The Art of Cogne II: Hyperreality

I love the fact that with maturity comes wisdom. Especially the wisdom that says just because you are surrounded by fresh snow doesn’t mean you have to spend all day gliding through it. And especially when there are little cafés with decent coffee and room to sit and time to ponder life and art.

I remain determined to explore the essence of Cogne, but have to admit that café stops and Internet access issues have so far conspired to limit progress.

Yesterday however, sitting with my espresso and gazing at my breathtaking surroundings, I began to reflect on the nature of authenticity in this age of simulated reality and hyperreal experience. Cogne is the sort of village we delight in terming ‘unspoilt’. It carefully and cleverly negotiates the demands of the 21st century visitor by providing a sense of continuity and aesthetic tradition with all mod cons carefully edited out the picture. Local building regulations make it impossible to determine what is ‘real’ and what is ‘simulation’. It is magnificently done, and I’m certainly not complaining because it is an endless source of fascination for me.

It’s the same sense of awe and incredulity which I experienced on my first visit to Disneyland. I had to be forcibly transported there and had no idea how quickly and completely my cynicism would evaporate. Whilst part of me remained detached and conscious of my complicity in the ‘game’, another part of me delighted in the absurd perfection of the concept.

And there is a similar dissociative tension at play here in this winter wonderland. The beauty is overwhelming. The scenery is magnificent. The buildings are imperfectly charming. Yet oddly a sense of unreality prevails. Maybe it’s like that with all overseas destinations: despite globalisation, we remain sensitive to regional difference.

But Cogne is more than ‘regional difference’. It is a beautifully constructed village with authentic roots which has made an impressive transition to the 21st century, and provides a refuge from that very same century with its comforting seductive ambiance.

I love it.

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