Yesterday we had to stop off at a Target Mega-store in Cedar Rapids. While my wife and step-kids gathered purchases I wandered into the “entertainment” section where I felt like a stranger newly arrived in Bedlam—every movie and CD was just an iridescent, plastic advertisement for mindless sex or gratuitous violence. This of course isn’t news. It just isn’t news. But seeing commodified slick spasms of blow dried sexual fantasies and human dismemberment on shelf after shelf under gaudy Christmas tinsel was like waking up in the midst of a saturnalia. And of course there was holiday music.
Because I don’t see well I had to nose my way through the shelves, sticking my face closer to the packaged goods than your average customer would be likely to do. And I peered at pools of blood flowing from pyramids with vastly muscular men armed with machine guns leaping into the foreground. Next: big bosomed girl looking to be no more than 13 making kissy face at gangsta who of course affected a glassy stare.
And that was the thing: I saw how all those people on the album covers were dead. They were dead on the inside and on the outside and in turn the shoppers were dead. I saw that the Target store was an Etruscan village where the dead were buying more tokens of deadness.
Seeing the spectacle of dead money and dead wishes made me wild to get outside. As Anselm Hollo once wrote in one of his fine poems:
“Virgil! Virgil! Wait for me! Virgil!”