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Re: Hands Across the Sea

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  • Simon Baddeley
    Marinetti was the word I was looking for. Moses was the other name - NY Transport Commissioner. They were among the prophets and heroes of the car age in the
    Message 1 of 15 , Jun 2, 2001
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      Marinetti was the word I was looking for. Moses was the other name - NY
      Transport Commissioner. They were among the prophets and heroes of the car
      age in the West. Now? Who speaks up for the car and the car driver? It is
      not something that excites the intellectuals and the avante garde any more.
      These people are noticed by the majority but it is their creativity and
      excitement that drives ideas and technologies and eventually policies and
      public opinion. The car no longer enjoys great advocates.

      I note that the UK Road Freight organisation that used to lobby so
      successfully for more ands more roads has haemorrhaged staff and is now
      incorporated into the CBI.

      It must be strange for you to read these views at a time when cars are
      spreading across the world with car ownership increasing steadily in UK and
      USA and across most of Europe let alone the third world.

      But rather as people who love steam-trains must travel to South Africa or
      India to enjoy those that remain (as projects still used by 1000s of people)
      you may have to go to China to really get that buzz associated with the car
      until about the 1970s here.

      Best wishes

      Simon
    • Simon Baddeley
      Destroy is strong, Lance, but - to borrow your language - it s the car and the truck that have done the destroying and sold this mayhem back to us as
      Message 2 of 15 , Jun 2, 2001
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        "Destroy" is strong, Lance, but - to borrow your language - it's the car and
        the truck that have done the destroying and sold this mayhem back to us as
        romantic myth - as the Western glorifies genocide (matched incidentally by
        countless stories of daring-do that celebrating European - especially
        British - colonialism).

        Oscar Wilde said "Every man destroys the thing he loves" but the thing you
        love has destroyed countless lives, wasted landscapes and recruited millions
        into a non-society of fragmented individuals fearful of one other.

        The car and its champions have succeeded brilliantly in avoiding awareness
        of its responsibility for swathes of collateral damage. As accountants would
        say this is a technology that is for ever externalising its cost to the rest
        of us. Your beloved car has turned our streets into deserts, fattened our
        children and by its proliferation created a landscape in which a visitor
        from another planet could easily assume the inhabitants of Earth are shiny
        metal boxes that live by ingesting and disgorging living beings while
        maiming and killing those they can't digest.

        I with many others want this unsustainable process to be tamed in sensible
        democratic ways. Gradually this is happening - thanks to the decency,
        intelligence and courage of a growing minority who see the damage being
        caused by this once liberating technology. Calling our varied perspectives
        and approaches disagreeable I could understand - since many of us have also
        been car dependent. Labelling them "perverse" sounds like the reproach a
        junkie directs at those trying to help wean him from his self-destructive
        dependency.

        Adversarial debate draws out the character of the person with whom you are
        debating - and v.v. You've confessed to supporting acts of destruction in
        defence of the car and implied that those who don't agree with you are
        "perverted" - a much stronger term than "perverse". After reading your
        emotional (rather than emotive) propositions, poignant verses,
        personalisation of a complex debate and appeals for sympathy, I remain as
        interested as ever in being exposed to a well argued case for the car.

        I think you are right to be sceptical of my "Best wishes".

        Your adversary and with respect for due process,

        Simon


        ----- Original Message -----
        From: Lance K Green <lkgzzz@...>
        To: <Blind.Copy.Receiver@...>
        Sent: Saturday, June 02, 2001 11:07 PM
        Subject: Hands Across the Sea


        <<Marinetti was the word I was looking for. Moses was the other name - NY
        Transport Commissioner. They were among the prophets and heroes of the
        car age in the West. Now? Who speaks up for the car and the car driver? It
        is not something that excites the intellectuals and the avante garde any
        more. These people are noticed by the majority but it is their creativity
        and excitement that drives ideas and technologies and eventually policies
        and public opinion. The car no longer enjoys great advocates.>>

        It never did.

        <<It must be strange for you to read these views at a time when cars are
        spreading across the world with car ownership increasing steadily in UK and
        USA and across most of Europe let alone the third world.>>

        "These views" inflict on me something close to physical pain. The thought
        that a body (no, many bodies) of intelligent and even influential people
        spend much of their time trying to destroy the motorcar restores my belief
        in the existence of evil. Why anyone should want to do that is just
        appalling and invokes another, more doubtful, concept - that of perversion.

        <<But rather as people who love steam-trains must travel to South Africa or
        India to enjoy those that remain (as projects still used by 1000s of
        people) you may have to go to China to really get that buzz associated with
        the car until about the 1970s here.>>

        And how are we to travel around without cars?

        <<Best wishes>>

        You cannot be serious.

