Release: S-Town Podcast Prequel: KunstlerCast Ready for Binge Listening

For Immediate Release

Contact: Duncan Crary


  • Famous Author Named in Suicide Note Had Encouraged John B. McLemore To Leave Woodstock, Ala.; Move to Montpelier, Vt. or Ouray, Colo.
  • Phone & Email Correspondence With Deceased Over Years
  • 100s Hours of Spoken Word Podcast Episodes With Kunstler Offer Insight into McLemore’s Worldview



TROY, N.Y. (5/31/17) — For fans of the S-Town podcast who are hungry for more background, an earlier podcast series titled The KunstlerCast offers hundreds of hours of binge-ready content that McLemore himself was immersed in.

On a bonus KunstlerCast episode today, author James Howard Kunstler shares his reaction to learning that he was among the names mentioned in McLemore’s suicide note, which was read during the final chapter of S-Town. Over the years, Kunstler had received several calls and emails from McLemore, an avid reader of his work.

“For those who really want to explore John B. McLemore’s worldview and what shaped it — his fixation on climate change and economic collapse, his rants on sprawl and the built environment, and especially his disdain for tattoos — all the source material that inspired him is in James Howard Kunstler’s podcast,” said Duncan Crary, creator and former host of The KunstlerCast. “In a way, The KunstlerCast is like the ‘prequel’ to S-Town that serves as a background to the kinds of thoughts and issues McLemore was clearly immersed in.”

As revealed in Chapter VII of S-Town, McLemore names James Howard Kuntler in his suicide note, along with other writers of economic/societal collapse. But Kunstler only learned of McLemore’s suicide after Crary brought the S-Town story to his attention.




Kunstler, who is best known as the author of “The Geography of Nowhere,” (1993) “The Long Emergency” (2005) and the “World Made By Hand” novels, said he heard from McLemore somewhere around 2009, first by email and then later he started calling the author after finding his phone number online.

“He was flamboyantly Southern and he sort of played up on it. And I enjoyed talking to him,” Kunstler said.

Mostly they would talk about economic and world issues, “But eventually he started talking to me about the town itself that he was living in and how he called it ‘Shit Town.’ And how everything in it was busted, rusted, shot up, broken, deformed, messed up, ruined — you know, in some way that everything including the human personalities and families and relations in the town were all in some kind of terrible condition,” Kunstler said on the podcast. “It all seemed kind of emblematic of the ruined condition of the flyover heartland of America that ended up voting for Trump.”

Kunstler said he tried to suggest to McLemore that maybe he should move away from Woodstock, to a place like Montpelier, Vt. or Ouray, Colo.

“I said that with the full recognition that people’s home places are very important to them even if they have an extremely destructive neurotic relationship with their home place and all the people in it. They don’t give those things up easily,” Kunstler said.

“He did talk a lot about thinking about killing himself. And, I’m very attuned to relationship rackets that people construct and I recognized that as a possible racket, you know, just a way for him to hook me into, you know, caretaking him psychologically and I really didn’t see that as my role. So I attempted to kind of minimize that. And I just didn’t really buy into it too heavily. I know I suggested to him that it might not be a good idea and that there might be reasons for him to keep on living,” Kunstler said. “In my own defense, I did not get so involved with this guy’s life that it took more than 20 minutes every two weeks for me to talk to him and …. I understood that he was suffering. But I didn’t get hyper-involved with him. I just understood that he was an unhappy person of—with some talent and some brains who lived a distance from me in a terrible place.”

While S-Town reporter Brian Reed presents good reason to believe McLemore may have suffered from mercury poisoning, which could have led to his suicidal ideation, he was also clearly distressed about climate change, economic collapse, resource scarcity and societal failures, which happen to be the main focus of Kunstler’s body of work.


A 2009 New Yorker profile of Kunstler and his peers, titled “The Dystopians,” implied he is a doomer, though Kunstler rejects the label when applied to him, describing himself instead as “cheerful.”

