A friend of mine took her 13-year-old daughter to the mall the other day to visit Aerie, a subsidiary of American Eagle that features lingerie for teens. (Yes, this is a legitimate business and not a Web site that the FBI is monitoring for predators.) But the panties her daughter purchased at the store were, my friend reported, a mere pretense. What her daughter really wanted was the Aerie shopping bag. My friend confided that she wanted one, too.

This seems to me to harbor great cultural significance. We have arrived at a new post-postmodern paradigm whose sign is the shopping bag.

In the postmodern paradigm, the container and the thing conatained began to compete for importance: inside and outside were at war. In the post-postmodern paradigm, the war has ended and the package has won. The allure of the shopping bag spells this out. It is a container for… More…