October 2, 1999

I would like to have some photographs to submit for this essay, but I guess, absent a digital camera and time to assemble a collage, the mind will have to be the screen on which images play.

I have been reading a book which touches on various issues of philosophy lately. I finished a short piece written by a French philosopher warning us about the mechanization of spirit, found in the increasing uniformity of life.

I have had the good fortune to have traveled quite extensively in the United States and abroad.  But lately I have been struck by the reality of our cultural uniformity.

Draw the picture for me - get off an airplane in any major city, and rent your car from Hertz or Avis, and proceed to pick up a couple of things you desire in your travels...

Batteries at Circuit City
Toothpaste at Walgreen's
A book or CD from  Barnes and Noble or Borders
Lunch or dinner at Macaroni Grill, Chili's, Applebee's or the Outback Steak House
Not to mention places like Wendy's, Burger King and KFC et al.

Need a snack?

Order in from Domino's or Little Caesars
Get your oil changed at Valvoline
Let's not forget stuff from K-Mart or Wall-Mart.

Need office supplies?

There they are, right over there at Office Max or Staples or or or or.

I know about the quote that says, wherever you go, there you are.  But hey.... now we can go wherever we want, and stroll down store isles as if we never left home. 

And we call this culture?

Henri Bergson's words:

"What kind of world would it be if this mechanism should seize the human race entire, and if the peoples, instead of raising themselves to a richer and more harmonious diversity, as persons may do, were to fall into the uniformity of things.?"

From where I sit, it seems we already have fallen, and I seriously doubt that this culture will ever get up out of the plastic.