the virtuality of arundel
last weekend i visited arundel with e and her parents. arundel is a lovely little market town on a hill in west sussex, home to the duke of norfolk and a well-preserved norman castle since 1068. today it has a beautifully twee little town centre:
amongst other shops in this photograph one can see a butcher, a grocer’s shop and a bookshop. i was enjoying my stroll around these expensive, specialists stores - admiring the cheeses on offer in the grocer’s window - when it struck me that the only sense in which this place was any more ‘real’ than some virtual version of it - one recreated in second life, say - was that it was a physical location. the england i grew up in and know is all about suburbs, supermarkets, fast food shops, television, blue collar jobs, computer games, motorways, petrol stations, nhs hospitals, prefabricated school buildings, etc, etc. the chocolate box, pastoral & staunchly tory view of england that arundel suggests is just a tourist backdrop. a pretty one, sure, but as unrealistic a backdrop as any scene i’ve seen at the movies or in some computer generated environment.