(A few editorial notes before I start. I obviously have internet access again so you should all apply NOW. It doesn't take much. A short skit or a clever diagram. You don't have to be an amazing writer to write for Squiggly Today, you just have to be individual or witty. Thanks for adding us anyway. Oh, and don't expect many more contributions of the same length and quality of the following. My English teacher last year told me she wouldn't rest until she saw this published. I got lazy and forgot about it. So instead of being somewhere important, it's here.)
All our lives we are defined by the space around us. Before we can tell who we are as a person, we first look to our surrounding influences. Human Beings exist not in isolation, but as products of our surroundings. It is the awareness of this which causes us to withdraw and create our own space within ourselves. The less space around us, the more space we need to create within us. People in large cities may seem, to an outside observer, cold and impersonal. In fact they are just withdrawn, like the rest of us. Having to face each day the multitude of other people inhabiting our space, we begin to exist in our own personal Universe, of which we really are the centre. The Most Important Thing.
This space inside of us also defines us. It can seem at times to exist independently of our own self. There are places we cannot go, things kept locked from us (such as where on earth we last saw the car keys). As we grow older it can slip away from us, or scramble itself and leave us lost. It is often said that we use only one tenth of our brain capacity . Nine tenths of our mind is left unused, at least by us (it is one theory of mine that the rest is being used to get us to SMS our votes for Australian Idol). This seems, sometimes, like a lot of wasted space.
‘Wasted Space.’ Now there’s a phrase. We consider any space that is not used to be wasted. But then this idea of wasting occurs all too often. Given unlimited space, say a room of immense proportions, a person will take only a small portion of this. A corner. And here they will set up their things, their belongings, and build for themselves their own smaller, easier to deal with space. We do this all the time, with our houses, our countries, our planet, our universe; little homes in big spaces. Evidently we also do this with out minds. Faced with such a large amount of space we take our stuff and set up in a corner.
Writer Douglas Adams once suggested that the other nine tenths of the brain was used for storing penguins. This may not be as ridiculous as it seems. After all, penguins must be stored somewhere. Which raises an interesting question: is a space still ‘wasted’ if it is full of penguins?
It is generally agreed that human beings are very stupid creatures. Or, at least, this is generally agreed by the departments of television marketing. After all we spend most of our lives doing things we don’t enjoy to achieve something we don’t want. We also spend far too much time musing over questions we know we can’t answer, which seems like wasted space itself (or more accurately time, which is very similar). Why is a raven like a writing desk?
My point, if you can believe I have one, is this: if humans were somehow able to gain control over the wasted 90% of their brain (by, say, evicting all the penguins) would this actually make us any more intelligent? Isn’t it more likely that we will simply have ten times the capacity for immense stupidity? That we will be just as stupid, but on a much grander scale?
Perhaps the penguins are better off where they are, after all.
So space is made to be wasted. Whoever created our Universe must have been very fond of space, for we certainly have a lot of it. And most of it, ultimately, is wasted.
Of course there is always the possibility that we have a great deal less of it than we ever thought. It is possible that one day, when we finally master the art of space travel, that our first expedition will only lead us to a sign reading “Under Construction, please check back soon.”
It is part of human nature to keep to small and homely spaces, but it is also a part of us to think that there is, if we ever wanted it, an infinity of space just waiting for us. Would it perhaps alter our consciousness, our very idea of who we are, if we discovered that we really are alone in the Universe, that space is not in such plentiful supply, and that a raven is nothing at all like a writing desk, but quite a bit like a penguin? It is indeed a saddening thought that human beings could be the most intelligent life in existence.
The space around us, as we know it, defines us. It is possible that if we didn’t imagine there was quite so much of it, we might not be so hasty in our waste of it. We might not, for instance, spend so much of our time watching reality television. Imagine what our world would be like if we decided to become productive. To make sensible use of all available space. To cut the crap with our penguins, our falling trees, our search for meaning and our Big Brother controversies, and started putting our time to good use. Life as we know it now, is really just thinking and waiting. Thinking of stupid questions and waiting for answers, whether stupid or not. We may not be, in ourselves, such a depressing waste of time and space if we did not seem to have such a bloody lot of it.
Faced with the impossibly large room, the man withdraws into a corner. Faced with our infinite amount of space we withdraw into ourselves. Our own space. For, while our space may be intangible, often difficult, and all too full of penguins for its own good, it does come in a small, easy to copy with, single-serving size, and is relatively under our own control.