Egotopia: Narcissism and the New American Landscape

By John Miller | Go to book overview

4 THE MYTH OF TRAVEL AND THE NECESSITY OF NOTION

Those of us born in the 1940s grew up in a decade, the 1950s, curiously influenced by an event that occurred before our birth: the Great Depression. No single experience, perhaps not even the Second World War, made such a lasting impact on my parents and their friends. Though my generation was to be called, among other things, the first generation of affluence, my parents could never really believe the depression was over. They were fearful of economic deprivation, no matter how much their income grew in the booming postwar economy. To them the depression lurked menacingly like a crazy relative locked in the attic, plotting a threatening and potentially dangerous reappearance.

Buying that house in the suburbs, getting that new car, trying out installment buying, spending money like it had not been spent since the 1920s--my parents and their generation, which were to be the pioneers of the great suburban transformation, did not hesitate to spend their way to happiness. In the dramatic postwar birth of American suburbia, those who personally experienced the depression needed to believe they were buying more than goods and services. They were building a new era of never-ending prosperity.

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