A Psychogeography of Tourism and Monumentality

[originally published in THE FLORIDA LANDSCAPE: REVISITED a catalog for an exhibition curated by Christoph Gerozissis, Lakeland, Florida: The Polk Museum, 1992]

"Tradition is like spring-water that wells forth from the ground, flowing on forever. It is no abstract doctrine" (Mysteries of the Dream-Time).

Project for a New Consultancy

The State of Florida has asked for advice. Debilitated by the recession, embarrassed by its ranking as 43rd most livable state in America (based on categories such as income, crime rate, graduation rate, suicide and taxes), Florida is giving renewed attention to its leading industry--tourism. The 1991 Legislature created the Florida Tourism Commission charged with devising a strategy for promoting tourism. One of the first acts of the Commission was to hire the New York consulting firm of Penn & Schoen which, for a fee of $250,000, will assess what role the state should play in tourism promotion.

The Florida Research Ensemble (FRE--a faculty group at the University of Florida that practices an experimental approach to arts and letters) took this situation as a good test for its new consultancy project. What knowledge resources are available for dealing with a state problem? If there is an agricultural problem the Institute for Food and Agricultural Sciences at the University of Florida is called on for advice. But when there is a cultural problem, why does no one ask the experts in culture at the University for advice? Why is the expertise of a public relations firm, and a New York firm at that, thought to be relevant to the issue of tourism in Florida, while the expertise of professors in the liberal and fine arts is not considered relevant? This question is addressed as much to the professors as to the state agency, of course, since the arts and humanities disciplines traditionally have not thought of the culture industry as the applied dimension of their specializations.

A review of newspaper reports of planning thus far indicate that the "improvement of tourism" is being framed as a matter of advertising. The local tourism boards formed in response to the legislative initiative have been most concerned with "how and when to advertise and how to get the attention we need." Perhaps because Florida already attracts over 40 million visitors a year,less attention has been given to "what facilities and resources maybe magnets for visitors." An early example of what to expect is the campaign commissioned by the State Commerce Department. During the winter of 1992-1993, an agency monitored bad weather in northern cities, placing full-page ads in newspapers following a blizzard: a photograph of a piece of toast with the words, "just a reminder that it's nice and toasty in Florida." To this reminder we might add the rider: "safer than Egypt."

Assuming that these efforts did indeed focus touristic attention on Florida FRE offers to consult with the Tourism Commission about how to improve the experience itself of the visitors to our landscape. After all, since the tourist economy helps finance education, educators have some responsibility for the quality of the product.

How does the new consultancy work? The first step is to challenge the assumptions about cognitive jurisdiction, about what knowledge is relevant to which problems (Star Wars belonged to physics, tourism to public relations). The fact is that when it is a matter of invention, history shows that innovation almost always comes from outside a specialization. One definition of invention could be "a process by which the status of an idea is transformed from irrelevant to relevant." FRE is not "competing" with Penn & Schoen for the PR job; we offer a different expertise, which until now has not been applied to tourism except in the negative mode of critique. Our disciplines have said a great deal against tourism; the challenge for FRE is to apply our knowledge to the design of an improved tourism.

From Tourism to Solonism

A review of our disciplinary resources reveals that in fact there are many significant points of overlap between the arts and tourism. Take for example the case of Solon, one of the wisest of the Ancient Greeks, who is said to be both the first theorist and the first tourist. "The Greeks," Wlad Godzich explains,"designated certain individuals to act as legates on certain formal occasions in other city states or in matters of considerable political importance. These individuals bore the title of theoros and collectively constituted a theoria. They were summoned on special occasions to attest the occurrence of some event, to witness its happenstance, and to then verbally certify its having taken place" (Godzich). Others could see and make claims, but these would have merely the status of "perceptions"; only the report of the theoria provided certainty, certifying the attested event such that it could be treated as fact. "What it certified as having been seen could become the object of public discourse."

