Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Caught in the Disney World Cycle

If I have counted correctly, I have made nine trips to Walt Disney World in my short 21 years of life. This statistic to many, and even to myself, appears ridiculous, especially considering that the last five of those trips occurred within the last seven years. The fact of the matter is there is just something about the utopian-esque experience of WDW that helped foster and immortalized many of my fondest childhood memories. Our family vacations, though only slightly variable, all incurred the same course year to year: Magic Kingdom on the first day, Animal Kingdom in the morning of the second day and Epcot for dinner, with MGM (now called Hollywood Studios) as our third day with dinner in either Downtown Disney or the Boardwalk. Having been so many times we discovered our favorite restaurants, the California Grill at the top of the Contemporary, favorite rides, the Buzz Lightyear Ranger Spin, and learned what was underrated, like the Norwegian flume ride tucked away in the World Showcase inside Epcot, and what was worth skipping, like Cinderella’s Carousel.

Yet these repetitious actions were only self realized when I ventured to Disney this past spring during Loyola’s annual mid-semester break. On this journey I traveled with my boyfriend, and not my family, and remember painstakingly advising him of our schedule prior to our departure. The realization of my relentless repetition climaxed as we stood in line for the Dumbo ride at 9am March 4th as Alex turned to me and said, “Katy, is there a reason we are waiting in this line right now when we can be going on Space Mountain or Thunder Mountain instead?” My immediate and horrified answer was simply, “We always go on Dumbo first. Ever since I was little. And then we finish with Fantasy Land, go over to Tomorrow Land, have lunch at Pecos Bill’s CafĂ© right on the bridge of Adventure Land and Pioneer Land. “ When Alex looked back at me with disbelief, it was then, and only then, that I recognized how I was letting my personal history dictate my current choices and actions.

Since I like to play devil’s advocate, it is in this way that I can understand the rather unpopular position that the Tribunal sets up and reorganizes through out the text, with some caveats. Obviously I am not suggesting that we should have a de-historying process and rid each and every citizen of his or her personal narrative, good or bad, yet there appears to be something rather freeing in the process of living in spontaneity and without worry of previous actions. However, the extreme to which the ‘carpe-diem’ mentality is evoked within Black Rainbow takes frightening and catastrophic turns. The characters of the text, with slight exceptions, all see such freedom-from-past as the utmost goal of the Game of Life, “How can you refuse freedom?...It’s what we all dream of, mate. To be free of our past, our guilt…” (Wendt 33). Yet as Eric proceeds through his pre-prescribed game he learns that such ‘freedom’ is not what he truly seeks, as he stands against the notion of a non-history. The extent to which the Tribunal and the President take such de-historying is so far beyond the level of comprehension that as the novel concludes, Eric finally recognizes the fault and blunder, “For to know our past was to know our ‘utopia’ was a lie, an evil, “(Wendt 255). It is in this, that we see our human error. We are not the central computer system sitting in the Puzzle Palace sifting through countless histories at the touch of a button; we are living, breathing, and imperfect. And it is our imperfections that cause the creation of the dystopia that Wendt charges all of his readers to tire relentlessly to avoid. The author suggests that our human nature makes it impossible to create such an idyllic place and that part of our inherently human characteristics is our attention to personal history. For this reason, the governmental system created in Black Rainbow is only good on paper, and through execution fails to meet the goals of both the government and the governed. So just as I began to see the rational in the Tribunal’s initial decisions, I too, can understand how it can never truly be affected. My Disney World experiences, though, repetitious as that, are all different for time and space have kept them distinct in my mind, and I have learned that they are integral to each and every new choice I make there. Maybe all I need is to skip the Magic Kingdom on the first day, and head to Epcot instead. That change should keep me occupied for the time being.

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