week I was thinking about how, as Chekhov puts it (thanks, Paula!),
"Any idiot can face a crisis -- it's this day-to-day living that wears
you out." But having heard Jim
Kunstler speak at NYCAMS
this week, I now wonder, What
do we do if it's our daily living that is the crisis?
Kunstler is the author of several
books, most recently The
Long Emergency, and in a free-wheeling and awfully entertaining talk, he
mapped the connection between the American
Dream of a house in the woods, the eventual mutation of that dream into
banalities of suburbia, the effects
on our cultural soul of living in places not worth caring about, and, finally
and scarily, the fundamental
shifts that will be required as oil production passes its peak
and we can no longer afford our 3,000
mile Caesar salads.
beings drowned in the midst of all this, delight and amuse themselves,
unaware, unknowing, without alarm or fear. They feel no sense of loathing
and make no attempt to escape. In this burning house which is the threefold
world, they race about to east and west, and though they encounter great
pain, they are not distressed by it."
In other words, as far as fiddling goes, Nero's got nothing on us. "Human
kind cannot bear very much reality."
But as streetwise New Yorkers rather than suburbanites, we may drift into smugness,
thinking we're pretty
darn green: after all, our house in the woods is a co-op with a houseplant.
Kunstler won't let us off so easy. We may not have cars and power mowers, but
oil, at root, powers our elevators, our broadband, our designed-in-Italy-made-in-China
fashions, and the trucks that ship in our food.
Luckily, the world that Kunstler wants to wake us up to is, at least in some
respects, exactly the one we ATers want: downscaled,
a world in which we cured of our mania
for more and re-connected
to our food supply and our neighbors.
You say you have
cried at my plays. And you are not he only ones. But this is not why
I wrote them....I wanted something else. I simply wanted to say to people
honestly: 'Look at yourselves, look at how bad and boring your lives
are!' The important thing is, that people should understand this, and
when they understand it , they will, without fail, create themselves
another and better life. I will not see it, but I know — it will
be completely different, and nothing like this life. And until it arrives,
I will say to people again and again: 'Understand, how bad and boring
your lives are!' What is there in this to cry about?
Dreams are what you wake up
from, sings Everything But
the Girl. Good morning.
Photo credit: eris23