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DrivetimeLiterary Excursions in Automotive Consciousness$
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Lynne Pearce

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780748690848

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748690848.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 24 September 2021

Fleeing

Fleeing

Chapter:
(p.91) Chapter 3 Fleeing
Source:
Drivetime
Author(s):

Lynne Pearce

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9780748690848.003.0004

In response to two of the most celebrated philosophical texts on twentieth-century automobility – Jean Baudrillard’s America (1986) and Paul Virilio’s Negative Horizon (1984) – this chapter argues against the notion that driving at speed ‘suspends thought’ and is thus symptomatic of the blindness, amnesia and nihilism of post/modernity. By contrast, and through close readings of two North American ‘road trip’ texts written in the 1950s (Patricia Highsmith’s Carol (1952) and Jack Kerouac’s On the Road (1957)), the chapter proposes that it is the pre-existing and/or psychological objectives that drivers and passengers bring to their road-trips (and other driving-events) that will determine the intrinsic quality of the experience. The symbolic association between cars and the desire for escape – especially in literary and other texts – overlooks the fact that that it is not speed per se that turns a driving-event into a ‘flight’ but rather the state of mind of the driver when he or she enters the car. While the drivers and passengers of one car, travelling at speed, may be notionally ‘blind’ to the landscapes through which they pass, those in another (or, indeed, the same driver on another occasion) may be fully aware of their surroundings.

Keywords:   automobility, speed, modernity, motor-racing, road trips, escape narratives, Kerouac, Highsmith, Baudrillard, Virilio

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