i encountered this phrase a couple of weeks back and it's been on my mind ever since. then today i saw it again on word spy. it is defined as: "tourism that involves traveling to places associated with death, destruction, or a horrific event."
a professor named john lennon has co-authored a book titled "dark tourism: the attraction of death and disaster," and he writes:
'Dark tourism' sites are important testaments to the consistent failure of humanity to temper our worst excesses and, managed well, they can help us to learn from the darkest elements of our past. But we have to guard against the voyeuristic and exploitative streak that is evident at so many of them."
this, i think, is very true. there is a troublesome ring to the sentence i found here: "Beaches and theme parks? Forget it - dark tourism is the new way to enjoy yourself."
for though i am just as morbidly curious as the next person, i am vehemently against the commodification of sites of unspeakable atrocity. it betrays a blatant lack in modesty of spirit. i think it is natural for us to be drawn to these spaces, ominous shadows in the body of an eclipse, so long as we exercise restraint as "consumers" of them. there is much to be learned from a selfless tenderness toward the suffering of others, but there is nothing to be gleaned if all we do is make a spectacle of humanity's most monstrous mistakes as another incentive for profit.
image from here.