Being a South Carolinian, and having frequented Hilton Head Island, I am familiar with the intense commercialization that has engulfed the seaboard-city in the closing half of the twentieth century. You can’t blame the city for capitalizing on its advantageous geographic location aside from the Atlantic Ocean, but many cities tend to lose their quaintness and familiarity as they tip-toe along the line between attraction and hedonism. Hedonism is the exact word that Lisle Mitchell threw around so loosely, as a drunken sailor throws around obscenities, in his article, “Is Hilton Head Island a Hedonist’s Haunt or Hermitage or Hospice?” Mitchell’s work is a straightforward inquisition of modern America’s insatiable appetite for sensual pleasure using Hilton Head Island, South Carolina as a prime example.
I have mixed emotions about Mitchell’s article. I spent a week in Hilton Head this summer and agree with Mitchell when he characterizes the island as somewhat of a hermitage for the privileged class or classes. The residential areas of the seaside-city are predominantly cloistered behind various barriers like protected fences and guard-gates. Moreover, the private residences greatly resemble segregated, solitary upper-class communities where the wealthy can separate themselves from the rest of the island.
Prices start at $12
Prices start at $11
Prices start at $10
However, when He attempts to depict Hilton Head as an all-out hedonist’s hospice, I only partly agree. Yes, I agree that the island is somewhat of a sanctuary for many migrant travellers, but for the most part, it successfully intimidates away many vacationers with its upstanding refinement and high societal atmosphere. From my visits, it seemed the majority of the population when I was present consisted of Hilton Head residents, businessmen attending conventions, and those who owned a home there and spent time there in large intervals. In other words, it no Myrtle Beach, and you’re not gonna run into the Clampett family from Scranton, Arkansas, who brought the camper down for some hard drinkin’ and easy eatin’.
One thing that Hilton Head definitely is, is a hedonist’s haunt. The island is practically a playground for the well-off and is overflowing with up-scale golf courses and boat marinas to interest even the most selective of the wealthy class. The city is also very conducive to many other high-class activities for the financially prosperous like, walking, jogging, and looking at things.
The only real mistake that I found with Mitchell’s composition, was his extremely heedless use of the word, hedonist. According to Webster’s dictionary, hedonism, by definition, is the doctrine that pleasure is the highest good and that moral duty is fulfilled through the pursuit of pleasure. Although, Hilton Head definitely fits this bill, certainly not to the extent that Mitchell attempts to infer. When you think of overindulgence and hedonism, you normally picture somewhere like Myrtle Beach or Miami Beach, not Hilton Head. The fact of the matter is, the island can be a hedonistic playground for some, but I think you’ve got to be at least middle-aged and pull in an annual six-figure salary.
Lisle S. Mitchell’s article investigating the hedonistic undertones of Hilton Head, SC, is no less an intelligent article, with what I think are somewhat well-founded ideas. I also see the relation that Mitchell successfully pulls together between his article and many ideas that surround geography. Hilton Head’s geographic location, landscapes, and level terrain make it conducive to those seeking sensual pleasure. Let’s just hope you don’t forget your wallet when you go there.
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