Sunday, August 14, 2005

The Dream Is Over

The Problem:
Filled up the car with gasoline for $35 today. The American dream of endless cheap fuel is dying fast. Even a year ago it was selling for well under $1.50 a gallon and, adjusting for inflation, it was probably as cheap as it had ever been. I've bought gasoline for much more in the UK and Iceland, but neither of those countries was built on the premise of low-cost transportation. It still hasn't hit home yet, people just put it on the charge card and it disappears into the monthly bill. There are still gobs of traffic everywhere, from 5 a.m. till 2 a.m. the next morning. Where is everybody going? Where am I going?

The answer?
Someplace else. Away from the homes we've made, the lives we lead, the cities, towns and suburbs that we built in our own self image, to cookie-cutter shopping centers, to jobs in buildings and environments so alienated from human experience that housing is zoned far away.

The dream:
A magic machine that shows the world an image of who we think we are, a teleporter that makes the outside world smaller, and makes our personal world bigger, and all of this at little cost. Almost all of us here have had to buy into that delusion. But driving isn't really fun, for the most part. Even in scenic areas you are cut off from the direct experience of reality. After 30 years of increasing inefficiency and soaring rates of consumption, we might have to wake up to the realities of what we have been doing to ourselves, our communities, and our world.

...we weren't really dreaming, but we were asleep.

By Professor Batty



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