THE TIME IS OUT OF JOINT. THE FUTURE PAST/PASSED OF TJ HUGHES. BY STEVEN BENSON

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Antwerp Central Station

 

Hamlet believed his mission was to re-set the bone(s) of crippled time/dislocated time.

W.G.Sebald averred that outsize {monumentalist} buildings contained, within them, the seeds of their own (future) destruction; he meant this literally(maintenance costs!) and, metaphorically: he was, implicitly, referencing Hitler’s gigantic Tempelhof airport, with all its messages of abuse of power, oppression and horror (the vision for the exterminating “Germania”). Why the (self) destruction is-emblematically-guaranteed is not clear; but that is the nature of metaphor. Beyond disturbingly,Hitler’s evil and mad, immoral  visions might have endured; and, Tempelhof still stands (bereft of its airport status).

 

Of course, “T.Js” does not have these sinister connotations. It is, however, an institution (treasured to older Liverpudlians) that has-probably-outlived its own ability to inhabit its own carcase; “institution” being the word in that, like Lewis’s, its self-belief, together with obviously paucely-resourced self-reinvention, has the combined arrogance and misfortune of an ailing corporate, capitalist institution.


 

Rooves always fail  first in ailing, neglected buildings……..IMG_9923

 

Look at those whited-out windows in T.J’s “flagship” (?Titanic) store

 

Look at the (attempt at) opulence plus ersatz architectural mishmash: The turrets (a la Scarborough “Grand” Hotel, another decaying monster); the garish lettering; the imitation train shed roof….


 

We started in the cafe: myself and my fellow (nearly, because not QUITE demised buildings) urban decay-ite, purveyors of spectral psychogeographical memento mori, us two explorers of the (Benjamin-esque) detritus and remnants of capitalism…

In fact, it was/is the cafe which has the trainshed roof: begrimed, almost Snow Hill-like in its last, soot-encoated days. It was about 10 days before Christmas: should have been a busy shopping day, but it was nearly empty (like one of those Sebald public spaces which, ought, in the quotidian run of things, to be peopled, but are, in imagination or fact, barren);thus,it felt tenantless, with a few remains of any former grandeur it had:a roped-off VIP lounge, with potted plants. It was a waiting-room, a transit ( to where?), one of those old hotel -like liminal hallways.

 

But these were not marble halls; it was just tat; but CURIOUS tat(with pretensions/illusions): viz:IMG_9858

(camp Gothic, but actually truly, really, deeply HORRIFYING);

then this:IMG_9862

(the caged fire sings)

and IMG_9869

{ classic out-of-focus kitsch Seb imitation capture !}

 


 

We ventured upstairs, ever intrepid amidst semi-desuetudinous realms. This is what we saw:

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An old escalator to another (trainshed) vast roof, replicating endlessly, as far as the eye could seeIMG_9874

It seemed to me that the lights were gradually going out for TJs

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damp and pre-dereliction was accruing

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Uncanny; matched by (erstwhile) Lewis’s -last days -style oddments. https://decayetude.wordpress.com/2010/06/29/desuetudeimages-and-text-on-decay-and-memory-inspired-by-sebald-and-the-death-of-a-department-store/

IMG_9886poignantly lovely in its tacky plastic plenitudeIMG_9881.JPGIMG_9885

Such sad richesIMG_9890

I found this especially unheimliche heimat: Lewis’s… was it old stock from the demised (over 8 years ago) store….it turned out that “Lewis’s Retail”, current owner of TJS, had bought the rights to the famous name… but what kind of forsaken attempt was this to re-vivify a corpse…IMG_9896

and this: a hommage to another defunct store, (Woolworths)?!

It was another (barely) living museum.

 

____________________________________________________________________________IMG_9899Even this was like some sinister miniaturrisation of a old-style in-department-store book department


IMG_9911So, good luck, TJs, as you yet attempt to bridge between the present and the pastIMG_9910IMG_9914

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Published by: decayetude

ENTHUSIASMS: CLASSICAL MUSIC, ESPECIALLY OBSCURE ROMANTIC COMPOSERS; BACH/HANDEL LITERATURE, ESPECIALLY THOUGHTFUL, WELL-WRITTEN(STYLISTICALLY)NOVELS W G SEBALD WALTER BENJAMIN THEODOR ADORNO(JUST BEGINNING!) AESTHETIC PHILOSOPHY GAY MEN'S WRITING;QUEER THEORY STIMULATING DISCUSSIONS(EMOTIONALLY AND INTELLECTUALLY) GOOD RICH THICK ESPRESSO MICHAEL PONTI SPRITUALITY/LIFE'S "AURA"(BENJAMIN), WHATEVER TRANSCENDENTAL THING YOU WANT TO CALL THIS MEMORY-the elusiveness thereof. LOST TIME AND AN ATTEMPT AT ITS REDEMPTION(NON THEISTICALLY/RELIGIOUSLY)

Categories Uncategorized3 Comments

3 thoughts on “THE TIME IS OUT OF JOINT. THE FUTURE PAST/PASSED OF TJ HUGHES. BY STEVEN BENSON”

  1. Beautiful post, and since I was there, very faithful to the spirit on the day. (Spirit in more ways than one, or should I should say ‘spectre’?) The way the wreckage of consumer capitalism is neatly arrayed in decrepit spaces like these is unreal (out of sync with businesses like John Lewis, where it’s all about the ‘edit’ or the ‘curating’) and uncanny. We’ve seen all this before, as you say in your post, in other spaces and at other times. Will the circulating ever end? There’s a strange sense of hope underlining this, although this is likely to be lost on most, if not all, of the customers sleepwalking through T J Hughes. So many resonances, correspondences, ghosts…

  2. Thanks, wolflin, for your insightful comment and for joining me on that spectral psychogeographical derive….I hope it will end with some alternative “system” or hybrid to replace intense market-led capitalism; what that is I am, sadly, never sure….
    Here is to our next derive 🙂 xx ps I LOVE “sleepwalking through T J Hughes”: really captures the decrepitude of the denizens…..

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