Passage #465: 8 August 2018
Nowhere, in Particular
The funny thing about going on vacation is that you visit all these sites that are supposed to be "the sights" in different places... and they all start, kind of, well, looking the same. This is true, of course, of the globalized nature of downtown shopping districts. Visit the "old town" of almost any major city and it is pretty overwhelming how much has been taken over by the H&Ms, the Starbuckses. But you also go to the historic cathedrals and castles, the museums, the towers and memorials, and they too often have acquired a bland, generic feel. This is not just because they are mobbed with tourists — though that is generally the case — but also because they have, over the years, become carefully framed to cater precisely to those mobs of tourists. They have their historical and architectural particularities, sure. But the experience thereof has generally lost any local flavor. The presentation overwhelms the content.
Then where does one go to find greater cultural particularities? Nowhere, of course. By which we do not mean you stay at home but rather that you simply avoid "the sites." Instead, you go to the "non-sites." Okay, okay, if you've been with us for long, this probably comes as zero surprise as the answer we would give, but we guarantee this is true. Once you get out of the centers and into the fringes — the neighborhoods where people are just living their lives and not trying to serve it up to you as an "authentic cultural experience" — that's when all the tiny details that separate different places and cultures are going to come out in stark relief.
Which is all our roundabout way of saying that this week's ride goes nowhere? Yes! We're going nowhere, in particular.