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Poetic Thinking 2016 | January 20, 2020

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Tasteful gimmicks for the dreamer

Tasteful gimmicks for the dreamer
Vivian Lam

Hearkening back to our first encounter with the “verse contributing” capabilities of the iPad Air, a tangential Google search for “Je refuse” led me to a concise but vaguely transcendental write up on Sartre’s rejection of the Nobel Prize.  A first glance of the homepage offers a tantalizing wall of thought-provoking snippets of “inspiration”: under categories like “Fantasy Lands,” “Agents of Change,” “Avant Urbanism,” and “Metaphysics and Mysticism” are articles like “Literary Classics Reveal Mathematical Structures” and “A Fascinating Collection of Vintage Pornography.”

Clicking on “What is Aleph” gave a rather nebulous but noble purpose, in bold and transformational caps:


“Faena Aleph” is confidently transgressive, sophisticated and cutting edge—if Faena Aleph could describe itself it in three words, it would be “inspiration,” “imagination,” and “honor.”

Tantalizing. But not enough—I wanted to know about the creator(s), the FAQ, the “real” purpose. Based on this ambiguous mission statement, this could be a kind of Cowbird, or a Medium, an Aeon. My feelings of suspicion in reaction to this site was surprising in its insistence, but it did not fail.

Turns out that Faena Aleph is created by the Faena Group, a high end hotel chain with properties in Miami Beach and Buenos Aires. Clicking on the “About” in the banner at the bottom of the page reveals a rather aesthetically pleasing and transcendentally “iPad air”-esque video about “Building Utopias” for “dreamers” that I can’t skip through (maybe because my screen is too small?). It’s beautiful architecture, but I still wonder why create “Faena Aleph”—is this what will be “discovered” at one of these fine hotels?

I was surprised by how disappointed I was by what I felt to be an act of deception, much more so that the “exploitation” and “bastardization” of Walt Whitman by Apple. It may certainly be implied that Faena the hotel chain, by associating itself with these snippets of Übermenschen and inspiration, is committing an even more egregious transgression by not making explicit the link to their company. But at the same time, perhaps I am overreacting; perhaps my suspicions are just a product of cynicism. What does it mean that any form of art or implied meaning must be divorced from any potential origin of commercial interest (granted—much art is commercially driven to a certain extent, however minute)? Should I let this taint my enjoyment of the site? Does this architecture seem beautiful only because it is sold as the utmost beauty to be obtained?

What should be refused?

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