Remember how I met the geographer the other week, and she lent me a book she warned me might be above me? The book is Geographic Information Systems and Science.
Well, I started it. I want to quote the first line. Ahem.
Almost everything that happens, happens somewhere.
Egad! Who knew a book about the physical sciences would start off with the metaphysical! I was awe-struck. Put the book down a second in shock, then returned with eager anticipation. But alas! alack!–Such a thought-provoking contention to start off the book, and then nothing following up on it–it was as if the authors considered the statement too obvious to bother with any further.
Almost everything happens somewhere. So…where do the other things happen? Doesn’t everything that happens, that is, have a place it happens or is?
I mean, even if it happens in one’s mind, it happens in there, right?
Well, I thought hard and decided that maybe something like Lord of the Rings or Alice in Wonderland–these tales outline things that happen somewhere we can’t connect to earth. Then again, one could still map them out. The book’s about mapping, you see. And we humans will map anything we can get our hands or telescopes on.
If we can map the moon–and I love how we call it the moon and don’t bother naming it–I guess for the authors the distinction is that everything real happens somewhere, and then there’s fiction and the world of the imagination, which need not be mapped–or at least not with a GSI system. Or are they talking about something else that happens but not somewhere?
I never did get past that first section, because instead of being sucked into the need for a GSI system, all I’ve done since reading that first line is rack my mind for things that a geographer would say happen without a place.
Oh, and I considered naming this entry: “Why a Liberal Arts Person Should Never be Handed a Physical Sciences Textbook.” But refrained. After all, I still find it thought-provoking, although perhaps I’ve gotten caught up on a point considered so tangential to the authors that they dropped it off at the starting point and never looked back. 🙂