Tuesday, March 27, 2007

“The Wal-Martization of the Public Mind and the passing of the "Red Barn in the Field"

Thoreau, quoting Emerson, said that all men lead lives of quiet,
[solitary] desperation. Most likely he was speaking to those most kindred to his philosophical ilk,those who believed the examined life, though perhaps more lonely, was still more worthy of pursuit than one of convention. But precisely what he meant by the "examined" life, and just what "pursuits" distinguish this life from an unexamined one of perpetual sleep, rests w/ his perpetual slumber on some hillside green in Concord, MA.

But Thoreau, in his Walden solitude, on his solo walks, was not left wanting for companions during his sojourn in the Walden woods. He conceded as much in the many jaunty passages of his literary classic. And one sometimes wonders how the company of such taciturn companions inspired such a clear and cogent view of the rapidly developing market imperatives and the knawing sense of disconnection with nature he felt went w/ the modernity of his times.

The sentiment of this essay borrows from some of his somber prognostications regarding the seemingly insensate march of market imperatives that, as in his day, seem to justify a singular ethic by subjugating all other considerations save the bottom line. In his day he chose the railroad- the "Iron Horse" as the looming specter- the imposing symbol of these inexorable market forces. By comparative analogy, this essay chooses the preeminent presence of Wal-Mart as its whipping boy.

Seems not such a great stretch, projecting forward, based on the gaining momentum of its exponential growth , that Wal*Mart is destined for increasing magnitude in its formative force exerted not only on the American landscape, but the greater world as well.. There is a much greater transcendent possibility unfolding about Wal-Mart, the world we find ourselves in, our current so called leader, his electorate, (to which he is but a composite emblem), and the eventual para mutual conjunction between “Sam’s Club,”the US government, and the rest of the world to which this conjunction considers not only its labor force but its client base buying fodder as well.

Sadly, we are in the final stages of the of the 2’nd “Modern
World,( at least the second modern movement of the western world that is). We are in a transitional gap of sorts, a gloaming maybe. The 1’st modern world being Greece and Rome. This 2’nd, starting w/ the renaissance through the 16’th century w/ the likes of such thought germinals as Francis Bacon, Martin Luther, Isaac Newton and, as just a few examples Kant, Locke, Hegel, Marx. These epochs seem to be curving downward toward a slow extinguishmen now; and as the receding lights of the scientific and philosophical Enlightenment flicker out, a new ordering principle supplants the quintessential distillates of this Enlightenment and all its diverse champions. Sounds pretty dire but look around and you'll see much evidence of this downspiral.

We currently find ourselves suspended in the gloaming, caught in the gap at the interface between the 2’nd and 3’rd historical epochs, (well, human epochs anyway).
New forms arise that fill out the structure of this new epoch. New
Shivas destroying the old, heralding in the New “kinder and gentler
world order.” An early commercial prototype of these usurping forms would be
Ford’s assembly line concept - but the extrapolated full bore blowout of
this concept is: ta daaa… Wal*Mart. Wal*Mart is mass assembly line production, distribution and sales writ on the universal scale. Ford’s concept had a single product line: cars. The Wal*Mart Conglomerate, (a new word needs to be
found here), will soon market everything from toothpaste and
produce, to educational concepts, and modes of thought to boot.

Just beyond the discernable horizon, Wal-Mart Pavilions, (under a franchised
out sourced pseudonym of course), might encompass huge tracts of space in a
Blade Runner style cement, glass and plastic dioramas.
Sadly, the “Red Barn in the Field,” the Greek Revival mansion in the hill and
dale green.. all have to go to make way for these "Global
Pavilions". And sadly, the independent minded thinker must also be
wary of the back hoe and macadam.

Dwight D Eisenhower’s forewarned portents on the Military/ Industrial
complex showed a seer’s prescience. The industrial era has
essentially merged with the Information/Commercial epoch. The
Military/ Industrial and the Information /Commercial are, in kind,
monolithic relatives. The prima facie mien, as yet not fully
developed, is recognized early on in the countenance of the budding
colossus Wal_Mart. Not so much this particular retail Wal- Mart,
but the concept “Wal-Mart” as a means of product and service purveying. Sam
himself had no vision of the hegemonic promised land on this scale,
but there is no stopping it now... Frankenstein is at large in a
frozen wasteland.

These Pavilions will be total immersion experiences. Every nuanced
subtlety of the buyer’s limbic system will be accounted for and
catered to. For example, there will be schools w/in the Pavilion
Compound that invite children and their parents to “choose” the
brand of “Evolutionary Theory” they wish to learn. Over here the
10,000 year old Earth created in six days by the divine Patriarch
w/ the arcade game that has you shuttling all the paired animals
into Noah‘s.. or maybe it will be Sam’s or George’s Arc. Over
there, the Godless model called Darwinism, that suggests chance and
random occurrence.. These out moded forms of the "old science" will
amount to a form of market heresy. So this particular school of
thought, ( Darwinian Evolution) will likely reach extinction in a
few generations…of its own accord, by its own lack of scientific
merit of course.. (planned obsolescence)
( strange irony here as that it was social Darwinism and laizzes faire economics-that formed the first arguments underpinning capitalism raison d'etre in the late 19'th century). There is a malignant Gulliver that blindly roams the land looking
for labensraum- for space to expand. This Gulliver is us, this
clamoring culture in mass consumption….

This is one reason I do what I do… The Red Barn in the Field is a
beautiful and dying thing. All who sense the early portents, whose
minds are not yet “Martinized” should be reading Gibbon’s “Decline
And Fall Of The Roman Empire” and Thoreau’s Walden … End of rant. Care to join me on a run while a few Red Barns are left?


Post a Comment

<< Home