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Replica Travel Destinations - Better than the Original?

By Edoardo Bellando - Part 4

Other Replicas are certainly in the offing, taking advantage of their Great Places in the collective imagination. But what is the point of giving a resort the patent of nobility conferred by a world-famous place thousands of miles away? Why couldn't a hotel be just a hotel? Why is this collective fiction going on, with both the corporation and the visitor knowing that this is not the real thing?

What can this tell us about a culture where everything is easy, painless and transparently smooth? Where even travel comes only with its rewards, without effort and sweat, sanitized, hygienic, made familiar and comfortable, and reduced to entertainment?

If travelling is the best way of learning, what can be learned from a stay at the replica? Isn't this the equivalent of other shortcuts -- like the resumes of Great Books in cassette, for easy listening during the work commute?

And isn't social class playing a role here, since the well off indeed are at the real Marrakesh, Portofino and Paris, while the middle class has to be content with the copy? Perhaps the Replicas have this to tell us -- that the authentic is for the few, while the many must make the most of the fictional, and pretend there isn't anything more to life.

Edoardo Bellando works as a freelance writer for Italian dailies and magazines, and since 1985 has worked as an editor for the United Nations, first in Nairobi, now in New York. First published in CTHEORY, an international journal of theory, technology and culture.

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