Sunday, 1 June 2008

"Hidden Worlds."

Geocachers refer to non-geocachers as ‘muggles’. Since Harry Potter first came out, groups have been known to refer to non-members as muggles but in the case of geocaching, it seems particularly apt. Discovering the fact that geocaching occurs is very similar to the experience of Harry in the first book; his revelatory moment of realising that all along there has been a hidden layer just beneath the top layer of reality; that you just need to scratch the surface of your world a little bit to find that there are things you never knew existed and they’ve been right under your nose. So these people, muggles (or geomuggles) can’t see or are unaware of the other layer of meaning which can be laid on top of their perceptual experience.

Geocaching is a free treasure-hunting game. Various people go out into secluded (generally countryside) locations and plant waterproof caches containing items, paper, or whatever. They then upload the global co-ordinates of that cache onto the internet and others are able to go out and find them. The co-ordinates can be found using either a GPS locator or just printing a map off Google Earth. However these devices only get you within twenty yards or so of the cache and once out there it’s more difficult than you might imagine to find them, particularly the well-hidden ones. The point of the game is pure fun – no material gain or acclaim – just fun, which makes it all the sadder when sites are found to be ‘muggledie. tampered with by geomuggles. The whole game exists for the sole purpose of helping individuals to go out and generate their own adventures.

Chances are if you’ve been on a country walk, you’ve walked by one of these caches without even realising it – probably just a yard or so away, perhaps hidden in a fake rock or beneath some undergrowth. There are even caches in Manchester Piccadilly somewhere which thousands of people walk past each day. All these geocaches are hidden out in the open and yet relatively few people know of their existence. It’s fascinating that there could be a secret sport going on right in front of someone and they’d never know it. These treasure hunts go on everyday and doesn’t that fact just make the world a little bit more exciting?

It makes one wonder what other layers of reality are out there, hidden in plain sight. Philosophy represents one layer; a different way of looking at the world to the established societal ‘norm’. Geocaching is another, albeit more physical, tangible, and fun than philosophy often is. What else could be out there right in front of us that we are unable to see? What layers of meaning do others impose on the world that most of us aren’t even cognizant of? How much more is out there?

The real world can be so much better than the everyday natural attitude would have you believe.

“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” – ‘Hamlet’ by William Shakespeare.

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