The Spaces Between, Russell Haley (Adastra Productions, 2012), 192 pp., $25.00.
‘Only connect…’, E.M. Forster wrote in the well-known epigraph to Howards End in 1910 as a dictum for a new century, but connectivity, seen historically, can be considered the one consistent human theme.
The lashed-together constructions of fronds and shells that made up the navigation stick-charts of early Polynesian voyagers were a precise metaphor that described and encompassed a world of tides, winds and isolated atolls. The Tabula Peutingeriana of the late Roman Empire was another: an intinerum, a graphically interlaced list of destinations, with place symbols and distances, arranged with a surprisingly similarity to Harry Beck’s famous London underground rail map of 1931.
Our knowledge of the world can be seen as a series of diagrams only some of which occupy physical space. Australian Aboriginal narratives, with their interwoven locks of route to hold and describe, are a fundamental example. Logic, the Greek system of abstract relations, is a spider-web of connected language statements and the dominant mode by which our world is perceived. Tim Berners-Lee’s link-based internet architecture is simply the most recent model.