Thursday, July 15, 2010

Andre Aciman/Glow Lotion/Existential Despair

When I staggered out of bed this morning, plunking myself in front of my laptop, armed with a steaming cup of Oren's Beowulf Blend, the following email popped out at me from my insanely overcrowded Inbox:

Hi there,
Thank you for contacting Soap & Glory – we really appreciate hearing from you!We are currently aware that our ‘Glow Lotion’ is out of stock in stores and on We are striving to rectify this, but are unsure of when it will be back.I would also like to bring to your attention our press release regarding Target and Please have a read here. We would like you to know that S&G is not going away from the US, we will be selling through another retailer in September. Until we launch with our new retailer, we ask for your patience as due to Target clearing stock, you may not be able to purchase some of your favourites. In the meantime, if you are struggling with your local Target, you may have better luck purchasing on than in store.I hope this information is helpful.
Kind regards

Yes, I am that woman who writes to the customer service people when she cannot find a beloved product on the shelves. And gets abnormally excited when they write back.

In the case of Soap&Glory's Glow Lotion -- one of the world's most amazing (and cheap!!!) beauty products, missing from the shelves of Target which has carried it exclusively for the past several years -- the customer service people are based across the pond, somewhere in the UK.

And while I cannot diminish the great sense of relief I felt to have the mystery of the missing Glow Lotion finally solved, I was exponentially more delighted to learn that this addictive elixir wasn't gone forever, simply in short supply until Soap&Glory products appear in a specialized beauty retailer, as the press release details.

You see, the disappearance of beloved products causes me to go into a state of existential instability, as I have detailed in a previous blog post (Discontinuity/February 18, 2010). Indeed, I still have not gotten over the demise of Origin's Ginger Glimmer (
and have endeared myself (or established myself as a wackadoodle) with the sales staff at the store on Broadway and 84th street, where I periodically pop in to optimistically inquire about the product's sudden re-appearance, even after the folks at company headquarters told me (several times) that it is no longer available and that every single store in America is apparently out of it.

I know, because I have called them all, scoring the last stash of the stuff, which I tracked down at a mall in Westchester.

Getting back to the Glow Lotion...the appearance of Jess's email this morning was fortuitous timing because just last night I had the privilege of hearing Andre Aciman in conversation with Joshua Ellison, the founder of Habitus: A Diaspora Journal ( at the magnificent Museum of Jewish Heritage ( (Full disclosure: I work with the impressive Mr. Ellison, promoting his remarkable journal.)

In the course of the public conversation on the subject of Is New York City the Diaspora? Aciman spoke about the sense of spiritual dislocation he experienced during the renovation of Straus Park, a rather pathetic little park at the intersection of Broadway, West End and 106th Street, a subject he has written and lectured about extensively.

Aciman writes from the perspective of an exile or displaced person. Some critics point to him as the quintessential scribe on this subject; indeed, this very fact informed his participation in last night's event. An Egyptian Jew whose journey to New York entailed the adoption of other national identities, he addressed the inherently Jewish nature of exile last night...and how that rootless, insecure identity that shaped the consciousness of an entire people is affected, changed or possibly even obliterated by the experience of living in New York City, clearly the most extreme and enduring of all the new Jerusalems.

As I looked around the room, I kvelled at the packed space and rapt faces turned towards the conversation. My joy was compounded by the fact that I had expected the worst (no one showing up) due to the weather (rainy) and the location (remote, at the southwest tip of the island with a fabulous view of the Statue of Liberty.) In general, doing events in Manhattan is a masochistic endeavor because no matter how great the program or how much advance buzz there is, you are up against thousands of other happenings in this restless town and are never sure that your event will be a hit or that even one person will show up.

So I was in a state of supreme happiness.

However, my personal takeaway was something that might not have impressed other members of the audience, indeed, may have gone unnoticed.

It was Aciman's allusion to his existential despair in the course of the renovation of Straus Park, in particular at the statue of Mnemosyne, or Memory.

And though I was born in this non-Diaspora in the latter half of the 20th Century, making me an historical anomaly -- a Jew who feels entirely at home outside the Jewish homeland, a member of a minority with paradoxically elite social and cultural status, an unambiguous American citizen who has never once felt the sting of persecution on her native soil -- the sense of exile I experience is internal and ubiquitous. stemming either from my adoption or from the metaphysical force of collective Jewish memory or from something else, rendering me sad and shaky when Glow Lotion goes missing from the shelf of my local Target.

1 comment:

吳婷婷 said...