Travel was an essential element of archaic theoria. Herodotus noted that theoria was the reason for Solon's visit to the ruler of Lydia. "Originally theoria meant seeing the sights, seeing for yourself, and getting a worldview," E. V. Walter comments. "The first theorists were 'tourists'--the wise men who traveled to inspect the obvious world. Solon, the Greek sage whose political reforms around 590 B.C. renewed the city of Athens, is the first 'theorist' in Western history" (Walter). This theoria "did not mean the kind of vision that is restricted to the sense of sight. The term implied a complex but organic mode of active observation--a perceptual system that included asking questions, listening to stories and local myths, and feeling as well as hearing and seeing. It encouraged an open reception to every kind of emotional, cognitive, symbolic, imaginative, and sensory experience." Nor was the travel of a theoros always a response; it could also be a probe. The motive for Solon's visit to Lydia, where he went "to see what could be seen," was "curiosity": "and it was just this great gift of curiosity, and the desire to see all the wonderful things--pyramids, inundations, and so forth--that were to be seen that enabled the Ionians to pick up and turn to their own use such scraps of knowledge as they could come by among the barbarians"(Burnet).

In one of the founding works in the history of method, the Timaeus, Plato tells the story that is the origin of the legend of Atlantis. On his visit to Egypt, Solon learned from an Egyptian priest that the original Athenians had defeated the empire of Atlantis in its attempt to conquer all the Greeks. The story had been lost when Athens was destroyed in the same cataclysm that sunk Atlantis, and it is retold in the Timaeus as part of Plato's effort to understand how to put into practice the principles of a just state outlined in the Republic.

Let us take Solon, then, as the emblem of the FRE consultancy on tourism: in an improved tourism, the tourist will be a theoros,whose collective practice will constitute a theoria. It might be useful to coin a neologism to name this new vacationing--"soloning" --and its practitioners-- "solonists." The solonist is a tourist functioning as "witness."

Tourism as Invention

A "nation" is an idea--an idea with a history. There was a time before nations, and there may come a time after and without nations. Meanwhile, the idea of "the United States" is undergoing a change, as evidenced by the confusion about how to commemorate the Columbus quincentennial. The arrival in St. Augustine from Spain of the replica Columbian flotilla in April, 1992, was a magnet not only for tourists but for protesters. It could have been an occasion to test the special gaze of the solonists, supporting an alternative to the opposition between unity and separatism. At this post-colonial moment, American national identity is being revised, in a process whose difficulties may be traced in the debates surrounding multiculturalism, political correctness, and hate crimes. The tourist as solonist will travel to see what is to be seen in order to reinvent our national identity. But what will be the nature of this site seeing?

Tourism has already played an important role in the creation of representations that have shaped American national identity. A review of the history of two of the most important embodiments of American identity shows why the Florida Tourism Commission turned to a public relations firm for advice, since PR played a crucial role in these symbolic inventions. Both originated with booster groups as ways to increase and improve tourism in a specific place.

The first vacation spots in America were spas where people went to "take the waters." This custom, borrowed from Europe, led eventually to the discovery of sea-bathing as a leisure activity. Atlantic City, New Jersey, is one of the sites where this new recreation evolved. There were only seven houses there when the railroad arrived in the 1850s (Sutton,). By 1900 over ten million dollars had been invested in hotels. In 1920, looking for a way to keep tourists at the beach through Labor Day, the Business Men's League decided to sponsor a Fall Frolic, which in 1921 introduced a beauty pageant. The first such contest had been held at Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, in the 1880s, but was not repeated. Herb Test, a reporter hired to handle publicity for the Atlantic City version, decided to call the winner "Miss America." "It was decided in committee that newspapers in the Atlantic City trading area would be approached with the suggestion that they use the beauty contest at Atlantic City as a gimmick to increase circulation" (Deford). The association with national identity was established from the beginning, with the first winner (a fifteen year old named Margaret Gorman) setting the pattern of a preference for the "civic beauty" of the "amateur" over the "brazen femininity" of professional models and actresses. It may be worth noting in the context of solonism that the early pageants were presided over by the figure of King Neptune, the god who was the protector of Atlantis.

Mount Rushmore, also known as the "shrine of democracy," offers a second example of booster inventiveness serving national identity. If "Miss America" was meant to be the embodiment of our national ideal of womanhood, the Rushmore monument "signifies the achievements of the United States as symbolized by the four great national leaders. Washington represents the founding of the Union; Jefferson, the Declaration of Independence and the Louisiana Purchase; Lincoln, the preservation of the Union; and [Teddy] Roosevelt, the expansion of the country and the conservation of its natural resources" (Tour Book: North Central, American Automobile Association).

