'Technology is making gestures precise and brutal, and with them men. It expels from movements all hesitation, deliberation, civility. It subjects them to the implacable, as it were ahistorical demands of objects. Thus the ability is lost, for example, to close a door quietly and discreetly, yet firmly. Those of cars and refrigerators have to be slammed, others have the tendency to snap shut by themselves, imposing on those entering the bad manners of not looking behind them. The new human type cannot be properly understood without awareness of what he is continuously exposed to from the world of things about him, even in his most secret innervations... which driver is not tempted, merely by the power of his engine, to wipe out the vermin of the street, pedestrians, children and cyclists? The movements machines demand of their users already have the violent, hard-hitting, unresting jerkiness of Fascist maltreatment' (Theodor Adorno, Minima Moralia: reflections on a damaged life, 1951).
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Cars: Adorno, Numan, Kundera
Here in my car
I feel safest of all
I can lock all my doors
It's the only way to live In cars
Here in my car
I can only receive
I can listen to you
It keeps me stable for days
(Gary Numan, Cars, 1979)
'I was in my car and a couple of men in a van swerved round me, pulled up in front, got out and were clearly going to give me a bit of a hammering, trying to get me out, kicking the car and screaming and shouting. I was pretty scared, locked all my doors and ended up driving on to the pavement 'cos I couldn't go anywhere, people obviously leaping out of the way because I was in a bit of a panic. Cars is just a about feeling safe in amongst people in a car, cos no one can get to you in your own little bubble' (Gary Numan, quoted in BBC documentary Synth Britannia (2009). The narrator described the song as 'part eulogy to JG Ballard and part tesimtony to living in 70 s London').
'The cars that fill the streets have narrowed the pavements, which are crowded with pedestrians. If they want to look at each other, they see cars in the background, if they want to look at the building across the street they see cars in the foreground; there isn't a single angle of view from which cars will not be visible, from the back, in front, on both sides. Their omnipresent noise corrodes every moment of contemplation like acid. Cars have made the former beauty of cities invisible'
(Milan Kundera, Immortality, 1991)