Jeanne Randolph, 135 pages, ARP Books, arpbooks.org, $14.95
In examining the various “Christianisms” depicted by consumerism in North American society, Randolph considers the removal of Christianity as the dominant form of worship and its replacement: the shopping cart. According to Randolph, “Christianity has not been destroyed; it has been digested.” In order to show this, Randolph documents her trip to the mecca of consumerism, Las Vegas, and outlines the multitude of Christian- isms each product or place represents.
By using photos as mnemonic devices, but not including them, Randolph forces the reader to use her prose to imagine the picture she is describing. This is easily done, due to both Randolph’s vivid descriptions, and the number of recognizable elements she encounters.
Combining poetry that is “more like photography than verse,” the trip to Las Vegas, a history lesson, and an internal dialogue of critical theory, Randolph simply wants to show “that a Christian- ized Subconscious is already laid out like a sheet of flypaper.” Some examples stand out; among these, the Apple logo described as a symbol of Eve biting the apple is the most salient. Others, however, should be recognized as an interpretation, maybe even a stretch,
What Randolph nails are the many feelings and attributes that come from the pantheism. The shopping cart is the ideal place of worship. The goods are the new gods. The “metabolizing” of Christianity makes this an easier transition. The slogans are the hymns and commandments, the clicks and jingle of placing items in the cart are worship, and the act of purchasing is your answered prayers.
Shopping Cart Pantheism is not The Godliness of Goods, but it is the next best thing. Definitely add this one to your cart. (Brandon Daniel)