In the early 1920s, Doane Robinson, State Historian for South Dakota, began thinking of ways to lure tourists to his state. Having read of the work of Guzton Borglum (carving a monument to the Confederacy on the face of Stone Mountain, Georgia), Robinson was giving a speech to a tourist promotion group when it struck him that a monument could be carved in the granite of the Black Hills. He proposed the idea on the spot, suggesting that the principal figure be Chief Red Cloud, supported by other heroes of the Old West such as General Custer (Smith). Booster clubs in the area were enthusiastic, although they considered the idea impossible. Borglum was recruited to the project, and changed its theme to the "Founding Fathers," to better realize his aim of "a monument dedicated to the meaning of America." After some twenty years the carving was completed, and today it attracts over two million visitors annually.

The Monument as Rhizome

The FRE consultancy concerns the design of the "magnet of attraction" for solonists. The lesson of Atlantic City and Mount Rushmore is that there exists a "monumental" tourism--an activity whose motivation is economic but whose effect is symbolic, involving a visit to a place marked by a thing or an event that represents a collective value. It might be helpful to generalize from these examples, in order to discover their relevance to our own situation.

Rushmore and Miss America are products of what the French theorists Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari call an "abstract machine"--a generative or inventive idea. To convey how such machines operate, the theorists use the metaphor of the rhizome, of which one of their favorite examples is the relationship between the wasp and the orchid. The relationship that plants form with insects, animals, people, the wind, in order to propagate, is a rhizome. Joseph Beuys used a similar example to express his understanding of creative thinking, stating that people make thought the way bees make honey.

Let us continue the analogy, to say that tourism is rhizomatic--that it makes national identity the way bees make honey (the social function of the WASP, extended now to include all ethnicities).

"Make a map, not a tracing. The orchid does not reproduce a tracing of the wasp; it forms a map with the wasp, in a rhizome. What distinguishes the map from the tracing is that it is entirely oriented toward an experimentation in contact with the real. The map does not reproduce an unconscious closed in upon itself; it constructs the unconscious. . . . the map is open and connectable in all of its dimensions; it is detachable, reversible, susceptible to constant modification. It can be torn, reversed, adapted to any kind of mounting, reworked by an individual, group, or social formation. It can be drawn on a wall, conceived of as a work of art, constructed as a political action or as a meditation. Perhaps one of the most important characteristics of the rhizome is that it always has multiple entryways" (Deleuze and Guattari, 12).

If tourists use maps, solonists are maps, or map-makers. Tourism,then, becomes a "map" to post-columbian America.

Solonism as Social Sculpture

The purpose of "Florida Rushmore" is to introduce the tourist to solonism. This introduction should include some further suggestions for solonistic activities. To accomodate this need,there might be established at the site of the electronic monument a Museum of Cultural Inventions, with displays tracing the contribution of Arts and Letters to American traditions, such as Washington Irving's invention of the myth of "Columbus," or Owen Wister and Frederick Remington's invention of the "Cowboy." The museum will sponsor exhibits from the history of the liberal and fine arts that might serve as models showing solonists how to become inventors themselves.

A series of projects by the German performance artist, Joseph Beuys, exemplify the nature of such exhibits. Beuys developed the strategy of a politically therapeutic "social sculpture" in environmental works such as Show Your Wound, in which he set up an installation in an ugly, dangerous place--selected as representative of a sick spot in the urban environment--the underground pedestrian area between two streets in Munich (Tisdall). In Tallow he selected a similar site in Munster, which he used as a cast for a giant sculpture using twenty tons of mutton and beef fat. This line of work led to his proposal for a Free International University to be established in Belfast, to function as an arts consultancy for resolving the dilemma of Ireland.

"It is typical of Beuys to seek out a wound, a sore spot, which is also a very concrete representation of the wider context of social failure. It is equally typical that the artist does not simply use this sore spot for a denunciation, but applies to it his own kind of dialectic. He attempts to heal the place" (Laszlo Gloser, in Tisdall).

