Resonant Thoughts: Matthew B. Crawford’s “Why We Drive” (2020)

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“In the affluent West, many of our energies of innovation seem to be channeled into creating experiences for the consumer that will make him feel good without making demands on him. This trend has been called ‘affective capitalism.’ Examples include computer gaming, pornography, psychoactive drugs, or a well-curated ecotourism adventure. Manufactured experiences are offered as a substitute for direct confrontation with the world, and this evidently has some appeal for us. We are relieved of the burden of grappling with real things–that is, things that resist our will, and thereby reveal our limited understanding and skill. Experiences that have been designed around us offer escape from the frustrations of dealing with other people and with material reality. They allow us to remain cocooned in a fantasy of competence and empowerment that is safe from the kind of refutation that routinely happens when you…ride a skateboard, for example.”

Matthew B. Crawford,
Why We Drive: Toward a Philosophy Of The Open Road (2020)

2 thoughts on “Resonant Thoughts: Matthew B. Crawford’s “Why We Drive” (2020)

  1. As I read this, my current life of composition and playing musical instruments distinctly contradicts that first thing “grappling with real things–that is, things that resist our will, and thereby reveal our limited understanding and skill.” Every day, i work with my limited understanding (the limits and the understanding which remains) and the intimacy of the work shows the limits of my skill routinely.

    Alas the second, “escape the frustrations of dealing with other people and with material reality” is also my life.

    1. Interesting–I think there is definitely something to be said for working at the threshold of we can and can’t do, as well as figuring out ways dealing with that. A lot of producers speak of “constraints” to describe this repeating situation. Also, Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies comes to mind here…

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