Saturday, April 03, 2010

Thoughts on escapism

Sitting at Disney's California Adventure resort, I was struck with a sense of the absurd; I mean it was surreal: here was a place dedicated to illusion and escape.

I had driven to the southland with the younger teen so she could visit a friend from Hong Kong, satisfy her practice driving requirements for her driver license, and have some bonding time with Papa. We stayed with my cousin and her lovely family -- her engineer→manager→entrepeneur husband, her teenage daughter destined to break many hearts (dozens are likely suffering in silence already), and her boys full of energy and curiosity. Like our uncles, she brings a lot of laughter to the home herself, but she makes it clear that children must obey.

My cousin suggested spending a few hours at California Adventure, which we enjoyed immensely, but it was after "Soarin’ over California" that the sense of the absurd hit me. "Soarin’" is a fabulous illusion; you don't have to try much at all to believe you're flying over golf courses and orange groves and mountains.

And I really admire the design and execution of these theme parks. Just the parking structure is a thing of beauty! You drive in and attendants direct you to the right floor, then to the right row. You park and there is no traffic! Why? Because everybody else is parking behind you! You unload your car and take the escalator down. From level 5 for example, you take one (not four) escalators to ground level. This is brilliant! Since people only ever go between their cars (at level "N") and the tram (at ground level), why make someone at level 5 take escalators to levels 4, 3, 2?

Later, I mentioned my sense of the absurd "What felt wrong about it?" she asked me. At first, I wondered if it was just that so much energy went into escaping reality. She said, "But if I'm reading a book at home, couldn't I be escaping just as much?

Well, that was a good point. Is it just that I'm a fan of reading, or is there something more to it?

last edited 27 July 2008

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