The insistence on clearly defined boundaries—from the abstract delineations of identity to the very real walls and barbed wire of political borders—is perhaps the most defining aesthetic of modernity. Rationality itself, the driving gaze of our age, summons the image of the partitioned number, the whole neatly divided into its polarized parts. Everything must be accounted for in the ledger of the known and knowable: in a time where all landscapes and mindscapes have hard lines, it is sacrilege to be lost. The hard edge of the border wages preemptive war on the encroaching chaos of wild spaces, safeguarding the puritanical humanity of civilization. In the rush to make our humanity impermeable, however, something has been lost: the capacity to be lost.
Strangely enough, it is this capacity to be lost which mediates our ability to encounter otherness. Without it, the other becomes an inaccessible world. Lostness is precisely what is needed when crossing borders: the consequence of refusing to be lost in the presence of difference is either a rapid retreat to what is known, or the conquest of the unknown.