chicago

View of “Jeff Koons,” 2008, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. From left: New Hoover Deluxe Shampoo Polishers, New Shelton Wet/Dry 10-Gallon Displaced Tripledecker, 1981–87; Balloon Dog (Orange), 1994–2000; Pink Panther, 1988; Caterpillar Ladder, 2003; Elephant, 2003; Buster Keaton, 1988; and Triple Hulk Elvis I, 2007. Photo: Nathan Keay.

Jeff Koons

Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (MCA Chicago)

View of “Jeff Koons,” 2008, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. From left: New Hoover Deluxe Shampoo Polishers, New Shelton Wet/Dry 10-Gallon Displaced Tripledecker, 1981–87; Balloon Dog (Orange), 1994–2000; Pink Panther, 1988; Caterpillar Ladder, 2003; Elephant, 2003; Buster Keaton, 1988; and Triple Hulk Elvis I, 2007. Photo: Nathan Keay.

IN APRIL 2004, the New York Times Magazine published an excerpt from the then forthcoming book by David Brooks, the newspaper’s main op-ed purveyor of commonsense banalities. Titled “Our Sprawling, Supersize Utopia,” the essay argued that exurbia—that land of megachurches, McMansions, and endless fields of perfectly groomed grass—was a uniquely American heaven on earth. This paved idyll, Brooks contended, is driven by what he termed “the Paradise Spell”:

[The Spell] is . . . the tendency to see the present from the vantage point of the future. It starts with imagination—the ability to fantasize about what some imminent happiness will look like. Then the future-minded person leaps rashly toward that gauzy image. He or she is subtly more attached to the glorious future than to the temporary and unsatisfactory present.

Brooks may have a fondness for smiling proletarians

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