Ladies and gentlemen, we have started our descent. From now until closing time on Christmas Eve, we are destined to fall towards an existential abyss. Some of us are fated to experience an unpleasant altercation with another shopper on Black Friday over the last discounted PS4 in a warehouse on the North Circular. Others will be on our knees in Hamleys begging the assistant to check again in the storeroom to see if they have that on-trend Zoomer Chimp, a £119.99 plastic robotic ape that comes complete with voice command recognition and – please God, no – 100-plus tricks. And then, sometime around 10am on Christmas Day, our nation will be united by a warm fuzzy feeling. What’s that feeling called again? Buyer’s remorse. Walter Benjamin … ‘the “modern” [is] the time of hell’ the Frankfurt School leader wrote. Photograph: Alamy Walter Benjamin … ‘the “modern” [is] the time of hell’ the Frankfurt School leader wrote. Photograph: Alamy One thing I’ve learned in researching the lives of that bunch of mostly dead neo-Marxist German Jews called the Frankfurt School is that shopping isn’t so much a satisfying pastime that boosts the economy as a burning wheel of Ixion on which we are bound until death secures our release. “The ‘modern’ [is] the time of hell,” wrote Walter Benjamin, the brains behind the Frankfurt School operation, in his critique of consumer capitalism, The Arcades Project. He wasn’t writing about Saturday at 5pm in Toys R Us, but he could have been. Here then are 10 lies about shopping to help you escape the seasonal consumerist circle of hell so appalling that even Dante didn’t dare imagine it.
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