Friday, February 22, 2008

A SOLITARY MAN. James Lileks is outraged by an Atlantic article suggesting, with use of data, that people may now be more attracted to cities than to the burbs. Regular readers will know that I am angered by this trend myself, for rental-market reasons, and pray for urban violence to reverse the flow. But Lileks don't need no stinkin' data, nor does he share my appetite for destruction. Mr. Old Matchbook may be a "city dweller" (an odd claim, given his descriptions of Jasperwood as a wooded realm with a "water feature"), but he rebels against the citified ways of the New Urbanists:
There’s something else about the anti-burb jeremiads that’s never expressed but frequently implied: an offhand dismissal of the need for personal space. If you’re young you don’t need much. If you’re an empty-nester, a condo downtown might be just the ticket. But in the great middle expanse of your life, you not only want to spread out, you want to be left alone, and this is taking on the characteristic of an anti-social sentiment. You should be walking around the dense neighborhood window-shopping and eating at small fusion restaurants. You should be engaged. If you want to watch a quality foreign film, good, but you should not watch it home; you should walk down to the corner theater and see it in a room full of other people, and nevermind that the start time is inconvenient and you can’t pause it to go pee and the fellow in the row behind you is aerating the atmosphere with tubercular sputum. This is how they do things in New York.
This rant contains something I've noticed before about these rightwing guys: their disgust at the prospect of being around other humans. Lileks states that middle-agers "want to be left alone," and even imagines that he is somehow being coerced into watching movies "in a room full of other people" with their "tubercular sputum." No wonder he was so upset when his paper threatened to make him pound a beat! Think of the germs!

I like to consider myself eccentric, even misanthropic. But I don't mind being around people sometimes. I don't think of movie theaters as dens of contagion and forced socialization. Neither am I addicted to hand sanitizers, nor accustomed to think of the poor as disease carriers.

I used to think fear of foreign enemies was what, in this blogospheric age, defined conservatives. Now I'm thinking it's their fear of everyone.

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