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Interesting discussion on Urban v.s Suburban

Afro Saxon

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It is on another forum. Quite interesting, even includes a couple pictures. I'm glad the urban suburban debate is gaining traction.

Here is a link to the whole thread.


Quote: Originally Posted by redcaimen viewpost.gif Youre welcome.

I would say much of the divide is class driven. People (particularly young people)with aspirations to what they percieve as a higher class are constantly on the hunt for differences that can separate them or help them cement their identity with the right groups. Even though small towns in France are probably not that disimilar to small towns in the US in affluence or educational level, a member or aspirant to the Urban Cosmopolitan elite might view the US towns inhabitants as "poor and uneducated" while seeing the French town and people as "quaint and traditional".

I would bet that many of the people now deriding suburbia as some kind of spiritual and intellectual wasteland are just products of suburbia engaged in "trading up" on their self identification. Thats why I agree with Plano thats its kind of ironic but I wouldnt describe it as honeylike. Well, one would think the people best placed to properly identify suburbia would be its residents, no? As for the America/France thing, think about it thusly - the OLDEST occupied areas of the US are about 400 years old. The only places that have a real sense of continuous history are a thin strip of settlements along the East Coast and a few Indian reservations. Much of the US is only 150-200 years old, and the suburbs are really the product of the 1950s and Eisenhower's highway system. Compare that to the small, 'traditional' towns in France or wherever, which have been occupied for a LONG, in some cases for over 1000 years. Little English towns with Roman walls and tracks. French hamlets with medieval castles. Italian villages with aquaducts. They have real history & tradition, and most of America doesn't, and it does make a difference in the way a community feels about itself and about the rest of the world.

Ennui, isolation, homogeneity, disillusionment, and intellectual torpor are nothing new in humanity's history, and they can be generated as easily in a city or the rolling countryside. But notice that after the 50s, after the spread of suburbia and modern conventionality, those became the prevailing artistic reactions to that oarticular form of modernity. Basically, if you have a temperament that is artistic or adventurous, you react to the archetypal suburb with horror and dismay. You can see it in every movie, every piece of art, every book written since the '50s about modern, day-to-day life.

If you find some redeeming aesthetic or intellectual value in this:


Than go right ahead and enjoy. But don't try to pretend that the negative reaction of intellectuals, artist and thinkers to it is evidence of their elitism rather than some inherent problem with suburbia.

Please keep in mind that the picture above is the sort of deadening suburbia I'm referring to, while there are other types of non-urban, non-rural living that I don't believe have the same effect:

Take a town near me, Newton, for instance:


It is agreeably close to major city centers, but has it's own center, civic life, a variety of neighborhoods in terms of class/race/religion, a college located within it...it is suburbia, but suburbia with a purpose - it is a SUBset of an URBan area, where people live and move back and forth. That's different than the dislocated, stranded suburbs that cover this country, built without any apparent sensitivity to the land, water, or other features of the world around it.

And the WORST part? We're EXPORTING it! As if it's the IDEAL form of civilization! As if our sprawling, disposable, resource-draining society can simply be picked up and slotted in to China or Mexico or Egypt...

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