Tuesday, April 18, 2023


 Detachment is the cost of our wondrous, liberating mobility, the price we pay for living untethered.  Connection to place is replaced by inhabitation of space, bringing to near-culmination what Rosalind Williams describes as "humanity's decision to unbind itself from the soil."  The tempo of travel blurs the landscape, and our vehicles increasingly enfold us in a bubble of remove. "The sights, sounds, tastes, temperatures, and smells of the city and countryside are reduced to a two-dimensional view through the car windscreen, something prefigured by the railway journeys of the nineteenth century," notes John Urry, echoing Nietzche.  The portable soundscape of the Walkman-turned-iPod puts much of life at arm's length, creating a "fragile world of certainty within a contingent world," writes Michael Bull in Sounding Out the City.  We are distancing ourselves from knowledge of our own bodily selves and our earth, as Bill McKibben observes.  We live in an era when "vital knowledge that humans have always possessed about who we are and where we live seems beyond our reach," he writes.  "An unenlightenment."  Pause is increasingly absent in a temporal sense, too.  A culture of constant movement, in part fueled by a love of instant gratification, cannot bear the mystery and unpredictability inherent in the idea of pause.  "For the sake of speed, in the interest of not wasting time, we sacrifice the sensuous richness of the not-yet," writes Noelle Oxenhandler in her essay "The Lost While."  We live in a culture of "becoming" but never arriving.

-Maggie Jackson, Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age

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