Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Sanctuary - Part I

A great post over at I Cite articulates what I imagine many of us are feeling, especially at this time of year. Referring to a recent shooting at an Omaha mall this news article is quoted.

"Obviously, there is a period of time for mourning, a very appropriate time," Kavanagh said. "But . . . people have a connectivity to their center."

A person's favorite mall can be the site of first jobs and first dates, and it offers familiarity and comfort, Kavanagh said.

That makes something like Wednesday's shooting even more horrific, he said.

"It's sort of an invasion of a sanctuary in some terms. It will take time for some to go back, but others will go back immediately, almost in defiance of this individual."

Some morning radio deejays this week exhorted listeners to return to Westroads to shop as soon as it reopens.

I Cite comments,
The mall as violated sanctuary, the sacrosanct temple of consumption. This strikes me as infinitely more horrific than the fact that in a country unwilling to disallow weapons people sometimes shoot each other. The comfort of the mall? It sounds like a small town, but one without incest and abuse, alcoholism and suicide, lynchings and cross-burnings. Even the mall has its obscene supplement. But the shooter isn't it; the shooter is barely a symptom. Rather, the obscene supplement, what we have to suppress even to go in, is the truth that the people who make most of the products cannot buy them, that the people who provide most of the services cannot afford them, and that, really, we don't even want them. We go because it's all we know to do; it's the only sanctuary left. All those other sites we've imagined have lost their appeal.

It is the final comment that cuts deeply in my thinking. We go because it's all we know to do; it's the only sanctuary left. There remains few social activities that are not based in some form of economic consumption. The sanctuary in the Old Testament was based in the centrality of a generative presence and I see this connected to Mall as Sanctuary at least in the basic hopes of what consumption will offer.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good thoughts, here, Dave.

I heard a public lecture a couple of weeks ago by Cal Seerveld (someone who you might be interested in) called "Cities as a place for public art work: a glocal approach." It was a fascinating talk and one of his observations was that malls are pseudo-places (trees, fountains, big chess-boards, etc.), manufactured for the sole purpose of facilitating consumption.

which reminds me, I have a couple of papers I want to send you (look for them in an inbox near you).