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The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-events in America Chapter Summary & Analysis - Chapter 3 - Section I-III Summary

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Chapter 3 - Section I-III Summary and Analysis

In chapter three, Boorstin explores the changing nature of travel and its impact on the creation of pseudo-events. He states that one of the main ways that this happens is through the expectation that the "exotic" can be made common and yet still retain the nature of being exotic. What this expectation leads to is commoditization, in this case of the experience of travelling. The trip is advertised as exotic, but by the very nature of having been created and packaged in advance is anything but exotic. There is very little risk, encounters with difference, or even feelings of not being safe.

Boorstin suggests that in the past travelers helped to inspire great movements in thought, art, and ways of living. However, in the current form, travel has been reduced to a passive experience, much like watching a movie. In section I, Boorstin states that until recently, traveling was not done for fun, and certainly not by middle class Americans. Echoing the traditions of Europe travel was done by the intellectual and social elite. This changed with the advent of tourism, partially initiated by the availability of guided tours. The tourist became a passive experiencer of events, and is traveling for pleasure not as a personal encounter.

Section II begins with one of the most important figures in the guided tour movement,Thomas Cook. He began train tours in England during the early 1840s and soon expanded his business to include the destinations of Ireland and Scotland. When his son joined the business, he expanded even farther to include tours of Switzerland, America, and a "Crusade to the Holy Land". He was met with resistance by the English elite, who complained about the effect of having "droves of these creatures" being led around Italian cities by tour guides. Cook responded by asserting that the common people had just as much right to see beautiful sights. Cook's travel agency to this day remains the largest in the world. Boorstin continues that travel to foreign countries had now become an American commodity that even lower class citizens were starting to access.

Section III opens by discussing how tourists are "protected" from the world they tour, especially in terms of native peoples. These encounters are instead replaced by those with fellow traveling companions. Boorstin reports of his own experience flying, "My passage through space was unnoticeable and effortless. The airplane robbed me of the landscape." The effect created is that all experience when travelling is "homogenized". Everything is pre-planned and paid for with almost no chance of danger, encounter, adventure, or in other words, a spontaneous experience. Boorstin continues that the increased air travel helped to foster the hotel industry, including such giants as Conrad Hilton. Hilton purchased his first hotel just over the border into Mexico and shortly was arranging touring packages to attract customers. He now has hotels in countries all over the world, but as Boorstin comments, they are so commoditized that "they are indistinguishable".

This section contains 503 words
(approx. 2 pages at 300 words per page)
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The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-events in America from BookRags and Gale's For Students Series. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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