Into the Wilderness: Google Maps & Self-Exploration

“We are going to the moon that is not very far. Man has so much farther to go within himself.”

                                                               – Anais Nin, Writer

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Al_HikesAZ. Flatiron from Brown’s Peak Saddle – Four Peaks Wilderness. 2010. Flickr.com. Web. 26 Sept. 2015.

When I was in Spain, I made friends with a guy from Wales who had travelled a lot. He had been all over Europe, through Asia and Thailand and other far away places, and had spent extended periods of time in cities in Germany and France. I spoke of the places I had travelled to, but he seemed bored by them; Paris and Rome and Barcelona numbered among the familiar destinations, and he longed for the places that few had been before. But, nowadays, what terrain is left untrammelled? What foreign stretches of the earth have not been seen or trekked or surmounted in some way?

It was just over ten years ago on February 8th, 2005 that Google’s mapping service began. Now, the ubiquitous nature of the Google map means that I can instantly plop down into central Paris in front of Opera Garnier; I can turn to either side to see Lancel or Café de la Paix, and look behind me to where Avenue de L’Opera stretches off into the distance. It would be possible, using Google Street View, to convince oneself that a street had been walked and its sensory experiences conjured up. But when every street corner has been nailed down, what uncharted territory can we dive into for the sake of knowing?

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