While reading Janelle Brown's "Online and Underground", I immediately agreed with the essay's expression that " only a certain kind of person would dare to venture into the blackened basement of an abandoned lunatic asylum and brave the invisible ghosts simply to observe and understand." However, my question is this ... What kind of person?
In his essay, "Introduction to a Critique of Urban Geography", Debord finds that "we are led to undertake on the arrangement of the elements of the urban setting in close relation with the sensations they provoke." What are the sensations being sought by people like Julia Solis, who hosts dinner parties in NYC subway tunnels dressed in a period style costume, which she titles as "dark passage infiltration parties"?
Brown acknowledges the obvious 'rush' appeal to adventurers inhabiting prohibited spaces, but Solis's explanation of her desire as "confronting your fears, going into spaces that are dangerous and very creepy" makes me suspect of her motives.
Subway tunnels and abandoned buildings are sites where the homeless population struggles to survive and it seems to me that an act of entitled infringement on these spaces for personal revelry is somehow immoral or in bad taste. I had a similar reaction when I read Jim’s posting about the ‘border crossing experience'. The seekers of adventures of this sort are indeed a particular type, but what in their psyche provides the thrill? People are fighting for their lives in these spaces, and the last thing they need is Solis in their tunnel, dressed up like queen Victoria, eating tofu and drinking red wine!
I understand that these experiences are created in order to cross ‘imaginary boundaries’, but until Solis invites the people trying to stay warm in a cardboard box to join her party, I think she should stay home.
Brown points out that is not only the adrenaline rushes that drive these explorers, but also "the poetry of this pursuit that draws them in." In that case, are we to attribute these infiltrations to artistic passion? Are we to identify these adventurers as artists/ 'poets'? As Simmel states in "The Adventure" there is a “profound affinity between the adventurer and the artist, and also, perhaps of the artist’s attraction by adventure”.
I am not arguing an artistic connection to these forms of exploration and the seeking out of performative spaces; rather, I feel that in crossing 'imaginary boundaries' this pursuit of the off-limits experience can go too far.