How and What to Want

The fact is, all stores are hell. They’re designed to put us in touch with the most craven parts of ourselves, to encourage us to cross the line from aspiration into delusion. They advise for flagrant dereliction of duty. I don’t like to feel that I’ve walked into hell only to pay for permission to bring a piece of it out into the world—and then to give that piece to someone I love. Stores are flatteringly lit, they play music and bombard you with emotional cues, they’re arbiters and limiters of desire, teaching us how and what to want. There’s nothing like them in nature. In a retail environment, where every cubic inch has been assessed for its earning potential, anyone who resists the merchandise can only feel like a waste of space.
—Dan Piepenbring, “Points of Sale,” The Paris Review, Nov. 30, 2015
[aka, It’s Getting Dangerously Close to Christmas, and I’m Dangerously Close to Getting Weird About it Again]

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