Celestial navigation

We have lost the sky
It was Marshall McLuhan, I believe, who first observed that the increased speed of transportation and communication had made the world a global village. That observation has become a commonplace. But we don’t usually focus on the aspect of the village metaphor that suggests we have become more, not less, parochial than our predecessors. Instead we emphasize how cosmopolitan we moderns or postmoderns are in comparison to our ancestors, most of whom lived and died within shouting distance of their birthplaces and—before the invention of the steam engine—could be transported no faster than a horse could run or the wind could blow a ship.

But even as we jet over oceans and view live TV transmissions from the other side of the world, we are more parochial than the ancients in one way. We have lost the sky.


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