I have a strong feeling of what this posting is about – but I am not sure I can put it into words. Let’s see how far I can get.
The basics are simple – we believe the world is composed of nothing but surfaces – powerful surfaces – behind which there is nothing.
The visual arts – Painting in particular – made this assumption first. And tremendous efforts were made to display the world on specially prepared canvases. And tremendous efforts were made by the viewing public to appreciate these paintings. Everyone believed reality existed right there on those painted surfaces. Almost no one thought this was strange belief.
Historically, this was the Renaissance - the beginning of the Modern world. And the invention of a new kind of abstract space that could be seen by one eye (the artist’s) and represented on one surface.
Living as I do in Latin America, I can appreciate the lack of this kind of space – which can easily be specified by two coordinates – street name and building number – or latitude and longitude. Latinos strongly resist this, and insist on long descriptions – beginning with a landmark, and using variable units of length (100 meters can be nearly anything). The lack of precision does not bother them – and they seem to consider it an advantage (since it requires more social interaction to locate anything).
This visual bias got a huge boost when Photography was invented. Any moron with a camera could make pictures as good as the Old Masters. And they proceeded to do so – and the world was flooded with photographs. No one noticed the ego boost this gave people. As they saw it, this was just Progress at work. Turning multi-dimensional people (with a strong auditory bias, as in speech and music) into visual people. Gradually, people started assuming that surfaces were all that existed.
Photography then merged with Electricity to produce the Movies – moving images – also on a screen. Sound was added – which greatly increased the impact – but it remained in the background. People realized (unconsciously) that large numbers of people (the Movie Studios) were working overtime to satisfy them! And they loved it. This was their world - made just for them!
Once again – everything was there – on the screen. There was no sense trying to look behind it – because there was nothing there! People could not help believing that the images were everything. They did not notice that they were being manipulated by the people who produced these movies.
The movies were replaced (in short order) by Television – which was even more manipulative. Which produced people who were even less capable. Less capable of what? Of being on their own. They had become part of their things – their cars and their TV sets.
The next great step forward was the Computer. Which was also seen as a surface – even more magical – because it worked two ways – from it to the user – and from the user to it. People loved it! Especially when they became hand-held with a touch interface.
People became even more part of their technology. They did not miss being on their own at all.
Surfaces had taken over completely.