At first we didn’t see the significance: The British Daily Mail reveals that for a science show called Bang Goes The Theory, a crew has developed a car that runs on coffee. They call it the Carpuccino. Wait, don’t go. The punchline is, the car is totally impractical. It gets “three miles per kilo of ground coffee” and is between 25 and 50 times more expensive to run than a gasoline-powered car.
Why do we care? Because it might mean that the recession is over — spiritually, at least.
Look at the item at New York‘s Daily Intel, about a guy who made a tower out of hundreds of boxes of free Jello. The item, entitled “Recession Inspires Art, Hoarding,” captures our sad Zeitgeist: Everything is/will be crappy, quotidian, and based on what we can afford, which will all be from the dollar store or the Goodwill. If we’re lucky enough to retain a sense of humor about it, we will occasionally frame it such a way that others may grimly laugh at it, themselves, and their long-dead dreams.
But a useless coffee-powered car (the model chosen to “look like the DeLorean from Back to the Future,” no less) reveals an entirely different world-view: That life is full of possibilities. Because someone found it worthwhile to spend hours and cash to develop a machine that does nothing but waste money to prove a point.
Think about it. What inspires people? Practical things — or glorious follies? If you hear about yet another environmental breakthrough — a lightbulb that burns for 9,000,000 years, say, or a new building compound made out of recycled snot — is your soul lifted? But a cathedral, a mural, or the World’s Biggest Ball of Twine — these things makes you feel, “Life is not just a ceaseless striving after free Jello, but a glorious gift that I have been wasting at this dismal office park. I’m off to invent something wonderful — maybe a bicycle that will ride over water, or a new kind of desk toy — and grow rich beyond the dreams of avarice.”
Scoff if you want. 41.3 million Americans watched the Oscars last night. We are not alone in yearning after transcendence through crap. Recession is over, if you want it.