11 July 2009

The Wealth Human

The Consumer

Take the grocery store. Ultra Foods. Chicago Heights IL on a nameless, hot and sunny July afternoon.

A bustling place with all sorts wandering through for any number of reasons. One item or hundreds. Myself, I can only be overwhelmed and philosophically sickened by the preponderance of shelves, those stuffed with stuffs.

But checkout. The exit is where the magic happens. The culmination driven by impatience. An impatience bred by line-making and standing. O the queue! Bitterness from inactivity and monetary transaction. Or the screaming children. This perhaps explains the bitterness and stoicism and frowns I witness. A testimony I make while sitting idly with my beloved grandmother near the exit.

I think. Cart after cart, followed by face after frowning face. All downtrodden as if immune to that odd contortion we call a smile.

I feel like they are all simply bodies moving.

People watching in the international terminal at an airport, for example, is simply bodies moving. But with seeming purpose. Destination and origin envelop their movement. Baggage trails. I see context, if liminal.

But watching these bleak bodies pass at the grocery store is somewhat disturbing. These bodies, unwitting Proles perhaps, pass through liminality only within their economical purpose. Their baggage, only product. Consumption in the raw.

A capitalist nightmare, a perversion of the human in motion.

Distraught, weary and detesting faces which epitomize robotic forms being led by their vessels of consumption. Pulled along through an incomprehensible plethora of things to have. Unable to find what they need or want. Only to buy what was come across.

Choice, thus, becomes an illusion. For choice is beside the point in this case. So long as a body takes and transacts.

Then, passing through to another side, the out-side, a body is led onto the black asphalt lot. Treeless, void and bleak. Naught but intense sun and rows of reflection. Shiny machines which transport and consume only further. From the black of pavement to that black non-solid torn from the depths.

No wonder they seem bitter. No wonder I see bitterness?

But is it wrong to consider them a "them?" What makes me so different? Having passed myself through the same bulk hell. Was it, perhaps the quaint moment? Sitting beside my cherished mother's mother? Waiting silently on a bench, as through at a bus stop of yore? A moment of pause in a matrix of motion? There I was, something apart, no cart. Existing, if briefly, idly in a place of rapid transition.

And sure, these passing bodies are soon to gain some purposeful, non-economic purpose. Home, family, work or wherever their place has belonging and is needed. To once again live and not simply give and take. Live thriving in the moments, pauses and ease of less hectic places.

But why, as the organism demands sustenance, leave that for such a state? When once, subsisting was full of pride. Full of value and need.

Not of supply and demand.

Shame. That the other way, the quaint way, is poverty these days. That those who make and take only what they need, that they are foolish for taking and making so little. Silly poor!

Yet, poor in wealth material is not to be poor in the wealth human. A wealth in which the contorting lips become smiles, beaming and reassuring in their simplicity.

The wealth human. Seen through its absence, trailing wire vessels, in the sagging faces of the passing persons in the exit hallways, at a giant grocery store. On the southside of Chicago. Illinois, USA. Earth, solar system, Milky Way.

1 comment:

Lesley said...

after my own heart. well done!