“I’m convinced that we are headed for a reset of the terms of civilization. And I think an awful lot of people would feel that they would like that, that they would like to be in a civilization that wasn’t so cruel and oppressive to them and I don’t even mean in the crudest political terms. I mean in the sense of all the everyday crap that we’re burdened by,” Kunstler said. “I think a lot of what is often labeled as Doomerism or the Doomer psychology is a wish to get to some kind of civilizational serenity or stillness … where you don’t feel like you’re assaulted and bedeviled and beset all the time by all this stuff– you know, by everything from the phone ringing to the idiocies of robot business transactions.”

During the podcast, Crary reads aloud to Kunstler a Dec. 23, 2014 review of The KunstlerCast posted to iTunes in which the anonymous writer, using the handle “Marlowinc,” describes what Kunstler has to write and say as “frickin’ depressing!” while his podcast guests “just add fuel to the flames of hopelessness.” The reviewer goes on to mention “having my cyanide capsules ready,” which is the exact method of suicide used by John B. McLemore of S-Town in June 2015. (Crary does not believe the review was posted by McLemore.)

Kunstler’s message, in response to those who feel depressed by his nonfiction works is to read his four “World Made By Hand” novels.

“The point of those novels was to depict the aftermath of an economic collapse in a way that would make people feel OK and hopeful about whatever reset we moved into,” he said. “I recommend they read them. And they’ll get a picture of a world that has changed, in which not everything is changed for the worse. There are a lot of compensations for living in a world without commuting and a world without — where you have nothing but canned entertainment to fill your idle hours. There’s a lot in there and it was presented that way for a purpose, so that people would feel a little more courageous about entering that new paradigm when the current one kind of loses its mojo.”


Earlier in the podcast episode, Crary plays clips from S-town that contain some of the phraseology and expressions Kunstler is known for — some of which are spoken directly by McLemore, while others are Reed’s paraphrasing of McLemore.

Some examples include:

In Chapter I, McLemore uses the term “Clusterfuck of Sorrow.” Kunstler’s popular blog is titled “Clusterfuck Nation.”

In Chapter II: Reed paraphrasing McLemore: “our country wasn’t worth defending.” Kunstler coined this expression in his 2004 TED Talk, titled “The ghastly tragedy of the suburbs,” in which he famously said “We have about 38,000 places that are not worth caring about in the United States today when we have enough of them, we’re going to have a nation that’s not worth defending.”

Also, in Chapter II, Brian reed narrates: “Later, John will take me on a tour of Bibb County, and this worldview will be on full display. He’ll rattle off a constant stream of grievances as we go. Historic buildings are being demolished overnight. Dollar Generals and Wal-marts are popping up in their stead, serving a populace that is getting fatter and more tattooed by the day.” This sums up Kunstler’s general commentary on the built environment in America, which he first famously described in “The Geography of Nowhere,” (Simon & Schuster). Later, in August 2008, Kunstler’s rants about the proliferation of tattoos went viral on the Internet, first in response to his “Eyesore of the Month” feature, next in a Clusterfuck Nation blog entry, and finally in a dedicated episode of The KunstlerCast, all released during the same month. In that podcast, Kunstler said tattoos have been historically been “the domain of cannibals, whores and sailors” and a marginal activity attempting to “invade the center and I am all for keeping the marginal on the margins.”


From February 2008 through August 2012, Duncan Crary hosted and produced more than 215 episodes of The KunstlerCast, featuring conversations between himself and James Howard Kunstler on a wide range of topics. In later years, the show would sometimes include other authors, such as Richard Heinberg (also named in McLemore’s final note). All of those episodes can be located and listened to at

In Nov. 2011, New Society Publishers released a book, authored by Crary, that presented the best content from those conversations, titled: “The KunstlerCast: Conversations with James Howard Kunstler…the tragic comedy of suburban sprawl.”