Is it unimaginable that the sore spots of an environment could be magnets attracting tourists? We have to remember that there was a time when sea bathing, for example, especially in mixed company, was unimaginable, yet now it is one of the chief attractions of Florida. Travel experts report that overseas visitors, for example, who have been coming to the United States in record numbers, are beginning to seek out places off the beaten track. Perhaps this curiosity about America, expanded to include the whole of American experience, could be channeled into psychogeography.

"The more a place is set apart for free play, the more it influences people's behavior and the greater is its force of attraction. This is demonstrated by the immense prestige of Monaco and Las Vegas--although they are mere gambling places. Our first experimental city would live largely off tolerated and controlled tourism. Future avant-garde activities and productions would naturally tend to gravitate there. In a few years it would become the intellectual capital of the world and would be universally recognized as such" (Chtcheglov). The situationist inventors of psychogeography wanted chance to play a part in the creation of situations, as the "tourist" wandered aimlessly or drifted through the urban landscape. One experimenter in this vein used a map of London to explore an area of Germany with which he was unfamiliar. In conventional tourism, getting lost is at best inconvenient, and at worst dangerous. The Museum of Cultural Invention will have a "Tourist Hall of Fame" commemorating tourist sacrifices to chance, such as the Dutch tourist who happened to be in Paris when the Commune took over the city at the end of the Franco-Prussian war. Because of his resemblance to one of the leaders of the rebellion, this tourist was executed on suspicion of being a communard (Mercer).

When tourists add theoria (witnessing) to their itinerary, they expose a problematic dimension of the environment to a new kind of attention whose function would not be "spectacle" but "healing." The solonists might not rely only on chance to bring them to a sorespot. They would take advantage of maps, such as the one suggested by an Alachua County Commissioner, "alerting residents to crime-ridden areas that need to be avoided." The Commissioner explained her proposal, motivated by the recovery of a murder victim's body in Gainesville, "that certain wooded areas are havens for prostitution, selling drugs and other criminal activity." Ordinary citizens use these same woods "to walk and meditate."

The point of solonism is that such places--all the forgotten and denied places, the leftovers (the unconscious)--must be put on the map and even visited if the landscape is to become a rhizome for national self-knowledge. We already have a place in Florida that advertises itself as "an adventure without risk." Solonism is an alternative to, a supplement of, this conventional tourism, and the solonist who tours places like those sore woods in Gainesville is working more in the tradition of adventurers who accepted the risks of travel into the unknown. What might be the effect of this gaze, or of the circulation of this testimony preserved in home videos, snap-shots, and anecdotes? A post-columbian America cannot forget that adventurers are responsible for its existence, for better and for worse.

The solonists in their theoria might constitute a Columbus 500 years the wiser, knowing something about the karstification of culture. In their visit to Florida they learn that the idea of "America" is not "granite" (not igneous, however ingenious), but limestone, soluble in water, and with the rains becoming more acidic every year.

Florida Rushmore

It is possible to formulate a specific proposal for the FTC, based on the above discussion. The proposal is based on the following steps of reasoning:

  1. the state desires not only to promote tourism, but to improve it.
  2. monumental practices (including events and celebrations as well as memorials) are magnets attracting tourists to specific sites.
  3. tourism and monuments form a rhizome that in practice "constructs the unconscious" of a culture.
  4. the state issue after 1992 concerns the revision of American national identity in the new post-colonial era of multiculturalism.
  5. solonism names a new style of tourism as theoria, in which the process of cultural invention through tourism becomes self-conscious, reflective, and hence "critical."
  6. critical tourism would allow citizens to participate directly in the continuing invention of "America."
  7. conclusion: FRE could improve tourism by designing a monument that exposes tourists to the experience of solonism.

Our proposal is to build an electronic version of Mount Rushmore in Florida, a version that will be in effect a revision and supplement of the original. The theoretical rationale for this choice is based on the psychological function of monuments, known as "mourning." The rhizomatic nature of tourism and monuments is due to the reciprocal relationship between the formation of individual and collective identity. The entry points to the network of American identity are marked by monuments.

