v. Extensions of a Mobile Astronaut: The Function of Astronauto

Introduction to Sensations through extensions: The Function of Astronauto (Extensions of Spaceship Earth: The Function of Weave Transformed)

It will not be easy to persuade Angelenos, many of them able to remember the dying agonies of the PE [Pacific Electric}, to leave the convenient car at home – in spite of their complaints about traffic jams – and climb into whatever coloured rolling-stock the new dream-system offers.

p. 83, The Transportation Palimpsest, Los Angeles: The Architecture of Four Ecologies, Reyner Banham

Many of the mobility solutions that propel our modern cities, save the foot, the cycle, and the car, are often ill-equipped in terms of revealing the full potential of a region. These solutions, often applied universally, regardless of cultural tendencies, geographical location and topographical information, are almost exclusively restricted to straight line navigation. Whereas in reality there may be as many possible routes from one position to another as there are points in space that separate the two locations, many transit propositions, namely buses and subway systems, see the voyage as a problem in black and white, and offer commuters only a single navigational choice. A single choice yields very few results. The prospect of offering less possibilities equates to a greater chance of simply glancing at that which would otherwise be studied in depth. And at any point of any region, there is indeed a great vastness of things, experiences, and connexions that surely deserve more than a wayward glance.

For the sake of balance however, these inflexible transit options surely have a place within the greater scheme of the woven transportation system, provided they do not outnumber those solutions which offer greater mobility; solutions that extend the discovered control principle of walking. No matter how restricting a voyage they provide, appropriate transportation balance is employed by using these static mobility extensions in concert with other mobility counterparts, such as walking, that offer greater levels of discovery. Once again, systems within systems allow for the functioning of the greater system. Nevertheless, the voyage provided by these immobile-mobile systems, remains uninspiring and unrevealing – unfortunate adjectives for a life experience that itself, as empirical knowledge has shown us, often leads to great discoveries. Because were one to walk, such as is the natural instinct of man, the astronaut, unrestricted to a single straight line during both the initial voyage and subsequent travels, his understanding and knowledge of the space and systems of a region would be significantly increased, having studied his surroundings with amplified precision and a keen interest. This understanding and knowledge is the foundation of a healthy city, yet is acquired only through spontaneity and discovery, states-of-mind that lead to the understanding of any entity, no matter its scale. And spontaneity and discovery are found only in freedom. So how can we expect spontaneity and discovery from a man if he is more often then not, bound to a single straight line?

Yet no matter how much navigational freedom is obtained from the networking of our transportation systems or from the predominance of naturally-inspired mobility extensions, man is only truly free once he has rid himself of the burden of danger. And to rid oneself of the dangers of mobility is to gain safety within these mobile systems. Man can typically withstand unprotected impacts occurring at speeds inferior to 20 mph, the approximate maximum natural speed of the human body. Beyond this speed, the body of man was simply not designed for a collision of such importance. This is not to say that all future transportation systems should be limited to a speed of 20 mph, but rather, that every effort should be made to limit the impact consequences to be no more severe than those of a collision occurring between man and matter at 20 mph.

In brief, Astronauto should safely and naturally extend the discovered mobile control principles of man, the Astronaut. Consequently, Astronauto should safely extend freedom.

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