Ehren Joseph Layne

Urry through Frow – Confirmation/Thesis

Confirmation / Thesis 


Frow’s expository, “Tourism and the Semiotics of Nostalgia”, presents an understanding of the tourist v. traveller dilemma and uses semiotics to interpret the network of concepts relating to tourism, nostalgia, and heritage(concepts such as authenticity, the tourist gaze, and so on). Frow also expands upon  paradoxes that Culler and Urry explain in their respective pieces on tourism – those paradoxes being: the continuous refabrication of the authentic coupled with the continuous validation of the refabrication of the authentic as authentic, and the inability to upkeep authentic cultural traditions because the upkeep of said traditions changes then from being “authentic” and instead makes them “the revitalization of the authentic”.  I find myself being more and more persuaded by the arguments Urry makes in respect to tourism, and was pleased to see Frow reference him almost ubiquitously(I had no care for references to Culler). Frow leans on Urry’s conceptualization of the authentic  when explaining the paradox of authenticity: Frow writes – 


 “The paradox, the dilemma of authenticity, is that to be experienced as authentic it must be marked as authentic, but when it is marked as authentic it is mediated, a sign of itself and hence not authentic in the sense of un- spoiled. “ 


Frow’s usage of Urry is not limited to this definition: Frow does a copy and paste of an excerpt from Urry where he is fantasizing about the prospect of  “real travel” but doing so in the context of the paradox. Urry wishes to travel authentically, but understands his inability to do so by nature of the dilemma of authenticity: Urry cannot wish for authentic travel because travel itself is the catalyst for the spoiling of the authentic, and therefore, the inability to ever experience the authentic. Urry goes as far as to saying that: 


“ I am the loser – and more heavily than one might suppose; for today, as I go groaning among the shadows, I miss, inevitably, the spectacle that is now taking shape. My eyes, or perhaps my degree of humanity, do not equip me to witness that spectacle; and in the centuries to come, when another traveler revisits this same place, he too may groan aloud at the disappearance of much that I should have set down, but cannot. “


I would like to emphasize this, for it helps in the contextualization of my thesis from my last post. My redefinition of authenticity is because I wish to dismantle the narrative that we are no longer able to perceive spectacle(the authentic). I hope to, with some rudimentary knowledge of semiotics, relieve tourism of its many incapabilities (inability to perceive the authentic, inability to deal with the authentic, and inability to think freely without compartmentalizing our knowledge of the authentic) and open up the possibility of discourse that upholds tourism rather than stigmatizing it.

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