Of Mice and Men

Robert Browning once said, “A man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?”  Making one last pilgrimage to Las Vegas and Disneyland before I leave for Ukraine, I was reminded of America’s reach.  Sure there’s China with its mass-produced, homogenized proletariat that may eventually supplant America as the world economic leader through sheer numerical force.  But America’s tapestry of patchwork citizenry is able to produce unique, imaginative individuals that China is incapable of. 

As I strolled by the quaint shoppes of Mainstreet USA, Disneyland, after passing through the Train Station tunnel (curtain) laden with a pathway of red bricks (the red carpet), I (the star) pass by posters of attractions (a la movie posters.)  I take in the aroma of vanilla that has been intentionally pumped into the air to entice me into the bakeries to, what else, spend money.  I gorge on the visual feast as my senses are subliminally deceived through Walt’s utilization of forced perspective with the architecture.  It’s as if Walt employed the Vertigo effect (push/pull) before Hitchcock put it in film.  If you’re at Sleeping Beauty’s Castle (yes, I am able to name all the Disney princesses) walking towards the exit, your journey appears farther than it actually is, further discouraging you from wanting to leave ‘the experience.’

As George Bernard Shaw said, “Some look at things that are, and ask ‘why?’ I dream of things that never were and ask why not?”  Walt Disney was one of those who asked ‘why not?!”  He could ‘see the forest for the trees.’  If you look at Disneyland as an amusement park with kiddie rides, you’re not seeing the forest!  (If you see it as a tourist trap, well…)  Walt had the passion to create ‘the happiest place on Earth’ by imagineering something no one had ever reached for.  Visionary giants like Walt, Steve Wynn (Vegas), and JFK (Peace Corps) had that inner spark to create an eternal flame.

To borrow yet another quote, James C Penny said, “I may be losing my eyesight, but not my vision.”  The vision of the Peace Corps is much bigger than simply winning hearts and minds.  America needs dreamers more than ever.  May we all stand on the shoulders of giants that came before us to see through the fog of complacency and look for new forests.  When Ukrainians ask me what makes Amerika special, I will tell them it’s the people.  And then I will show them a picture of Lady Gaga.

 (And thanks to Lasik, another visionary acheivement, at least my eyesight will be good for another few years.)

I’ve added a page of interesting Disney trivia.  As with anything, once you’ve seen the forest, sometimes you want to take a closer look at some of the trees to better appreciate the forest.


~ by Blakely Neff on March 7, 2011.

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