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Las Vegas and Megachurches Are the Pinnacle of Human Achievement
May 13, 2013 6:13 PM   Subscribe

" When I look at Las Vegas, I see a concrete and flashing neon message to the universe that humanity won't settle for caves and foraging. Both the churches and casinos are decadent monuments in the desert saying we are so highly evolved that we can afford to devote large amounts of time to indulging ourselves or morally policing those who do. Our beliefs and the specifics of our rituals may differ, but at the end of the day, the instincts that drive us are very much alike." Stoya (NSFW), the 'Pop Star of Porn', talks about Las Vegas in Vice Magazine.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants (43 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
I got to the second paragraph on my phone and the browser somehow launched my YouTube app and started playing an ad for really big trucks.
posted by Brocktoon at 6:25 PM on May 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


When I look at Las Vegas I see a concrete and flashing neon message to the universe that humanity won't settle for caves and foraging because we will forge stainless steel electronic fangs and turn ourselves into cannibalistic vampires and we will each of us eat and eat and eat until we are eaten ourselves or until we are the only thing left on a barren ball of rock where we will proceed to starve to death.
posted by localroger at 6:37 PM on May 13, 2013 [9 favorites]


Somehow, her opening paragraph reminded me of this: "We're apes, all of us. We’re bonobos with feet that can’t grip, and our families aren’t functional, and we don’t have bonobo sex ten times a day. We’ve traded all that for our ability to create glowing rectangles and heat the earth until the oceans lap at our feet."

She's pretty amazing -- I read some of her other articles. I sort of wish I was like her. She doesn't seem to need others to care about her, which is a mighty handy trick, and would help me rest better even in my dull daily life.
posted by Countess Elena at 6:37 PM on May 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


Has she been to Vegas? Because it's really not that exciting. Or decadent. For the most part. Unless you're into slot machines and buffets.
posted by chasing at 6:37 PM on May 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


...and that's why I sided with House in New Vegas
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 6:37 PM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Really Big Trucks™

Because sometimes, Merely Big Trucks just aren't enough.
posted by DoctorFedora at 6:37 PM on May 13, 2013


Subtlety, thy name is not a picture of one woman wearing a wimple and another wearing practically nothing.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 7:25 PM on May 13, 2013


I got to the second paragraph on my phone and the browser somehow launched my YouTube app and started playing an ad for really big trucks.

Ain't that America.
posted by Celsius1414 at 7:36 PM on May 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


She's amazing, and I really hope she keeps writing.

That said, sweet Jesus do I loathe Las Vegas. As I've said every time it's come up since I finally visited, hating the place is the chief pleasure of the entire experience. It's tawdry and awful in a way that no other town I've ever seen quite approximates.

It's probably worth the trip just for that. Once, anyway.
posted by brennen at 7:38 PM on May 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Has she been to Vegas? Because it's really not that exciting. Or decadent. For the most part. Unless you're into slot machines and buffets.

That's certainly one part of Vegas, but trust me if you want decadence and are willing to shell out major bucks, anything and everything is available to you that you could imagine.
posted by chaz at 7:51 PM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Somehow, her opening paragraph reminded me of this: "We're apes, all of us. We’re bonobos with feet that can’t grip, and our families aren’t functional, and we don’t have bonobo sex ten times a day. We’ve traded all that for our ability to create glowing rectangles and heat the earth until the oceans lap at our feet."

give that man a pulitzer
posted by holympus at 8:06 PM on May 13, 2013


Yeah, Vegas isn't my absolute favorite place or anything but it's a lot more than cheap carpet, stale cigarette smoke, and old people playing nickel slots.
posted by Justinian at 8:07 PM on May 13, 2013


The phrase family planning hanging on a sign above the pregnancy tests and condoms irritates me because it implies that everyone plans to have a family at some point.

Dayplanners don't imply that everyone plans a day at some point.
posted by StickyCarpet at 8:08 PM on May 13, 2013


Family planning, as in, you should plan to either have or not have one.
posted by Brocktoon at 8:18 PM on May 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Stoya good with words.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:37 PM on May 13, 2013


Yeah, Vegas isn't my absolute favorite place or anything but it's a lot more than cheap carpet, stale cigarette smoke, and old people playing nickel slots.

For example, there is the pinball museum.
posted by brennen at 8:43 PM on May 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


In conclusion, Las Vegas is a land of contrasts.
posted by drjimmy11 at 8:49 PM on May 13, 2013 [25 favorites]


See I love Vegas. In many ways it's just the right kind of wrong to me. It certainly seems to be the place that dreams are made of, not entirely the good sort mind you.
posted by Carillon at 9:12 PM on May 13, 2013


I'd never heard of her before now, but her Tumblr is amazing and mesmerizing. She has a lot of very smart things to say.
posted by Phire at 9:38 PM on May 13, 2013


Oh come on. The idea that casinos and megachurches are the pinnacles of human achievement is a thesis right out of a Huxleyan dystopia.
posted by Wemmick at 10:01 PM on May 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


StickyCarpet: "Dayplanners don't imply that everyone plans a day at some point."

Er - doesn't buying an actual dayplanner imply that you are in fact going to plan a day at some point?
posted by koeselitz at 10:04 PM on May 13, 2013


I think the city of Vegas itself - the lights, mostly - is a monument to humanity.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 10:20 PM on May 13, 2013


chasing: "Has she been to Vegas?"

She's a porn actress. There's a huge adult expo held in Vegas every year, which pretty much everyone in the industry goes to. Not only that, Wikipedia indicates that she won an award at the accompanying awards show one year and was a presenter at the show another year.
posted by Bugbread at 10:54 PM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Today I learned that porn stars also get called articulate.
posted by jaduncan at 1:35 AM on May 14, 2013


> Has she been to Vegas?

