online: 23 august 2002

21 august 2002 revisiting the world: a funfair

17:23: At the end of summer. A cool evening. Through tall grasses and thistles, and what could be mountain ash trees, I can see the caravans and the (to me) ghastly machines of a funfair or amusement park. While such things are popular can there be any hope for human life and culture - for I think this is perhaps the worst aspect of industrialisation...

...along with industrialised sport and industrialised war (and also education, industrialised or not) and commercialised broadcasting and newspapers...

As I write this list of dreadful aspects of our culture I wonder if there is anything good to set beside them?

The air is cooling fast under an almost clear sky. In a few minutes I will walk through the funfair, fortunately silent (there are two or three days before it opens). It will be interesting to see what impression I get of the thing itself - as opposed to these remembered impressions.

Handwritten impressions as I walked through:

'Revisiting the world, number 1'. (I've been thinking of writing my impressions of the whole culture and, as I walked through the grasses, I decided that this little encounter could be the start of it).


'Ghost Train'

'The Phantom Chase'

These names reminded me of the innocuous fairgrounds of my youth - which I enjoyed - I remember particularly the 'Wall of Death' in which motorcyclists drove round the inside wall of a large cylinder - and sometimes there was a motorcycle with side-car in which was a tamed (and perhaps frightened?) lion - but I never actually saw it from the audience seats at the top of the cylinder - perhaps my parents thought it was too dangerous, or too expensive, or perhaps too disgusting? - I guess that today it would be banned!

A life size airbrush painting of two young women, in bikinis, embracing each other while turning to look directly at the spectator - they accompanied a ride which was called 'Shock to the System' - how odd to see such a phrase, a technical term from medicine perhaps, used here just for its 'shock value', along with a commercialised picture of lesbianism!

As I walked between the closed and silent rides and sideshows I felt that nothing was ghastly, nor indicative of dreadful culture - I felt that all these things were quite modest and tame and even sad or pathetic... the 'Chiller Thriller' (a still folded-up sideshow) - and then the signs advertising 'Hot Roast Pork' and 'Candy Floss' - 'just people struggling to make a living', I thought... and then I noticed a silver 4-wheel drive... and then several new-looking cars... and then one of the many diesel electric generators that are the power sources that make it all work, noisy and smokey and absolutely essential - and then I saw that even such old-fashioned things as 'Toffee Apples' and also 'Popcorn' are still a feature fairgrounds today...

'This isn't BAD!', I thought to myself - it's no worse than the trip to the moon - in their form some of the gadgets resemble the moon-lander (except for their colours and crude decorations) - and the moon trip was perhaps no more scientific than are these machines that exist only to generate 'thrills'.

So what do I conclude from this visit? - that my remembered impressions do not fit the reality of direct experience, that the things I have views upon can be much more interesting and more lively and perhaps also more sad or even tragic than my preconceptions imply... As I recall my little list of 'ghastly' machines and aspects of our culture I feel my hasty thought giving way to the view that each thing is a world, however crude or offensive it may be to refined tastes, and that it is wiser to look about and react than to judge... for this world is a wonder, in whatever way you look at it, and we, as the judges of our utensils and our actions, are not very impressive - even daft!

digital diary dates


© 2002 john chris jones

You may transmit this text to anyone for any non-commercial purpose if you include the copyright line and this notice and if you respect the copyright of quotations.

If you wish to reproduce any of this text commercially please send a copyright permission request to jcj at