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This World: Space

May 24, 2010

Some say we have a morbid fascination with boxes.  Well really, boxed shaped spaces.  The logic goes like this:

We calculate our living space in square feet (the more the better),wake up on rectangular beds, eat our meals on square shaped tables, transport ourselves in box shaped trains and cars, work in cubicals, and once the day has come to an end we unwind by filling in box puzzles in a square shaped newspaper.*  In this world we love straight lines, right angles, and even numbers–we love boxes.

Though this may seem nausiatinly insignificant, we can tell a lot about our world by how it is structured.  What do our boxes reveal?  I would like to suggest the following list, in no particular order, as reason why we love boxes.

1.) At our core we love order. Boxes keep things neat.

2.) This world loves efficiently. Squares materialistically maximize space.

3.) We think practically.  Boxes use space that circles would leave behind. (Image if San Francisco architecture took on the circle and not the square as they poured their foundations.)

4.) This world values pragmatism over creativity, particularly in America.  Straight lines are more responsible than rounded ones. (Remember the last Summer Olympics?)

5.) We like things that match the equator. (?)

6.) We crave control.  Boxes give us an authority that curves disallow. (Just try stacking four basketballs on top of each other.)

7.) This world is built on favoritism.  Square tables present a seat of priority — the head.  (Maybe King Arthur was on to something.)

8.) We are afraid of that which we do not understand.  Boxes are predictable.

9.) These all contribute to our primary reason for valuing monotonous boxes, unimaginative straight lines, and economic architecture over and against all other suitors.  That is in this world we believe that space is simply space.  Every area is just a combination of a particular longitude and latitude.  All space is secular in this world until we subsequently give it significance.

*Adapted from an interview in the crossword puzzle documentary, Wordplay (2006).

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