Where is the middle of nowhere?
Maybe ‘The Middle of Nowhere’ is the name of a place, just as China in Chinese stands for Middle Country. Or ‘Nowhere’ is the name of a place (an incredible one at that, where everyone’s skin is blue and pink and green), and we have to find its centre: it might be where most people or features are, or even the centre of mass, though that might mean that the middle of nowhere is not actually in Nowhere. Which, if you take Nowhere to be its literal meaning ‘nowhere’, means that the middle of nowhere is truly somewhere. (Which is what we’ve been asserting all along.)
If we were in a crime novel and were trying to be even more obtuse, it might be the letter h. We might even try representing ‘nowhere’ numerically as 14-15-23-8-5-18-5. The middle, then, might be the arithmetic mean of the numbers: 12 4/7, which is L D / G, or perhaps more appropriately LD7, an area in Llandrindod Wells.
But what of these obscure ways of interpreting phrases? Sure, they bring pleasure to the lover of triviality and of obsessive attention to detail, who flips objects like one might a loose pancake, making them more contorted with each flip until they are beyond recognition. These are then served repackaged as a some exotic gourmet dish often exclusively delicious to connoisseurs, but confusing and perhaps distasteful to others. Perhaps it would be better if we turned from them, at least for a while.
So if we were being more reasonable, we might say the middle of nowhere was a place in the radial centre of a deserted area. But in naming this place, we’d have to come up with an arbitrary measure of desolateness, and coldheartedly brand places people call home as forsaken, empty, and devoid of civilised life. Although some may take these labels with gusto, most would not be flattered by the often despairing, or even condescending tone borne from ignorance targeting the places they grew to know and love. And upon judgmentally identifying these places, all too frequently we end up ransacking rainforests and pouring sediment into the sea, only to have the tide turn against us soon after, at which point we blame others for the deed.
Thus, by the same token, should we not treat these seemingly frivolous issues with less contempt? This silly playing with numbers, or twisting of words might be the seed of a creative spirit, a hobby fostered from childhood ready to bloom. Soon, one might even find that these trifles have some use – first for occupation, then for entertainment, then for solving problems in ways never previously imagined. Trying to eliminate trivialities based on perceived usefulness is no winner’s strategy – imagine if mathematicians had stopped working on number theory, which Hardy had declared so proudly to be useless. We wouldn’t have the encryption systems or swift digital calculation often taken for granted today.
Is this claim a stretch? Perhaps. But with the prevalence of investigating for the sake of investigation, and playing with data for the sake of play among the pioneers of intellectual advancement (no citations, sorry), it’s worth at least a second thought. Otherwise, we might soon find ourselves lost in our own ignorance – where we began, in the middle of nowhere.
A recent rant (of mine) that came out of Nowhere.