Hey, Haven't We Been To This Town Before?
“Hey, haven't we been to this town before?” Bullwinkle repeatedly asks as he and Rocky drive through endless vacuous, chain-store ridden towns in the 2000 movie, “The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle."
This mind-numbing repetition of soulless contemporary American landscapes is described by James Kunstler in his 1993 book, “The Geography of Nowhere.” Last weekend, I crossed paths with Kunstler again when I read his article, “Making Other Arrangements,” in the January/February issue of Orion Magazine. I encourage you to read the article. Below are a few excerpts:
“As the American public continues sleepwalking into a future of energy scarcity, climate change, and geopolitical turmoil, we have also continued dreaming. Our collective dream is one of those super-vivid ones people have just before awakening. It is a particularly American dream on a particularly American theme: how to keep all the cars running by some other means than gasoline. We'll run them on ethanol! We'll run them on biodiesel, on synthesized coal liquids, on hydrogen, on methane gas, on electricity, on used French-fry oil . . . !
“the widespread wish persists that some combination of alternative fuels will rescue us from this oil and gas predicament and allow us to continue enjoying by some other means what Vice-President Cheney has called the "non-negotiable" American way of life.
“If you really want to understand the U.S. public's penchant for wishful thinking, consider this: We invested most of our late twentieth-century wealth in a living arrangement with no future. American suburbia represents the greatest misallocation of resources in the history of the world. The far-flung housing subdivisions, commercial highway strips, big-box stores, and all the other furnishings and accessories of extreme car dependence will function poorly, if at all, in an oil-scarce future. Period.
“The key to understanding the challenge we face is admitting that we have to comprehensively make other arrangements for all the normal activities of everyday life.
“It's a daunting agenda, all right. And some of you are probably wondering how you are supposed to remain hopeful in the face of these enormous tasks. Here's the plain truth, folks: Hope is not a consumer product. You have to generate your own hope. You do that by demonstrating to yourself that you are brave enough to face reality and competent enough to deal with the circumstances that it presents. How we will manage to uphold a decent society in the face of extraordinary change will depend on our creativity, our generosity, and our kindness, and I am confident that we can find these resources within our own hearts, and collectively in our communities.”
Read the complete article, “Making Other Arrangements.”