Saturday, February 27, 2010

Checking Out

There is something about shops that fascinates me. So the last time I was in Tesco I got he camera out of my bag and risked a quick shot. I thought ASA 1600 would be enough but it couldn't quite cope. Nonetheless, the people assembled quite nicely and I do like the young man on the till who is intently watching the woman at the checkout. And there is someone looking directly at the camera. This is a bit like the children's puzzle "Where's Wally?". Can you spot her? She makes the photograph work and without her it would not look so satisfying. This is a very spacious store although sometimes it doesn't seem like that. It fills itself up with things and people. We all seem to like shopping and even travel for it, yet we complain about it thereafter. I found that I had to turn to the biblical for an appreciation of shopping. "How many pretences men that sell goods weave. What poor articles with what good face, do they palm off on their customer!" said Henry Beecher in his Proverbs from Plymouth Pulpit (1887). I am inordinately fond of Erich Fromm, a psychotherapist of the Frankfurt School. He updates the comment by saying that "Man does not only sell commodities, he sells himself and feels himself to be a commodity." (Escape from Freedom, 1941). There's the explanation. We are all commoditised and unconsciously we are aware of our commoditisation. In order to feel comfortable with our "false self" , we desire, associate with and purchase commodities in our leisure time. It's about us, not about the objects. And through the objects, we alienate ourselves from ourselves.