How To (Un)Globe the Earth in Four Easy Lessons


Things are not going well these days on this old earth of ours. We need all we can get of wisdom, insight, perspective, and “theory” (in the etymological sense of “clear-seeing”) to understand what is going on and perhaps to decide to do something about it. One problem is that we are interwoven within what is happening here on earth. We are therefore perhaps prevented from seeing it clearly. We have, however, been granted for the first time in human history an ability to look at the earth from outer space—that is, from outside what is happening here. Millions of people all over the world have seen one of the unsettling space-ship or satellite photographs. They provide a distant and detached perspective on the earth with a vengeance. To be, or to pretend to be, wholly detached and objective is, nevertheless, perhaps diabolical. John Milton imagined Satan as one of the first space-travellers in literature, as in the passages from early in Paradise Lost cited above.  Satan was not exactly detached, since his goal was to bring about the fall of man, but he certainly could see the whole earth from a distance, hanging in space, as all the sons and daughters of Eve can do nowadays. We are not exactly detached and indifferent either.

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