Thursday, October 1, 2015

the comforting nature of maps

The View of The World from 9th Avenue by Saul Steinberg is a ‘map’ that gives absurd prominence to Manhattan (Credit: Saul Steinberg/New Yorker)

Maps, as implied in a BBC feature, hold out a wondrous promise: The way is sure; the destinations clear; the dangers apparent ... and it's all laid out in a way that soothes the uncertain mind. Beauty and accuracy vie for top billing on maps.

And yet, without getting unduly snarky about it, maps are invariably incomplete. They point out this but overlook that. Yes, a map may show the way to Tulsa, but what of the particulars of the journey? Maps have helped to call theology into question. Maps have been drawn and redrawn in an effort to match the certainties the mind imagines in a map. It never works, but the mind is nonetheless insistent about its certainty and sense of relief that "it," whatever "it" is, can be shown for sure.

Interesting to think how a man or woman may draw maps in the mind and, like literal cartographers, tweak the scene from moment to moment as a means of  certainty, of an ease and of a place to rest assured.

Vote Democrat.
Vote Republican.
Money will make things better.
Money will make things worse.
War is the answer.
War is not the answer.
Marriage will fill the bill.
Marriage will not fill the bill.

Mapping, mapping, mapping ....

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