        LKG
      • Simon Baddeley
        I d be glad if stopped suggesting that I know the things about which you want me to agree with you. If I did I d hardly be taking the positions I have in
        Message 3 of 15 , Jun 3, 2001
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          I'd be glad if stopped suggesting that "I know" the things about which you
          want me to agree with you. If I did I'd hardly be taking the positions I
          have in this debate would I - unless of course I'm the perverted instrument
          of evil that you suspect at work in campaigns against auto-dependency.

          You are in love with the car. I'm not. As a wise parent knows it's no good
          arguing with a besotted child. It may be easier for you to maintain your
          romantic attachment to this wastrel technology because, as you told me early
          on, you no longer yourself drive. This separation from the object of your
          affection helps sustain the allure of the car in a way that would become
          increasingly difficult to anyone who tries to drive one from A to B these
          days - especially in cities.

          By the way Edward Platt has just published a rather good book called
          "Leadville: a biography of the A40" (Picador 2000). The Sunday Telegraph
          calls it "brilliant". Craig Brown in the Mail on Sunday describes it as
          "compelling", Tim Lott of the Times says its "riveting", The Sunday Times'
          John Carey says it should be read by "every thinking motorist", Claire
          Colvin of the Sunday express praises the way it moves "from the richly comic
          to the near tragic." It's a journalistic sometimes literary account of the
          story of Western Avenue - a main thoroughfare in and out of London - from
          its exhilarating and popular construction in the 1920s to its partial
          demolition 70 years later amid the broken dreams of the suburbia it helped
          both create and partially destroy. More than anything else Platt's book
          tells a tale of "our all-consuming love affair with the motor car." It is
          not people like me who are destroying the romantic dream of the car it is
          the car itself which has over and over again filled and eventually blocked
          the spaces created to satisfy its owners' need for asphalt.

          One person on this list has asked me if you are real, Lance. Are you sure
          you are not an alternative version of me using another email address to
          enable me to develop my thinking about the problems of auto-dependency? This
          can't be the case because I could produce so many better arguments on behalf
          of the car.

          Simon


          ----- Original Message -----
          From: Lance K Green <lkgzzz@...>
          To: Simon Baddeley <s.j.baddeley@...>
          Sent: Sunday, June 03, 2001 11:42 AM
          Subject: Hands Across the Sea


          <<"Destroy" is strong, Lance, but - to borrow your language - it's the car
          and the truck that have done the destroying and sold this mayhem back to us
          as romantic myth - as the Western glorifies genocide (matched incidentally
          by countless stories of daring-do that celebrating European - especially
          British - colonialism).>>

          That is complete nonsense. The car has brought joy and freedom to the
          world. Glorious freedom to zoom, to trundle, to sigh, to enjoy... Most
          things go stale. I even occasionally get fed up with the computer, but
          driving, never.

          <<Oscar Wilde said "Every man destroys the thing he loves" but the thing
          you love has destroyed countless lives...>>

          You know very well that the car has saved more lives than the National
          Health Service. I should say that the car has preserved life more than any
          invention save the telephone.

          <<...wasted landscapes and recruited millions into a non-society of
          fragmented individuals fearful of one other.>>

          Preserving us the better from anti-biotic resistant bacteria and emerging
          viruses. On buses drunk louts terrorise other passengers and surly
          drivers. But, in one's car, one listens contentedly to one's choice of
          music or talk; or one keeps up dated on the Test Match. Cars are
          culturally uplifting as one takes in the radio and admires the superb
          detail design in the modern motor.

          <<Your beloved car has turned our streets into deserts, fattened our
          children and by its proliferation created a landscape in which a visitor
          from another planet could easily assume the inhabitants of Earth are shiny
          metal boxes that live by ingesting and disgorging living beings while
          maiming and killing those they can't digest.>>

          I hope you'll feel better soon.

          <<I with many others want this unsustainable process...>>

          It is not in the least unsustainable. I have heard that oft repeated cry
          (in one form or another) since the fifties.

          <<Adversarial debate draws out the character of the person with whom you
          are debating - and v.v. You've confessed to supporting acts of destruction
          in defence of the car and implied that those who don't agree with you are
          "perverted" - a much stronger term than "perverse".>>

          That is a gross distortion.

          LKG
        • Roy Preston
          Simon. This thread is one of the best exchanges I have read on this list. The following response addressing one of your most pertinent points says it all for
          Message 4 of 15 , Jun 3, 2001
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            Simon. This thread is one of the best exchanges I have read on this list.
            The following response addressing one of your most pertinent points says it
            all for me:

            <<Your beloved car has turned our streets into deserts. . .
            maiming and killing those they can't digest.>>
            >
            >I hope you'll feel better soon.

            Roy P
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