Impossible places. It’s a vague title, I know, but I didn’t know what to officially call this one. Today, I want to go over the concept of impossible places, but ones you desire deeply to go to. Kind of like the inverse to liminal spaces. Where one gives an eerie sense of familiarity, one that hints toward a nightmare scenario of a real childhood experience you had in a specific environment that you buried deep in your subconscious, only now for it to come back to haunt you, the OTHER is one that has no connection to anything you know, and is almost always an environment you can never go to, but deeply desire to.
Welcome back everyone to another Thoughts piece by me, ya boy, Joe Van. So I want to start things off by giving you guys an example of this topic through my first brush with it. Considering I hardly have the words now to define this sensation, you can imagine when I first felt this as a child. I think I was in grade 3 or 4. I finished reading the Deltora Quest series and their subsequent spin offs by author Emily Rodda, and learned about another series she had written called Rowan of Rin. While reading it she described the land Rowan lived in. It had Irish-style rolling hills with a monumental mountain on the horizon line. At this point in my life I wasn’t drawing Canada as just a circle anymore. Hold the applause, thank you thank you. I knew the basic layout of the world. I was also previously exposed to other fictional lands like middle earth and the afore mentioned Deltora, so the concept wasn’t alien to me, yet for some reason with this specific place of Rin… It did something to me. It gave me a longing I had never felt before. I had dreams about being in that land. I told my mom about it and asked her if such a place existed, and she shrugged, suggesting Switzerland or the UK without such high mountains, but it settled in my mind that I would never truly be able to visit a place I had such a vivid imagination of. It was disappointing in an existential kind of way, like when you truly grasp that you will die one day.
I was able to get on with my life, but the feeling of longing for impossible places never went away, it just moved on. I found infatuation for places like 2005’s The Fountain’s future spaceship bubble, or Halo’s ring. It gave me a love for clouds, and space, these places I will never go, or maybe I had this love all along and I’m just attributing an initial trigger to Rowan of Rin because it’s the first time I felt so strongly for such a thing, but however you spin it, it has become an integral part of my personality. Films like the Matrix, Cube, and the YouTube series of the Back Rooms all scratch that larger than life itch I have.
I’ll regularly download pictures of nebulae or illustrations of otherworldly environments from the internet just to look at in admiration. What am I doing when I do this to myself? Am I a masochist? Am I exercising my own restraint? Humbling myself? Reliving that strong childhood feeling I had in late spring? All of the above? Who knows for sure. Even if I spent an extensive amount of time with a psychoanalyst, I feel like they would just come up with their own meaning to explain what I’m feeling just to shut me up about it. The whole thing is otherworldly at its core so how can it truly be locked down in a digestible explanation?
The best I can do with this video is give a theory or two to scratch at the itch of having an answer. We humans have certain instincts, like hunger, sexual desire, defending family and friends, and having fun at musical venues. These are all generally part of what makes us human. Another instinct I think we have, that comes out in today’s culture with the travel freaks, is a sense of exploration, a sense of entering the unknown. Other animals show similar activity like those that migrate, following the foods and seasons, but with humanity there’s clearly something more existential going on. We were all once homeless, in a sense. Before agriculture existed, there was little reason to settle down in one location, and so we ventured out into the unknown. At first it was with nothing but the newly invented meme that would be called clothing. It kept us warm in the colder climates, which had essentially life hacked our biology. We were now unlocked, able to go anywhere we dared. And that’s what many of our ancestors did. They explored never-before-seen lands; grassy hills, pine woods, beaches, swamps, rocky cliffs, mesas, seas, and mountains, Gandalf, mountains! This period in our collected history of constantly experiencing new incredible landscapes lasted tens and tens of thousands of years. It effectively changed the way we think. Evolution is a slow process, but incremental change can occur in a timespan like that.
Our psychology, as the smartest creatures on this planet, are rightfully complex and hard to crack, especially for our own selves. So it goes that I tip my hat to the universe, time, and all things and inventive people that changed the course of our species’ lives forever, bringing us to this point. While I wish I had all the answers, to both the universe and my own psyche, there is a strange sense of admiration and awe in the face of the unknowable, in a longing for impossible places, and in the drive for exploration.
And that’ll wrap up today’s Thoughts piece. As always thank you so much for listening, I wish you nothing but love in your life, and remember if any topic or concept peeks your interest to make sure to dig into it further by doing your own research, and finally remember to keep on thinking. If you liked this thoughts piece you might also like the final frontier. Until next time, ciao for now.