The surprise wasn’t just being reoriented so abruptly. It was also discovering that an unfamiliar world lay a few dozen yards off a road I drive all the time. In a way, the unfamiliarity of that world has been eroded now by driving through it once.
The more I think about that seam between the familiar and the unfamiliar — and how it feels to pass from one to the other — the clearer it becomes that humans instinctively generate a sense of familiarity. You can sense it for yourself the next time you drive someplace you’ve never been before. Somehow, it always feels as though it takes longer to get there than it does to get back home again. It’s as if there’s a principle of relativity, a bending of time, in the very concept of familiarity. The road we know is always shorter than the road we don’t know — even if the distances are the same.
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Kate Stanley pointed to this lovely piece from the NY Times by Verlyn Klinkenborg. An excerpt: