Parking – Is it about Obsession – Col Kurtz and Captain Ahab


Parking – Is it about Obsession – Col Kurtz and Captain Ahab

Melbourne’s Elizabeth Taylor has written a fantastic piece for the online publication of Monash University which takes us through the maze of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and likens our industry’s major issues to the obsession of Conrad’s major character.

For those of you without a literary background, like me,you may not realize that Apocalypse Now was based on Conrad’s book. In Heart of Darkness the narrator sits at the mouth of the Thames and tells his story. You may wonder, as Taylor points out, what the heck this has to do with parking. She comments:

For a 2018 symposium in Melbourne on the topic of the ‘ethics of transport’, I was asked to speak about some of my research on car parking. As I have (maybe too often) tended to do, I went with a pun on popular culture – on that occasion “Heart of Parking” or “Heart of Park-ness”, with reference to Conrad’s book. I am expanding on that talk here because I think it offers a reflection on 5 years of researching – journeying into, so to speak – the surprisingly fraught world of parking cars.

You can read her piece here. Take the time to do so. Its well worth it, and perhaps you will see a reflection of not only our industry, but our customers. I’ll leave you with this quote:

In Melbourne, 96% of parking is free to the user. Who’s been parking on my street? The politics and uneven use of residential parking space and threats to the protected status of free parking can evoke anger and sometimes overt violence. The ‘Arab Spring’ in the suburb of Yarraville is an example – the installation of parking meters ($1.50 an hour) on a shopping strip led to street protests, banners, vandalism, and other political action. When this failed, councillors were physically attacked at a council meeting. Local traders compared the incident to the Arab Spring – in that, other political channels being exhausted, violence was the only option remaining for “standing up and saying this isn’t right”. The parking meters were switched off.

Sound Familiar?

Picture of John Van Horn

John Van Horn

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