What ? What is this? A reading journal on a motoring news blog?
Why yes, yes it is.
Perhaps some clarity. Arriving at the underused facility that is a library, we are told to go out and find a book to read. Okay, seems simple. We then have to write about book. Okay, not so simple.
So here we have the first entry. The book in question is entitled Car Cultures, a collection of short essays edited by Anthropology teacher, Daniel Miller.
And when I first opened this book, I was shocked. Here was a serious academic approach to the car in a social, cultural and political context, with case studies ranging from a taxi-driver in Ghana, to analyzing drunk driving in Norway. It was beautiful. It was amazing. Finally, the world of motoring could be given the in-depth thinking that it so desperately deserves.
But alas, as I begin this literary journey, I find myself disappointed with the first impressions. Miller’s introduction to the book, though providing personal and sound reasons for the following text, goes on to frame the car in its contextual environment. According to him, the culture and social presence of the car lies not in it’s objectivity but rather the circumstances that we surround it with. The taxi-driver in Ghana needs it to make a living, drunk Norwegians using it to partake in a crime.
Now this is not necessarily a bad thing. The car is a social and physical construct, meaning that our lives revolve around its usage. And for many people, that is all the car will ever be. Miller seems to be taking this route with this book, and it may prove to be an insightful read.
But as I dive into this, I am saddened by the supposed lack of industry history, personal accounts, political underpinnings and the vision of the future.