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It's on the tip of someone's tongue
May 25, 2014 1:43 PM   Subscribe

Please help my husband and me find words or phrases (any language!) that describe the sensation of knowing how far you are from home. Not really alienation or nostalgia or being homesick-- just the understanding/realization of the distance.

Poetry or book passages would be great too-- he thinks there was one in The Algebraist but we are currently very far from home* and can't check.

*will 100% be donating to Mefi when I get back from the Sahara because how insane is it that we can ask the nice internet people questions from a town perched near dunes, go internet
posted by jetlagaddict to Writing & Language (14 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
 
Ford was very kind - he gave the barman another five-pound note and told him to keep the change. The barman looked at it and then looked at Ford. He suddenly shivered: he experienced a momentary sensation that he didn't understand because no one on Earth had ever experienced it before. In moments of great stress, every life form that exists gives out a tiny sublimal signal. This signal simply communicates an exact and almost pathetic sense of how far that being is from the place of his birth. On Earth it is never possible to be further than sixteen thousand miles from your birthplace, which really isn't very far, so such signals are too minute to be noticed. Ford Prefect was at this moment under great stress, and he was born 600 light years away in the near vicinity of Betelgeuse.
The barman reeled for a moment, hit by a shocking, incomprehensible sense of distance. He didn't know what it meant, but he looked at Ford Prefect with a new sense of respect, almost awe.

From Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
posted by tau_ceti at 1:51 PM on May 25 [22 favorites]


In French, dépaysement hints at it – a feeling of knowing you're not home. But it's not connected with direct perception of the physical distance involved.
posted by zadcat at 2:06 PM on May 25


Literal distance like miles? Or "I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore" meaning, far away from the familiar?
posted by Ideefixe at 2:45 PM on May 25 [1 favorite]


Displacement, maybe.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:20 PM on May 25


Sensing distance may be correlated to sensing time. The time it takes to reach the destination gives you a feeling of how far away you are.
posted by artdrectr at 4:06 PM on May 25 [3 favorites]


Spatial cognition? Exteroception?
posted by unknowncommand at 4:26 PM on May 25


There is a phrase that you "Can't go home again." It is about emotional distance, the feeling that you can return to your homeland but not recapture the sense of "home" from your youth, at least not in the same place.

Originally from this book:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/You_Can't_Go_Home_Again

This phrase is less about physical distance, and more about a permanent and unbridgeable gap. From the wikipedia article:

'The phrase “you can’t go home again” has entered American speech to mean that once you have left your country town or provincial backwater city for a sophisticated metropolis you cannot return to the narrow confines of your previous way of life and, more generally, attempts to relive youthful memories will always fail.'
posted by htid at 5:25 PM on May 25 [1 favorite]


Sam: This is it.
Frodo: What?
Sam: If I take one more step, I'll be the farthest away from home I've ever been.
Frodo: Come on, Sam. Remember what Bilbo used to say: "It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might be swept off to."
posted by Kakkerlak at 9:04 PM on May 25 [1 favorite]


"We are a long way from home."
posted by Dansaman at 9:29 PM on May 25


Suadade is a great word, but doesn't necessarily have much to do with distance. Read the wiki entry and listen to the album regardless.

Poetry or book passages would be great too-- he thinks there was one in The Algebraist but we are currently very far from home* and can't check.


“Swim” said Fassin. “You know; when your head kind of seems to swim because you suddenly think: “Hey, I’m a human being, but I’m twenty thousand light years from home and we’re all living in the midst of mad aliens and super weapons and the whole bizarre insane swirl of galactic history and politics! That; isn’t that weird?”
posted by sebastienbailard at 10:48 PM on May 25


The song:

Sometimes I feel like a motherless child,
Sometimes I feel like a motherless child,
Sometimes I feel like a motherless child,
A long way from home.

Sometimes I feel like this life ain't worthwhile,
Sometimes I feel like this life ain't worthwhile,
Sometimes I feel like this life ain't worthwhile,
A long way from home.
posted by Jane the Brown at 5:48 AM on May 26


Stranger in a strange land
posted by dave99 at 5:53 AM on May 26


Along the same lines as artdrectr, for me distance is measured largely in "How long would it take for me to get home". The longer it would take, the less "at home" I feel. I think I would feel comfortable most places, no matter how foreign, if I knew I could teleport back to my home whenever I wanted.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 8:46 AM on May 26


Interesting stuff, all-- I marked as best answer the two that seemed to get closest to the distance concept (definitely physical distance, not an emotional thing) but these are all intriguing!
posted by jetlagaddict at 4:13 PM on July 8


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