Interviewed by John Haggerty
Read Leland Nally’s fiction piece, The Depersonalized Violence of a Labor Day Mattress Sale
This piece does an excellent job looking at the whimsical cruelty of capitalism—it’s not that anybody has set out to be cruel, but things just end up that way because it’s cheaper and easier than being kind. Does this knowledge make things worse or better? Would you prefer that the violence not be quite so depersonalized? Or do we like it the way it is—as clean and anonymous as possible?
I don’t know if it makes it better or worse (all violence is a major bummer), but certainly more difficult for people to combat. There are definitely actual people with names and addresses that are responsible for horrendous injustices and crimes against humanity and the planet, etc., but most of the misery perpetrated by capital at least feels ambient and directionless and faceless. It feels hopeless and profoundly alienating to be one small person ensnared in a big, nebulous system that has found its way into every facet of our life, no matter how personal or intimate or mundane.
Everybody in the story seems like a victim, somehow. Is this what it’s come to—that we have created an enormous machine that is now devouring us all whole? Is there a way to escape? Money? Drugs? Spiritual advancement? Or are we all doomed?
Political revolution is an eye-rolley, boring answer, but it’s the right one.
Do you think we are unique in having created this dilemma for ourselves, or is all of human history just a long series of mattress store dystopias with slightly different window dressing?
You don’t really have a WWII without combustible engines in the same way you don’t have this particular kind of what you might call “late-capitalism” without very specific technologies and material changes. I think what makes this current moment seem different is the commodification of areas of our identity that have been kept private since, you know, the dawn of time. Technology plays an important role in that.
If you managed to find a really, really great mattress at a fair price, how wonderful would your life become?
Probably much better! I sleep like shit. Please visit my GoFundMe for more information on how to make this happen.