This is Your Brain on Cars

Paul Salopek is embarking on a 21,000-mile, 7-year stroll around the world. After traversing 1,700 miles, his most profound insights focus on the impact of the century-old automotive revolution on our psyche - what he calls "Car Brain".
November 26, 2013, 5am PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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"The 'Out of Eden Walk,' as I’m calling it, uses deep history as a mirror for current events," explains Salopek. "But even as I adhere strictly to my brand of bipedal journalism, trying as it were to put myself in a Pleistocene state of mind, cars keep roaring into my awareness. They are inescapable. They are without a doubt the defining artifacts of our civilization. They have reshaped our minds in ways that we long ago ceased thinking about."

"I have nothing personal against motorized travel. Cars build middle classes. They grant us undreamed-of freedom. And I suspect that I’ll be driving away from my walk’s end point in Chile in 2020. But it’s probably inevitable that, as I plod through the Middle East, Asia and the Americas over the next six years, I’ll become increasingly alienated from the growing bulk of humanity afflicted by Car Brain."

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Published on Friday, November 22, 2013 in The New York Times
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