Posted by: Rob | October 20, 2008

Blog Tour – James Howard Kunstler

I was wrestling with writing an uplifting (not) post about my adventures this past weekend.  Not so much the adventures, but rather the memories evoked by what we were up to.

Anyways, I was diverted from that idea when I read Jim Kunstler’s latest cheery post.  And, since misery loves company, I decided to share with the handful of folks who read my scribblings.

I first learned of Kunstler when a friend e-mailed me links to a couple of interesting columns on the web.

The first, penned by SFGate’s Mark Morford and entitled “I Cannot Yet Skin A Deer“, was a humourous, yet serious, consideration of what life might possibly be like in a post peak oil world.

The second link was to a short adaptation of Kunstler’s “The Long Emergency” published on Rolling Stone’s website.  I had already read Thom Hartmann’s “The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight”, but I quickly reserved “The Long Emergency” at my local library and read it too.

I went on to read a few of Kunstler’s other non-fiction books.  These all pre-dated “The Long Emergency” and were more focussed on urban planning and design.  Kunstler believes that the urban planning models adopted in North America after the end of the second world war have essentially destroyed any sense of community and created vast soul-less collections of buildings entirely dependent upon the fossil fuel powered automobile to work.  And it works not well at all.

“The Long Emergency” expanded on the themes which posit that our North American urban and suburban zoning and planning models do not work and threw the idea that the oil is going to run out at some point into the mix.  I don’t want to give more of the book away than has already been divulged in the above linked adaptation though.  If you want a taste for the sort of world that may await us, I recommend reading a copy of “The Long Emergency”.

If you have any interest in the ideas that made for more livable urban environments in the past, then I would highly recommend books like “The Geography of Nowhere” and “The CIty in Mind”.  Even though they are non-fiction, they are not dry reads.

While life’s circumstances led me to put my interest in researching and learning about such topics on hold for a couple of years, I have come back to it somewhat now.  A google search quickly informed me of Kunstler’s on-line presence, including his blog on typepad titled, “Clusterfuck Nation”.

Kunstler writes an essay or two a week commenting on current events as it relates to his interests in peak oil and what the world will be like in the future when energy is no longer cheap.  They are not uplifting reads, though but, while Kunstler’s vision of the future is not a foregone conclusion, they do make for interesting reading.  I’ve always figured it was best to be as well informed about an issue from all possible angles in order to formulate a response, in the event one had to do so.

Kunstler’s lastest piece, “What Now?” theorizes about what comes next in the wake of the US banking collapse and it contains a couple of quotes that I found to be of “Laugh Out Loud” quality, and so I am reproducing an excerpt of one those here:

An accompanying hope is that we can remain civilized in the process. Personally, while I recognize the appeal (to others, not me) of the “singularity” narrative, which has the human race making a sudden evolutionary leap into some kind of cyborg-nirvana, I regard it as an utter bullshit fantasy that has zero chance of occurring, given our stark predicament.

So, if you like stark, no holds barred commentary about the current state of things in the world today, then I suggest you check out Kunstler’s blog.  But, be warned.  It is not happy stuff.  However, forewarned is forearmed as my old grandmother used to say.

I have recently read Kunstler’s latest work of fiction, “World Made By Hand”, and I am planning to write up a review on it and post it here.



  1. Hindsight is always 20/20. Does Mr. Kunstler offer any solutions or just throw rocks at the past?

    That’s a good question. His blogs of late are more in a “ranting” tone, I’ll admit. It’s been a while since I read “The Long Emergency” and I don’t recall if he does offer solutions. Certainly he has offered solutions in his books about urban zoning and planning; he has more or less profiled some architects who are trying to re-institute the planning models of old, which create more livable and walkable urban environments. Now all I sense from him is frustration.

  2. Did you notice the first two articles were both written in 2005, and that we’ve come close to some of the things they postulated (but didn’t really think would happen, like $200/barrel oil and Great Depression 2.0? Scary.

    I had to dig around a little to find those old links. I believe it is simply a matter of when it will happen rather than if it will happen. It, of course, being a significant paradigm change in how we will be living our lives.

  3. All I’m saying is that some of my neighbors appear to be edible…that’s all I’m saying.

    Humans….the other, other, other, other white meat.

  4. Note: Invite Mr. Kunstler to my next toga/kegger…

  5. Can’t wait for Soylent Green. Mmmmm…

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