Wednesday, December 26, 2012

forgive forgive forgive

William Kentridge, Stereoscope

Drawing vs. erasing. Connecting vs. splitting apart. Gathered vs. alone. Classic vs. modern. This little drawn masterpiece of world-spilit-in-two by William Kentridge is the perfect counterpoint to our third day at Disney World. Each day we hit the parks (so far: Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and Magic Kingdom + Downtown Disney; tomorrow: Epcot) at gate opening, a strategy of master Disney strategist Jerri, my wife.

Everybody else is in hotel mode where they all pile on each other in a hotel room and then have the disappointing hotel breakfast and then the showers and then and then and then go to the park when everyone else does and it becomes the Disney World everyone hates. We do our thing, annotated lists in hand, hit it and quit it before the masses even queue up for the buses. Everyone else is sweating the complicated FastPass system while we have ridden everything before you need them. We have our system down. Jerri could write a book about making Disney World work.

We had a Time Rover to ourself at the Dinosaur ride.

Tower of Terror remains the best ride at Disney World though the new (to us) Expedition Everest - it goes backwards at some point  - is pretty boss. They all deal in the same story: we have a vast system here and everything is under control except now something has gone wrong and you are experiencing that wrong thing.

Bounce that idea against Old Walt's classics like Peter Pan's Flight (my favorite)  and Haunted Mansion - complete visions larger than you can actually see, plunged in darkness to reveal what glows in life. They are funny and thrilling and scary without pushing it. They are momentary perfect worlds.

We were trying to figure out how many times we've done Magic Kingdom/Disneyland which says a lot about how many times we have. Maya was even kinda bored at Disney World today which, as we expected, signifies an End. We are taking a quick run through Epcot to get it off our list and so I can see the geodesic sphere for myself and then home.


But, Kentridge.... We walked by the mid-construction new Snow White Thing, peeked through a sanctioned chink in the fence at the shocking tangle of girders and insulation panels. It is jarring to see something in flux amid a place so complete and contoured as Magic Kingdom. We all thought it looked cool the way it is now. I think they should make it some Hall of Presidents thing about architecture but then I've been making Hall of Presidents jokes this whole time, saying it's the only ride I want to go on, to the point that I have it on the brain. I'm picturing an Avengers-type movie superhero-team adaptation about Hall of Presidents to piggy back the current Lincoln craze. They could battle Robot Stalin or something. Fun fact:

Each one of the first 43 presidents were sculpted by Disney artist Blaine Gibson. Gibson, who is 90 years old, handed over the reins to his protégé Valerie Edwards, who created President Obama’s figure under his supervision. (vis

The whole Snow White thing looked erased and redrawn in the construction dust and this afternoon, park weary, dinking around the vast UBUWeb video treasure trove came across William Kentridge again and aha! That's what it triggered. Kentridge animates by drawing and then erasing, leaving traces of the erasure as some sort of cosmic dust of creation. There is the little blue line shakily drawn between the ideal and the reality. That's what lies around every meticulously detailed curve.


Our hotel is the Art in Animation Resort - themed around drawing the magic on which this whole dream is based. My daughter couldn't wait to leave Disney World to draw anime characters with the new pens Santa brought her.

Weirdly, a few things did break down for us while we were here. The giant boulder didn't roll out during the Indiana Jones Stunt show and we had to stop to remember if it was part of the something-went-wrong shtick or did something go wrong? Our monorail ride was continually delayed by another train on the track. Er... isn't there just the one track? Speakers were too loud. Christmas music filled us past the saturation point. In the pool yesterday we heard "Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" pm the PA, "Jingle Bell Rock" from the poolside DJ trying to get little soaked kids to twist and limbo, and "Santa Baby" on the speakers you can only hear underwater.  It was not quite what the Fall would have it, Disney's dream debased - I thought this song might be about when someone died on the monorail but it came out way before that. Could be anything. - but it seemed to miss the mark of that perfect flight over Peter Pan's London.

Christmas night I did a load of clothes in the hotel's poolside laundromat. A grandma told a kid they were not going to Magic Kingdom tomorrow because the kid asked too many questions. A dad (not me) was drinking alone at the Nemo-themed bar next to the laundromat. The Drop Off. As the cacophony of Christmas music converged in the night air. As children shivered from the pool, fully spent on a day of magic. As the sun set over the fake Lion King mountains to the West. As the last bell jingled on Christmas.

A cynic has no place in the kingdom of magic and despite my being a smartass and a critic and a corner-cutter and an occasional Gloomy Gus and a get-by-on-charmer and whatever else I am, I am no cynic. This might seem like a cynical Disney post, what with constriction debris and dour existentialist cartoons and the Fall, but it isn't. We might be done with Disney World for now and even a little relieved to be but I still love it. The bit at the end of the Kentridge's terrifying little reduction of human conflict, where it says give and then forgive over and over is the key. Forgive it all. Forgive forgive forgive. Do that and everything is magical. Merry Christmas.

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