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James Howard Kunstler quotes Showing 1-30 of 30

“The United States is the wealthiest nation in the history of the world, yet its inhabitants are strikingly unhappy. Accordingly, we present to the rest of mankind, on a planet rife with suffering and tragedy, the spectacle of a clown civilization. Sustained on a clown diet rich in sugar and fat, we have developed a clown physiognomy. We dress like clowns. We move about a landscape filled with cartoon buildings in clownmobiles, absorbed in clownish activities. We fill our idle hours enjoying the canned antics of professional clowns... Death, when we acknowledge it, is just another pratfall on the boob tube. Bang! You're dead!”
James Howard Kunstler
“If it happens that the human race doesn't make it, then the fact that we were here once will not be altered, that once upon a time we peopled this astonishing blue planet, and wondered intelligently at everything about it and the other things who lived here with us on it, and that we celebrated the beauty of it in music and art, architecture, literature, and dance, and that there were times when we approached something godlike in our abilities and aspirations. We emerged out of depthless mystery, and back into mystery we returned,and in the end the mystery is all there is.”
James Howard Kunstler, The Long Emergency: Surviving the Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-First Century
“America does not want change, except from the cash register at Wal-Mart.”
James Howard Kunstler
“Ridicule is the unfortunate destiny of the ridiculous.”
James Howard Kunstler
“The American house has been TV-centered for three generations. It is the focus of family life, and the life of the house correspondingly turns inward, away from whatever corresponds beyond its four walls.At the same time, the television if the families chief connection to the world. The physical envelope of the house itself no longer connects their lives to the outside in any active way; rather it seals them from it.The outside world has become an abstraction filtered through television, just as the weather is an abstraction filtered through air conditioning.”
James Howard Kunstler, The Geography of Nowhere: The Rise and Decline of America's Man-Made Landscape
“Community is not something you have, like pizza. Now is it something you can buy. It's a living organism based on a web of interdependencies- which is to say, a local economy. It expresses itself physically as connectedness, as buildings actively relating to each other, and to whatever public space exists, be it the street, or the courthouse or the village green.”
James Howard Kunstler, The Geography of Nowhere: The Rise and Decline of America's Man-Made Landscape
“the immersive ugliness of the built environment in the USA is entropy made visible. It indicates not simple carelessness but a vivid drive toward destruction, decay and death: the stage-set of a literal “death trip,” of a society determined to commit suicide. Far from being a mere matter of aesthetics, suburbia represents a compound economic catastrophe, ecological debacle, political nightmare, and spiritual crisis — for a nation of people conditioned to spend their lives in places not worth caring about.”
James Howard Kunstler, The Geography of Nowhere: The Rise and Decline of America's Man-made Landscape
“The car, is the other connection to the outside world, but to be precise it connects the inhabitants to the inside of the car, not to the outside world per se. The outside world is only an element for moving through, as submarines move through water.”
James Howard Kunstler, The Geography of Nowhere: The Rise and Decline of America's Man-Made Landscape
“When they come to chronicle the decline of this civilization,” he said, “they’re going to wonder why we were debating flag burning, abortion, and broccoli eating instead of the fundamental issues of how we live and use the environment.”
James Howard Kunstler, The Geography of Nowhere: The Rise and Decline of America's Man-made Landscape
“I suppose people who graduate from very selective and expensive colleges, and receive immense reinforcement from colleagues who preceded them there, develop an inflated sense of their ability to effectively manage things, especially complex things. Many of these young, bright people cannot believe that our creaking and foundering systems won't yield to their managerial tinkering, and the net effect must be to turn them into very cynical careerists with nothing left but personal ladder-climbing and wealth accumulation... The political left in America makes up in cynical cowardly avarice for all the mendacious stupidity on the political right, so we end up at this moment in history with a perfect blend of every bad impulse in human nature and none of the virtues.”
James Kunstler
“There was nothing like it before in history: a machine that promised liberation from the daily bondage of place. And in a free country like the United States, with the unrestricted right to travel, a vast geographical territory to spread out into, and a national tradition of picking up and moving whenever life became intolerable, the automobile came as a blessing.”
James Howard Kunstler, The Geography of Nowhere: The Rise and Decline of America's Man-Made Landscape
“Tradition evolves with time and place while holding strongly to certain formal, cultural, and personal principles. Nostalgia seeks the security of past forms without the inherent principles.”
James Howard Kunstler, The Geography of Nowhere: The Rise and Decline of America's Man-made Landscape
“The three of us ate a fine supper of grilled trout with sorrel cream sauce, and red potatoes out of Britney's old garden behind the ruins of the Watling place, and watercress sautéed in butter for hardly a moment with a dash of vinegar, and cream custard with wild blackberries for dessert.”
James Howard Kunstler, World Made By Hand
tags: food
“Community is not something you have, like pizza. Nor is it something you can buy. It's a living organism based on a web of interdependencies- which is to say, a local economy. It expresses itself physically as connectedness, as buildings actively relating to each other, and to whatever public space exists, be it the street, or the courthouse or the village green.”
James Howard Kunstler, The Geography of Nowhere: The Rise and Decline of America's Man-Made Landscape
“The American house has been TV-centered for three generations. It is the focus of family life, and the life of the house correspondingly turns inward, away from whatever corresponds beyond its four walls.At the same time, the television is the families chief connection to the world. The physical envelope of the house itself no longer connects their lives to the outside in any active way; rather it seals them from it.The outside world has become an abstraction filtered through television, just as the weather is an abstraction filtered through air conditioning.”
James Howard Kunstler, The Geography of Nowhere: The Rise and Decline of America's Man-Made Landscape
“The culture of good place-making, like the culture of farming, or agriculture, is a body of knowledge and acquired skills. It is not bred in the bone, and if it is not transmitted from one generation to the next, it is lost.”
James Howard Kunstler
“The nation was cracking under the weight of bloated modernity and all the patches pasted onto its excessive and malfunctioning hypercomplexity, and people were bewildered by the strange glitches, failures and shortages. Going forward, nothing would really work anymore as it was designed to, yet the hope and expectation that it would all magically recover dominated the chatter in the rare moments when people could step back from their frantic lives and share a meal or a drink.”
James Howard Kunstler, The Harrows of Spring
“The sentimental view of anything is apt to be ridiculous,”
James Howard Kunstler, The Geography of Nowhere: The Rise and Decline of America's Man-made Landscape
“On my way out of [Atlantic City] at quarter after seven in the morning, a young pump jockey at the gas station [...] mentioned that another man had lost $20,000 at Trop World a few hours earlier and had to be dragged out of the casino kicking and screaming. I asked if this happened a lot. "Man," he said, "there's a whole world of losers out there, and sooner or later they all end up here. Only they don't think they're losers. When they find out, it's like the surprise of their life.”
James Howard Kunstler, The Geography of Nowhere: The Rise and Decline of America's Man-Made Landscape
“New York City is finished," he said. "They can't keep order there, and you can't have business without order. It'll take a hundred years to sort things out and get it all going again."
"What do you hear of the U.S. government? I said. "We don't have electricity an hour a month anymore and there's nothing on the air but the preachers anyway."
"Well, I hear that this Harvey Albright pretends to be running things out of Minneapolis now. It was Chicago, but that may have gone by the boards. Congress hasn't met since twelve twenty-one." Ricketts said, using a common shorthand for the destruction of Washington a few days before Christmas some years back. "We're still fighting skirmishes with Mexico. The Everglades are drowning. Trade is becoming next to impossible, from everything I can tell, and business here is drying up. It all seems like a bad dream. The future sure isn't what it used to be, is it?"
"We believe in the future, sir. Only it's not like the world we've left behind," Joseph said.
"How's that?"
"We're building our own New Jerusalem up the river. it's a world made by hand, now, one stone at a time, one board at a time, one hope at a time, one soul at a time. . .”
James Howard Kunstler, World Made by Hand
“What if people come and take all the books away and melt them like they did to the motorcars?'

