For those of you who read my blog regularly, you’ve probably heard me mention something about the age of coldness. And for those of you who know me personally, you’re probably aware that the next novel I will be writing has the same title. The age of coldness is a reference I’ve made to today’s cold world of advanced capitalism and technology that leaves us detached from human contact, community development, and to some extent an abandonment of principles. I know it sounds bleak and critical, but I specialize in social and political commentary and critique, so stay with me. Coincidentally, I’ve been reading Herman Hesse’s Steppenwolf, which is a treatment on existentialism, the crisis of losing one’s spirituality and a portion of our humanity, while analyzing the tedious redundancy of our bourgeoisie lives. Furthermore, I’ve been listening to a lot of synth and minimalist music, which has often been described as cold, detached, eerie, and sterile, while conveying feelings of isolation and hollowness. For example, the album, Autobahn by Kraftwerk, is meant to be listened to on the highway while observing the landscape, to driving on the fast lane, to changing the radio stations on a longer trip. In a way it seems like I’ve been getting into character inadvertently, or it could be the opposite. Because I’ve been assessing these concerns, I feel the need to address them.
So as I was driving on the highway the other day, northbound on the 101 where the 134 begins, I was rammed from behind by a brand new forest green Range Rover. As I glanced through my rearview mirror and saw this vehicle quickly approaching at high-speed although traffic was running smoothly, he tried to maneuver his way around two vehicles, but crashed into both. Both of the vehicles that were hit slowed down, turned on our hazard lights, but the perpetrator began driving off the freeway off the Vineland exit. He didn’t have a plate, but we saw him clearly. He was African American, maybe early 30’s, he was leaning to the side when he drove, had big aviator-type sunglasses, and waved his hand to follow him. I thought about the movie Crash and the biased opinions we maintain about people when we arrive at a conflict, and suddenly the guy sped off. Alarmed, I followed him and hit the gas, he took 2 red lights, passed up a California Highway Patrol unit, then took a few more red lights at dangerous intersections before I lost him. Authorities never found him and both vehicles that were slammed into in the middle of the day were left to cover our own damages.
So as a I examined the situation in retrospect, I couldn’t help but think about the age of coldness. A motorist driving at high velocity slams into two cars, and for whatever reason flees the scene of the crime and leaves two motorists as hit-n-run victims. So lets think about this for a second. He didn’t know if anybody was hurt, he didn’t know if anybody had a car seat in the back or if there were children, and clearly there was damage caused by the collision. Instead, the coward fled. Maybe he didn’t have a license, maybe he was on drugs or drinking, maybe he had a warrant or something illegal in the vehicle, or maybe he didn’t want to deal with the consequences of his actions. Insurance rates increasing, a point on his DMV record, and paying damage on three vehicles because of his ignorant and arrogant behavior. This is the worst type of person around. Completely flawed with no remorse or consideration for his actions, he abandoned the principle of responsibility and the social contract, and he avoided all sense of community and human contact. Some might blame it on Western culture or societal trends, but it is simply the age of coldness where individualism triumphed over the goodness of humanity. He probably went to kick it with his homies afterwards, laugh about what he did, and they would cheer him on for his ability to get away. That is the age of coldness.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hlHFlrXZmKQ (Kraftwerk song about driving on highway)