In psychoanalytic terms, "mourning" refers to the process by which the self is constituted as a distinctly separate person yet part of the larger whole of society. The "loss" of unity with the mother's body is mourned by internalizing (introjecting) an image of the parents in the unconscious (and eventually other figures with whom the self identifies, forming what is known as the"superego"). The loss is compensated for by the symbolizing power (language) associated with such introjections. Collective entities such as nations maintain their identity through a similar process of symbolization, mourning the loss of one generation of citizens after the other, back to the Founding Fathers. As the following citation suggests, monuments are to a nation what the superego is to an individual.

The oedipal resolution also governs the creation of a superego:

"And here too we find an important relation to the work of mourning and the elegy. At the most obvious level, we recall Freud's suggetion that the superego is made up of the "illustrious dead," a sort of cultural reservoir, or rather cemetery, in which one may also inter one's renounced love-objects, and in which the ruling monument is the internalized figure of the father" (Sacks).

An electronic Rushmore produces a mourning identification that is flexible and diverse rather than one that is "carved in stone."

A Holographic Monument "Florida Rushmore" uses the technology of holography and computers to create a continuously changing image of a face, projected in 3-D at the same scale as the Rushmore heads (60 feet high).


Holography is a method of lensless photography in which the wave field of light scattered by an object is recorded on a plate as an interference pattern. When the photographic record--the hologram--is placed in a coherent light beam like a laser, the original wave pattern is regenerated. A three- dimensional image appears. Because there is no focusing lens, the plate appears as a meaningless pattern of swirls. Any piece of the hologram will reconstruct the entire image (Wilber).


Nancy Burson's computer-generated portraits are the model for the faces represented in "Florida Rushmore."

Burson has extended the technique of composite photography, invented by Francis Galton in 1877, to the medium of digital computer graphics. Using software developed by Richard Carling and David Kramlich, Burson essentially reinvented photography. Her technique of amalgamating and manipulating images has been used by the FBI to update photographs of missing children, and by PEOPLE magazine to project the effect of age on celebrities. Composites of everything from a lion/lamb through the heads of state of the nuclear powers to an oriental/caucasian/black (with features weighted according to current world population statistics) are said "to explore themes as universal as sexuality and race and concerns as common as beauty, celebrity, and political power."

That her technique is especially suited to psychogeography has to do with the historical affinity between psychoanalysis and photography. Walter Benjamin said that photography is to the visible world what psychoanalysis is to the mind. Freud himself drew upon Galton's composite technique to describe the logic of dreams. "What I did was to adopt the procedure by means of which Galton produced family portraits," Freud wrote, explaining the effect of condensation in one of his own dreams. "Namely by projecting two images on to a single plate, so that certain features common to both are emphasized, while those which fail to fit in with one another cancel one another out and are indistinct in the picture. In my dream about my uncle the fair beard emerged prominently from a face which belonged to two people and which was consequently blurred; incidentally, the beard further involved an allusion to my father and myself through the intermediate idea of growing grey" (Freud).


Tourists visiting the monument would have an opportunity to fill out a questionnaire designed to elicit information indicative of the figures with whom they identify--figures that represent their "personalized" or internal Rushmores. The questionnaire uses the formula of a genre called "mystory" (a neologism derived from"history"), that is a discursive equivalent of a composite photograph. A mystory condenses into one account information from the four main discourses used by Americans: family anecdotes, school history textbooks, popular media, and disciplinary expertise. The computer uses the tourist's responses to the questions to identify four figures--one from each discourse area (family history, public history, entertainment, and career field)--as a representation of the individual's superego. In my own case, for example, a paper version of the mystory suggested that the heads on my personal Rushmore are Walter Ulmer (my father), George Armstrong Custer, Gary Cooper, and Jacques Derrida (the French Philosopher).

The computer collects in its memory the composite face of each tourist's personal Rushmore, randomly selecting a new one every fifteen minutes to be projected as the face of "Florida Rushmore." As Andy Warhol said, in media America, everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes. Thus the Rushmore of an electronic, post-colonial America will be as diverse as the population of the nation itself. The tourist may purchase a graphic printout of his/her composite as a souvenir. A tourist whose superego is projected as the national monument is awarded a commemorative hologram. Burson's work has been praised for creating utterly believable faces "like the faces in our dreams, struck from life but recast by our concerns. It is an instrumental imagination, manifesting human inner vision." "Florida Rushmore" puts this imagination to work on the task of representing the continuing dream of a democratic, free America. Part of its purpose is to remind citizens that "America"is precisely a "dream." A nation, like an individual, can come to know itself better by learning how to remember its dreams. The externalization of the psychological process of identification (mourning) demonstrated in the monument will make "Florida Rushmore" the founding site of solonism.

