The Theme Park: a Critical Review
by Humbert Humberto Eco
Dali, light of my hat, lust of my lions.
Dali, root of my sign, lot of my signifier.
Da-Li: with those two syllables my tongue dances from tooth to tooth
like the clocks flopping over crutches at the new Daliwood Floppy Clock
Ride. This, in the quasi-Andalusian madness of Branson, Missouri, is
the absolute last in theme park remarketability. Yes, here is the thigh,
the sigh, the Theater of Autosodomization, with its white buttock sign
advertising that those who enter must be at least this big,
and inside an abstraction of transparent false penises float through
the unguent air--performance in a puerile palace of sallow yellows,
white flesh, gay blues.
I am hobbled on my way to Crutchland, an acre-wide in-house reality
where prosthetics meld mnemonic desire. I wobble and thrum on elegantine
crutches amid the plateaus and scrub brushes of a bite-sized Spain.
This ride ravishes as it thrills, throws one off kilter: sky and sun,
so carefully delineated, disappear into a pseudo-erotic pool of complexes,
oedipal, electral, ovoid, electrical, all purged as beans in the rides
final exit, emptying onto the Anal Stage, an interactive amphitheater,
itself part of the Autosodomization cluster.
From here I spin to the Teetering Elephant Carousel, a nosebleed affair,
with elephants on tiny legs, 100, 200 feet tall, revolving through a
heady, cubical heaven. At 60 miles-an-hour they turn, a dozen riders
each. The cream of consumers, each rider gets a golden crop for which
to discipline her steed. From this speeding perch the rider can see
the enormous pipes and derby bowlers of Magritteville next door, the
neon nude constantly descending, ascending her staircase at Duchampland
to the west, the chocolate churning, infusing the air along with the
pipesmoke, a keening haze of the unconscious, even.
I become hungry, de-elevating from the elephant ride, drift over toward
the fecal-pop shop, where Im greeted by a curvaceous Surrealette
dispensing shitsicles for a few measly francs (but where will I get
those in the middle of America?!). I get them from the internatural
ATM, for here lies inspiration! The waitress wipes the sweat from her
eyebreasts, then goes back to posing. I turn and lick my shitsicle,
sliding noiselessly on to Crucifix Island.
Here the boxes float before me as I behold the brutalized boy of God.
The joy that is my beloved Dali emanates from the massive, floating
corpse. I am brushed, briefly, by his flowing, golden robes, feeling
the vibrancy of his glowing dream of disinheritance. Then the substancelessness
sets in: Da! Why have thee forsaken me?
I am ushered into the room with the perfume and the posters, the giftshop
of all things Dali. He has shown me that consciousness undreams itself,
the super-real sleeps in the face of commerce.
But then, for that brief, foaming moment, amongst the beangas and the
squirming dildoes, the stilted elephants and the floppy clocks, I believe.
Is that too much to ask for, too little with which to be engaged? Oh,
poor Humberto! For he did believe that he had refound the Dali
he once loved, the Dalita his furtive, pre-adolescent gropings had found
tucked back by the Turner and the Birger Sandz. Poor Humberto is fooled,
momentarily by this warmed-over po-mo truculency, wooed by the glamour
of hurtling 60-odd miles-an-hour atop a teetering, plastic pachyderm,
lured by the bare butts and the ephemeral rubber auto-cocks, as if they
were the signal white socks so enthralling to the pedophile! But no,
dear reader, it cannot be! We have traded the gold shimmer of our floating
Lords raiment for the crisp curl of the greenback, and never again
our Da will be.