From Paris to Rome: The Problem is that They Fulfil Expectations

When travelling through cities like Rome or Paris (specially in the latter) I had the strangest deception, for it had an indifferent nature to me. The thing is, there´s nothing to expect from these places since all expectations are covered. It´s the worst sensation any touristic destiny can offer; emptiness.


One knows what to expect, it´s been told to us by media, cultural, and touristic overexposure. As I was there, it seemed as if the experience was simply the reiteration of the media vivency. <<I had seen that before; I´ve been here before –through some movie character>>, those were the kind of thoughts. Perhaps even worse: in the movie there was no line to go up into the Eiffel Tower. <<I know what they´re doing, I know ‘cause I´ve seen that picture being taken before>>. I could even predict: <<now they´re gonna kiss; now they´ll jump and take the picture as they are in the air; now they will take the photo, holding to avoid the collapse of the Leaning Tower Of Pisa>>.  Déjà Vu. Regression in every sense; recession of any economy. The prediction of what will never become to be.

The problem is simple: all expectations are fulfilled. Further into form: we know it will be like that. Further into content: and that’s how it should be. That´s how expectations annihilate themselves.  A paradox through which the rise of expectations decreases expectations, and trough which the fulfillment of these  leaves nothing but emptiness. An empty emptiness, emptiness as nonsense, ant yet, the most congruent nonsense.

Cities like Roma and Paris are the annihilation caused by the guarantee, which includes Exceed expectations; and exceeding expectations is still to fulfill that EXTRA expectation. In that sense, exceeding expectations is a guarantee that, for being plus, ends up being equal or less than the rest. It is said Paris that never stops surprising you, that there’s always something more, always something new. Where’s the surprise if we already know we’re gonna get surprised? Once again, surprise annihilates itself through it´s own expectative. ‘Cause the surprise is to exceed expectations and exceed expectations is to satisfy the surprise: and expectations annihilate themselves. Authentic surprises are the daily event, unexpected, unprecedented; a guarantee of exceeding expectations is a precedent, and for expectations make something to be expected. There is no surprise in the Parisian surprise. Tourism as the mask of Paris; Paris as the mask of cliché; and cliché as the mask of Paris.

Gary Blake y Robert W. Bly, authors of The Elements of Technical Writing, define  cliché as anything that by it’s excessive (ab)use looses strength and novelty, specially if initially it was considered as powerful or innovating; it may even become irritating[1]. The paradox is that, if cities like these keep their presence, it’s due to a duplication of the cliché; or which means the same, we believe their strength is strength and that novelty is novelty when actually these are the redundant –absurd- reiteration of images: presence, never strength nor novelty. Such images are the psychological internalization of media images. If cliché is the explosive systemic duplication, the derived psychological phenomenon is the implosive reduction of the structure. All these cities are is themselves –reduced- into media explosion: cities like these are nothing more than their media representation (their greatest novelty and strength relies on what media makes –squeezes- out of them), the experience they offered is nothing beyond reiterating the media. Media don’t not show these cities these cities show (reveal) the media.  They need media to be, for they can’t be by their own.What we see is what they show us; what we perceive (the experience) is the reflection distorted by the current of the Seine River. The sadness of their death is given by the mundial generalized fact that a we cannot expect nothing from them, except that we can expect everything.


By Ulises Bobadilla y Jiménez


[1] Gary Blake and Robert W. Bly, The Elements of Technical Writing, pg. 85. New York: Macmillan Publishers, 1993.

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