To Occupy or Not to Occupy, No Question

November 18, 2011 § Leave a comment

“As we climb towards the edge of the atmosphere, even this will die away into the utter and everlasting silence of space. Look at the sky above. It’s quite black, for there’s no air to scatter the sunlight. The familiar blue vault of heaven is already far below us. Overhead, the brighter stars are still shining, even though it’s daytime and the sun is visible down there….”[1]


For many writers in art history and theory, the concept Space eventually replaced the concept Nature (which motored so much post-Enlightenment art and thought). Space, of course, contained nature. There was nothing outside of space. Space was even time. In fact, spacetime taught the gay notion that the concepts of inside and outside were delusions of relativity. Yet somewhat paradoxically, space occupied nature. Only within nature did space have limits. Like money, space in nature was both without specific identity and able to be sold. It was against this space that many writers found themselves relying upon the notion of Constellation. A constellation, made up of impressions of bodies far distant from one another in the universe, each occupying completely autonomous unseen presents, is the ultimate temporary construct, thus of great practical use to the traveller.

A body must achieve the speed of 11.18 kilometers per second to escape the earth. Even with thoughts that moved 287 kilometers per second it semed they could not quite occupy space. For they could not escape nature, which awarded them that speed, as well as the ability, if it existed, ever to go faster. Nature did not occupy space; nature (“the features and products of the earth itself”[2]) passed through space, occupying only itself.

[1] Arthur C. Clarke, The Scottie Book of Space Travel. London: Transworld Publishers, 1957.

[2] Oxford English Dictionary.Nature.


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