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Where You Are: Cartography as Wayfinding for the Soul | Brain Pickings


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In an essay contemplating the delights of old maps, at once so misguided and so brave, philosopher Alain de Botton (yes, him — and him — also him) observes:

The pleasure of contemplating the world on a map might be likened to that of reading certain novels. In both cases, we are placed in a privileged position vis a vis a reality which we usually only glimpse from a limited perspective. With a world map, we rise above the constraints of our segment of land so as to hold the globe in our gaze, much as with novels, we may be granted intimate access to minds beyond our own.

But of course, like a novel, a map can only ever be a model and reduction of reality. The journeys we make through the landscape look precariously unlike the lines we trace on a map — and it is here that the lost motorist moans. However, it seems we cannot do without abbreviations of complexity in order to make sense of our world, in order to get to our destination.

Fascinating. How do you map the unmappable?

Without trepidation.  Or tentatively.  It depends on who's doing the mapping.

"Where You Are" would make a great Christmas gift, methinks.  

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