The Notion of Nowhere

Where, exactly, is the middle of nowhere? What is it?

Not in or to any place; not anywhere,” if we’re to trust Google. Also: “a place that is remote, uninteresting, or nondescript.”

And that’s the key—distance from ourselves. To say somewhere is “the middle of nowhere” says nothing about its intrinsic properties—”nowhere” doesn’t exist on maps1—but it does speak to its human properties. We dismiss a place as “nowhere” when we don’t see our values or history or influence in it.

Land isn’t “of a place” (somewhere) or “not of a place” (nowhere)—only we are.

If we understand conservation as an effort to re-value natural places, we could also understand it as a movement to erode the notion of nowhere—to include everywhere in our value systems, regardless of distance.

Show 1 footnote

  1. If it did exist on maps, it appears certain portions of Idaho, Oregon, Nevada, and Arizona all qualify, using distance to roadways as a proxy.

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  1. John B

    Great post. Could also reflect on eroding the notion of no one.

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