Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Geography of Nowhere

American artist, R. Crumb's "A Short History of America" from 1979. He moved to France in the 1980s.
In 1993, James Howard Kunstler wrote his landmark book, The Geography of Nowhere. I hope we are beginning to wake up to the issues he presents, but I fear many of us still "evince complacency." Twenty years on, his words are still poignant:

"Eighty percent of everything ever built in America has been built in the last fifty years, and most of it is depressing, brutal, ugly, unhealthy, and spiritually degrading – the jive-plastic commuter tract home wastelands, the Potemkin village shopping plazas with their vast parking lagoons, the Lego-block hotel complexes, the ‘gourmet mansardic’ junk-food joints, the Orwellian office ‘parks’ featuring buildings sheathed in the same reflective glass as the sunglasses worn by chaingang guards, the particle-board garden apartments rising up in every meadow and cornfield, the freeway loops around every big and little city with their clusters of discount merchandise marts, the whole destructive, wasteful, toxic, agoraphobia-inducing spectacle that politicians proudly call ‘growth. "

The newspaper headlines may shout about global warming, extinctions of living species, the devastation of rain forests, and other world-wide catastrophes, but Americans evince a striking complacency when it comes to their Everyday environment and the growing calamity that it represents.

I had a hunch that many other people find their surroundings as distressing as I do my own, yet I sensed too that they lack the vocabulary to understand what is wrong with the places they ought to know best. That is why I wrote this book."

The 20th Anniversary Edition is now available as an eBook.


To sum it up... for the future of America... we need more of this:

Average European commerce. Image credit: HERE

and MUCH LESS of this:

Average American commerce: the geography of nowhere. Image credit HERE