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Thread: Parking Lots as Political Tools

  1. #1
          ablarc's avatar
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    Parking Lots as Political Tools

    It should be clear that the recent election pitted so-called Fundamentalist Christians against the rest of America, and suburbia against the city. Here is proof-positive that the two phenomena are the same, and an ironclad explanation of the link between the two, from England via L’Urbanite:

    The car park theory of American takeover

    A theory that has not found itself in wide circulation on nettime, and for
    an understandable reason, is the one about too many car parks: that is, the
    United States is full of parking lots - huge, paved, empty spaces built on
    a scale that's literally inhuman - and so the only possible response a
    person can have to them is to go to church and vote Republican...

    Which is to say that the landscape, the built American landscape, is so
    bleak, so out-of-scale when it comes to the human body, so incomprehensibly
    empty, that the existential void it induces forces you to look for a holy
    spot, a place with meaning, a place that makes sense. A psychogeographic
    centre of some sort.

    Someone like Jean Baudrillard comes to the United States and he sees Las
    Vegas and he sees the desert and he sees massive roadside shopping
    warehouses, and he interprets it all in terms of European secular Marxism,
    and so it's all a kind of giddy, Heideggerian earth-lessness - but an
    American doesn't do that. An American says, "Holy Christ, this place sucks
    - - I better go to church on Sunday, I'm lonely as hell. I'm lonely as
    ****-all. I need to find God."

    The sheer quantity of parking lots - and highway flyovers and cloverleafs
    and feeder roads and subsidiary rural routes to nowhere and redundant
    overpasses circling dead cities – is a major factor in the creation of the
    quote-unquote American personality. What it means to "be American".

    In other words, you grow up in a paved void built on the scale of Hummers
    and SUVs and you start to think, "Man, the world is total ****, the world
    needs more purpose, the world needs more spiritual depth" - and you slowly
    morph into a fundamentalist Christian.

    It's a landscape problem. The American landscape creates a certain
    personality structure.

    It's intellectually exhilarating if you're prepared for it, if you've read
    Baudrillard or Ballard or Iain Sinclair or Mark Taylor or avant-garde
    architectural theory, but if you're illiterate and poor - ie., an American
    - - you turn to God.

    And so of course Americans are right-wing Christian fundamentalists who vote
    for George W. Bush. What else are you going to do when you're surrounded by
    parking lots all day?

    And that's the car park theory of American takeover.

    Car parks - parking lots - are in the Republicans' direct interest. Build
    more of the ****ing things and you'll stay in power for the rest of - for
    the life-span of concrete. And that's pretty ****ing long, I think. I think
    it is. Build a landscape that has absolutely no meaning at all, a vast,
    abstract void of grey surfaces completely resistant to all but the most
    persistent of poetic or interpretive projects (ie., Baudrillard), and
    you're more or less generating religious fundamentalism.

    You haven't heard this theory for two reasons: 1) it's ridiculous, and 2)
    the Ouroborus effect, ie., there are so many ****ing parking lots here you
    don't even notice them! And so you don't realize the effect they have on
    your cognitive relation to "the world". You have to go out into the
    commuter belts of Surrey to find this in England, and not even there; JG
    Ballard doesn't know the half of it. Brasilia? **** off.

    The Taj Mahal of the future will not be the Guggenheim Bilbao but the
    parking lot of a Home Depot in rural Alabama.

    Parking lots are the Chartres's of tomorrow.

    And they're responsible for re-electing Bush. It's not Karl Rove - it's vast
    expanses of concrete.

    There are, of course, optimistic ways of recuperating this landscape into
    some kind of poetic project, ie., a Wordsworth - who was a dick, by the way
    - - of the car parks instead of the hills, a Wordsworth of the overpass (but
    Ballard already fills that role), a John Muir of the Ikea multi-storey
    parking deck, but first of all rural Americans are too full of industrial
    pollutants, and therefore chromosomally mutating, to care, and they don't
    know who Wordsworth is!

    So they turn to God.

    They are mutating, and they turn to God.

    They walk to school - through a parking lot. If they walk to school.

    They go across town - driving past incredibly huge parking lots. If there is
    a town to cross.

    They look out their windows - at shimmering fields of poured concrete.

    And so they think secular modernism equals boring bull****. They think secular modernism equals existential meaninglessness.

    But it's really just too many parking lots.

    As long as there are this many parking lots religious fundamentalists will always rule America. And you heard it here first.

    It's the car park theory of American takeover.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Breed's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by ablarc
    Here is proof-positive that the two phenomena are the same, and an ironclad explanation of the link between the two, from England via L’Urbanite:
    I'm assuming you're being facetious.

  3. #3
          ablarc's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Breed
    I'm assuming you're being facetious.
    "The yardstick of great satire is the number of people it can get to support its propositions un-ironically." --Warrenmark, L'Urbanite.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    It didn't really split suburbs against city. It split rural aganst urban, with suburs splitting the difference.

    Suburban Cook County here voted for Kerry by a large margin, and he even did much better than democrats have done in the past in the collar counties.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    That's good stuff.

    If I don't get outta this place soon, I'll be voting for Jeb in 08!

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by SideshowBob
    ....If I don't get outta this place soon, I'll be voting for Jeb in 08!
    Jeb announced today in Florida that he's not running for prez in '08.
    Habitual Offender

  7. #7
    Did George Carlin write that

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Funny stuff, ablarc. Very funny.

  9. #9

    Registered
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    Quote Originally posted by jordanb
    It didn't really split suburbs against city. It split rural aganst urban, with suburs splitting the difference.

    Suburban Cook County here voted for Kerry by a large margin, and he even did much better than democrats have done in the past in the collar counties.
    Most Americans now live in the suburbs. We need to get out of the habit of referring to the "suburbs" as if they were pretty much a homogenous part of the country, or slice of the electorate. Oak Park is very different from Buffalo Grove, just as Bethesda, Md. is very different from Loudon County, Va. The main point of the article is that parking lots are the enemy of civic life. It could have been written by Jim Kunstler (including the racy language).

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