Advance praise for The KunstlerCast book:

“James Howard Kunstler plainly has a lot to say about the state of the world. And while much of it is bad, bad news — aggressively, congenitally, perhaps even fatally bad — he speaks with such vim and vigor that you find yourself nodding in agreement rather than looking for a noose. Duncan Crary wrangles these free-wheeling conversations masterfully. A bracing dose of reality for an unreal world.” — STEPHEN J. DUBNER, co-author of Freakonomics and SuperFreakonomics


To read a transcript of the May 31, 2017 KunstlerCast: S-Town episode, visit:

Or to read the transcripts for the S-Town episode, the Tattoos episode and the Doomers episode of The KunstlerCast, visit:

For information about the KunstlerCast book, visit:

For a complete listing of the Crary years of The KunstlerCast, visit:

To listen to newer episodes of The KunstlerCast, visit:

To read Kunstler’s April 10, 2017 thoughts on John B. McLemore’s passing, visit:


For more information and high-resolution publicity images, visit

Contact: Duncan Crary,


Transcript: KunstlerCast #71: Doomers


Waiting for the Storm After the Fossil Fuel Fiesta

The following is a transcript of KunstlerCast #71, released July 16, 2009.

Note: This is a nearly verbatim transcript with only the slightest edits to remove verbal ticks and redundant utterances.

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DUNCAN CRARY (as host): You’re listening to the KunstlerCast, a weekly conversation about the tragic comedy of suburban sprawl, featuring James Howard Kunstler, author of “The Geography of Nowhere,” “The Long Emergency,” and “World Made by Hand.”

I’m Duncan Crary, and on today’s show, I’m going to be talking with Jim about the Doomers. Sometimes the media and other critics call Jim and other writers Doomers for their seemingly bleak outlook on the end of the fossil fuel era, and the implications that will have on society. And although Jim has said previously on this show that he resists the term Doomer, I really wanted to explore the topic in more depth, so that’s what we have for you today.

DUNCAN CRARY: First of all, let’s just define the term. What is a Doomer?

JAMES HOWARD KUNSTLER: Well, let’s start defining it by me saying I don’t like the term applied to me because I don’t consider myself a Doomer. I consider myself to be a fairly cheerful guy with a certain point of view about where we’re heading, but I’m not an Apocalyptarian, I just think that our way of life is a limited experience that is going to be changing, so I don’t consider that doom.

But there’s a group of people who have been speaking and writing along these lines, and I think the accusation really comes from a fear that theses familiar comforts and ceremonies and amenities and benefits that we’ve enjoyed, from the final blow-out of the industrial experience and the final fiesta of cheap oil, that people regard the loss of theses things as a catastrophe, and as a collapse, and as Armageddon, and an apocalypse, and that human life can’t possibly go on without cheese doodles, cable TV, and SUVs.

I sort of understand where they’re coming from, and have a certain sympathy for it, but it’s not my point of view. My point of view is a bit different. Now, there’s some guys out there who are often lumped in with me. One of them is, let’s say, Dmitry Orlov, who is the author of Reinventing Collapse, a wonderfully witty and intelligent book, by the way.

Dmitry was a guy who had been a child in the old Soviet Union. His parents moved to America when he was a teenager. He went to high school and college in the USA, returned to Russia as a computer jock to do work just after the collapse of the Soviet Union. So, he knew it as a child when it was still Soviet Russia, this big awkward, lumbering failure of a system, and he knew it as a young man when he went back to work in the early years of post-Soviet Russia when he saw what had been the consequences. So, he writes from a very distinctive point of view and experience.

His Reinventing Collapse, hypothesized that the USA would go through a parallel kind of fall as the Soviet Union. It wouldn’t be identical. It wouldn’t be exactly the same. In fact, there would be features of it that would be very different, but indeed that it would occur. And now he has become a major commentator, and sort of color commentator on the ongoing situation, because it is underway, this thing that I call the Long Emergency, which he calls Collapse.

DUNCAN CRARY: Does Orlov refer to himself— does he, sort of, proudly identify as a Doomer? Or does he deny — do you know?

JAMES HOWARD KUNSTLER: Frankly, I don’t know. I’ve corresponded with him, and I certainly follow his stuff a lot, the stuff that has been written about him, that he writes, and even the interviews and stuff. Obviously, Dmitry has been lumped in with the likes of me.

