Monday, July 05, 2010
One of the weirdest things I saw while in Los Angeles was a version of the Eiffel Tower (above) in the Americana shopping area that brought to mind Baudrillard’s obsession with both simulacrum and his quote that “Los Angeles [is] no longer real, but belongs to the hyperreal order and to the order of simulation”. While that may be a pretentious way of putting it, LA most definitely does feel hyperreal, especially when suffering from jetlag: there is something strange in the city’s postmodern random juxtaposition of architecture, including one of the main Scientology buildings – or rather, castles - which looks like something out of a magical Disney film (only in LA would you also have a street called L. Ron Hubbard Way, devoted entirely to Scientology buildings).
The endless neon signs informing you of Jesus’ presence seem designed paradoxically to inspire epilepsy in their drivers. Driving down its endless freeways towards Downtown feels like something from Blade Runner (which ostensibly depicted the Little Tokyo district of Downtown LA in the future) or the Terminator films, with its endless spaghetti junctions branching off in all directions and corporations on all sides (you could almost imagine Skynet Cyberdime Systems being the next building up). Yet despite its skyscrapers, Downtown doesn’t really feel like the centre of the city: LA doesn’t really feel like it has a corporeal centre as such, just endless cities existing almost autonomously, encircled by the mountains at the edge of the desert, the whole place only really navigatable by car (despite the presence of a public transport system). London’s ordered rows of semidetached houses seem boring and quaint in comparison.