cover image Gasoline Dreams: Waking Up from Petroculture

Gasoline Dreams: Waking Up from Petroculture

Simon Orpana. Fordham Univ, $15.95 trade paper (208p) ISBN 978-0-8232-9772-6

Humanity’s dependence on fossil fuels is a deeply ingrained part of global culture, as Orpana lays out in this meandering but thought-provoking philosophical tract on the destructive power of petroculture. His thickly textured line-work, dense paragraphs of hand-written text, and high-octane arguments have the vibe of a Xeroxed anarcho-environmentalist zine from the 1990s, and calls to mind Seth Tobocman’s activist art, but with a PhD’s worth of research shown in the footnotes. Orpana cites thinkers ranging from Freud and Lacan to Naomi Klein and Indigenous scholar Vanessa Watts while examining the ways the petroleum-driven climate crisis is entangled with misogyny, racism, and colonialism. Many pages feature full-bleed agit-prop scenes—sometimes, that effect is emotionally powerful, as when a sky of dark clouds spells out “wake up” over a car-choked road. But often it’s overwhelming in the sheer avalanche of information driving around the page. Sorting through the citations on Marx, the myth of market-based solutions, and masculinity (just to name a few themes) takes reader dedication. The arguments hit hardest when succinct and punchy, such as when Orpana tells a friend as they drive down a highway under wildfire-smoke-filled skies, “This is what the apocalypse looks like, but we accept it as an everyday reality.” Those willing to battle through the dense layouts will find much to ponder here. (Sept.)