It is also worth noting that one of the reasons the essay makes it okay for the tourist to be such a pushover is because he is going to leave his mark on Florida, too. Just what are they trying to do here, break down some of the boundaries in the dichotomy of insider/outsider?? Seriously, this conclusion to the story of the Florida tourist has interesting implications. In some ways it works against the assumed desires of the reader/voyeur; by making the tourist the native, the essay denies the experience of novelty and authenticity that normally afford tourism its pleasures. Or are the authors merely creating a new subject about which the reader can be voyeuristic, the tourist himself?

The "Contemporary Scene" is remarkably self-reflexive. At times, the self-consciousness of the narrative undercuts some of the realist authority that the genre would normally command:

click on image to see passage in its context...look for the red arrow

What's going on here? Isn't this supposed to be a guidebook to stimulate travel? Here the authors parody heritage tourism (a gesture contemporary scholars would probably be very interested in) and poke fun at tourists for being gullible.

They simultaneously allude to the (valid) parallels between the situation in the turpentine camps in northern Florida and slavery and underplay them, pointing to the fraud involved in converting current-day turpentine stills into fake relics of "bygone" days.

This strange self-consciousness and double perspective does not fit the description of the tour guide genre as positivist. In this way, the "Contemporary Scene" and Florida: A Guide to the Southernmost State seem to challenge how scholars have read the FWP guidebooks as inherently stabilizing. It is hard to know how consciously these choices were made; we have to acknowledge the possibility that the narrative of the tourist adjusting to life as a native was the inspiration of some writer on the project, that it slipped into their mind the way ideas can come without our being conscious of all their implications, and it just sounded good. It was witty, catchy, too tempting to deny, perhaps the editors found it quite satisfyingly "colorful," and that was that. Even though I do not know how much discussion and planning went into the framing of this essay, I do know that these moments of self-consciousness makes allowances for reading the Florida guidebook against the grain.




Juliet Gorman, May 2001