living and learning

Friday, 26 February 2010

After the car

After the car (Dennis and Urry, 2009) was supposed to be a good read - I picked it off the reading list intrigued by its premise, title, and refreshing cover art. Of course, the main reason was because I hate cars. Their bulk, their smell, their mind-boggling inefficiency. What, a tonne of steel and non-renewable energy plus 4 m2 just to transport a chap comfortably from A to B?! Not that I condemn car owners or anything; car ownership is, nowadays, directly linked with mobile citizenship. From the book itself:
For example, the whole notion of American society, its suburbs, urban strips, and mobile motel culture, is based on a car-based life. Cars have become literary and visul icons, representing the 'on the road' liberation of individualism, exploration and experimentation. Cars are more of a right than a responsibility. (p.37)
The argument is that we can't live without cars, climate and resource concerns continue to threaten this, so society must undergo a system upgrade to cope with the lot. Very promising so far - in fact I couldn't wait to devour the whole book in one sitting!
This chapter thus examines the changing climates of change surrounding transport and energy and how they may be engendering a new system that will be 'after the car' and hence could entail a lower carbon future society, albeit one which is by no means a simply positive future. (p.3)
Bold emphasis mine. You could probably start to see why I got put off after a handful of pages: the thinking is brilliant, but the language is so clunky and florid that it serves more to confuse than to clarify. At times it can get downright boggy, and require mammoth effort to stay on track.

The take-away moral write clearly and efficiently, ye book authors!


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