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“a vertigo produced by symmetry” & other dizzinesses of the superstore
"Look at the Lights, My Love" by Annie Ernaux is 7.75 x 5 x 0.75 inches & 96 pages.
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Look at the Lights, My Love by Annie Ernaux, translated from French by Alison L. Strayer, is a journal account of the writer’s trips to the French superstore Auchan from November 2012 through July 2013. She goes often, but retains the ability to see the Auchan anew, with fresh, alien eyes each time:
Ernaux’s journal recounts the habitual social patterns of the store and her own allergies to anything unthinking and conventional:
Look at the Lights, My Love is a work about seeing something familiar with a stranger’s gaze each time. Like many very good slim volumes, it’s a project with a premise that would exhaust itself if it went on for too long. But Ernaux doesn’t come to her thesis (the title), until one of the last passages (split over two pages, right below):
This act of revelation flips quickly. She realizes that looking at the lights isn’t a typical action of a customer; and anything atypical in such an ordered environment might be flagged and bring unwanted attention her way. Her unusual observation makes her vulnerable to being observed, seen, and surveilled. But she chooses the first action for her title. The book’s imperative has an opinion and a command for us: Act unusually! Look in weird directions! Look at the lights! My love!