Off Center

William Kent
March 1994

We aren't at the center of things any more. And we're moving away fast.

Cities used to be scaled to our own proportions. Now they tower and sprawl on a different scale that we don't identify with ourselves.

We used to be involved in life doing things - with our selves, our strength, our hands. We're not involved that way any more. The activity around us isn't what we do - it's what we have done for us, by machines and tools and prepared foods and prefabricated products.

We also do less because we are mostly watching television. Life is no longer what we are doing - it's what we are watching other people do. We're not at the center any more.

Television, and all the other media of instant communication, take us out of the center in another way. It used to be that the main focus of our lives was our own lives. What happened elsewhere was remotely, slowly, and rarely perceived. Life consisted mainly of us. Now we are so overwhelmed with endless instant information from all corners of the globe that our own lives shrink in our own view. We are too much aware of the big picture, and less aware of ourselves.

The decline of the family structure does that to us, too. (Should say more about that.)

And we'll have a lot to say about science. Astronomers removing us from the center of the universe and placing us, in fact, out on the fringe of an obscure galaxy in a universe so overwhelming huge that human proportions become irrelevant.

Other science teaching us that we can't rely on our senses to judge what's happening. Human perceptions of stuff is naive, out of touch with the "realities" of physics. What we see and feel ain't the way it really is.

And, of course, computers...

[to be continued]