The horizon is generally conspicuous, whereas the surrounding landscape, close to us, is taken for granted. Yet, in the social and historical world (and perhaps in some measure in the physical world also), the horizon we perceive depends on our more immediate environment and its general features. A forest or a savannah, a local hillock or a hollow, make a great difference to the kind of skyline that is seen. But it is in the nature of things that what is close and familiar should also be treated with familiarity and contempt, and that its importance should normally be ignored. It is its ordinariness, obviousness, which causes us to take it for granted: but the hold it has over us is immeasurably strengthened precisely by the fact that we do take it for granted. What is noticed can be queried, but that which seems utterly obvious eludes questioning. The horizon, by contrast, errs in the opposite direction. It is often quite spuriously dramatic. If you walk to the point on the distant skyline, you may well find, when you reach it, that it is just as ordinary a place as your starting point. But as long as it remains on the skyline, it occupies the dramatic point at which the sky meets land or water, the point where the sun sets or rises. It has a striking suggestiveness, and symbolizes our deeper or more ecstatic aspirations-quite unlike the close and dusty immediate locality, which tends instead to remind us of our compromises, shabbiness and mediocrity.