I just—five minutes ago–arrived in Orlando ahead of the storm. It’s my summer vacation this year and I’m heading for Disney World. I think this is my tenth trip there. I’ll be honest: I’m at least slightly snobby in my personal tastes day-to-day, but I can’t help but as to really like Disney. For me, riding Pirates of the Caribbean ranks up there with seeing legislation I wrote pass the United States Senate, getting the first finished copy of the book I edited, winning big research grants, and re-reading favorite novels like One Hundred Years of Solitude and (lowbrow alert) Alas, Babylon. I’m serious.
(Nonetheless, I’m quite a bit less enthusiastic than the guy—who I’ve seen a few times—with all those Disney tattoos and don’t actually own a single piece of Disney clothing.) I’ll also be the first to admit that some criticisms of Disney—you’ll have to wait in line sometimes, the best located hotels have Manhattan-like room rates—are absolutely true. But the criticism I hear most often from people who have some reason to dislike “Disney experience” is that it’s “plastic,” “fake,” or “manufactured.” seems to me to be utterly meaningless. Of course it’s manufactured. So is everything that human beings have created. Chartres is a self-contained environment, Hamlet is a made up story, and all architecture and art are all human creations. A major part of civilization is the creation and re-creation of the environment. And, by that standard, Disney World stands as a symbol of true genus.