Self-Driving Cars, Thomas Cole & The Wide Valley Of The Future

Curbside buses can be very cheap, much safer than vehicles, and better for the environment, but regulation can stifle competition.  Chinatown in New York City is leading the way in offering competitive rates.

I think cheap is the key factor for many riders.

So, how soon will you car be driving itself?

How long do you spend in traffic, staring ahead, inching forwards?

Are you willing to cede the freedom your vehicle provides to all the inefficiencies of public transportation?

Probably not.

***Addition: In high density areas, city buses, subways, taxis, uber, zipcar etc. all make sense, but for a large majority of Americans, not so much at the moment.

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Adam Kirsch at the New Republic on Austrian writer Stefan Zweig:

‘The profound pessimism of this view of humanity, and its implications for the liberalism that Zweig cherished, were not lost on him. Zweig’s nonfiction is today much less read than his fiction; none of it has yet been republished, though many of these books were translated into English in the 1920s and 1930s, at the height of his fame. The most significant for understanding Zweig’s political dilemma is Erasmus of Rotterdam, which he wrote in 1933, in the months after Hitler came to power, and just before he himself fled Austria’

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American painter Thomas Cole’s ‘The Course Of Empire,’ which I saw in D.C. years ago, has stuck with me.  Moral, religious, historical and natural themes abound.  He liked parables.

What to do with all this land?

Apparently he was not a fan of the Jacksonian democracy going on around him.

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Anecdote of the Jar

I placed a jar in Tennessee,
And round it was, upon a hill.
It made the slovenly wilderness
Surround that hill.

The wilderness rose up to it,
And sprawled around, no longer wild.
The jar was round upon the ground
And tall and of a port in air.

It took dominion every where.
The jar was gray and bare.
It did not give of bird or bush,
Like nothing else in Tennessee.

Wallace Stevens

Throw something at it and see if it sticks.  I like Helen Vendler’s interpretation….

What do you do with an uncivilized, wild land?  Import European learning and literature “atop” it?

The nature/culture divide?  Nature is wonderful but it is to culture where we must return.  If you are an artist, you turn towards direct experience in this land, but…you also turn to that which inspires you…European learning and thought….the products of other cultures.

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