May 19, 2017

"Nature is great and all but I like seeing what Mankind made and then destroyed. Or seeing examples of Mankind being ironic, irreverent, or incompetent."

"It gives us insight as to who we are and what we were in the past," said the Hipstercrite when her mother took her to the Grand Canyon. I ran across this piece as I was writing yesterday's post about post-tourism. Hipstercrite uses the term post-modern tourism.

Her travel recommendations make the idea pretty clear: Salton Sea ("It’s full of dead fish and Botulism and empty trailers and salt-encrusted lawn chairs. It’s reeks of death and the humidity is oppressing. IT’S HEAVEN."); Dollywood ("Because it’s a theme park in the middle of Deliverance-land created by a country singer with Double D breasts."); Marfa, Texas (" Long after minimal artist Donald Judd left, his big city grime stayed spluged over the sleepy town. New Yorkers/Angelenos/Austinites have been flocking to Marfa to add their own seed ever since."); all of New Mexico ("[I]t’s vast. And it’s desolate."); Picher, Oklahoma ("Picher was once the home of lead and zinc mining and over 1640 people. Now it’s the home to gigantic holes to the center of the Earth and 20 people.").

I feel some affinity to this kind of thinking — especially when it comes to photography. Remember when we pulled over in Orderville, Utah to photograph the "Food & Drug" sign?

ADDED: Here's another example of my interest in depressing signage, from last February:

fullsizeoutput_1a

64 comments:

Ignorance is Bliss said...

I've been to Dollywood. Quite enjoyed it. The rides aren't as big/thrilling as the various six-flags, but the atmosphere is a bit calmer and more relaxed.

readering said...

That was my reasoning for watching the Lakers play this season.

David Heller said...

I went to Hipster Critics website, and confirmed that I really don't like people who are snarky about life at all.

Reading Hipster Critic reminds me of the class divide between the "cool" people and the "deplorables" in the country. The cool people are really self-centered snobs, and the deplorables are the people who fix your broken cars, your furnace in the middle of a winter-storm, are the EMTs at your accident site......... oh, and of course those clods who go to Dollywood.

Peggy Coffey said...

The person doesn't sound like a very happy, serene person. To go to the Grand Canyon and not be awed by its beauty is to have a black soul. To only want to see death and destruction of mankind is a strange, almost psychopathic personality.

tcrosse said...

Maybe she'd like the less fashionable areas of Detroit or Chicago, but somehow I doubt it.

J. Farmer said...

Right, because anyone who has ever been to Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg, Tennessee knows how "Deliverance-land" it is. Plus, wasn't Deliverance set in Georgia? But I guess "Deliverance-land" is supposed to be some kind of shorthand for Appalachia. But I'd be willing to guess the writer doesn't understand that "Appalachia" stretches all the way from southern New York and Pennsylvania. And now here I've already devoted way too much cognitive energy towards this issue, such as it were.


p.s. I'd be willing to bet serious coin that Dolly Parton's breasts are larger than DD. Cup sizes in the US go all the way up to 'N' and even then many women have to have bras custom made. Women that have professional bra fittings invariably end up with different sizes, cup and band, than what they had previously believed their breast size to be.

Darrell said...

She sounds like someone who could end up in Laslo's trunk.

J. Farmer said...

@Peggy Coffey:

To go to the Grand Canyon and not be awed by its beauty is to have a black soul.

Uhhhhh....yes and no. It is certainly difficult to imagine being there and not filling a sense of awe. But then again, Ayn Rand used to say that she did not like nature so much and preferred instead to awe at skyscrapers. This position makes some sense when you consider Rand's materialism.

To only want to see death and destruction of mankind is a strange, almost psychopathic personality.

To be fair, she did not say "only." She said: "Nature is great and all but I like seeing what Mankind made and then destroyed. Or seeing examples of Mankind being ironic, irreverent, or incompetent." Emphasis mine.

buwaya said...

"To go to the Grand Canyon and not be awed by its beauty is to have a black soul."

The purpose of art is beauty. All else is trivial.

NorthOfTheOneOhOne said...

Peggy Coffey said...
The person doesn't sound like a very happy, serene person. To go to the Grand Canyon and not be awed by its beauty is to have a black soul.

Or not be comfortable with the idea that there are much bigger and more timeless things in the world than you.

Hagar said...

I am guessing this motel is located by a highway now bypassed by an Interstate?

Earnest Prole said...

Natural versus manmade, authentic versus fake, sincere versus ironic: the experienced traveler relishes it all.

It's like Steely Dan's Donald Fagen said (paraphrasing): Not only do we love jazz, we love fake jazz and even fake fake jazz.

Bill Peschel said...

"I like seeing examples of Mankind being ironic, irreverent, or incompetent."

Would a look in the mirror accomplish her goal?

I haven't read the essay, so she may be a fine person with an odd hobby.

