Wednesday, October 25, 2006

beyond history

Citizens of Vineland (plus one Slovenian): it turns out that Dubai is better than America. I know - you thought America was better than America. America proved that it was better than itself after Vegas began excreting replicas of the world's monuments as part of a project to weld the family theme park, the gambling den and the open-air brothel into one money-sucking fake-boobed beast. Now Dubai has trumped that with Falconcity of Wonders (L.L.C.).

Falconcity of Wonders. Just the name makes your brain enter a zone of irreality as you cope with that uncomfortably stretched grammar. FOW is a luxury destination that is, in every way possible, better than wherever you live now. Except it doesn't exist yet. Not completely. FOW is so fantastic that it's still a fantasy of money and maquettes and the collective will of a gang of really quite amazingly overwealthed bastards from the United Arab Emirates.

Falconcity aims to recreate the "eight wonders of the world," plus a couple of their own invention. My favourite postmodern wonders are Theme Park and Falconcity Mall. I cannot recommend Theme Park enough:
Come opening day, I'm going on the Giant Straw Cannon Ride.

How is FOW superior in all ways (except the ontological one) to whatever pigsty you currently rest your sorry dogs in? Picture this conversation:

You: Hello old friend. I haven't seen you since highschool. [You hate this smug asshole]
Him: Hey loser. Still a loser?
You: No.
Him: Yeah, you're a loser. Where are you living these days? Tin shack in Bakersfield?
You: I live in Falconcity of Wonders, Dubai, at the top of the Dubai Eiffel Tower.
Him: [big gory head explosion as smug asshole absorbs the awesomeness of what you just said]

You see? Yeah, you see just fine.

If you ever went to Vegas and thought "Gee, I wish I could actually live in the Luxor," then you're an appalling freak - but you're Falconcity's appalling freak. Every single one of FOWs wonders is designed bigger and better than its progenitor. An Eiffel tower decked out with luxury apartments, retail and office space for "elits," taller than the original; the Dubai Hanging Gardens of Babylon, helpfully distinguished from non-Dubai Gardens to avoid confusion - plus the original probably didn't house as many "eco-friendly luxury flats". FOW's slogan is "Beyond History," which is where the developers clearly imagine themselves to be - protected in a cocoon of capital, propelled out beyond the flux of fortune. They should hire J.G. Ballard to live there and walk the streets as a kind of living exhibit.

I'm honestly not sure how I feel about these kinds of developments. I always get stuck somewhere between disgust and awe, plus a kind of dumbfounded emptiness at the realization that human beings will do absolutely anything. Slaughter a nation, pitch a game show, build a shrine to capital so enormous and multipurposed that people can visit, shop, live and grow old there - you imagine it, we'll do it.

Best sentence from the website (among many): "We are not revealing a secret by stating that the vision of the UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has put Dubai in the fast track towards a prosperous future." Well, you wouldn't want to go out on a limb and pretend that UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum was keeping his ambitions a big secret.

The other best sentence: "The legs are a collection of 4-6 story buildings with different themes ranging from Happy Yemen, Lebanon down town Solider, India Taj Mahal, Rome’s Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italian Gondola boats of Venice, and London’s Big Ben." Okay, let's leave out the fact that this sentence features a highly unusual description of legs. Happy Yemen theme? Lebanon... Solider (I googled it)? Rome's Leaning Tower of Pisa? I always thought it was Pisa's Tower of Pisa.


Anonymous said...

Excellent Mr. Node does that mean you got the job as the mouth peice of Dubi?

PS the latin was I have been abducted by aliens, what year is it?

Deron said...

I think that "Dystopian Modernity" is one of the most interesting phrases I've ever seen turned. Heard turned.

Well, as long as it was turned before one side became overcooked and flaked off in an avalanche of sooty crumbs.

palinode said...

Anonymous: Alas, I'm still the mouthpiece for culture in my own province. Thank you for the translation.

Deron: Are you referring to the phrase as used in the wikipedia entry on Ballard? Turning phrases from Wikipedia usually requires a special spatula.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone ever told you that you look like the UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum? Cause I think that's what this posting was really about.
- Helvetica

Ordinary Janet said...

"irreality"? is that an actual word?

Wonder who they'll have picking up all the litter and sweeping the cigarette butts? Filipnos? and do women have to wear those black getups with holes for their eyes to ride the roller coaster? Or are women not allowed to go there?

palinode said...

Janet: I only use actual words, except when I make them up. "Irreal" is something of a specialized term, much beloved of Philip K. Dick. Although the dictionary definition is simply "unreal" or "not real," Dick lifted it from Plato to connote the sense of the world being 'semi-real,' a layer of reality in which we could move, but did not reflect the true reality which was hidden from us. It wasn't entirely not real - it just wasn't really real; that is to say, the irreal did not partake of the eternal forms that supplied the template for the shifting shapes and constant flux of experience.

In order to sustain their luxury lifestyle, Dubai ships in its immigrant underclass mostly from India.

Dubai is a relatively westernised place with sectors that are largely secular. In places like Dubailand and Falconcity, the main religion is capital. And the women who ride the rollercoasters are tanned, white and rich.

For genuine Wahabbist fundamentalism, go to Saudi Arabia.

palinode said...

Helvetica: Your intuition has lead you in the right direction. His Highness and I are long-lost brothers, and this post has been my way of calling out to him, as if to say: "Hey Prince! I'll be your Pauper! Never mind that I'm half Irish-half Portuguese - I'll be all Arab for you!"

You've given me an idea for Halloween, though.

ozma said...

The Eiffel Tower: What's so great about being the ORIGINAL Eiffel Tower? And I say that if the Taj Majal was great to build once then what the hell, why not build it a thousand times?

It's going to get mighty toasty in Dubai in a few years. And considering those manmade islands in Dubai are very low level islands, I wouldn't permanently relocate to the Falconity of Wonders. But I think its future as a doomed ephemeral Atlantis will just add to its decadent charm if anyone's left around to appreciate such a thing during the next ice age when the seas begin to recede.

Tippy said...

Same country that build islands shaped like palm trees, right? Well done them. Someone needs to explore the unrealistic and fantastical!

Ordinary Janet said...

Thanks for the info on "irreality"!

Gee, I guess Dubai has more money than it knows what to do with. Must be nice.

hannah said...

My housemate spent the summer working in Dubai and is obsessed with the place. He keeps talking about it and it keeps feeling less and less real. This has only added to it. Keep it up!