Wednesday, August 28, 2002

Don't Fence Him In

James Lileks has a hilarious new Screed on the latest pretentious natterings of Guardian columnist George Monbiot. Sample:

“ his new pamphlet, The Prospect of Cornutopia, [Simon Fairlie] envisages the future that most of the rich world's governments, economists and media foresee. In this vision, economic growth proceeds at some 3% a year, without threatening the earth's capacity to support its population. By 2100, if this rate is sustained, we will be 18 times richer than we are today.

“Fairlie asks the question that so many economists have ducked. When we possess this fabulous wealth, how will we spend it? ‘A fraction of this amount,’ he notes, ‘will provide all of us with the one car per two people which appears to be the saturation rate...’ What next? Will everyone be jetting around the world on a weekly basis from airports in every town? Will each home have 10 rooms and a swimming pool and, if so, where are we going to build them?”

“The American answer, of course, is ‘right over there. See? Between those trees? By the road? Right there. We’ll call it Fairlie Grove, or Monbiot Acres if you like. You want to see the model house? Two-story family room, broadband ready, and with today’s low rates you can have it for nineteen hundred a month, most of which is tax deductible. Can I put you down for one?’

“Wrong answer, in Monbiot’s world. The line ‘will each home have 10 rooms?’ could only come from a European, accustomed as they are to houses so narrow that Robbie Coltrane had to come to America to live because he doesn’t fit in the average English living room. Ten rooms is nothing in America. My parents ‘62 rambler had ten rooms. The first house I bought had seven; the second, built in 1924, had nine. My current house has more than 10 rooms, and frankly I’d like more. I’d build an addition, if I had the money. Were dollars no concern, I’d build a nice home theater room, and a playroom for my daughter. But would this salve my wounded soul, enliven my deadened heart? Would it make me happy, really truly happy?

“Of course it would! It’s not that I take some sort of rude thoughtless delight from having additional square footage - I like movies, and it would be great to have a big room in which to see them. The absence of such a room does not cause my soul to wither like a salt-sprinkled slug; I do not burn with hatred for those who have such a room, nor do I wake each morning determined to grind my fellow man into a red paste under my tank treads so I can watch ‘Star Wars’ on a 72” screen. It’s one of those American reveries: if I had the scratch, I’d do this, but since I don’t, well, let’s nuke some popcorn and watch The Simpsons. Hey, it's that one where they go to Tokyo! I love the part where they all have seizures.”

Truly a national treasure.


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