computer had been dropped or had had something dropped on it. The case was damaged and bent a bit.
One look at the damaged case and the employee of the computer store said he could not take the computer. He would look at it briefly but to do the diagnostic test it needed and take it in the back and leave it ...well ...they were too afraid of being sued or something. Ok! Argh!
I had made an appointment after calling the appropriate number to get my computer looked at. That is just what they did. The young man working in the store looked at the bent case and gave it a superficial diagnostic test and that was that. Now I must drive back with nothing being done for me despite the fact that I will have travelled over one hundred miles to get my computer fixed. And there it is again. America and its cheap tricks.
"I HAVE morphed to become Luke Skyflyer, haven't I?" I ask myself. The Star Warz music runs through my head. "Da Da Da Da Da..." :-)
"Hmmm. I can find a way to turn this stupidity into something good. Death Madehard is not going to get the best of this situation. I am going to triumph. This calls for humor and imagination! "
In the toy store of this mall are two famous characters. R232 and C4PO are here. Let us for a moment fantasize what they would say if there were any brains in their little plastic heads..... They are both fretting about ANY human in a dumpster.
"Oh, oh" says the golden robot, C4PO, to R232. "What shall we do? The humans are about to be buried under materialistic garbage in the dumpster." R232 did not take much time to figure it out. He related the impulse to C4PO who translated it into words. "Take the humans out of the dumpster and put the mannequins in" was the translation. With great haste C4PO implemented the idea. There was great happiness and laughter for quite some time in the toy store in the mall.
"Why didn't humans think of this?" asked C4PO. R232 made his sad little wimper/whistle noise. If he could have talked and said something it is unlikely he could have thought of a proper explanation. For it is all too obvious there is no proper explanation other than human madness.
"Think of it, R232. Humans actually made us, but they still could not realize it made sense to get their own kind out of dumpsters and put silly mannequins in. Can you figure that out, R232?" R232 made a noise. It sounded rather irreverant.
Because the impulse R232 sent to C4PO was something he would never allow himself to formulate into words, the golden robot just shook his head. Then he stood still for a few minutes. R232 realized something was wrong. C4PO was standing there frying his electronic equivalent of neural synapses. R232 gave him a kick. C4PO shook himself.
"It is beyond me, R232," was his only response. R232 made a few more irreverent squeaks and bleeps and C4PO translated these as well.
"Get over it, our parents are not perfect," C4PO found himself saying. C4PO bent over then and started to shake. R232 was worried again. He thought to kick him again but decided not to. When C4PO finally stood up R232 could see that the golden robot was doing his own strange equivalent of something that robots had never until that moment done. Never before had anyone witnessed a droid do anything even roughly resembling a laugh, but that is what C4PO was doing. It cost him, for bright arcs of electricity were sparking here and there all over him. Afterward he looked a trifle singed. From that day forward C4PO became a bit more like R232 in that he too started to make irreverent raspberry kinds of noises now and then, whenever the topic of humans got just a bit too difficult.
Well that was fun. I just had to get something out of this joke of a mall and this joke of a trip. Back to the real mall. Um, well, back to the thing called "a mall", this insane construct much ill-suited to the test of time. This mall is, it seems to me, an arbitrary fantasy land thing, not something that will be here for long. And furthermore this stupid mall is not even a nice fantasy.
In our system I and many others are sacrificed to the god of materialism working long hour low paying jobs. I and others like me are slowly sacrificed to the dumpster while the cardboard lady, Anti-Kin Mannequin Skywatcher and her wisp of clothe with the high price tag stands there, surrounded by many millions of dollars worth of building, enshrined as the god of materialism demands she be. But if females do not buy this stupid stuff then the building and the cardboard lady will disappear. And then humans can live in fine style instead of their cardboard look alikes. God what a crazy civilization this is.
For me the system has always been THE EVIL EMPIRE. Now it is becoming that for many more. We can transcend this current system collapse. It is not as formidable as it seems. The thing is once you just make the first jump and are in the mode of self-re-creation/system-re-creation, within the context of your own little life, the challenges get so preoccupying you do not have a chance to fret. You just put one foot in front of the other and grapple with the adventure. And when it really gets ridiculous you can always double over like C4PO and just have a good laugh.
"Da Da Da Da Da .... Da Da Da Da!" :-) :-) :-)