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Expertease

Knowledge and Power

THE BRONX ZOO has five entrances. When I made an arrangement to meet friends at the sea lion pool, it did not occur to me that I would mistakenly enter the zoo through the Asia entrance, the one furthest from the pool. To make a long story short, in order to reach the pool in time to keep my appointment, I had to walk quickly across the length of the zoo, catching only glimpses of the Wild Asia Plaza, Camel Rides, JungleWorld, World of Darkness, Skyfari, the Himalayan Highlands Habitat, Holarctica, and the Elephant and Monkey houses.

Like museums, zoos are long stories made short, purported microcosms of the world and its history and inhabitants. And like museums, zoos cultivate delusional experts; experts if expertise is simply defined as broad knowledge in a narrow field of inquiry, and delusional because zoos and museums are conceived to present totalized—knowledge—whether it be of the

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