Daily mythology: cartography


With our birth we begin to survey the world. “Mama!”. First with the eyes, then with our fingers (“strange object three fingers nine o clock!”), then with our feet (“it took me 100 steps to the church/bar/forest/field/top!”. My horse takes it’s time to get home, though it finds the way home by itself. We measure in time too (“il et minuit a Tokyo, il est cinq heures au Mali, quelle heure est il au paradis?”). Soon scientists began mapping the earth, the sea and even the air (isobars). “Never someone took so much land from me as my cartograph!”, the French king said, looking at the first map of France. Mercator created the first (cylindrical) map of our globe. Navigators did like it, because it didn’t change the angles, though it made the lands near the poles much bigger. Nowaja Semlja and Tristan da Cunha enjoyed it too. The swimming island of Delos is since then able to change not only it’s position but it’s shape too. Meteorologists created the isobars (lines of the same atmospheric pressure), we have methods to learn about the depth of the sea, we fly to the stars, the fingerprints showed everyone’s individuality, the horoscope showed (more or less) our life(time), the spirit level taught us to be horizontal or vertical, the logarithm-tables helped us to calculate spirals, (as we need plans for construction, for clothes, for cars, machines or furniture), the ampèremeter tells us about electricity, the transistors, the chips…. and so on…..On actual maps we can see our house, the garden and the car. And now drones will rapidly progress.

But mapping has something shamanic, something invoking too. We do it with our language, with our writing. Without someone traveling to Americas south and giving a name to the landscape there, we wouldn’t know Patagonia. Without the Aborigines singing their country every day Australia would not exist. Do you smile? In the theater, when Don Giovanni or Faust are evoking the ghost, we smile too. It’s just a little bit of smoke and theatrical thunder, we think. But if the writing in an internet search window doesn’t evoke the national anthem of Guinea-Bissau, the water-depth in the port of Cape Cod or the sunset on Iona at once, we get very cross…. And the map, the sign as a protection from evil? Fatima’s hand, Boncuk? The pentagram on Faust’s threshold? We learn: a thing without an idea is nothing, only both together are giving reality. Ah, good old William: “Measure for measure”! But isn’t all that mapping just an offspring of our brain? How is reality in real? “As you like it”!


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One thought on “Daily mythology: cartography”

  1. “Für K. ist die Welt weder Lustgarten noch Museum, weder anthropologische, ethnographische oder folkloristische Musterkollektion noch Jagdgebiet. K. will vielmehr das Reisen als künstlerischen Spiel- und Freiraum nutzen, als Kartographie einer neuen und konstruktiven Auseinandersetzung mit aktuellen Problemen. K. bewegt sich als Kartograph auf einer Ebene ohne vorgefestigte Einstellungen und ohne vorgezeichnete Wege und Richtungen, kurz: auf einer Fluchtlinie.

    Wer sich wie K. mit Mapping beschäftingt, landet nicht an einem Anfang oder einem Ende, sondern mittendrin in den Dingen. Mapping bedeutet, über die Kartographie von Kultur und über die Kartographie als Kultur nachzudenken. Kartographie schafft Kultur.

    In der virtuellen Welt spielt der tatsächliche Aufenthaltsort der Mitspieler überhaupt keine Rolle mehr. K. reist, er ist unterwegs zur Kunst.”

    (P. B. in: Atlas der Künstlerreisen)


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