Banksy's Dismaland: Here's What Is Not to Love About It
The fantasies, institutions, and humans at Dismaland do not merely sometimes fail us — they are marked for death from the start.
A quote from Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas haunts me when I think about our outrage culture. When I looked at the dismal landscape of Banksy's new amusement park — his version of Disneyland, disaffectedly called Dismaland — the quote came immediately to mind.
To me, Banksy is an aesthete with a conscience. He'd have fit right in with the wide-eyed generation of the 1960s, just as Hunter S. Thompson did. Here is the well-known Thompson quote. It's an arresting look back on the heyday of the cultural revolution:
"San Francisco in the middle '60s was a very special time and place to be a part of. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning ... Not in any mean or military sense; we didn't need that. Our energy would simply PREVAIL. ... So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high water mark — that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back."
Realizing Banksy's so-called bemusement park is not representative of his oeuvre, the park does represent the ironic and satirical approach many of us take to politics. Irony and satire are how we engage with politics. We critique it. We laugh at it. We do not empathize. We do not fool ourselves by taking part in "the system."
Our realization that politics is sham is not all. Our childhood fantasies are a sham; our institutions are a sham; our fellow humans are a sham. Banksy holds his mirror up to our understanding of such a world: the fantasies, institutions, and humans at Dismaland do not merely sometimes fail us despite their best intentions—they are marked for death from the start.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
To create wiser adults, add empathy to the school curriculum.
- Stories are at the heart of learning, writes Cleary Vaughan-Lee, Executive Director for the Global Oneness Project. They have always challenged us to think beyond ourselves, expanding our experience and revealing deep truths.
- Vaughan-Lee explains 6 ways that storytelling can foster empathy and deliver powerful learning experiences.
- Global Oneness Project is a free library of stories—containing short documentaries, photo essays, and essays—that each contain a companion lesson plan and learning activities for students so they can expand their experience of the world.
Philosophers like to present their works as if everything before it was wrong. Sometimes, they even say they have ended the need for more philosophy. So, what happens when somebody realizes they were mistaken?
Sometimes philosophers are wrong and admitting that you could be wrong is a big part of being a real philosopher. While most philosophers make minor adjustments to their arguments to correct for mistakes, others make large shifts in their thinking. Here, we have four philosophers who went back on what they said earlier in often radical ways.
The inequalities impact everything from education to health.
Astrophysicist Michelle Thaller talks ISS and why NICER is so important.
- Being outside of Earth's atmosphere while also being able to look down on the planet is both a challenge and a unique benefit for astronauts conducting important and innovative experiments aboard the International Space Station.
- NASA astrophysicist Michelle Thaller explains why one such project, known as NICER (Neutron star Interior Composition Explorer), is "one of the most amazing discoveries of the last year."
- Researchers used x-ray light data from NICER to map the surface of neutrons (the spinning remnants of dead stars 10-50 times the mass of our sun). Thaller explains how this data can be used to create a clock more accurate than any on Earth, as well as a GPS device that can be used anywhere in the galaxy.