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Re: [carfree_cities] Re: urbancyclist-uk: Love of the car

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  • Simon Baddeley
    I am delighted with your reply (and I am posting it to the group because I value running these reflections in front of that audience). I am also moved that you
    Message 1 of 6 , Jun 3, 2001
      I am delighted with your reply (and I am posting it to the group because I
      value running these reflections in front of that audience). I am also moved
      that you have shared with me the fact that you get downhearted about the way
      the world is. You write with such optimism and curbed passion that I could
      be forgiven for forgetting that you must share the emotions - positive and
      negative - that make your book so exciting and consoling to many of us.

      Thanks for the detailed stuff. It's vital to this dialogue and the learning
      that attends it. I'm taking a break from delivering election leaflets hour
      upon hour for the last few days and getting more insight into the cancerous
      harm the car along with a few other things - like mismanaged and corruptly
      allocated public regeneration money - has done to the fabric of my

      "I find it so strange that so many people regard the isolation of
      > the car as some kind of ideal. It really speaks to the tremendous
      > class-sensitivity of Americans (and nearly everybody else)."

      It's the same here tho' isn't it. I wrote a paper in 1995 published in
      "Human Relations" (my most prestigious journal publication to date) called
      "The Internal Polity". I don't want to burden you with more reading
      especially thinking remote from urban design but I wrote it (along with a
      later chapter on "Governmentality" in a collection of papers on "The
      Governance of Cyberspace"). My theme was that there's been an explosion of
      awareness of the infinite dimensions of inner space - the fabric of
      self-consciousness. I called it "The Internal Polity". These inner spaces
      were explored and mapped as thoroughly as Marx and others mapped society
      during the 19/20th centuries.

      From new age self-improvement books at the airport to lengthy psychoanalysis
      and drug assisted escape from misery, interior space has - for the western
      mind and populations under western influence - become a territory of deep
      and consuming fascination and indulgence (unlike the interior journeys
      conducted within religious discipline).

      The car is par excellence a device that allows this exploration and
      colonisation of the psyche to continue apace. It's one if the best places in
      which to evade the hazardous distractions of the external world while
      offering an all round view of it that avoids the mental discipline of
      monkish isolation. Gorz is good but he doesn't get the whole of our
      fascination with being away from our fellow humans.

      My daughter Amy sat in "silence" with me on a car journey from the
      Gloucestershire countryside yesterday playing her favourite music to herself
      through earphones. She is very bright if her test results are anything to go
      by. I asked her, when an opportunity arose, why she seemed to need to
      listen to music like this so often and especially now when we might be
      chatting. She said talking to a parent was impossible at this stage in her
      life. Surely I understood that.

      Her CD player helped her concentrate on a homework assignment she was
      anxious about. That's what she said. We used to have wonderful conversations
      as we walked or cycled together but that is over for the time being. Is
      there some new developmental transition that goes beyond the 1950s invention
      of adolescence that hasn't been properly named that requires (as with so
      called primitive tribes) a self-guided grand tour of interior space?

      My worry and yours (and indeed of thousands of parents) is that too many
      people get to like their interior space so much they invest in technologies
      and adopt attitudes to ensure they don't come out the other side. Is the car
      one of these. Is this shiny beauty presented by some proud parents on
      graduation day a collusion in their dearest one's temptation to stay
      separated from the exterior world.

      PhD students among the children of my friends reassure me of the one's who
      get out and away. As I write to you my heart swells a little at hearing Amy
      playing Fur Elise on our piano downstairs! For intervals she can put the
      late Kurt Cobain- "I hate life and I want to die" - aside.

      Best wishes


      ----- Original Message -----
      From: J.H. Crawford <postmaster@...>
      To: <s.j.baddeley@...>
      Sent: Sunday, June 03, 2001 11:48 AM
      Subject: Re: [carfree_cities] Re: urbancyclist-uk: Love of the car

      > Hi Simon,
      > I think you meant to send this off-list. I've made that mistake
      > myself--it's very easy to do.
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