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December 15, 2007

Richard Florida

Leaving Las Vegas

« Even Santa's Suit ... | Main | Benchmarking North American Metros »

My Globe and Mail colleague, Carl Wilson has a fascinating piece on Celine Dion and Las Vegas.

If there is a laboratory demonstration of the antagonism between economic and cultural capital, it is Las Vegas, a city of such pure commercialism that money is its entertainment, interrupted occasionally by a show. Nowhere else is it so palpable that art can be simply the green kid stepping in to give a brief break to the main greenback attraction. Alcohol and sex, too, are reduced to lubricants for or aftereffects of finance. In this non-stop carnival of social inversion, only money is purely beautiful, in Immanuel Kant's sense of being an end in itself. Vegas's fabled love of the ersatz, like its mini Eiffel Tower, is money giddily blaspheming culture's sacred icons.

It's just a taste of what's in his new book, Let's Talk About Love: A Journey to the End of Taste.


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I am of the opinion that kitsch is a necessary Ersatz. I was freaked out one time while observing mindless 'entertainment' in Vegas. It was the time I was working on my dissertation and any chance to get away from the gravitas of that activity was welcome. Vegas is as good a place as any especially if you are looking for escapism. As we were walking outside the Bellagio, I heard an Italian pop song [more fluff] and for a little snippet of time I thought I was 'in giro' in Italy. 'Dude!' I said to my person. 'This is scary.'
We can't always be fed by protein. Some fluffy carbs are necessary to balance nutrition out. And Dion and those like her are just that, carbs. True, many of us indulge a bit too much on carbs but deep down we all know we have to cut down. At some point.
Ueber-popularity and commercial success do not always mean quality. But, methinks Kant's 'sapere aude' could apply here. Dare to know trivial rubbish/carbs so that you can recognize them when they manage to penetrate things of substance. And let's not forget that the line between attraction and repulsion is a fine one, indeed.
The Dion article you referenced was a good read. Thanks.

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