Gasoline Dreams by Simon Orpana. A review

*I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*

2.5 stars.

This is a non fiction graphic novel focused on a necessary purpose creating awareness about the excessive use of petrol based energy that’s destroying our planet at a staggering speed.

I loved the fact that it mentions and goes deep into every aspect of how this usage is a huge problem for every form of life within this planet and the multiverse itself. It also shows there are other options and illustrates his arguments with clear examples of the aspects that are problematic about excess and the use of non-renewable sources of energy.

There are, however several objections I have towards how this graphic novel was done.

The first of these is that I found the density of illustrations and text to be constantly overwhelming. This was probably intentional given the aggressive attitude towards the so-called Petroculture the author shows, but I believe regular readers would not appreciate it as positive, given that it makes the reading experience too heavy. It even gave me anxiety at times.

The writing style gave the impression to be more appropriate for a dense non fiction book, being full of citations of formal texts and investigations at a rate of one or more per page, which also took it further from being a graphic novel.

Regarding certain topics, I have to say that the arguments given at times were not exactly scientific. With this I do not mean to state they are invalid, but that to prove a point it is rather preferable to choose arguments that have scientific validity, which in many occasions they did.

An example of this is the explanation of Sigmund Freud and his definition of Thanatos or death/destruction drive. This is the same evolution theories explain in the mention of humans being a dominant species and this translating into the fact that we tend to our own destruction and that of our environment. Even if Freud talked about this (long after Darwin, by the way), having the support of science would certainly make it stronger.

This ‘undead urge’ Simon takes from psychoanalysis is the excess that is not at all strange, but normal in dominant species, who just believe they can do as they please and dominate their environment without major consequences. Least can an example of this behaviour be given through a psychopath with PTSD. Does he have any idea how a person with PTSD feels? I mean, it is not pleasant or even voluntary and the feelings of a sufferer of this disorder (I am a psychologist) are far from suitable to explain or illustrate the abovementioned behaviour. Even a person with Antisocial Personality Disorder (what he should have mentioned instead of ‘psychopath’) does not feel empathy towards others, but the reason is the structure of the brain in charge of making this happen are not working properly, mainly as a result of neglect, abandonment and/or abuse as a child and/or adolescent -I recommend checking scientific articles and the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders on its fifth version-.

Another issue I had with this work was that, instead of making a certain parallel, he affirms certain films, such as Aliens, Taxi Driver, A Quiet Place and The Shining have direct references to Petroculture when they’re not even obvious. The author assumes that the type of energy used has something to do with Petroculture or the dialogue itself. Well, I consider it closer to the truth to state that he sees or can give examples from and not assure the reader they are references to a topic that is not even mentioned in them.

The typography was too hard to read sometimes -at least for me- and I found it to be quite a Baroque graphic novel in a way, if it makes sense, as it is too overloaded and dense either on images (rare), text or both. Sometimes the language is also too complex.

The topic, don’t get me wrong, is essential to discuss and many people need such a shock to start grasping the very basic ideas of this topic.

Finally, I would love to point out the author’s ideas seem to be congruent on every field and properly portrayed on every aspect of this graphic novel.

You could decide this book is for you and I would actually love to hear different perspectives if you have or are planning to read it.

Please, take good care of yourselves.

Bear hugs!

Anne

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