Location: The Devil's Millhopper Sinkhole Doane Robinson's idea for a monument on Mount Rushmore was inspired in part by his love for the landscape of the Black Hills, especially the granite cliffs protruding above the forested hills. The geology of South Dakota, in fact, was suited to the fixed concept of the nation common in the America of Robinson's era. But the psychogeography of America has changed in the postmodern era, for which the limestone acquifer of Florida is a better metaphor than is the bedrock of the plains and foothills of the North. As children sometimes write in their social studies reports, "we should not take our freedom for granite."

The best location for "Florida Rushmore," then, is the sinkhole known as "The Devil's Millhopper," where the flux of the electronic portraits figures the instability of the land itself.

Two miles northwest of Gainesville is the State Geological Site (the only one in Florida), "The Devil's Millhopper," exemplifying one of the most unusual features of the Florida landscape--the sinkhole. Formed nearly 20,000 years ago, the sink is nearly 120 feet deep and 500 feet across at the top. Since 1976 a 221-step wooden stairway takes the visitor to the bottom of the hole. "The sink got its name after fossilized bones and teeth were found there, and visitors termed the hole the lair of the devil" (Marth).

"In general, sinkholes are the result of the action of water on the porous limestone substrate underlying northern Florida, which is characterized by countryside riddled with shallow, interweaving networks of caves. When the ceiling of an underground cave has worn too thin from dissolution, it simply cannot support its own weight and collapses" (Stubbs). Sinkhole formation continues today, accelerated by human activity such as the heavy pumping of ground water. In the Gulf coast city of Dunedin, just since 1990 more than 172 homeowners reported structural damage because of sinkholes, causing an insurance company to discontinue homeowner insurance for the entire city. In 1981 a hole opened in Winter Park, Florida, developing within a few hours into the size of a football field and as deep as an eight-story building, causing two million dollars in damages to swallowed and sunken property. Within days the hole ranked as a major tourist attraction, and many people were seen wearing "Sinkhole 1981" T-shirts.

A sinkhole is just one of several features of karst topography, which includes poljes, dolines, caverns, lapies, and the variety of plants, animals, and human habitation associated with such formations. The term "karst" originated as the proper name of the northwestern part of Yugoslavia, including Croatia, and was then generalized to refer to any area similarly rich in soluble limestone rock. The ethnic warfare underway in that region since the collapse of the Soviet Union represents a warning, of which karst may serve as a reminder, of one possible alternative to national identity. The value of locating "Florida Rushmore" at a sinkhole is that the karst geology may serve as a good analogy in a psychogeographical metaphor--the underground movement of water, "following the line of least resistance (greatest permeability) through fractures and cavities," creates the surface features of the landscape, analogous to the way the workings of the unconscious are manifested in symptoms. Symptoms, in turn, are said to be personal monuments to forgotten traumas.

The geology itself, in other words, could be used to help tourists become solonists, by using landscape displays as allegories for social and psychological processes. Freud himself used landscape as an explanation of his "structural" model of the psyche--divided into ego, superego, and id.

"Let me give you an analogy; analogies, it is true, decide nothing but they can make one feel more at home. I am imagining a country with a landscape of varying configuration--hill-country, plains, and chains of lakes--, and with a mixed population: it is inhabited by Germans, Magyars, and Slovaks, who carry on different activities. . . . A few things are naturally as you expected, for fish cannot be caught in the mountains and wine does not grow in the water. Indeed, the picture of the region that you brought with you may on the whole fit the facts; but you will have to put up with deviations in the details" (Freud, in Erdelyi).

The analogy is picked up in Deleuze and Guattari's notion of "faciality," having to do with the effects of power in the relationship of a state to its citizens. In terms of signification--as an abstract machine--a "face" is a system created by the relationship of black holes to white walls (Deleuze &Guattari). Power circulates in this system through such facial rhizomes as the mother/child, two lovers, the celebrity/fan, the politician/voter. What the face is to the body, the landscape is to the environment (a system of surfaces and holes organized into significance, expressing relations of power).

