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Car Trance    
Thursday, March 01 2012 @ 01:45 AM GMT+4
Contributed by: DaveC

OpinionIn light of the tragedies on our streets these past few days and the suffering of the pedestrians and motorists involved, I thought it might be time to put the car in greater perspective and get a different sort of conversation going concerning what we are facing.

Now, a few of you may be familiar with some of my thoughts about the indiscriminate use of the automobile in our town, in addition the utter domination of cars in towns and cities throughout our country. A number of folks have asked me why this is a topic I keep bringing up. Simply put, as a father, pedestrian, dedicated transport cyclist, and psychotherapist immersed in the field of ecopsychology, it is my opinion there is no other technology that has so profoundly altered our physical landscape as well as our mental landscape.

Nothing in recent history has redefined our mind’s perception of the world around us and insulated us from the Earth like the car. It effectively dictates how we build our cities and towns, where we live, how we shop, how we get our kids around while it twists our sense of the earth and our bioregion, distorts out perception of distance, blots out our natural soundscapes, contributes massively to climate change, isolates animals gene pools, kills and maims thousands of animals (including human animals), promotes obesity and a list that can go on and on.

So, with that said it is quite perplexing that to date there have been no psychological investigations into how driving a car alters our brains and our very perceptions of the earthly terrain we inhabit. I know, I have done the research and there is zilch. Is this just some accidental oversight or some monster truck sized blindspot?

What I like to call this is the Great Car Trance. The great Zen master, Suzuki Roshi said that “in beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert mind, there are few.” If that is so, then it seems to me that we have all become so proficient at seeing the car with such great expertise that thinking outside of this 4 wheel box and its infrastructure has become a profoundly difficult task.

Whenever a technology becomes routine, it tends to be regarded as normal, no matter how great the disruption to the balance of things. So, it is with this I offer you a wonderful animated video from the 1960’s that perhaps may help nudge us a bit out that ol’ car trance and might even deepen the conversation now going on. It’s well worth it!


Love to hear your comments no matter what your position. Just try to keep it respectful.


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  • Car Trance | 9 comments | Create New Account
    The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they may say.
    Car Trance
    Authored by: George Tirebiter on Thursday, March 01 2012 @ 02:17 AM GMT+4

    Automobiles certainly have had an impact on this land, if not for the better, possibly for the worse.

    "Oh, was it a joke, you mean?"
    - John Cage

    Car Trance
    Authored by: DaveC on Thursday, March 01 2012 @ 02:39 AM GMT+4

    Where in carnations did you find that! It was absolutely brilliant. Thanks!!

    Car Trance
    Authored by: George Tirebiter on Thursday, March 01 2012 @ 02:49 AM GMT+4
    It is a film by Orson Welles called The Magnificent Ambersons, which is the second film he made after Citizen Kane. It is my favorite of his work. It specifically deals with the rise and fall of the Amberson family and the rise of the automobile and how it destroyed the inner city upper class, I would say throughout the entire Northeast and led to the decay of inner cities.

    "Oh, was it a joke, you mean?"
    - John Cage
    Car Trance
    Authored by: Genie on Thursday, March 01 2012 @ 03:18 AM GMT+4
    Great stuff. Keep writing.

    Wonders Never Cease.
    Car Trance
    Authored by: cgrotke on Thursday, March 01 2012 @ 05:30 PM GMT+4
    The poll this week shows options for making things safer
    for pedestrians. So far, 0% have said "limit driving at
    dawn or dusk" and more people think pedestrians need
    education than drivers.

    The Town Plan is in progress and will guide zoning for the
    next few years. It would be wise to make sure the draft
    documents include the things we (the town) want to
    happen before it is approved.

    Once approved, the Planning board can adapt zoning to
    meet it, and the DRB can enforce it.

    I think you and others have been getting at fundamental
    issue in town: do we subsist, manage, and react, or do we
    take bold, organized steps aiming for different results?

    If we want different results, where is the leadership for
    this in town? I see it in the citizens time and time again,
    but I don't often see it in our budgets or planning.
    Car Trance
    Authored by: Genie on Thursday, March 01 2012 @ 09:40 PM GMT+4
    I think drivers need strictures on activities while driving. Having been a serious cyclist at one time, I know that the roads are much less safe than they once were before the advent of cell phones and social acceptance of multiple-drug use. To ride a bicycle on any street in this town is to take a risk of not coming home in one piece. I remain a serious walker but only walk during daylight hours and mostly on a sidewalk. I know that staying on the sidewalk is little or no protection for my pedestrian activities.

    Wonders Never Cease.
    Car Trance
    Authored by: DaveC on Saturday, March 03 2012 @ 12:23 PM GMT+4

    Just wanted to mention that there is a new bike advocacy
    group I'm involved with that is planning to produce a
    series of biking classes for folks to feel more confident,
    competent, and safer on the roads of Brattleboro. We'll
    cover things like basic repair, gears, climbing hills, best
    routes, riding with children, and shopping by bike. There
    is a profound ecology of fear that comes with the age of
    the motorist. Imagine a human being called a motorist -
    sounds strange and perhaps scary when you take a second

    Help is on the way. There will be power in
    numbers when more of us take up a more dignified way of
    getting our bodies around town.
    Car Trance
    Authored by: spinoza on Thursday, March 01 2012 @ 08:23 PM GMT+4
    Motordom is a key term in the book 'Fighting Traffic', by
    Peter Norton, which describes the current state of
    automobile hegemony. It details with rigor the history of
    the rise and awkward integration of cars into our social

    The reality that the clip in the Magnificent Amberson's
    predicts has come to be full force. Fighting Traffic describes
    the intense social engineering to give the car its current
    place, in particular between 1919- and 1930, when public
    opposition was strong, and the cost in human fatalities was
    also strikingly high.

    We've forgetten or never known this, but there was a time
    when it was not taken for granted that the auto was
    supreme in a populated zone.

    I for one, would love to live in a place where an idealized
    attempt is made to find and make- as much as possible- a
    completely safe for human environment. A town where
    the officials read books like Fighting Traffic to understand all
    that has been grappled with and implemented worldwide,
    against the onslaught of an automobile takeover.

    While there is no doubt that I have a vested interest here-
    having pointed out time and again the perils of riding on our
    even legal roads- the safety of people should really be THE
    common and primary concern in a social fabric.

    What would it take to find the mettle to say , "enough"…no
    more unnecessary deaths…how can we make our town the
    model for human and motorized co-existence?

    Sorry for cranking up the rant about this issue, and the
    skatepark--another front for healthy outlets--it's in my
    wheelhouse..I can't help it..
    Car Trance
    Authored by: DaveC on Friday, March 02 2012 @ 02:09 AM GMT+4

    I've read a lot books on the history of automobiles. Fighting Traffic sounds great so I ordered it. Thanks for the tip and thanks for broadening the conversation.

    For those who haven't seen the clip that George laid on us from the beginning of this conversation, it's a must see.