James Howard Kunstler (born October 19, 1948, New York City, New York) is an American author, social critic, public speaker, and blogger.
== Quotes ==
Kunstler, James Howard. World Made By Hand. New York, NY: Grove Press, 2008. Print. ISBN 978-0-8021-4401-0.
=== World Made By Hand (2008) ===
In the early twenty-first century farming had all but died out here. We got our food from the supermarket, and not everybody cared where the supermarket got it as long as it was there on the shelves. A few elderly dairymen hung on. Many let their fields and pastures go to scrub. Some sold out to what used to be called developers, and they'd put in five or ten poorly build houses. Now, in the new times, there were far fewer people, and many houses outside town were being taken down for their materials. Farming was back. That was the only way we got food.
Chapter 1, p. 5We lived more by the sun than by the clock, but I did own a clock. It was an eight-day windup console clock which I kept on the mantel in the living room, and it was the only timepiece in the house that worked anymore.
Chapter 4, p. 20Living by the clock was an old habit that died hard. Not much that we did required punctuality, but people still wanted to know what time it was.
Chapter 4, p. 20The racket was coming over what used to be our public radio station, WAMC out of Albany, but the familiar reassuring voices of normality were long gone. Some febrile evangelist was railing from the Book of Revelation.
Chapter 4, p. 20I switched on the television on the outside chance that something might come through. Nothing had been on for years. The local network affiliates withered away after the national network of cable channels went out, until there was nothing.
Chapter 4, p. 20–21I searched the FM band but there was nothing besides other pious pleaders, and they didn't come in too well. The AM band offered about the same thing, only with worse reception, nothing remotely describable as news, and no music because commercial entertainment as we knew it was no more, and its handmaiden, advertising had gone with it.
Chapter 4, p. 21I had one of those steel thermal mugs you carried everywhere with you as a kind of signifier of how busy, and therefore how important you were.
Chapter 4, p. 22It was obvious there would be no return to "normality." The economy wouldn't be coming back. Globalism was over. The politicians and generals were failing to pull things together at the center. We would not be returning to Boston. The computer industry, in which so many hopes had been vested, was fading into history.
Chapter 4, p. 24In a world that had become a salvage operation, the general supply evolved into Union Grove's leading industry. When every last useful thing in town had been stripped from the Kmart and the United Auto, the CVS drugstore, and other trading establishments of the bygone national chain-store economy, daily life became a perpetual flea market centered on the old town dump.
Chapter 5, p. 28We regarded opium as a godsend. It did not develop into an illicit trade, though. There was no legal prohibition, no police running around trying to suppress drugs, driving up the price artificially, and no marketing system. There were no distant markets to send it to because shipping anything was slow at best and often unreliable, and travel was something you just didn't do anymore. Anybody could grow their own poppies or buy raw opium paste from one of the growers. Farmers made more money growing raspberries or asparagus. They grew poppies as a public service. A few people took to smoking opium, but those with an extremely apathetic attitude toward survival tended not to last long in the new disposition of things.
Chapter 5, p. 30Children […] had sat in those very box buildings under buzzing fluorescent lights listening to their science teachers prattle about the wonders of space travel and gene splicing and how we were all going to live to be a hundred and twenty five years old in "smart" computer-controlled houses where all we had to do was speak to bump up the heat or turn on giant home theater screens in a life of perpetual leisure and comfort. It made me sick to think about. Not because there's something necessarily wrong with leisure or comfort, but because that's where our aspirations ended. And in the face of what had actually happened to us, it seemed obscenely stupid.
Chapter 6, p. 33–34Motion is a great tranquilizer.
Chapter 6, p. 34Few dogs were around anymore. Some had been eaten during the hunger that followed the flu in the spring of that year. People didn't talk about it, it was so demoralizing.
Chapter 7, p. 36Jesus […] look how we live? I'm practically a serf.
Chapter 7, p. 37You could argue people are generally better off now mentally than they were back then. We follow the natural cycles. We eat real food instead of processed crap full of chemicals. We're not jacked up on coffee and television and sexy advertising all the time. No more anxiety about credit card bills.
Chapter 7, p. 37–38We all knew the apparatus of justice had dissolved.
Chapter 12, p. 57As the world changed, we reverted to social divisions that we'd thought were obsolete. The egalitarian pretenses of the high-octane decades had dissolved and nobody even debated it anymore, including the women of our town. A plain majority of the townspeople were laborers now, whatever in life they had been before. Nobody in town called them peasants, but in a effect that's what they'd become. That's just the way things were.
Chapter 21, p. 101Waterford began its existence as the gateway to the Erie Canal system, the first stretch of which was built to bypass several waterfalls on the Mohawk River.
Chapter 28, p. 137I remembered Albany […] as just another down-on-its-luck small American city that had sacrificed its vitality to a whirring ring of homogenous suburbs.
Chapter 29, p. 140We'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.
Chapter 29, p. 142Whatever the other failures of the U.S. government were, it had managed to print an excess of dollars which, combined with the collapse of trade and communication, had severely eroded the currency's value.
Chapter 30, p. 146I lay wake […] listening to the rain drip from the eaves and thinking of the big map that hung from the top of the chalkboard in my primary school in Wilton, Connecticut, so many years ago, back in the days of cars, television, and air-conditioning. The states on this map were muted tones of pink, green, and yellow. Over it hung the flag that we pledged allegiance to every single morning. "One nation under God, indivisible..."
Chapter 31, p. 150I'd been carrying [my Ruger .41 Magnum] so many days that I had almost forgotten it was there. This was the kind of world we now lived in.
Chapter 36, p. 171I argued that the human race should have known it was in for trouble, at least we in the United States should have, given how insane our way of life had become. Minor quit blowing into his harmonica long enough to say that John D. Rockefeller and the Bush family had made a deal with the Devil going back all the way to the 1900s.
Chapter 38, p. 181Could we even pretend the law still existed? Or was it something you made up now, as the occasion required?
Chapter 38, p. 181The essence of politics was to not act on your impulses.
Chapter 42, p. 199There's real strangeness in this world of ours. Back in the machine times, there was so much noise front and back, so to speak, it kept us from knowing what lies behind the surface of things.
Chapter 55, p. 262It was more possible that the human race possessed some spark of divinity that was worth cultivating than that a mysterious being was up there in the ether somewhere with anthropomorphic qualities of goodness and mercy running the whole show.
Chapter 65, p. 315–316We were content to be undisturbed in our our little backwater, Union Grove, Washington County, in a place once called the Empire State, where the Battenkill runs into the Hudson River.
Chapter 65, p. 317
== External links ==
James Howard Kunstler home page
Comment on current events by Jim Kunstler
TED Talks: James Howard Kunstler dissects suburbia at TED in 2004