*Reads post*

Nope, smug asshole with no empathy for or interest in people, due, I guess, to devotion to her "ironic detachment." Looking for anything to reinforce her shaky self-image, without engaging people who might give her a unique perspective on why they live there, or what they like about the place (even Superfund sites have boosters).

She's no different from tourists who gawk at the natives from the windows of their tour bus.

buwaya said...

I am old enough to remember when that Appalachian peasant culture was regarded as exotic, authentic and desirable in a rather paternalistic-anthropological way of course, and artifacts of it were au courant.

You used to see copies of "Foxfire" books in San Francisco homes.

https://www.foxfire.org/

These were the late days of hippies wearing "granny dresses" and the like. No longer it seems.

Quaestor said...

To only want to see death and destruction of mankind is a strange, almost psychopathic personality.

Almost?

Ann Althouse said...

I don't like the part of the aesthetic that is about looking down on people who live in rural areas or who don't have a lot of money or are poorly educated.

I do like the fascination with the fucked-up manmade world -- the incongruities of style, the messing up of things, the misguided aesthetics. I mean the stuff bothers me, and I'd rather live in a place where everything is well-designed and in good repair, but I'm interested in seeing and photographing the mistakes and the making-do.

Some of that could take you to a dark place.

And sometimes it just doesn't work and you can't enjoy something ironically. For example, years ago, I went to see Mount Rushmore, which I consider bad and the experience felt really flat. It's not worth photographing, because it just feels as though you are looking at a photograph already. Might as well go to the gift shop and take photos of the postcard (speaking of post-).

Joe said...

"To go to the Grand Canyon and not be awed by its beauty is to have a black soul."

I suppose that answers one question I've never asked.

Earnest Prole said...

I don't like the part of the aesthetic that is about looking down on people who live in rural areas or who don't have a lot of money or are poorly educated. I do like the fascination with the fucked-up manmade world.

Exactly. I love driving and walking strips and industrial areas when I visit a city new to me.

See also Venturi’s Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture and Learning from Las Vegas.

buwaya said...

"I went to see Mount Rushmore, which I consider bad and the experience felt really flat. It's not worth photographing"

Its not, if the only shot you can get is whats been done to death, however much technical excellence you can bring to it. This is the photographers challenge with such overdone things.
A different take certainly is possible, if perhaps requiring effort and imagination. A different angle, a different sort of lighting, a different set of juxtapositions.
For Rushmore I think this may require special equipment and mountain climbing skills.

Freeman Hunt said...

The Follies of Man Tours

I might go. I like certain depressing things though.

Michael said...

"Depressing signage"? You would not think so if you were looking for a place to sleep in that lonesome country at 1 am. But aesthetics first I suppose.

Earnest Prole said...

For Rushmore I think this may require special equipment and mountain climbing skills.

As Hitchcock proved in North by Northwest.

buwaya said...

"As Hitchcock proved in North by Northwest."

Exactly so!

Danno said...

Michael said..."Depressing signage"? You would not think so if you were looking for a place to sleep in that lonesome country at 1 am. But aesthetics first I suppose.

Also, Suoer 8's are very consistent in being clean and having comfortable beds at a budget price. From the photo, it looks like this one is in a relatively new building, so I doubt the earlier comment about being bypassed and off the Interstate. The big city elites would sneer at this for lodging as it isn't the Ritz-Carlton.

Danno said...

Super!!

Lydia said...

I bet the drivers of those long-haul trucks don't find the Super 8 and Arby's signs at all depressing, but rather a reassuring sight toward the end of a day on the road.

campy said...

"To go to the Grand Canyon and not be awed by its beauty is to have a black soul."

Racist!

J. Farmer said...

Don't most truckers sleep in their rigs?

Usually the most depressing signage I see off the interstate are the old run-down diners and cafes that just say "Eats."

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

I like shiny, functional and well designed. I also like aged, run down, unique, and interesting.

What I don't like are people who are so damn negative, world-weary and too-cool-for-school. They are so terribly tedious. I prefer to spend my time with people who are positive, enthusiastic, and who find delight everywhere. They're much more fun.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

I used to get laughs by tearing things down wittily. Now I see that it's a terribly juvenile habit.

Ann Althouse said...

"A different take certainly is possible, if perhaps requiring effort and imagination. A different angle, a different sort of lighting, a different set of juxtapositions. For Rushmore I think this may require special equipment and mountain climbing skills."

I think there's just one easy trail and it doesn't get you too far, but possibly I didn't even find that trail. I felt like the view was from so far away it wasn't different from a standard photograph. Anyway, I am not interested in taking a standard photo of it. I thought there would be something absurd or ironic about seeing it, like meeting a celebrity you think is cheesy and then finding him just to be a nice person. You don't really want to meet him, so what's the fun of it?

