Spaced Out?

When the space probe New Horizons en route to Pluto left our little terrestrial sphere, it was hardly chugging along as it attained the speed of 36,256 mph. Now the governor of Kentucky wishes to raise the speed limit on major highways from 65 to 70 mph. The latter action, we earthlings can comprehend and evaluate; the former—no way.

We currently live in two new spatio-temporal zones, the one scaled to satisfy the burgeoning needs of an expansive and exquisitely timed universe; the other measured to suit our individual desires and daily needs.

Not since the railroad train changed our perception of reality have such changes affected so much of what we see, think and imagine.

As someone said some time ago, our prosthetic devices now give each of us power and vision of immense proportions that Louis XIV, the self-styled Sun King, never remotely approached having.

What effect will this current change in our spatio-temporal zones have on social organization? Has television replaced the public square as John Hartley suggested in "The Politics of Pictures"? Has the ever-improving quality of artwork reproductions and their ever-widening distribution denied us the excitement of seeing the original, as John Berger has argued in "Ways of Seeing"? Has space, once seen as vast, challenging and oppressive to the seafarer been diminished and climate-controlled as we travel in the automobile and jet aircraft?

Has the overwhelming fact that it will be nine years for the New Horizons space craft to reach Pluto forced us to live with our inescapable, earth-bound claustrophobia, as the English writer Denis Brogan thought when the first moon shot was successful?

Are we in an era when the expression "déjà vu" is commonplace—as the 872,00 entries on Google may well suggest?

Ray Betts