Not being a regular habitué of such places, this first trip to Westfield shopping mall in Stratford offers some revelations. I notice two things in particular: one is that it seems to have been designed as not just retail space, but also for leisure; there are a number of places where one can stop, relax, sit down, much like as in an airport lounge (which themselves increasingly resemble shopping malls). The other observation is that while the place is buzzing with people the shops are mostly empty and appear to be doing little or no business. Have people not come here to shop?
I think about Derrida's writing on Marxism after the fall of communism in the Soviet Union in 'Specters of Marx' and I try to imagine western consumerism after the fall of capitalism. So now the shopping mall is a kind of theme park, a purely social space for people to hang out in, it retains its aesthetics, architectural structure, etiquette, and customs but the crucial ingredient, mass consumption, is missing, reenacted only in the performance of the social habits of the act of shopping. It has become a ghost of itself.
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