Inside a Certain Mindset with John Steinbeck

From Travels with Charley, page 25:

American cities are like badger holes, ringed with trash–all of them–surrounded by piles of wrecked and rusting automobiles, and almost smothered with rubbish. Everything we use comes in boxes, cartons, bins, the so-called packaging we love so much. The mountains of things we throw away are much greater than the things we use. In this, id in no other way, we can see the wild and reckless exuberance of our production, and waste seems to be the index. Driving along I thought how in France or Italy every item of these thrown-out things would have been saved and used for something. This is not said in criticism of one system or the other but I do wonder whether there will come a time when we can no longer afford our wastefulness–chemical wastes in the rivers, metal wastes everywhere, and atomic wastes buried deep in the earth or sunk into the sea.

From Travels with Charley, page 27:

There are so many modern designs for easy living. On my boat, I had discovered the aluminum, disposable coooking utensils, frying pans, and deep dishes. You fry a fish and throw the pan overboard. I was well equipped with these things.

In two pages, he goes from lamenting (in the standard lament) consumer packaging and waste to admitting, when confronted with a mess in his trailer of unsecured reusable goods, that he sort of prefers the disposable stuff on his boat.

I am not convinced he’s aware that he’s juxtaposed these things, and I don’t think he’s doing it to admit he’s as guilty as everyone else. Maybe it’s too subtle for me.

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