That’s what this New Yorker story that came out in June, called “The Dystopians” by Ben McGrath, was. It affected to be about people who think the world’s coming to an end. Now, neither Dmitry nor I think that the world is coming to an end. We do have a view that may be dark in relation to cheer leading for the consumer culture. We’re not doing that. But anyway, we were lumped together in that with Nassim Nicholas Taleb, the author of The Black Swan, who, really, hasn’t even gone to theses places where Dmitry and I are talking about how does a society function logistically and physically as this process occurs. Taleb is concerned mostly with just how markets operate and how economies respond to financial markets.

DUNCAN CRARY: Well, Jim, it seems to me that this label Doomer, it’s — yes, there are people who would put it upon you in a negative way, but there are also some people who wear the badge pretty proudly. There’s people who are into doom and gloom, right? You go on these blogs about Peak Oil, even on your blog you find people with names like Dr. Doom.

JAMES HOWARD KUNSTLER: Yes. Just as there are people who are cheer leading for the consumer economy to get back on it’s feet and continue, there is also a coder y of people who are cheer leading for the consumer economy to fall on it’s ass and for us to get away from it.

I would actually put myself in that group. I would like to see the consumer economy be discontinued as we’ve known it. It doesn’t mean I don’t want people to buy things again, but we obviously got this thing going at a level that was so destructive that it can’t possibly continue without us destroying the Earth, destroying all the other beings that we share it with, and destroying, perhaps, even life itself. Who could possibly want this to continue the way it has? So yes, I’m in favor of taking a different path.

I certainly enjoy a lot of the benefits of modern life, and I wonder how we’re going to get along without some of these things, but I’m prepared to go in that direction, and I think we’re going there anyway, whether we like it of not, so that it would be useful for people to prepare.

Now there are a couple of other figures out there. There is a guy called John Michael Greer, who is a wonderful writer. He’s a bit of a strange bird. He affects to be a Druid, or an Arch-Druid, meaning, I suppose, that he has some primitivistic religion that he subscribes to that is some kind of a nature worship thing. I don’t really know very much about it and I don’t pretend to be able to talk about it. But apart from that, he’s got a very coherent view about how this dissent occurs and in fact he wrote a book which I believe is titled The Long Dissent. Compare it with my title, The Long Emergency. Both of us, I think, have a long view of this.

His Long Dissent is something that he calls “catabolic collapse,” and the idea is that there’s a kind of sequence of cascading effects and feedback loops that you can to some extent expect or predict or see happening or forecast in the way that we move from ultra destructive, hyper-complexity to lower levels, to re-simplification and to more of — not stasis, really — but something close. Something less than the hypertrophy, the hyper-growth type, future shock kind of condition that we’ve been in for 50 years.

I don’t remember how far he takes it in terms of his expectations for where we’re headed. But I think it’s a fairly severe view of the world. On the other hand, he presents it pretty reasonably and cheerfully and he’s not weird about it.

Probably the biggest doom figure out there is Jay Hanson who came along pretty early in the game. He was actually around already in the late ’90s when the Y2K situation was developing and there was a great deal of fear that these hyper complex computer systems that we had gotten going would betray us in terms of hyper complexity and create enormous problems for our systems for banking, for the electric grid, for business, for all the things that we depend upon for modern life.

Hanson had already been there. I forget even what field he came out of. But he developed a theory that he called the Olduvai Theory and he named it after Olduvai Gorge in Africa – the place where the first humans were discovered. His theory said that the fall off from our energy resources would be severe and so swift that within 100 years we’d be back in the stone age, pretty much, or maybe even something worse.

He started a website called, which was something that a lot of people referred to as “Doomer porn” because it was so juicy with doom.

DUNCAN CRARY: [laughs] Yeah.

JAMES HOWARD KUNSTLER: The idea that this whole system of everything that was familiar to us would be swept away. And I mean frankly I don’t know that I would even be able to mount a valid argument against his theory. My own sense of things is maybe it’s not going to be quite that severe. Although I can certainly see a die off in population.

That is, going from where we’re at now between six and seven billion people in the world to somewhere more like one billion people in the world, which if you go back to the point where we basically exited the solar economy, where human life was sustained by whatever the sun could do for you in terms of producing crops and firewood and energy; before it was augmented by fossil fuels and all that stored sunlight from millions of years of plants and algae collecting sunlight in the chlorophyll, etc.

