The Corner

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Hats Off to Ferguson


Am reading Land of Lincoln by Andrew Ferguson, one of the wittiest writers in America today. This book is about Lincoln buffs and Lincoln haters but it is also far more than that. Here’s an excerpt with observations about Ferguson’s visit to the new Lincoln museum in Springfield:

Though genuine artifacts would be scattered here and there, these wouldn’t be ordinary exhibits. They would constitute an ‘immersive visitor experience.’ From the first, immersive was a crucial word for the museum’s boosters, replacing interactive as the reigning cliche. Immersive is interactive, only more so — interactive squared. If your target audience is a school boy who arrives at the museum having only moments before detached himself from the ear buds of his iPod and stashed the Game Boy in his backpack, you had better offer him an immersive experience quick, before he nods off from lack of stimulation. For the curator, the intractable problem of the era is distraction, the inability of museumgoers to attend to their surroundings. And total immersion, emotionally engineered, is the answer: exhibits that overpower you, displays you walk through and participate in, filled with music and sounds to alter your mood, lit in ways to startle or soothe, studded with objects you can reach out and fondle. It is the same principle that says the surest way to get someone wet is to drown him.

    There are also very moving sections. This is great and very enjoyable writing.