01 November 2010

Quote of the day: guidebook as script

"Modern tourist guides have helped raised tourist expectations. And they have provided the natives—from Kaiser Wilhelm* down to the villagers of Chichacestenango—with a detailed and itemized list of what is expected of them and when. These are the up-to- date scripts for actors on the tourists' stage." 

-- Daniel J. Boorstin, The Image (1961).

* The Kaiser Wilhelm thing is pretty amazing, actually. I've heard several versions of the anecdote given in this 1950 Time article:
"At the stroke of noon one day, as the imperial military band began its daily concert in front of Berlin's imperial palace, Kaiser Wilhelm interrupted a conference of state by jumping to his feet. "With your kind forbearance, gentlemen," he said, 'I must excuse myself now to appear in the window. You see, it says in Baedeker [guidebook] that at this hour I always do.' "


  1. Seriously? (re: the Kaiser) That's incredible.

  2. Well, I have my doubts about that story. If "conference of state" means, essentially, Ye Olde Press Conference, okay, maybe. But if it's just heads of state conferring, I sincerely doubt that, say, Prince Whatever was taking notes and filed a report with the local newspaper. It's entirely plausible, mind you ... but I'd guess it's apocryphal.


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