Peggy Coffey said...

We just enjoyed Mt. Rushmore and was awed by the fact that it was man made and the trouble human beings went to to make it. We would stop there on our way to Yellowstone, another place you probably find no ring and bad. Please, don't ever go to Wall Drug, I'm afraid your sensibilities would never recover.

Ann Althouse said...

I am happy to get to a good enough hotel when I need one, but surely you can see something sad about that view of the mountains. You wouldn't buy a house in the mountains and accept that as the view.

The view FROM the Super 8 would have been a better view, but we arrived at night and didn't think about what we'd see in the dawn light. I thought it was kind of pretty in an Americana way.

Don't miss the Arby's sign, the big old hat. There's an absurd badness to it that doesn't have anything to do with being too proud to stay at a motel like that. The alternative was to sleep in the car, which isn't exactly high tone.

Chris N said...

Had the same experience at Mt Rushmore. It's tiny from the viewing platform.

The Badlands exceeded expectations. Like a scoured-out moonscape.

We passed through during the Sturgis-Whitefish biker rally. A lot of bikes.

Ann Althouse said...

". I'd be willing to bet serious coin that Dolly Parton's breasts are larger than DD."

Traditionally, DD is the largest size you would say a woman had if you wanted to be polite and complimentary. You're not buying her a bra, you're just referring to her having big breasts. It's just a sort of decent way to say big breasts.

Why do you think they even have that size rather than going to the next letter, E? It's because in the past it was considered embarrassing to need more than D. Even C was considered big back in the 60s.

Now, D is average for Americans. We are bulking up!

Chris N said...

You haven't lived until you've stayed in the Super 8 in Jamestown, ND. Or a Motel 6 in El Paso.

That's what turned me on to Nabakov.

Also, a lot of Western towns grew up along the railroad, so that's where they put on their best face. The train'll rock you to sleep.

Ann Althouse said...

"We just enjoyed Mt. Rushmore and was awed by the fact that it was man made..."

I'd be more awed if it were formed by erosion.

tcrosse said...

There are a lot of unattractive places where people are doing the best they can. Who are we to cop a superior attitude ?

Dave in Tucson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dave in Tucson said...

Amazing how people talk about Deliverance like it was some kind of documentary, rather than a Hollywood horror fantasy made out of whole cloth.

Just another leftist hating on flyover land.

J. Farmer said...

@Dave in Tucson:

Just another leftist hating on flyover land.

Well, no. The movie was a novel first, written by James Dickey, who was born and raised in Georgia, taught in Texas, Florida, and South Carolina, and was an Order of the South recipient.

J. Farmer said...

@Ann Althouse:

Why do you think they even have that size rather than going to the next letter, E? It's because in the past it was considered embarrassing to need more than D. Even C was considered big back in the 60s.

True, DD is really just a euphemism for big breasts. The bra sizing system is seriously whacked out. AA is smaller than A, but the next after D is DD, also called E, then DDD, also called F, and DDDD, also called G.

traditionalguy said...

Jim Dickey was an Atlanta Buckhead Boy. His Dad was a lawyer and he grew up in my neighborhood and went to my High School. He attended Vanderbilt University on a football scholarship, but quit to join the Army Airforce and fly night fighters in WWII and Korea. He then returned to teach and write poetry. So he is a liberal, I suppose. But he was mostly a loyal man to good people, which is something Yankees don't much understand.

Jim loved the English language and the southern dialect. The real one, not the Hollywood created imitation.

He played the Sheriff asking questions in the last 5 minutes of Deliverance.

traditionalguy said...

As for Deliverance, that is set in the corner where Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina meet. It is filmed on the Chattooga River that forms the Ga. SC border along there. My sons and I have rafted it 50 times as they grew up. And yes the River really is like that.

The old Scots Irish settlers that lived isolated in the mountains here were a mystery to city boys, but they were not insane, unless being a man of your word seems insane to city boys. That is also where The Foxfire Books were written.

Bob Boyd said...

"Or not be comfortable with the idea that there are much bigger and more timeless things in the world than you."

Like a size N, for example.

MountainMan said...

Don't understand why Dollywood would be included here. My TN home is not far from there, there is nothing odd or unusual about it, it is pure Americana, like going to the state fair. Haven't been there in a few years but used to enjoy the arts and crafts alley with lots of good stuff, the music halls with better than average musical performances, and pretty decent food for a theme park. Also liked the annual barbecue and bluegrass festival, lots of good bluegrass acts and different barbecue recipes to try. Dollywood is also at the foot of the Great Smoky Mountains and is the central attraction of a large tourist area. Lots of it is kind of tacky but still good fun.

A few years ago Time had an article about the 10 weirdest theme parks in the world and Dollywood made the list. I could not understand why, except it might have been that the author had no idea that Dolly Parton had her own theme park, something I think the vast majority of Americans probably knew. Talk about being in an East Coast bubble.

traditionalguy said...

