Thursday, September 28, 2017

Umberto Eco's Travels in Hyperreality

Umberto Eco's Travels in Hyperreality was an impulsive used bookstore purchase. It consists of only loosely connected essays. The hyperreality one is good--he traveled around the United States to examine how we construct different realities. Sometimes they are copies of European originals and sometimes, like Disneyland and Disney World, we construct fake worlds that are intended to be artificial but actually better than reality. And he can be pretty funny.

Some of it veers into the impenetrable: "But this sport squared (which involves speculation and barter, selling and enforced consumption) generates a sports cubed, the discussion of sport as something seen" (p. 162). I still am not sure what he's getting at there. And he kept using the word "bricolage." Yet he can be funny even with the dated (the essays span from the late 1960s to the 1980s) stuff, like a discussion of jeans (which for him appeared to be a relatively new thing). He had heightened awareness of how they fit: "A garment that squeezes the testicles makes a man think differently" (p. 193). Indeed.


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