“Iâm more concerned by the way all this stuff (from the bright shiny geek theory to the starving refugee story) slides off the suburbs and backwaters of the developed world. I canât help thinking the strongest aphorisms of the 21st century arenât to be found in Sterlingâs ânation borders are like speedbumpsâ and âIâm living out of my laptopâ, or any of the grim analysis about disease and prejudicial madness in the poorest regions. Instead I find myself catching the occasional observations made about a rather more mundane future faced by millions â the Ballardian future of local boredom and widespread repetition. Itâs The New Quiet Desperation, these masses. Theyâre working in the offices and commuting home to a hillside development near Canterbury. Itâs a small suburban home. Hermitic and yet engulfed. Fish out the mobile phone and order three types of vegetarian pizza (illusion of comparative health value judgement in junkfood) to eat while watching Lost, or Invasion or some other sophisticated entertainment. And these middling classes need to be distracted, so theyâre all getting good at filter feeding: weâre bottom dwellers, down in the cultural silt â rapidly getting sensitive enough to root out the most nutritious, the most interesting sediment, the most worthwhile jetsam that floats down from the higher strata. And it doesnât have to have a jot of intellectual bulk, we can live on spectacle alone. As long as the flow is steady.”
I’m reminded of Molly Wright Steenson and Anne Galloway‘s thoughts on suburbia and exurbia from a couple of years ago – that’s the real place needing attention and study, and perhaps design intervention, not groovy hipster city districts or grimly fascinating favellas.