So the idea is that you go back to about the year 1800 which is sort of where we exited the solar economy and got on the expressway of a hyper-coal, oil, natural gas economy – eventually nuclear. So the number of persons that the maximum that could be supported by solar activity was about a billion.

There’s an even darker view which is from James Lovelock over in England who was a scientist who formulated the Gaia Theory, which states that the planet Earth is itself a kind of a living organism of which the human race and everything else is a sort of subsystem of the whole ecology of this organism of the Earth, a meta-organism. And that it’s sort of a self-stabilizing thing.

And that we can insult it with our activity — the human race can insult it — but we can’t defeat it. Gaia is in some ways just a synonym for nature, the old fashioned definition of nature, and that we can’t really defeat nature.

Now, Lovelock is a very old man at this point, well over 80 years old. Judging from his writings, he seems very, very depressed about the prospects for life on Earth and for humanity. He sees the human species dying off to just a couple of hundred million people down from where we’re at now at about 6.7 billion. And maybe even going extinct.

I don’t remember enough about what he said. Reading his stuff is so dark that you almost don’t want to go there. It’s like the worst horror movie that you can see in relation to these problems of climate change and peek oil.

DUNCAN CRARY: Well I wonder sometimes, I enjoy a good zombie movie.


DUNCAN CRARY: Or an apocalypse movie. And I wonder how many people are turning to these authors and these websites, for what you call Doomer porn, just for entertainment. Even though they’re acting really serious about it, how can you be taking this stuff seriously and clacking away on your keyboard posting comments to a blog if you believe all this stuff?

JAMES HOWARD KUNSTLER: Well everybody has a slightly different worldview and sense of where destiny is taking us. I myself do tend to be fairly cheerful as just an individual going about my life. I’m almost constitutionally incapable of becoming depressed for a long time about this or in kind of a constant way.

There are a couple of things that you might apply to this and one comes out of the other. One is I think a general sense that may be hard wired into our human sensibilities that we like fresh starts. We like the idea. There’s something appealing to us, and I know I’m really generalizing but just bear with me, I think there’s a certain appeal in wiping the slate clean and being able to get a fresh start. It comes up constantly in popular culture, even if it’s just an interview with some pop star in Vanity Fair who says oh yeah I was a junkie then but I went through rehab and now I’m a successfully high-functioning individual.

Or someone who goes bankrupt and gets out from under their mountain of debt and is able to resume their life. I do think that that’s a big theme in human affairs from time and memorial and the more complex life has become for us, the more there is to sweep away, the more dross and the more junk that we need to clean out. So I think that that’s a human wish which is expressed at its most extreme in some of the Doomer sensibilities.

DUNCAN CRARY: Take a drive down the worst … Central Avenue in Albany, and look at all the crap there. What would it take to get rid of that stuff?


DUNCAN CRARY: [laughs] A meteor?

JAMES HOWARD KUNSTLER: Well, exactly. You have the same sense when you go to Florida when you see all the crap on the landscape out there and you say, wow it would really be great for a category five hurricane to hit Vero Beach.

Which brings me to another thing, which is for me … I have a vision from childhood which persists in my memory for what it’s worth to the listening audience. It came from my memory of being a 9-year-old boy in New York City and waiting for a big blizzard to hit the city. And sort of the thrill of waiting for that storm to occur and then the joy of having the whole city just stand still for half a day after when the storm had hit.

It was just so wonderful for that silence to take over the huge bustle of Manhattan and for all the buses and the cars to stop. And for people … And for the avenues to be free of cars and noise and for everything to just be still for a while.

One of the things as human beings that we’re probably most attune to and perhaps the least conscious to as an ongoing psychological theme apart from just the practicality of the day is the weather. I think there are many of us who actually don’t necessarily get bummed out by an approaching storm. There’s something wonderfully exciting about it. There’s the idea that you’re going to retreat into your shelter. You’re going to view this interesting spectacle in safety and then you will emerge in a clean, fresh smelling rain-drenched, rain-cleansed world afterwards.

