Friday, January 27, 2012

In dreams

Developers in Switzerland are planning a project that will house people with dementia in a mock-1950s village. Most of us who have spent time with someone suffering from Alzheimer’s or a similar condition will have noticed that long-term memories often remain clear long after the banal minutiae of today has become irreversibly fuzzy; the idea here, presumably, is that if someone thinks it’s 1952, why not create an environment that supports that illusion, free from any disturbing references to the recent. The present is a foreign country; we do things differently here.

One does wonder, though, whether the 1950s that will be created outside Berne will be an accurate replica, or one mediated through multiple subsequent representations of community life, whether it’s the wholesome innocence of Happy Days or the dark-underbelly school of David Lynch, The Truman Show or The Prisoner: carers dressed as gardeners and hairdressers will ensure that nobody leaves the village. Once again, we have a perfect simulacrum, a replica of something that never existed. I can see a small, silver-haired army shuffling across the trimmed lawns and past the hat shop, muttering “That is not what I meant at all; that is not it, at all.”


LC said...

This sounds like a Daily Mail reader's wet-dream. Everything was better in the old days. Everything.

Turn back the clock to the fifties, when we were still revelling in our victory over the Hun and women/foreigners knew their place. Happy days indeed.

Annie said...

and why pick on the 50s? Is everyone with Alzheimer's from the 50s? Why not the 60s (better music) or the 70s (sillier trousers)?

Garth said...

spooky - I was just reading Jean Baudrillard's Simulcra & Simulation today - fits nicely in.

Tim F said...

I prefer the Telegraph's view, LC. They want to go back to the 1750s.

Annie: It's not that they're from the 1950s per se; it's that there's nothing in the chocolate-box view of the 50s that they might find disconcerting.

I used to do far more fitting in with Baudrillard, Garth. Time to take him back out of storage, I reckon.

The Poet Laura-eate said...

Well it's got to be worth a try. But do they give it a makeover every ten years - ie 1960s/1970s/1980s to keep up with the citizens' timelines...?

feimineach said...

Yes, my first thought was that it would exactly like The Prisoner. I'm a little bit freaked out.