Love, like a poltergeist, is invisible to the naked eye and can only be witnessed by the force it bears on objects. To really understand it, you need to feel it, to be possessed by it, or, at the very least, to see the way it can tear up a living room when it goes wrong. And like a poltergeist, sometimes love is actually just a big ruse designed by lonely people to gain attention.
It’s this last type of love on which I want to concentrate this Valentine’s Day. Since the beginning of time, and at least since the George Glass episode of The Brady Bunch, our ability to love and our worthiness of being loved have been so important in defining us as human beings that even when we don’t have real relationships in our lives, we are willing to fake it. While the stories can be complex, elaborate and carry on for months, when that pretend girlfriend or boyfriend isn’t needed anymore, all that fiction is just cast aside like invisible garbage. Well I believe even made-up people deserve better.
I want to properly honor the make-believe lovers who never got to be on the receiving end of a proper relationship. Unfortunately, I am limited by the postal service of a physical world, so I can’t send each of them Valentine’s cards. Instead, I am doing the next best thing by compiling them all here and firing them blindly into the ether like tiny spaceships of appreciation. We owe them all that much, particularly young Jenny Garret, my fictional fourth-grade girlfriend. I’m sorry, Jenny. I hope you got over me and went on to accomplish your lifelong dream of becoming a pretend veterinarian. These are all for you, in a way.
Introspection and Symbolism: An Appreciation of Spaceship Earth’s Mirror Column
Sometimes you just get a strange idea about something very simple and fairly obvious. This is one of them. Over the weekend, I visited EPCOT to say goodbye to Maelstrom. As I always do, I took numerous photographs of Spaceship Earth, but this time I focused on the mirror column that graces the front of the structure. And as I did so, I realized how many people stopped to take a picture of themselves, reflected on the structure. Noticing that sparked this odd but, hopefully interesting line of thought: Spaceship Earth’s mirror column offers an architectural trick to make the building seem like it is floating… but it also offers a chance for symbolic introspection.
“Man and his Spaceship Earth” was the original title for the communication pavilion as early as 1978 when Ray Bradbury was brought into WED to serve as a creative advisor for EPCOT Center. “Man and his Spaceship Earth" as both a phrase and an idea come true when you see yourself reflected in the column. That you see this image of yourself before you enter the park, proper, and are faced with (what once was?) a showplace of limitless optimism and futurism is a subtle thematic turn. Where, at a base level, Future World could be seen in lacking in humanity and relatable emotions, a mirror stands at the entrance in which you can indeed see yourself in a futuristic environment, denying this criticism any breadth. Spaceship Earth might be seen, from afar, as a monolithic symbol and almost as a monument, but when you are closest to it, you and your peers are reflected at ground level.
I think that this possible and subtle symbolism truly illustrates EPCOT Center’s original intent and aims in exposing the better parts of humanity. I would like to think that WED placed the mirror column in the way that it did at least on a subconscious level so as to affect this sort of introspection and symbolism. While the ideas expressed in Future World were grand and lofty, at the base level, the place was about people and their interactions and reflections on a grander future world to come.
Your EPCOT Explorer on his first visit to EPCOT Center. Notice that the Mirror Column has the Spaceship Earth pavilion logo on its side, that its base is surrounded by planters, and that the crystalline pylon fountain in front of it almost echoes and softens the architectural motif.