28 November 2006

Las Vegas is Your Future

I went to Las Vegas last week and am always fascinated by the place. I can't help but wonder whether Vegas is your city's future.

It's not hard to imagine that as we become more anxious about avoiding boredom we'll adopt the themes that garnish their places of commerce. Our restaurants, shops, and public places may be modeled after great sites like the Pyramids, Paris, or Mecca (okay, maybe not Mecca).

If you were to fly someone around in a hot air balloon 100 years ago, floating above the earth's surface, what are the odds that they would have chosen the site of Las Vegas as the world's most popular tourist destination by the year 2000? There is a certain kind of genius there that even I, a guy who has yet to gamble a total of $20 in my entire life, can admire.

What are they marketing besides fascinating sites? Hope. We are creatures of hope and without it life is hopeless. The casinos are merchants of hope and we accept risk in return for hope. And this is the inescapable equation of life -embrace risk to get hope. We see it when we chose a major in school, a partner in life, start a business, or simply plan a vacation. Risk and hope come as a package deal.

And in this Las Vegas offers acceleration for those impatient with how gradually their lives are unfolding. Life is a game of chance but it can take decades for the dice to land. In Vegas, the frenetic energy translates into acceleration: results - good or bad - are played out instantly, the feedback immediate.

In 30 years, you may be wandering through a public place that looks like Stonehenge, complete with Druids chanting poems, and you'll know by then how the dice have fallen for your life. Wherever you are, you'll find yourself in Vegas - either a winner or loser or having oddly broke even and inexplicably caught in a strange place and time that looks vaguely reminiscent of a place you've never been.


Anonymous said...

Changing the real world is expensive. It's more likely we'll sit at home while our cities decay into squalor around us- but we'll log on to the most beautiful web sites you can imagine!

Ron said...

Your idea is probably more credible. In the future, we'll have an IV, catheter, and a blue room through which we can "surf reality." The world of the matrix isn't something that will be done to us - it's something that we'll choose ourselves. (And let's hope that we don't.)