I had barely started Steven Johnson‘s 2001 book Emergence last night – indeed I was still in the first two dozen or so pages – when the TV show my wife was watching caught my ear. The Screen Actors Guild awards show was showing clips from Crash and giving a short description of it’s premise. Set in Los Angeles, the movie apparently brings together people from different backgrounds whose paths ordinarily, though living in the same city, would never cross. Johnson had just mentioned something very similar, through the example of Manchester England which “grew up” with vastly differing classes of people living virtually side-by-side yet not interacting.
This afternoon I got back to the book, and lo there in chapter 2 we come to Los Angeles. “It’s not ‘an encounter with the working class,'” Johnson says to a culturally-oblivious friend, “if you’re gazing down at them from the overpass.” Perhaps, like the people in the movie, his friend really needed an auto accident to bring him in real contact with other dwellers in his city.
Anyway, I don’t know what it means — if anything — that I came across a mention of Crash (which I’d never heard of before last night) while reading Emergence. It may mean nothing at all. Or perhaps it’s part of a larger pattern, one that I just can’t see yet. Either way it’s an interesting book, and I plan on checking out the movie soon.