Ian Bicking: the old part of his blog

On the subject of the automobile

A prophetic quote indeed (via):

Consider the man on horseback, and I have been a man on horseback for most of my life. Well, mostly he is a good man, but there is a change in him as soon as he mounts. Every man on horseback is an arrogant man, however gentle he may be on foot. The man in the automobile is one thousand times as dangerous. I tell you, it will engender absolute selfishness in mankind if the driving of automobiles becomes common. It will breed violence on a scale never seen before. It will mark the end of the family as we know it, the three or four generations living happily in one home. It will destroy the sense of neighborhood and the true sense of Nation. It will create giantized cankers of cities, false opulence of suburbs, ruinized countryside, and unhealthy conglomerations of specialized farming and manufacturing. It will make every man a tyrant.
-- R.A. Lafferty
Update: I'm not really sure when this quote is from, but it's not as prophetic as I first thought -- R.A. Lafferty was born in 1914, and though I have no idea where this quote comes from, it's clearly not from the turn of the century.
Created 20 Jun '04
Modified 14 Dec '04


I stand in awe of this. I tried a (very pathetic) search for the original text. Any pointers, apart from this blog entry?
# Alexander

Hmm... I looked it up a bit more, and all the references seemed to come from Adbusters, directly or indirectly. Then I noticed R.A. Lafferty wasn't alive at the turn of the century, so the date is clearly off. He as a science fiction author so I suspect the "quote" was contemporary with relation to the story he was writing.
# Ian Bicking

The plot thickens. Hmm. Ok. But let's at least *pretend* it was from back then, and just revel in the wonderfulness of it. Hmm.
# Alexander

Ah, I think I've nailed it; it is from the book "Okla Hannali" (http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0806123494/ref%3Dnosim/authordatabase/202-5506446-7159060) written in 1972. So much for all those quotes thinking it was written early 19th century.

If nothing else, this has made me very curious about R.A. Lafferty, and I'm off to see if I can get some of his books.
# Alexander

Beware historians declaring one thing to be the downfall of society. It's a freshman political science trick. It's the natural evolution of the 7th grade use of a Dictionary quote as the lead off to a three part argument about whatever.
# Chris

It's from a work of fiction written in the early 1970s.

I was taken in by this quote for years.

Kalle Lasn -- the "Adbusters" guy -- should clean up his act.

# anonymous