James Trainor

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The Center of the World and Other Points of Interest

The Center of the World and Other Points of Interest

If you wanted to locate the exact "center of the world" on a map, where would you start to look for it?

Cabinet, Issue 41, Spring 2011, Infrastructure

If you wanted to locate the exact “center of the world” on a map, where would you start to look for it? It’s admittedly very difficult to decide. The world is large, 196,939,900 square miles large. There are so many good candidates: Greenwich, England (too obvious, too retro-Victorian imperial?); Peru (at the point of intersection between two mystically auspicious Nazca lines?); a Celtic stone circle in the Outer Hebrides endowed with New Age energies? The North Pole? The South Pole? All potential candidates, all noble contenders in the field. However, you might find yourself wondering if this quest were not unlike Lewis Carroll’s epically quixotic 1874 poem The Hunting of the Snark and its blank-page-as-treasure-map: nonsensical and impossible on its face, the quarry being everywhere and nowhere, the location being the zenith of anywhere you happen to stand. You might find yourself mumbling Zen-inspired neo-mystical aphorisms like “no matter where you go, there you are” (which look good tacked over your desk but discourage expeditions) and resigning yourself to your armchair and your Rand Mcnally world atlas.

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