Although the original plans for Mount Rushmore called for the sculpting of the whole bodies of the figures, the final embodiment of the idea in the four heads relates the monument to the talking heads of the electronic era (anticipated by the "close-up" shot in cinema). "The face is produced only when the head ceases to be apart of the body, when it ceases to be coded by the body." Identification with this "face," that is, makes one not the member of a family, but the subject of a state. The karst topography of Florida, with its multitude of flooded sinks, is a setting ideally suited to teaching the facial implications of landscape.

Metaphoric Rocks

For our monument we will modify Freud's analogy to fit our case: let "Florida" represent the American psyche. It remains to be worked out how to fit the tenor to the vehicle in this metaphor, how to assign the divisions of the population (Caucasion, Hispanic, African-American, Native American) and the economic activities (agriculture, mining, tourism) to the divisions of the structural model of the mind. But as Freud said, there is a certain disorderly mixing among all these components, whether as nation or psyche.It remains to be worked out how to fit the tenor to the vehicle in this metaphor, how to assign the divisions of the population (Caucasion, Hispanic, African-American, Native American) and the economic activities (agriculture, mining, tourism) to the divisions of the structural model of the mind. But as Freud said, there is a certain disorderly mixing among all these components, whether as nation or psyche.

We might begin with the old bones found at Millhopper that could be associated with the themes of mourning (the bones found in a grave or tomb). For tourists to perform theoria does not require their full awareness of the method of metaphors from which are composed the myths holding together a nation. They do not need to be "experts" or "linguists" of national identity in order to become monumentally inventive. Rather, monumentality is a kind of writing whose school is tourism. The matrix of geology, technology, and culture existing in the Millhopper landscape make it an ideal location for bringing this symbolic practice (written mourning) into visibility.

Freud compared psychoanalysis to archaeology, with the analyst sifting through the products of the unconscious the way an archaeologist penetrated the surface of the landscape to reconstruct the facts of a buried city, like Schleimann at Troy. Contemporary archaeology includes the use of satellites and remote sensing technology, as in the discovery of the city of Ubar, "a major hub of the frankincense trade that vanished beneath the desert sands of southern Oman two millenia ago." The city perished in a disaster around A.D. 100. "Evidence at the Oman site indicates that much of the settlement fell into a sinhole created by the collapse of an underground limestone cavern" (Bower). Indeed, Florida is in the same latitudinal belt as great deserts such as the Sahara and the Arabian Desert, but being a peninsula and the proximity of warm ocean currents makes it one of the nation's wettest states.

The link between Florida and Ubar rests on more than the shared karst topography. Researchers found the city by tracing ancient desert roads detected beneath the sand in pictures taken by the radar and optical cameras carried by the space shuttle Challenger in 1984. The shuttles, of course, are launched from Florida (including the spectacular, catastrophic explosion of Challenger in 1986). This link suggests that a second version of "Florida Rushmore" could be added to the Astronauts Memorial located at Spaceport USA, Cape Canaveral.

Lawrence of Arabia referred to Ubar as "the Atlantis of the Sands," thus associating the destruction of Atlantis with a sinkhole collapse. As the part of the continent to emerge most recently from the ocean, Florida might be thought of as a natural Atlantis (which was expected to rise again). Some of the early maps of the New World, in any case, identified as "Atlantis" the place Columbus discovered. This allusion returns us to Solon who told the story of Atlantis in Plato's Timaeus.

Plato used a karst feature--a cave--as the setting for his famous allegory of enlightenment. A prisoner escapes from a cave where all the citizens are held captive, permitted to see only the shadows cast on a wall by a fire behind them, where their captors carry all manner of objects whose reflections are accepted as reality. The escape allows the prisoner to see how the shadows have been produced (the world of belief). He leaves the cave and enters the sunlight (the world of forms). He then feels obligated to return to the cave to tell the others about the truth he has discovered. Many commentators on this allegory have observed that if Plato were writing today, he would use the popular institutions of cinema and television instead of the fire and shadows to represent the world of the cave. In Florida we might associate this allegory with our own "Sunshine Law," thus mapping a matrix of public access to information, sun bathing, and the representative of"the Good" in the physical world (old Sol).