So I do think that there’s something in our human nature that very basically vibrates to these narratives and these patterns. And finally, there’s obviously a condition in the world itself that we’re very attuned to of creation and destruction and life and birth and decline and death. As awful as these cycles may seem, we are completely attuned to them.

We may affect to fight them, like I’m going to fight death. I’ll live until I’m 130 years old. I’ll follow this diet that I’ll never age and I’ll be in great shape when I’m 97 years old. I’ll still be running marathons. But when all is said and done, everybody has to succumb the over arching cycles of reality.

I think that we all suspect that even at the greatest scale, out of death comes rebirth. Now, we’re involved in a human system right now that’s reached a point that many people probably think needs to die. I think it needs to die back some. I’d maybe give myself the pruning shears. I don’t necessarily want to go and pull it out by the roots and toss it in the garbage heap of history. But I would like to prune it pretty severely.

Cause I like the idea … For me one of the most appealing things about the human race is what we do with nature, especially with gardening, with cultivating our gardens. There’s almost nothing to me as beautiful as a wonderfully well-tended garden that in which some kind of intelligent order has been imposed. It’s one of the reasons I like geometry and gardens. One of the reasons I admire French baroque landscape practice because it likes imposing order on nature.

I mean ultimately nature is going to have its way with us. We don’t want to impose order on nature to the extent that we plasticize it and decoupage it and kill it and turn it into something horribly unnatural. But I think that we want to exist with it and be part of it and feel at home in our place within it and to do it in a graceful way.

So from my point of view, my brand of Doomerism isn’t about putting an end to human activity or the human race or civilization or route canal or any of these things really. It’s just about pruning out the plastic and the garbage. Letting the storm come and letting the rain come down and cleaning out the system and going on.

Resurrection is a great theme and redemption are great themes in the human story. I think we got a few more cycles of it to go.

DUNCAN CRARY: Doesn’t getting really obsessed with the doom side of things also absolve us of some personal responsibility?

JAMES HOWARD KUNSTLER: Yeah. I think you’re quite right and that’s one of the reasons that I don’t even want to be really grouped with them. I don’t want to be the camp of the people who say well it’s all hopeless, I give up. I don’t care about the human race and I don’t care about where we go from here. It’s just all screwed up and hopeless and forget about it cause I don’t feel that way.

I’m very interested in the project of civilization and I’m interested in the things – the good things – that the human race has created. I would like these things to go forward.

DUNCAN CRARY: So Jim, am I to take that you’re planning on being around after the year 2012?

JAMES HOWARD KUNSTLER: Oh I would sure like to be. I don’t subscribe to the Mayan calendar doom story. I don’t stay up nights worrying about that. I do think that where we are heading for trouble and it’s certainly plausible that by 2012 that could be really the epicenter of a pretty gnarly situation as far as the losses that we incur and losing the things that have been keeping us comfortable. But I don’t really think that that’s when the meteor hits the Earth. I’m not into that whole kind of story.

DUNCAN CRARY: I got an email from a listener not too long ago after those programs we recorded talking about the amateur artwork in the streets of Troy. And I’m not saying this listener was a Doomer, but this listener was very concerned about how can you be talking about amateur artwork and drawing New York when the economy is collapsing and we’re running out of oil and there’s global warming and all these huge problems.

How can you guys be taking 25 minutes of your podcast to talk about this? And I think that because of all those reasons maybe it’s important to talk about the public artwork. How do you respond to that?

JAMES HOWARD KUNSTLER: Well pretty much the same. I think we’re mutually interested in many of the things that just go on in our everyday life and how the world works because we expect it to continue in one form or another.


JAMES HOWARD KUNSTLER: And probably in a fairly civilized form or another. I don’t think that either of us think that we’re gonna be living in a Hobbsian wilderness of life being brutish, nasty, solitary, short and whatever else Hobbs said it was.

DUNCAN CRARY: [laughs]

JAMES HOWARD KUNSTLER: In order to stay alive, you really have to maintain an ability to be interested in your world and what’s happening in it. If you don’t do that, you’re just on the path to deadness. As Bob Dylan once said, “He that’s not busy being born is busy dying.”