You are openly speculating on whether a porn star has been to Las Vegas, but not whether that porn star has visited any churches.
posted by ardgedee at 2:09 AM on May 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


jaduncan: "Today I learned that porn stars also get called articulate."

Okay, I've been turning this expression over and over in my head, but while apparently straightforward, it seems like it's actually too full of hidden symbolic meaning to understand. Nobody in this thread, or the Vice article, or the comments on the Vice article, said the word "articulate". So, right off the bat, I'm not sure who you're talking about. Also, are you saying that you learned that porn stars can also be articulate? Or are you doing a veiled callback to the "people say black folk are articulate, but don't say the same very much to white folk" thing?
posted by Bugbread at 5:39 AM on May 14, 2013


Today I learned that porn stars also get called articulate.

I'd never heard of her before today, but based on her blog she does seem to be genuinely intelligent and very good at the whole communicating-complex-and-nuanced-ideas-with-words thing.

It does squick me out a little that she calls her boyfriend Daddy, though.
posted by ook at 5:47 AM on May 14, 2013


Megachurches and Las Vegas are the pinnacle of something but words fail me.
posted by kinnakeet at 5:50 AM on May 14, 2013


Subtlety, thy name is not a picture of one woman wearing a wimple and another wearing practically nothing.

Good--that doesn't really work on a credit card application.
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:51 AM on May 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Pinnacle of human achievement" suggests that the level of shrieking hyperbole has gone up in the meantime (I suspected!) but Robert Venturi's "Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture" appeared in 1966 and A Significance for A&P Parking Lots, or Learning from Las Vegas by Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown, and Steven Izenour came out in 1972. Which is a good many years ago, like forty. (The big expensive coffee table version, Learning from Las Vegas, had to wait until 1977. Harpersbooks wants $3500 for it now and still no pornstars.)
posted by jfuller at 5:58 AM on May 14, 2013


Or are you doing a veiled callback to the "people say black folk are articulate, but don't say the same very much to white folk" thing?

The whole 'wow, isn't she good at writing' reaction struck me as being prompted by a base assumption that porn stars are inarticulate, yes. Maybe I was being unfair.
posted by jaduncan at 6:41 AM on May 14, 2013


The whole 'wow, isn't she good at writing' reaction struck me as being prompted by a base assumption that porn stars are inarticulate, yes. Maybe I was being unfair.

Stoya's writing is impressive because it's good, smart and thoughtful. Whether she's a porn actor or not has little to do with it, other than some of her subject matter.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:46 AM on May 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I think I was a little over-sensitive there.
posted by jaduncan at 6:48 AM on May 14, 2013


Nah, TBH I definitely see where you were coming from.
posted by ook at 7:27 AM on May 14, 2013


The idea of a temple to capitalism and A LITERAL TEMPLE being the pinnacles of human civilization makes me want to ball up on the floor and have a good cry.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 7:54 AM on May 14, 2013


Everything is the most extreme thing you can imagine! Things are either very big or very small only! Very loud or completely silently! Absolutely meaningful or bereft of all meaning entirely! Vegas must be either a temple to humanity's greatness or evidence of its degeneration into bestiality! (Is that the general idea here?)
posted by saulgoodman at 8:08 AM on May 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, personally I'd have picked CERN and the LHC.
posted by jaduncan at 8:16 AM on May 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


In conclusion, Las Vegas is a land of contrasts.

This. Uh, it's kind of a banal college essay, folks. I mean, lots of college graduates can't write them, but they are not especially praiseworthy.

I think y'all kind of know it stinks, too, since most of the pro comments are not even about the essay, but the writer.
posted by mobunited at 11:28 AM on May 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


This. Uh, it's kind of a banal college essay, folks. I mean, lots of college graduates can't write them, but they are not especially praiseworthy.

I think y'all kind of know it stinks, too, since most of the pro comments are not even about the essay, but the writer.


I linked it because the sentance I picked summed up something important for me, but I'm not sure if its important in the real world or important in the context of picking one of four endings for the game Fallout: New Vegas. But in either case (real world or videogame) the idea is that we can spend so much time and money on something fundamentally useless and beautiful is a monument to humanity - that cities, by their very existence, glorify humanity and human achievement and Vegas multiplies that with lights and gaudiness and while Las Vegas survives that human spirit survives.

This has nothing to do with Stoya as a person.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 4:29 PM on May 14, 2013


" When I look at Las Vegas, I see a concrete and flashing neon message to the universe that humanity won't settle for caves and foraging.

Reminds me of that Stephen Crane poem (all of which follows):

A man said to the universe:
“Sir, I exist!"
“However,” replied the universe,
“The fact has not created in me
“A sense of obligation.”



posted by Twang at 4:34 PM on May 14, 2013


the idea is that we can spend so much time and money on something fundamentally useless and beautiful is a monument to humanity

The fact that we make beautiful things is a feature. The fact that we make useless destructive things is a bug. The fact that we make beautiful things which are destructive is a bug, not a feature.
posted by localroger at 7:28 PM on May 14, 2013


She makes some interesting points in this essay, but if she really believes that people are drawn to megachurches for the opportunity to "morally police" those who indulge themselves, I would suggest that she hasn't spent much time inside megachurches or talked much to those who do. That's not to say I much like megachurches at all - but the equation there is certainly more complicated than she's making it out to be.
posted by koeselitz at 10:06 PM on May 14, 2013


if she really believes that people are drawn to megachurches for the opportunity to "morally police" those who indulge themselves, I would suggest that she hasn't spent much time inside megachurches or talked much to those who do.

On the contrary, I'd wager she has. It's just that as a porn star, they're not saying to her what they might be saying to you.
posted by Amanojaku at 7:19 AM on May 15, 2013


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