Project Pleasure-Dome

Another association between Florida karst and electronic technology involves the writings of the first and most famous "tourist" visitor to Florida (one who came sheerly out of curiosity). William Bartram travelled to the Alachua Savanna in1773, a karst polje now called "Payne's Prairie," that is part of the same local formation in Alachua County that includes the Devil's Millhopper. "It is a level green plain, above fifteen miles over," Bartram wrote, "and scarcely a tree or bush of any kind to be seen on it. It is encircled with high sloping hills, covered with waving forests and fragrant Orange groves, rising from an exuberantly fertile soil. The towering Magnolia grandiflora and transcendent Palm, stand conspicuous amongst them" (Bartram). The indigenes called the Prairie "Alachua," meaning "big jug," referring to the stream that disappeared into a sinkhole, "into which the Indians saw the waters continually flow without filling it."

It is said that Samuel Taylor Coleridge's reading of Bartram's Travels (one of the most popular books of its day) influenced the dream that led to the writing of the poem, "Kubla Kahn," about the place "Xanadu," in which "did Kubla Khan / A stately pleasure-dome decree: / Where Alph, the sacred river, ran / Through caverns measureless to man / Down to a sunless sea. / So twice five miles of fertile ground / with walls and towers were girdled round" (Coleridge)

The inventor Ted Nelson, credited with coining the term "hypertext," named his plans for an "electronic literature," "Project Xanadu." Both the network of underground rivers of Florida Karst, and the on-line computer network designed by Ted Nelson, may be recognized as "rhizomes." "The Xanadu system,designed to address many forms of text structure, has grown into a design for the universal storage of all interactive media, and, indeed, all data; and for a growing network of storage stations which can, in principle, safely preserve much of the human heritage and at the same time make it far more accessible than it could have been before" (Nelson).

What is the metaphoric lesson available at Devil's Millhopper? The limestone of Florida--the acquifers, with their underground rivers, sinkholes, and springs--provide an immense reservoir for storing the groundwater essential to physical life in the region. The monuments of America similarly store the mythologies (the invented traditions) that are essential to the spiritual life of the nation. But don't forget the fates of Atlantis and of Ubar, which resonate with the story of the empire evoked in "Kubla Khan," subtitled, "A Vision in a Dream."

As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing, A mighty fountain momently was forced: Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail, Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher's flail: And 'mid these dancing rocks at once and ever It flung up momently the sacred river. . . And 'mid this tumult Kubla heard from far Ancestral voices prophesying war!

Heeding this prophesy, associated in the poem with a classic feature of karst topography (a river that appears and disappears,as does the Santa Fe River at O'Leno State Park, in Alachua County) FRE proposes to add a school of monumentality to the pleasure-dome of Florida tourism.



  1. J. V. Luce, The End of Atlantis, Thames and Hudson, Ltd.
  2. TW Recreational Services, Inc.
  3. Paul Herrmann, The Great Age of Discovery. New York: Harper.
  4. Frank Deford, There She Is: The Life and Times of Miss America. New York: Viking, 1971.
  5. National Park Service.
  6. South Dakota School of Mining and Technology.
  7. Hammond Nature Atlas of America
  8. Kathleen Ulmer
  9. Sigmund Freud, New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis.
  10. Pierre Mion, National Geographic 165 (1984).
  11. Nancy Burson, Richard Carling, David Kramlich, Composites.. New York: William Morrow, 1986.
  12. Composites
  13. State of Florida Department of Natural Resources.
  14. State of Florida Department of Natural Resources.
  15. Andrew Ortony, Ed. Metaphor and Thought. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979.
  16. R. C. Benson and R. A. Glaccum, Radar Surveys for Geotechnical Site Assessment, 1979.
  17. Amedeo Gigli, in Giovanni Caprara, Space Satellites, New York: Portland House, 1986.
  18. Ken Marsh, The Way the New Technology Works, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1982.
  19. Ute Klophaus, Wuppertal.
  20. Ute Klophaus.
  21. Benson and Glaccum.