A meditation on air conditioning, and on life in general

Had to post this from Helena Fitzgerald’s great Substack newsletter, Griefbacon. Helena is such a great writer that I am more than willing to read her writing about any topic, no matter how boring, including air conditioning — which is really (as most of Helena’s pieces are) about life, and loss, and desire:

“Westfield is like if a mall dressed as a mall for Halloween, like if three malls stood on each other’s shoulders in a trench-coat to try to fake their way into a job as a mall. Everything in it is too blank and too white and too vast. Everything at Westfield seems to want to make you comfortable and actually wants to make you angry. Soft music is always playing, and a child is always throwing up near you, and something is always on sale. You can always smell food and the food smells just ok yet still makes you hungry even though you’re not actually hungry.

Everything at Westfield is about want, and nothing is about bodies. Mall air-conditioning is the dream of being able to want things without having to admit it is your sticky, sweaty, soggy body doing the wanting. This is the same dream as money, desire unweighted and without human consequences, always sowing and never reaping. When I leave the mall, for a few minutes I am overjoyed to be back outside in the weather and aware of my own skin. Outside, it’s a thrill to be able to experience consequences again. That’s what the body is, after all: an endless slapstick staircase of consequences, banana peel after banana peel. We accumulate our own lives and eventually they show on our faces, in our posture, in our torn-up feet and our bad knees. Mall air-conditioning says all of this is optional.”

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