Thursday, 2 October 2008


Walked from Palermo to the Microcenter today with the soles of my shoes flapping around in the many cavitities of the BA streets. More sense of bearings as a result. Happlily swanned through those typical tourist spots and landmarks – it's my third day, I’m not expecting the underground just yet. All the same I'm slightly underwhelmed in a way.

The biggest road in South America is very big, as expected; the phallic independence obelisk is phallic and obelisky. Plaza Mayo has a nice enough park I guess. [1] I can’t see most of these things. I can look at them but I don’t really see them, I’m like a robot in a movie trying to understand the 'humanism of tourism' or something, like all the looks before it have taken the colour out of it for me, removed something.

Even in the most beautiful places or when confronted by the most ‘breathtaking view’ I have to first transcend the postcard I’m sending myself - the photograph, the idiom is so well established I lose the sense-experience of it somehow…[2]

There’s a lot of arrogance here, in me. Actually I’m lacking the sufficient sense of history to make sense of what I’m looking at and I’m resisting it - holding out for something ‘real’, I kind of watch myself watching, thinking...'I can wander around these places today but I want to get behind the landmarks, get to something different, raw, authentic…'I get the fear I could be suffering from a terrible case of middle class traveller arrogance; I worry about bullshitting myself basically.…but I feel these things over documented, with good reason perhaps, but I am somehow largely de-sensitised to them, at least today - over burdened by ‘sights’. I think about Duchamp in that interview when he wondered when the Twentieth Century would finally kill off the ‘retinally obsessed’ art of the past….

Walking back. Shoe flappage has increased. Looking for a shoe-menders on Santa Fe, some loose tobacco in a packet (not as easy as it seems) and a mobile phone store (to get a local number SIM). I’ve long given up on the shoes when I wander into a small run down arcade with a ‘Claro’ mobile phone store at the end of the corridor entrance. Turns out they don’t sell the SIM’s but as I'm leaving I notice a tiny cobblers, the size of two english telephone booths virtually next door. This makes me smile; more so than an obelisk.

[1]  I’m also confused by its being almost completely unknown to the Buenas Airean’s, despite my best efforts with spanish pronounciation and the fact that it is completely famous. Finally I’m informed it is pronounced ‘Mashow’. Go figure, as the Americans have it  Today there  was some protesting war veterans  and art students. Not together mind. There are a lot of protests here I think. The culture seems more pro-active. Or maybe it’s just me. These people were certainly more proactive than me. 

[2] Is this a bit Baurillard or Barthes? Someone french – I wonder if Paris did it to them. In Paris I can’t see anything, its too pretty – I was glad when I finally got out of the centre and saw that scummy looking bridge where they filmed The French Connection – it seemed like real Paris, but then, what is it when my experience of the real Paris only extends as far as a seventies Hollywood thriller?

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