This is the first in a three-part series which together will close the second chapter of my ongoing essay project here at the Abbey of Misrule.
I always hated cars. Spend enough time stuck in traffic on a British motorway as a reluctant child being dragged to see some distant relative or other, and this will be a natural reaction. Are we there yet? might be the defining question of the Machine age. The answer will vary - not yet, nearly, or be quiet and stop asking - but it’s always designed to shut the child up so that the driver can concentrate on the road. The road seems to get longer every year, and the traffic slower. More roads are built to tackle this problem, but they make it worse, which necessitates more roads. We are always short of roads, somehow, just as we are always short of houses, hospitals and ‘growth.’ Every year we are nearly there, and yet somehow also further away. Every year, we come a little closer to forgetting why we set out in the first place.
I’m digressing. I was talking about cars, and why I hated them. I could rationalise this easily enough by talking about air pollution and climate change and the like, and these would all be valid things to talk about but they would be downstream of the source. The source of my hatred of cars was always more inexplicable and harder to reach, like the heartwood of an old oak still standing after centuries, just. It was that cars did to my inner landscape what they do to our outer landscape. The congestion, the pollution, the noise, the demolition of the histories and forests of the heart: the car roused in me what D. H. Lawrence called the ‘inward revolt of the native creatures of the soul.’
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