'Books don't melt.”
James Howard Kunstler
“Why should this matter? Why not accept the little fake church as a playful, harmless, adorable architectural oddity, as the lovers of kitsch do? Because it's a bad building, cheaply cute, out-of-scale, symbolically false, and stuck in the middle of a parking lot, a little noplace that contributes to the greater noplace. Because if the town had not been degraded by other bad buildings and bad design relationships, there would be no need for its mendacious symbolism, which cheapens the town a little more.”
James Howard Kunstler, The Geography of Nowhere: The Rise and Decline of America's Man-Made Landscape
“There is no shortage of apologists for the ubiquitous highway crud.”
James Howard Kunstler, The Geography of Nowhere: The Rise and Decline of America's Man-Made Landscape
“is a direct connection between suburban sprawl and the spiraling cost of government, and most Americans don’t see it yet, including many in government. Likewise,”
James Howard Kunstler, The Geography of Nowhere: The Rise and Decline of America's Man-made Landscape
“He was conscious that his thoughts and feelings were the same utterly unoriginal torments of billions like him: the bewildering indifference of the universe, the pointlessness of suffering, the inescapable obligation to abide with it.”
James Howard Kunstler, The Harrows of Spring
“Their crowing and the vapors of the hot sauce helped clear enough room in my head to think about out what I had to do. Planning my day was a way of not giving into despair. It really is not possible to pay attention fully to two things at once. For instance: carpentry and suicide.”
James Howard Kunstler, World Made by Hand
“The world tilted, but he had anticipated and prepared for it and the tilt affected him favorably, especially his internal demeanor, which was one of a cheerful engagement with reality.”
James Howard Kunstler, A History of the Future
“Where did Wayne Newton go when the USA went to shit? I was more stoned than I had realized.”
James Howard Kunstler, World Made by Hand
“The car wrecked the southland. It wrecked Atlanta worse than Sherman ever did. It paved over my Virginia. They made themselves slaves to the car and everything connected with it, and it destroyed them in the end. Well, here’s to the New South. May it rest in peace.”
James Howard Kunstler, World Made by Hand
“In effect, Americans threw away their communities in order to save a few dollars on hair dryers and plastic food storage tubs, never stopping to reflect on what they were destroying.”
James Howard Kunstler, The Long Emergency: Surviving the End of Oil, Climate Change, and Other Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-First Century


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