Monday, 18 October 2010

On a Review of Lee Friedlander’s "America by Car"

Professor Zaller's attempt to theologize American history is neither a sendup of America nor a rueful love letter. It's mystiphysics, posing as historiography. A photographer is free to be as gimmicky or cute as his rental cars permit, but deep insights into our history? Just about as deep as the Abstract Inexpressivism of Pollock, that sad dead end of Modernism.

As for "Our Slum on The Hill" (D.C.?), American hubris remains the Original Sin of our Puritan forebears. Tell that to the 100,000 Iraqis killed during our benign Liberation of them. Zaller does allow we removed or annihilated the Indigenes before moving on to more practical business (Slavery?) "but not without religious connotation as well." The "official" Closing of the Frontier in the 1890's made US "no longer a destination but a journey." The road novels of Kerouac led to "a cast of hipsters perpetually seeking the fix at the end of the night."

Blah. And Nabokov's crisscrossing the USA to find Lolita's sweet spot. Ugh. His connecting Ike's Interstate Defense Highway with moral searchings is merely silly, like the bridges that were too small to let defensive weapons through. And LA's was not the only place to lobby legislatures to cripple mass transit to free the auto to bamboozle US. "Whoever said America was supposed to make sense?"

Has he already forgotten the John Winthrop engendered hubris that led step by false step to our almost totally dysfunctional Republic? An the end of an Auto Parade? Come on. Enjoy your minor clicker, but don't apotheosize his hobby and our history.

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