My wanderings around the Internet brought me to this Salon article about a couple who, for four years, built what amounts to a second home inside a mall.
Here’s their story. Here’s an excerpty:
They never intended to undermine the mall or its corporate structure, or to make a spectacle of themselves. Townsend describes himself as “wired for happiness” and Yoto’s idea of a good time is cataloguing all the items in a store and rating their desirability from “gift-worthy” to “if-it-were-the-apocalypse-and-I-was-looting-I-would-take-it.” Which is precisely what they did during their stint living at the mall. Every day.
So, despite the fact they are the kind of people who I would gladly put my fist through their faces (seriously, if you call anything you do a ‘collective’ and there ain’t a ‘Borg’ in front of that, you need the nature of the universe explained to you with a knuckle sandwich), they did what a lot of PF bloggers do: wonder all day about all the crap offered up for our consumption.
But then they had to go and steal some things:
They added sofas, tables, lamps, a TV, a china hutch and a Sony PlayStation (which was stolen while they lived there, which suggests their presence wasn’t entirely secret), and stayed for days at a time. They planned to install pre-laminated wood flooring and a portable toilet.
Stealing is wrong, kids. And I have a very old-fashioned view of personal property: I don’t dink about in other people’s spaces without their explicit permission. Not from any noble purpose or anything, it’s to keep the big guys with weapons and no Police Oversight Committee away.
The Salon article ends with this bit, which I found interesting due to my recreational musings on humankind and its desire to be individual:
Yoto and Townsend’s great crime — what made the mall feel violated — was to make the mall an individual experience, to define the space themselves. They wanted to replicate what developers had done around them: declare an abandoned area blighted and then redevelop it, to make a tiny piece of the mall uniquely theirs. It was their own personal eminent domain.
In many ways, this blog is my way of making a tiny part of the universe uniquely mine. In my living situation I know somewhere deep in my bones that the solitude of my bedroom is nightly invaded by the eyes of my neighbors and decorating is allowed within limits set by my landlord. Said landlord can legally remove me from the premises within thirty days, and only the scuffs on the floor would remain.
I tell myself I’m actually okay with the impermanence of the human condition, except that’s a total lie because otherwise I wouldn’t spend so much time spinning stories, for my coworkers and friends, for this and my other blogs, and for eventual publication to the wider world. Even I find myself responding to the siren call of singularity, the ingrained desire to be an individual.
Malls, with chain stores and standardized goods, are the antithesis of singularity. They sell conformity. This couple used the mall as the launching pad for their brief flash of individuality.