With apologies to Kyb, good friend, frequent commenter on this blog, and virtual reality genius, I am growing increasingly fed up with the way we are more and more abstracted from reality.
I site as a particular grouch point, the immensely popular Eden Project in Cornwall, and now an new planned project for Bristol.
I have deliberately never been to the Eden Project, despite people telling me how great it is, and reading all about it in various environmental publications. For me, the fundamental problem is that anything like the Eden project serves not to connect us with the earth, but to abstract us. If we have to go to some geodesic dome project to experience the world in all its majesty, then something is wrong.
Fewer places allow us to experience nature red in tooth and claw, instead they serve us (at a price!) nature in a sanitary container, with necessary health and safety rules adhered to. There is so little wildness around now, and we’re reluctantly content to allow that erosion to continue, as long as we have virtual wildness, something we can choose to visit when the conditions are right, when the weather is clement (or not even that if its in a flipping dome) .
Dont get me wrong, I recognise my own culpability in this area, to a degree I have welcomed some elements of these abstractions. I like the ability to take my children to a farm park occasionally, but I hope that this doesnt mean that real farms (which are infinitely more fun, and which we also visit when possible) will disappear.
But domed and fenced representations of wildness are no replacement for real wildness, I think they pose a real danger, that we will accept these replacements in the place of real adventure and outdoor experiences.
Are we really to end up in a Neuromancer style distopia? Mega cities sprawling across a totally urban landscape, with just a series of domes and fenced enclosures to remind us of what the world used to be like – probably not but it feels more like it everytime I hear about another one of these things.
I could go on, and will at some point, about the role of television and computers in all this, but right now I’m supposed to be looking after my youngest daughter, and she wants to play… with somebody real.