Sunday, 2 September 2012

Modernism 4

Given my evident distain for Red or Black (see below) why the hell did I love Las Vegas for so long, surely that's the same? No it isn't. The answer comes in three parts.
The first answer is that Las Vegas appeared so preposterously honest. It is clear to anybody that the Excalibur appears ridiculous, but it appears so ridiculous as to be deeply serious at the same time. Vegas meant you didn't need onyx to be onyx, you could use Drivit. The purpose of Drivit was to look like anything else. You'd be somehow betraying Drivit if you didn't create the Excalibur. This is the triumph of cardboard. They just got there first. As you can see, it is a profoundly rational building.
Second, in Vegas they kept god in the banking system, not the social system (as opposed to us, who've done the opposite) and they did it literally, with Morman bankers. Their motto went something like 'You have every right to do that but you shouldn't and we can't stop you but we'll lend you the money' by doing this, they flatlined any social hierarchy to just having, or not having, money. This was better than being discriminated against on other grounds. Therefore, if you were stupid in Vegas, you were just stupid.
Thirdly Vegas perfected the art of the service economy. This makes, or at least made, buying a drink a very pleasant experience, along with most other things. Even if you were standing in a cardboard box, be sure you were not sitting on cardboard, or drinking something that tasted of cardboard. What you were looking at is another matter.
In this sense Las Vegas was the triumph of an egalitarian and technological project. We unfortunately have to put this in the past tense for the present time.
Photo Julie Cook

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