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“Call it the advance of civilization.  There’s no room for jungles any more.  Too many people.  There won’t be any jungles or deserts left.  We’ll clear the jungles and irrigate the deserts, and I suppose someday we’ll even level all the mountains, except for the ones we save for ski slopes.  And instead of snakes and insects and animals and birds, there will be rows and rows of little square houses where there used to be jungles and deserts and mountains.  And everyone will have enough to eat, and no one will die of sickening diseases and everyone will speak Esperanto and have 2.7 children and pensions when they’re old and nondenominational services when they die.  And they’ll all join bowling leagues and complain about crabgrass and watch color television and when they talk to each other, Esperanto will be as good as anything else because they won’t have anything to say.”

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WHO? Lawrence Block, putting words in the mouth of Even Tanner, the guy who can’t sleep, in “The Scoreless Thai.”  It was written in 1968.

AND? “Every town will have a park for children to play in, and the park will have tress and shrubs for the people to look at.  And the larger towns will have zoos so that the children can go to them and look at all the birds and animals that used to inhabit the earth. Everybody will buy frozen food at the supermarket and drink dietic cola and get 34 percent fewer cavities and die of lung cancer.  Everybody will be able to travel to far-off countries where everybody else lives in the same houses and goes to the same schools and speaks the same language and eats the same food.  And it doesn’t even matter who wins [this war] because either way it will turn out the same.  If America wins, they’ll pour in foreign aid until the whole country turns into one big Levittown.  If the Communists win, they’ll create this sort of worker’s paradise you find all over Eastern Europe, with every house a perfect gray concrete block. It’ll take them longer because they don’t have as much money, but they’ll make up for it by making it even uglier.  ... You can’t blame it on any one nation.  It’s creeping monotony, it’s the wave of the future. ... Look on the bright side.  For all that’s wrong with today’s world, it’s still better than tomorrow’s.”

posted at 1:57 pm
on Mar. 14, 2005

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