I’ve been writing a short story in my head that takes place in a mostly vacant shopping mall. The kind where theaters show $2 movies. I spent a lot of time in places like that when I was little. For me they symbolize the primary-color consciousness of early childhood. The image of decrepitude/enchantment unlocks a very innocent part of my mind.
Web 1.0-era America was a network of brick and mortar retail stores whose bleak facelessness preceded today’s internet. This is “the place” Laurie Anderson sang about. But if Christian Science Reading Rooms, off-track betting franchises, incel-staffed comic book shops, etc., are aesthetically redeemable by virtue of their degradation, the digital world isn’t. Unless I’m hanging out in the wrong places? I’m afraid the obvious candidates have all been occupied by conspiracy theorists. That worldview (“meaning is diffused everywhere”) is the opposite of the one I want (“life has pockets of highly-concentrated meaning, but you have to be unusually sensitive to find them”).
This is my inspiration. DEK “we found love in a hopeless place.”