Flaming Dangerzone

The Intervening Space

The traveler sees what he sees; the tourist sees what he has come to see.
— G. K. Chesterton

I like to travel.

When I say “to travel” I don’t mean to visit places. I don’t mean to be in places. I mean to travel; I mean the part when you are actually moving from one point to another, not the parts when you are at those endpoints.

I usually explain what I mean by explaining how traveling on a plane doesn’t count. Planes are boring: you get into the metal can and then a few hours later you’re elsewhere. With a plane you cannot appreciate the act of traveling itself; you can only appreciate that part when you are someplace. The part when you travel to that place is boring and incredibly short.

It’s a bit like non-instantaneous teleportation. You go from one point to another without actually crossing the intervening space. Well, technically, you do cross that intervening space, but you don’t really experience it. It’s a bit like the fast travel mechanic of some video games, with the difference that usually video games require you to manually cross the intervening space at least once before you can just hop between places without experiencing the intervening space.

So much land traveled, so little sense made of it
— in Be Safe by The Cribs

I have traveled between points of the planet that are more than two thousand kilometres apart, but the distance between them is meaningless. Those two points are something between two and three hours apart, not two thousand kilometres. In this context, their distance can only be meaningfully expressed in hours, not kilometres. The engineer in me wants to punch myself for those last two sentences, but the me that actually traveled between those points wants to slap the engineer for trying to reduce everything to numbers.

On a plane, the intervening space becomes the intervening time; the space is reduced to the plane itself.

A string with no characters—'' (two single quotes with no intervening space)—is called an empty string or a zero-length string.
— in SQL: Visual QuickStart Guide by Chris Fehily

I like the intervening space.