Dollywood's town had already grown from nothing to 10 times as big as Gatlingburg, which is 10 miles closer to the Smokies National Park. But after the fires there, Sieverville is all there is. Dolly wins again.

Mom2Es said...

But after the fires there, Sieverville is all there is. Dolly wins again.

No, actually. While many homes, some churches, and a handful of lodging cabins and restaurants were destroyed, most of the tourist attractions and businesses survived the fire. With the notable exception of the Sky Lift, Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg are both currently open for tourists.

LCB said...

Before it was Dollywood, the place was called Silver Dollar City. Dolly bought it, upgraded it and made it part of her Sevierville Empire. Dolly owns a LOT of property in Pigeon Forge including restaurants, stores, etc. She also freely spends money helping the schools in the county. AND...she gave quite a lot of money to victims of the recent fires in Sevier county. I don't care for country music, but Dolly has my respect as a top notch businesswoman and philanthropist.

Justin Bytheway said...

Off in the distance of Althouse's photo is my hometown of Glenwood, UT, pop ~500. Now I'm a US diplomat, living around the world and constantly comparing the situation of living in a foreign place vs. being a tourist there.

I've traveled all over Asia and Europe, criss-crossed North America.

But I find that super 8 and Arby's sign comforting. Maybe not quite as much as the mountains, though!

California Snow said...

I just read the whole comment section on the Orderville thread. My grandfather grew up near there. It's a pretty place with a very interesting history. That was a fun thread to read too.

Bad Lieutenant said...

Ann Althouse said...
"We just enjoyed Mt. Rushmore and was awed by the fact that it was man made..."

I'd be more awed if it were formed by erosion.

5/19/17, 6:04 PM

If erosion in the Black Hills of South Dakota x million or billion years ago had known and had the consciousness, knowledge and ability to execute forces arranged to depict the accurate likenesses of 4 human beings born x million or billion years hence, then you would be correct in your judgement.

Otherwise, I suppose I should say that I would be more impressed if erosion had taught your students 20 years of law. Rather than your own efforts.

EDH said...

"Feels like an Arby's night."

David Baker said...

Great photo, America all the way through, including the two cattle-wagons parked with their tails facing the camera. Actually, they're probably sheep or hog wagons given their high-cube, multi-deck design. Either way, they're parked perfectly, their drivers not just hayseeds or rustlers - but real cowboys.

As for the scenery, we can't have Mount Rushmore on every horizon. Which means that much of the high country is downright boring.

As for "Deliverance," visit Clayton, Georgia, if you want to experience its genesis. That's where the young banjo player (Billy Redden) grew up. He worked around Clayton long after John Voight and Burt Reynolds left town - including at the local Wal-Mart.



Ron said...

What's depressing? You have a Super 8 AND an Arby's! Geez! You're livin' like kings!

Chris said...

ADDED: Here's another example of my interest in depressing signage, from last February:

I like it. It reminds me of the places I'd stay during swim meets in small towns around Montana... Deer Lodge, Havre, Sidney, Glendive. I'd love to have added Ringling to that list, apropos of "depressing", but I don't think they have a pool, let alone a swim team.

Virtually Unknown said...

Nice pic, the overhead wires usually detract, but not this time, they add.

Virtually Unknown said...

It's kind of like the urinal in the museum. It's art.

Bob R said...

Isbell - Super 8

Virtually Unknown said...

We should have sent that picture out with Voyager to keep aliens from invading.

Craig Howard said...

I do like the fascination with the fucked-up manmade world -- the incongruities of style, the messing up of things, the misguided aesthetics.

Yes, it's a fascinating phenomenon.

I left Buffalo seven years ago to get away from the crowding, the crime, and the over-the-top liberal politics. I do miss, however, the really lovely surroundings that liberals have created there. The old city of Buffalo is surprisingly beautiful and undergoing a sort of renaissance.

Out here in the country some 40 miles south, the built environment is deteriorating. It's not just the poverty (though that certainly exists) -- creating beauty is considered unimportant. Function has replaced all sense of form.

I don't look down on my neighbors for it -- most of them really are the salt of the earth -- they're why I moved back. Architecture, though, has become lost knowledge.

Virtually Unknown said...

American Gothic II

Deirdre Mundy said...

I love freight trains and barges. Unironically. Because it's amazing to see how we move goods across this country efficiently, so people in all sorts of remote areas can have what they need to live and work.

Barges are a special favorite because they move SO MUCH with very little fuel. But I'm pretty sure the writer of the linked piece would see the barges piled high with coal and corn and car parts and whatever else is under those covers as a 'blight.'

Because she has no sense of marvel. There are many wonders in this world, but none is so marvelous as man......

stever said...

These places are so bad that moving there and turning them blue seems to be a thing.