The Age of Coldness

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.   (Kraftwerk song about driving on highway)


4 Responses to “The Age of Coldness”

  1. Sunnyplace

    I’m sorry this happened to you. Every man for himself to varying degrees seems to be the new normal. I think of this daily on my commute as people fly past me in the right lane, then cut off the left turn makers because they are too important to wait for 1 minute for the next green left turn arrow like the rest of us….

  2. rodburns1

    Thanks for your concern. You’re right, this new norm is backwards. I sometimes have to turn off my blinker so that cars allow me in, because they will speed up instead. I’m stuck with 450.00$ damage, but we weren’t hurt, so that’s the overall bigger picture. That guy should be thrown in jail.

  3. MP

    That is awful…so sorry that happened to you. I find this interesting only because of the contrast of peoples actions across the country. Being from L.A., I know the crudeness, and the every man for themselves attitude. Now that I moved across the country, in the South, things are so very different here. Almost to the point I sometimes think I would like one moment of that “what you do is your business” type attitude. I recently got a flat tire on my way home from work. It had been so long, I had forgotten how to change a tire. (yes, typical female here) I actually had to turn 2 people away, as I was waiting for someone I had already called to help me. It really is a different world.

    • rodburns1

      Thanks for your empathy, and I agree that it’s mostly related to being in a metropolis. I used to live in San Luis Obispo, just a few hours from L.A. and the motorists there were much different. Because of the lack of traffic, people seemed to never be in a hurry. It’s good to hear that things are different where you are, that means there’s still hope for humanity. I’m glad you got your tire fixed. > Date: Thu, 6 Jun 2013 18:16:04 +0000 > To: >


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