Green Illusions: The Dirty Secrets of Clean Energy and the Future of Environmentalism

By Ozzie Zehner | Go to book overview

12. The Architecture of Community

We turn to science to free ourselves from fallible
judgments of human experts, and we find that the
scientific tests themselves require human inter-
pretation.—Edward Dolnick, The Forger’s Spell

Once a prairie, the landscape surrounding _________, USA, is now subdivided into standardized formations of standardized houses for standardized humans. Troops of satellite receivers stare wide-eyed at the southern sky. A drive, court, or way negotiates a serpentine path under the rubber soles of Fords, Toyotas, and Volkswagens, aimlessly twisting through the fertilized neon green of cookie-cutter plots only to end up exactly where it started—trapped in a temporal loop where every departure is a return to the beginning, each day a photocopy of the last.

This is the American suburb—described as a “formless human community… a richness of social surfaces and a monotonous poverty of social substance” by anthropologist Clifford Geertz in 1963.1 Geertz is known for his concept of “involution,” which he identified as “cultural patterns which, after having reached what would seem to be a definitive form, nonetheless fail either to stabilize or transform themselves into a

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