Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Exciting! Energetic! Another Word!
I've been wandering the city more than usual these days (due to feelings of personal and professional dislocation that need not be discussed right now). And during said wanderings I've been fortunate enough to happen about some of New York's most emblematic landmarks. But perhaps none is more curiously symbolic of not only my city but of our world than "The McDonald's Great Wall of Affirmation." (Click on image for full wisdom.)
Located right next to a McDonald's on the Upper East Side, "The McDonald's Great Wall of Affirmation" includes such hopefully community-minded yet globally-healing locutions as "heritage," "harmonious," "serenity" and "savoury" (no doubt harkening back to when McDonald's served only pudding palate-cleansers to Victorian high society.) Assertions that when accepted without judgement or pause can seem reassuring, a salve not only for my troubles but for society's ills. That is, unless you give the wall more than just a fleeting glance. Then the seemingly curative exclamations seem less like the result of profound, genuine reflection and more like words randomly shouted in a TOEFL prep class. No doubt had NYC zoning laws permitted the erection of a larger monolith we would be greeted with such additional phrases as "windy," "treated cedar" and "vehicular identification number."
What's most confusing, however, is exactly what or who "The McDonald's Great Wall of Affirmation" is referring to with such declarations. Is it alluding to the human experience writ large? If so then why "appealing"? Is it commenting on the human experience in a McDonald's? If so then why "appealing"? And while such expressions as "familiar" and "together" can address both daily life and communal dining, when exactly did "qualitative" become a feel-good expression outside of well-received marketing proposals?
Furthermore, what of the statement "prospecting comfort" near the bottom of this metropolitan menhir? Is McDonald's searching for ease in its practice or tranquility in its very soul? Does it mean they admit they have yet to achieve a relaxing environment in their restaurants? If that's the case then why mention "serenity"? Are these words simply the wishes of the McDonald's marketing staff? Do they want for nothing more than a life that is "energetic," "exciting" and "casual modernity"? Are we not looking so much into our collective desires as the desperate gasps of a handful of people crying for spiritual assurance in the confines of some corporate headquarters in Oak Brook, Illinois?
Alas, I fear much like The Great Sphinx of Giza, "The McDonald's Great Wall of Affirmation" will forever remain a mystery as to its origins or intent. But truly this is a monumental sculpture that will forever engender dissenting hypotheses, fanciful conjecture, transcendental awe and "savoury" desires.