Tuesday, April 15, 2008

This is from an article in today's NYTimes:

Today, Luang Prabang displays preservation’s paradox. It has saved itself from modern development by packaging itself for tourists, but in the process has lost much of its character, authenticity and cultural significance.

Is it me, or does it take a slight bit of hubris to make a judgment about what characterizes "character, authenticity, and cultural significance"?

Here is more:

The Buddhist heart of Luang Prabang — the tranquillity that attracts visitors from abroad — is being defiled...

Why is there this presumption that non-western culture is this fragile thing that needs to be coddled and protected? This is a bit like claiming that the throngs of visitors, both from here and abroad, that come to New York or Washington, DC have caused those places to lose their character and authenticity; or that all those tourists who flock to the Vatican have defiled its "Catholic heart".