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Re: Hands Across the Sea

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  • 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 1 of 15 , Jun 2, 2001
      "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 2 of 15 , Jun 3, 2001
        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 3 of 15 , Jun 3, 2001
          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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