Kaid Benfield Archive


Rave on, Jim Kunstler

Kaid Benfield

Posted March 10, 2010 at 1:40PM

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James Howard Kunstler is not a man given to understatement.  He makes Al Gore seem subtle.  Heck, he almost makes Al Sharpton seem subtle, but that’s a closer call.

No, Kunstler is more the kind of guy who wants you to feel a little uncomfortable, a little agitated.  And he’s been on a mission for at least two decades now to wake us up to the horrors we have created with suburban sprawl, making America “a nation of places not worth caring about.”  He wants to motivate us to do something about it.

But he speaks a lot of truth, and he is wildly entertaining, which is why he is such a popular speaker on the urbanist circuit.  The TED video below (more on TED in a bit) is from a 2004 lecture in Monterey and shows him in his full glory.  The lighting in the video (unintentionally, I’m sure) makes him look particularly menacing; it’s the kind of visual portrayal you might see in a negative political ad trying to show an opponent unfavorably.  But it’s a great talk.

As his TED bio says, “his confrontational approach and propensity for doomsday scenarios make Kunstler a lightning rod for controversy and critics.  But his magnificent rants are underscored with logic and his books are widely read, particularly by architectural critics and urban planners.”  If your time is limited, watch at least a little of it anyway.  Enjoy:


About TED:

“TED is a small nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design.  Since then its scope has become ever broader. Along with the annual TED Conference in Long Beach, California, and the TEDGlobal conference in Oxford UK, TED includes the award-winning TEDTalks video site, the Open Translation Program, the new TEDx community program, this year's TEDIndia Conference and the annual TED Prize.”  More than 500 TED Talks are on the web.

(Inspiration for today's title here.  Likely inspiration for the inspiration here.)