Read e-book online Empty Meeting Grounds: The Tourist Papers PDF

By Dean MacCannell

Empty assembly Grounds maintains Dean MacCannell's look for the cultural topic that's approximately to emerge from the stumble upon of the ex-primitive and the post-modern. It includes attention-grabbing chapters on `Cannibal Tours', `The wish to be Postmodern', the Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C., the Statue of Liberty recovery venture and the urbanization of Yosemite Park.

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CANNIBAL TOURS: THE MOVIE Dennis O’Rourke’s Cannibal Tours is the latest of his documentary films on Pacific peoples, following his Yumi Yet (1976), Ileksen (1978), Yap…How Did They Know We’d Like TV? (1980), Shark Callers of Kontu (1982), Couldn’t Be Fairer (1984), and Half Life (1986). The narrative structure of the film is unremarkable. A group of Western Europeans and North Americans, by appearance somewhat wealthier than ‘average’ international tourists, travel up the Sepik river in Papua New Guinea in an ultra-modern, air-conditioned luxury liner, and up tributaries in smaller motor launches, stopping at villages along the way to take photographs and buy native handicrafts.

Alongside such vulgar expressions, one found, and still finds, enormous mental energy being expended to theorize the savage and now the peasant in such a way as to justify their eradication. Following are two passages written in the 1950s by men who were recognized for the highest achievements in Western letters, in physics, and psychoanalysis. They both make the same point as Cannibalism today 21 made in the unguardedly racist accounts, but here it is shrouded in sophistication. Jung, described on the jacket as ‘the world’s greatest living psychiatrist,’ remarked: Today we live in a unitary world where distances are reckoned by hours and no longer by weeks and months.

Hippies’ are represented as wearing tie-dyed T-shirts, attempting uninvited to join in the Indians’ dances, and as incessantly asking questions about peyote and mescal, and so on. The ‘save-the-whale’ tourist dancer is played by an Indian wearing hiking boots, tan shorts, a T-shirt with a message, and a pair of binoculars carved out of a block of wood that he uses to study the Indians. The ‘East Coast’ tourist is represented as a woman played by a male Indian wearing high heels, wig, dress, mink coat, dimestore jewelry, clutch purse, and pillbox hat.

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