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Returning to the ‘Real’ — The virtual is not an adequate substitute for the authentic

Just published on Chris Martenson’s Peak Prosperity site:
Read it there. Good layout. Nice links….

by James Howard Kunstler

     A paradox of life in these times is the inverse relationship between technological wizardry and the satisfactions of being a live organism in a real place (i.e., on the planet Earth).  It probably boils down to a proposition that the American public is not ready to entertain: that the virtual is not an adequate substitute for the authentic. Eventually it will be a hard lesson to learn.

Poor Substitutes

     Ours has been an age of producing ersatz substitutes for just about everything. We call the housing subdivisions slapped up by the production builders “communities” when they are just cartoon simulacrums of a community. The houses within them are called “homes” in order to confer emotional allegiance that they have not earned by being things worthy of our affection in places worth caring about. The manufactured products we call “food” are visibly poisoning the public in epidemics of obesity, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. And the manner in which this “food” is dispensed to solitary “consumers” — from drive-in-windows, microwave ovens, and convenience store racks — has drained all nurturing social ceremony from the act of eating as surely as it has drained out all the nutrition. Having scores of “friends” on Facebook is not about personal association but is rather a marketing racket for a company set up to be an advertising enterprise. Computer graphic wizardry has only damaged our ability to tell meaningful stories in the dramatic arts media and reduced it to sadistic spectacle. Personal computers, now including phones and tablets, prey on our genetic weakness for novelty and rob us of our waking hours when we might be doing more satisfying things than email. Where public affairs are concerned, Federal Reserve interventions, pervasive accounting fraud, and computer-derived market manipulations are not an adequate substitute for a real economy of volitional transactions based on purposeful activity. And so on. The list of bad bargains is very long.

Read more….

About James Howard Kunstler

View all posts by James Howard Kunstler
James Howard Kunstler is the author of many books including (non-fiction) The Geography of Nowhere, The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition, Home from Nowhere, The Long Emergency, and Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology and the Fate of the Nation. His novels include World Made By Hand, The Witch of Hebron, Maggie Darling — A Modern Romance, The Halloween Ball, an Embarrassment of Riches, and many others. He has published three novellas with Water Street Press: Manhattan Gothic, A Christmas Orphan, and The Flight of Mehetabel.

One Response to “Returning to the ‘Real’ — The virtual is not an adequate substitute for the authentic” Subscribe

  1. peakaustria September 5, 2013 at 2:24 am #

    Great essay! did a backlink to this essay here on this german peak oil blog/discussion: http://www.peak-oil.com/2013/09/peak-oil-der-stand-der-dinge/#comment-33222 BR tom

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