black friday diary

This Christmas, or even earlier, consider inventing a new art form.  Or something like that.

The usual gripe about Christmas Commercialism has begun, with its usual acerbic vengeance.  Pundits line up to criticize, first of all, Thanksgiving.  Or, more correctly, the lack of proper Thanksgiving Spirit.  Which lack, they claim, finds its flagship embodiment today.

Black Friday.

It just sounds like a massacre.

The Associate Press thinks it might be.  They predict, cheerily enough, that the shopping-mad crowds will be larger than last year, but sales will be about the same.  More people, spending less.  Stores, the AP said, are following suit, turning their mad marketing skills to everyday items like socks, instead of robotically controlled hamsters.

The Wall Street Journal, meanwhile, warns analysts that the real test of retail this year will appear Monday, instead of Friday.  It’s the Black Monday of the stock market.

Ho ho ho.

Christmas isn’t here yet, the analysts scream.  Give Thanksgiving it’s rightful place, and let us enjoy shopping on our own.   ‘What’s happening to America?’ writes Gary Balter.  Black Friday gets more press time than Thanksgiving Thursday.  What used to be a family tradition, he says, has become a crass attempt at marketing marketing.  Eric Felton wonders aloud if ‘we’ve lost our capacity for gratitude?’  The glut of easily accessible stuff has smothered our giving of thanks in consumerist greed.

All this feels very traditional.  It’s that time of year again.  ‘Tis the season to be whiny.

Hadley Freeman, meanwhile, scrabbled for things to be thankful about, assuming anyone can find the time.  She suggested in the Guardian that Sarah Palin’s anticipated presidential campaign is enough to make any lover of good comedy thankful.  And we can be thankful that advertisers are suing advertisers over advertisements about advertisements.  Very much the holiday spirit.

And she adds that if you’re not in America, not having to endure Thanksgiving or Black Friday should make you very thankful, indeed.

But then, you didn’t get the pumpkin pie, did you?

While advertisers and analysts fret together, George MacDonald has gotten an unexpected reincarnation.  The avant-garde Single Carrot Theatre in Baltimore premiered Illuminoctem this Wednesday.  It’s an adaptation one of MacDonald’s later fairytales, ‘The History of Photogen and Nycertis, or, the Day Boy and the Night Girl’ (1882).

The Single Carrot writers have dispensed with MacDonald’s text.  The adaptation is ‘entirely wordless’.  It’s a dance, a light show, a mime.  It’s a visual retelling.

Certainly the story lends itself to such an adaptation.  Photogen, the Day Boy, has only ever seen the sunlight.  Nycertis, the night girl, has only ever seen the night.  The story tells of their accidental meeting, and their romance.  It’s a classic MacDonald dualism, love found on the borders of dreaming leading to healing, and wholeness.

Disturbingly, the theatre’s website cautions that ‘Illuminoctem contains nudity and adult themes,’ and advices ‘viewer discretion.’  Viz, this children’s story isn’t for children.  They’ve read a little too much MacDonald scholarship, apparently.  At least those scholars that discuss eroticism in MacDonald’s writing.

In one sense, it’s disappointing that they think they need to portray the eroticism explicitly, when MacDonald almost never does.  In another, they run the risk of overshadowing the deeper, and more difficult, themes of the story with an overemphasis on sexuality.  Death, for instance, and suffering.

There’s tremendous potential here, of course.  Recreating art in new mediums always has possibility of reawakening experience of that art.  And it’s just in time for Christmas.

Just in time for humbug pie.


2 thoughts on “black friday diary

  1. True Confession: I listened to Christmas music before Thanksgiving. I did it just to annoy the legalists. And I’m not sorry a bit.

  2. Pingback: the fantasy of holidays « The Paradoxes of Mr. Pond

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