DUNCAN CRARY: Yeah. Well, do you get … As an author of fiction, like World Made By Hand and you’re working on a sequel now, it’s an uncomfortable vision of the future.

JAMES HOWARD KUNSTLER: Well that’s funny you should mention that because I’m in the thick of writing this book and I’m probably about three-quarters of the way through. I’m actually at the point now where a lot of the climactic things are coming together. I’ve got about three or four subplots going on [clears throat] simultaneously.

I take a lot of comfort in going into that world every day and operating in it and making things happen in it and working within the confines of that world. And when I’m there, I’ve pretty much shut out the modern world and I accept all of the limitations of that new world that I’m in.


JAMES HOWARD KUNSTLER: Of course, having set it up originally in the first book “World Made By Hand” now pretty much I’m not involved with explaining how it works so much as following the characters who I’ve let loose in it and what happens to them. There are things about it that are uncomfortable but they’re not all that painful. I mean not being clean as much as you’d like to be or being hungry more than you’re used to. These are things that my characters are dealing with.

A lot of the pain for them comes from the simple fact that science and the enlightenment has failed them. A new sort of neo-Medieval, supernatural worldview is competing for their attention with all the old comforts and certainties of science and cause and effect and logical positivism and all the other things that have been part of the modern experience.

And so mentally they are challenged with a world that no longer functions the way that it was set up for them. But I like going into that world.

DUNCAN CRARY: Do you have a hard time stepping out of it fully? Do you feel like you have one foot in that world?

JAMES HOWARD KUNSTLER: Yeah I do feel like I have one foot in it and one foot back in the normal world. But I’m not at all uncomfortable going back and forth.


JAMES HOWARD KUNSTLER: And I’m not psychotic about it. It’s not like a Twilight Zone episode where I’m getting lost in my own creation. But it is after all a creation. To be perfectly honest with you, it is the act of creation itself which is so rewarding – to be engaged so completely in that task and in that world. I think it’s in the nature of the human condition that we are at our best and feel our best when we are completely engaged in something that is an absorbing thing for us.

So for me it’s composition in prose English. For somebody else it would be manipulating notes and making music or manipulating paint on a canvas or sculpture or getting back to the art on the street that we started talking about. Art is really vital to our daily experience and it’s not something that you… You may create it in a vacuum and it may come out seemingly from nothing, but it really, no matter how you rationalize it, it ends up not just being for you.

It’s for your collective humanity. It’s really meaningless unless somebody outside of yourself experiences it. As a character in one of my own books once said something like, “Solipsism is a rough philosophy, especially for the other fellow.”

DUNCAN CRARY: Well, Jim, I’ve really enjoyed this talk about Doomers but it’s time to call it quits for today.

JAMES HOWARD KUNSTLER: Yeah and I’m gonna cheerfully go off and roll my hoop.

DUNCAN CRARY: Alright. I’ll see you next week.


[Recording: Listener Caller Line]

FRANK BAILEY: Hi Jim. Hi Duncan. This is Frank Bailey in Ann Arbor. I wanted to comment on the latest show about commercial and corporate art. In Ann Arbor someone decided there was an old feed store building that’s now kind of a high-end gardening store but some guerrilla artist decided to restore the faded image of whatever, something out of Garrison Keillor’s life, biscuit or something.

Then other ones started to appear as well. Then at a certain point the building owners could have either taken the stuff off or left it on and it seemed to become quite popular. And so almost all of them got restored, at least in Ann Arbor.

We do have a lot of lousy abstract art. But with regard to at least these old ads, they’ve been lovingly restored on every building that had them. It makes everything look quite attractive.


DUNCAN CRARY (as host): You’ve been listening to the KunstlerCast, featuring James Howard Kunstler. To leave a listener comment, call toll-free at 866-924-9499. Send email to You can listen to all of our past programs, join our email list, find out how to book Jim to speak in your area, and talk about the show with other listeners at I’m your host, Duncan Crary. Thanks for listening.