What Science Has Forgotten

Many people think that science will eventually be able to explain everything that happens in nature, and that technology will be able to reproduce it. Perhaps that is so, but even then, that day lies far into the future. Probably a more likely scenario is that the further science and technology advance, the deeper the mysteries of the world will grow. Even with topics that we believe science has solved for good, when you take a closer look, you'll find that plenty of problems have slipped through the cracks or been swept under the carpet. Furthermore, these are often the issues that are closest to us and most important in our daily lives. Take hunches or intuitions or premonitions, for example. They may have rational-sounding explanations, but our gut feelings tell us something is not quite right after all. Such examples are not at all uncommon. When you think about it, there are lots of things that modern civilization has forgotten all about. Maybe the time has come to stop for a moment and try to remember. The seeds of forthcoming science and technology are impatiently waiting to be discovered among the things we have left behind.


Tasteless, Odorless Nature

For humans, nature has always been precious but also frightening. That is still true, but civilization, in particular western civilization, has done its utmost to put nature under human control by force. For some, our current environmental problems have been a trigger to reflect on that troublesome history. Meanwhile, the world is rapidly filling up with images from outer space, the bottom of the sea and all corners of our planet. We can experience the beauty and severity of nature from the comfort of our own homes. But the atmosphere and the smells that nature is supposedly full of don’t come through. Earthquakes and tsunamis are also expressions of nature. As long as we prefer to stay with our image of idealized nature, we are getting further and further from the real thing.

It is said that play can by categorized into the four classes “competition,” “chance,” “imitation” and “dizziness.” There is “play” in a steering wheel as well, suggesting a nuance of allowance and flexibility. Then there’s the arts. In Japan, ritual “playing for the gods” was the archetypical form of performing arts. Play was always profoundly related to physical activities. That nuance is quite different from today’s games, puzzles and other leisure activities. Although IT has meant a tremendous boost for the development of games and puzzles, we are now far removed from the original meaning of the word “play.”Why? Because the body has been left out.


There are things like position information games, of course, but they invariably rely on turning reality into information, rather than the other way around. For sure, today’s games too come replete with elements of competition, chance, imitation and dizziness, but the original elements of “play” have been excluded along with the body. In most old games, the purpose was never to find the “right solution.” Working toward the “goals” and “correct solutions” set up by game designers or programs is already more like school examinations than “play.”