Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Mystique of the Automobile

Hi folks -- I am currently reading over a number of articles for inclusion in the syllabus for my spring, 2014 senior history seminar. I was reading over Rudi Volti's "A Century of Automobility," Technology & Culture, 37 (October, 1996), p.667, where I found this provocative paragraph:

"The early history of the automobile shows that its overwhelming commercial success was not exclusively due to the mobility it offered. Then, as now, cars provided privacy and a sense of power, two things that always have been in short supply in human societies. This trend was reinforced by subsequent technological developments, such as closed bodies and more powerful engines. Much of the appeal of the automobile stems from its ability to confer a measure of insulation from the outside world while providing at least the illusion of power.  The private automobile is a greedy creature that makes vast claims on space, resources, and the budgets of its owners; only a device that promised more than transportation could have been so successful."

The underlining is mine.

Do we want large vehicles that take up space and reflect power because we are large people here in the U.S.? For a time it was good nutrition -- now it is simply obesity!

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