18 Pages

Staged Authenticity Today


In the late 1960s while still in graduate school I noticed a quirk in the places that attracted tourists. is was before our society became shot through with replicant forms like “the new urbanism” and other “variations on a theme park.” is odd bit of social engineering in tourist settings involved the pretentious revelation of “back region” procedures, even “secrets.” Factories encouraged visitors to stroll along the line following the progress of product assembly; orchestras permitted paid attendance at rehearsals; farms converted to bed and breakfasts invited their guests to participate in the harvest; morgues and sewers were open for touristic visitation. e tourists, for their part, appeared to be endlessly fascinated with the deep inner workings of society. e idea of multitudes of strangers able to “see what is going on” in the private recesses of localities would be a paranoid fantasy. Except that, in the case of tourism, the putatively paranoid subject encourages and controls the tourists’ perception. e prying eyes of tourists do not constitute a paranoid fantasy, or if they did, it would be minimally a weightless or harmless one. Tourist attractions, by contrast, do model themselves on paranoid structures.