Resist simplification

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Disney2000 at Disney World

The Hotel Newport at Euro-Disney

Although theming can bring novelty and variety to places, by their nature themes focus tightly the grammar and meaning and self-awareness in a themed place. This thins out the net of references and ways of inhabitation. Also the content the theme offers is usually an oversimplified version of some way of life or social identity. For instance, themed places will tend to suppress the way in which unities like Irishness or Small Town America are always under reconstruction and contentious reinterpretation. So themed places oversimplify our inhabitation and narrow our possibilities. They can lead us into that series of simplified intensities that is the bane of today's places.

Such narrowing can be resisted through complexity of content and multiple self-awareness of the process of inhabitation. This does not mean we must deny all themes, but it does imply that we should refuse them total control. In a complexly lived place a theme might be present and enjoyed, but other meanings and contexts would be kept in play, and the thematic self-presentation would be surrounded by other modes of self-awareness and self-reference.