Hyper Stuff

Travels In Hyperreality by Umberto Eco

“Travels in Hyperreality” is a collection of essays by Umberto Eco. I don’t know exactly when I first read this book and that’s starting to bother me – even though it doesn’t matter. Over the years I keep pulling this book from different book shelves where I instinctively know to find it. There is no order to my library – which means I probably can’t call my book collection a library. Nomatter. I then use this book to mend thoughts it embedded in me. I compare these thoughts to small metal splinters that I put under my skin before traveling in order to poke fun at TSA employees and the whole concept of American’t becoming Bigger Brother. The first essay is about how Amerika reconstructs and (artificially) reproduces Europe in order to find – or seem as though it is looking for – an identity. Umberto Eco obviously put a lot of effort into understanding American’t. Hats off to him for such an effort. The pic above is an example of one of the pages in the book and how I sometimes lose control when it comes to jotting down thoughts. I know I should use other forms of note taking but this is the way things are. Why fight it?

Even though I wish I could, for the sake of going through it all once again, I can’t list all the stuff I underlined in this book, so I’ve only taken from the first chapter. Without further adieu here just a few thoughts out of the head of the literary genius Umberto Eco:

  • “There is another, more secret America (or rather, just as public, but snubbed by the European visitor and also by the American intellectual); and it creates somehow a network of references and influences that finally spread also to the products of high culture and the entertainment industry. It has to be discovered.”
  • “…a surplus to throw away–that’s prosperity.”
  • “The authenticity the Ripliey’s Museums advertise is not historical, but visual. Everything looks real, and there it is real; in any case the fact that it seems real is real, and the thing is real even if, like Alice in Wonderland, it never existed.”
  • “We are giving you the reproduction so you will no longer feel any need for the original.”
  • “It is like making love in a confessional with a prostitute dressed in prelate’s liturgical robes reciting Baudelaire while ten electronic organs reproduce the Well Tempered Clavier played by Scriabin.”
  • “… man considers his right foot a limb designed for pressing the accelerator, and the left an atrophied appendix, because cars no longer have a clutch.”
  • “And so the Last Beach ideology develops its thirst for preservation of art from an imperialistic efficiency, but at the same time it is the bad conscience of this imperialistic efficiency, just as cultural anthropology is the bad conscience of the white man who thus pays his debt to the destroyed primitive cultures.”
  • “If America is the country of the Guggenheim Museum or the new skyscrapers of Manhatten, then Disneyland is a curious exception and American intellectuals are quite right to refuse to go there. But if America is what we have seen in the course of our trip, then Disneyland is its Sistine Chapel, and the hyper realists of the art galleries are only the timid voyeurs of an immense and continuous ‘found object’.”


Rant on.