Wilderness and the Hyperreal

| June 7, 2002

Wilderness and the Hyperreal, Peter Warshall, Whole Earth magazine
'Faking nature? So what? Isn't human intervention the best path to the sacred and preservation?' writes Peter Warshall in Whole Earth magazine. Old Man of the Mountain in New Hampshire and Disneyland's Badlands both demonstrate Americans' tendency to preserve what naturally decays and to replicate nature. Rather than admonishing the creators for the kitsch and gaudiness that so often surrounds these tourist traps, Warshall argues these man-made natural environments attract travelers not as tourists but as pilgrims. 'Its scenic view muddles toward becoming a sacred place; tourist itineraries slip into pilgrimage routes 'required' to be visited by families and seekers; souvenirs, postcards, and miniatures edge their way toward good-luck pieces, amulets, and sacred images pasted into photo albums,' he writes. We are a young country, he reminds us. And in the end, '[W]ho knows if and how the U.S. (or the world) will flow from the natural to the hyperreal to the sacred.'
--Sara V. Buckwitz
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