Rust in Peace: About this Wiki & Jump Point to the Site

Joe Essid reflects on the looming end of the invented world of the Automotive Age, as we've known it.

55chevy.jpgIn America, we invented a world right here in the real one. We decided to remake our society around the car.

Thoreau writes, famously, "the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation" (8). Personally, I feel that describes the situation many motorists face, especially those chained behind the wheel for long commutes. The car--a technology I admit, as a tinkerer, to loving--has shown its dark side as we have invented a world made convenient for cars, not humans on foot or bicycle. That will, I'm certain, change radically soon, with the end of an era of cheap oil.

As I watch the changes unfold, I remain fascinated by exploring junkyards, restoring cars (and hence dreams of a better vanished past), stoking my hatred of suburbia in general and the SUV and MacMansion as the worst expressions of it, riding my bicycle (though we own four vehicles), witnessing the appearance of virtual cars and car-culture in Second Life, and generally watching the looming and permanent peak and gradual decline in global oil production, even as demand continues, for a time, to climb. These interests--make that obsessions--come together here in a multi-media, multi-genre project.

Read my discussion posts for my reflections on this page's idea and how I developed it. I'll be adding materials here constantly. Expect to see a section on GM's Futurama at the 1939-40 New York World's Fair, an exhibit that really did envision, and influence, the development of postwar sprawl and the unsustainable dead end where we now find ourselves.

I'd be remiss if I didn't give the young people who are the primary readers of this Wiki some room for hope. Here I differ from my correspondent and fellow writer James Howard Kunstler. Jim's vision is too apocalyptic; most futurists' too rosy (alternative fuels will never let us continue "business as usual").

That said, I suspect that Thoreau's answers will serve us well: economy, self-reliance, simplicity. We may still have autos in a few decades, but we will see the post-"World of Tomorrow" automotive utopia as a temporary affair in the history of human transportation. And we'll have a world to re-invent again, with some inconvenience and whining, but we are up to this challenge.

Works Cited

Thoreau, Henry D. Walden. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 1989.

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