March 7, 2017

Abysmal: A Critique of Cartographic Reason by Gunnar Olsson

By Gunnar Olsson

Humans depend upon cause to consider and navigate the summary global of human relatives in a lot a similar method they depend upon maps to review and traverse the actual international. ranging from that straightforward remark, popular geographer Gunnar Olsson bargains in Abysmal an astonishingly erudite critique of how human inspiration and motion became deeply immersed within the rhetoric of cartography and the way this cartographic reasoning permits the strong to map out different people’s lives.A spectacular studying of Western philosophy, faith, and mythology that attracts on early maps and atlases, Plato, Kant, and Wittgenstein, Thomas Pynchon, Gilgamesh, and Marcel Duchamp, Abysmal is itself a minimalist consultant to the terrain of Western tradition. Olsson roams largely yet continually returns to the issues inherent in cause, to query the superseded assumptions and stuck principles that considering cartographically includes. a piece of ambition, scope, and sharp wit, Abysmal will entice an eclectic audience—to geographers and cartographers, but in addition to somebody attracted to the historical past of principles, tradition, and paintings. (20061024)

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Sample text

His first name was Roman, the second he shared with the Macedonian dynasty that ruled Egypt at the time, a family to which he was not related. 31 Sandwiched between these masterpieces was the astrological treatise Tetrabiblos, Ptolemy’s attempt to correlate the supposed characteristics of various peoples with the positions of zodiacal signs and planets. The purpose of the wide-ranging Almagest was to teach the reader how to draw a celestial globe, a representation of the universe in which the heavens were conceived as an immense sphere that rotates daily around an axis which at its center has another sphere, the nonrotating earth.

Most debated are his references to Thule, by the majority of modern commentators held to be Iceland, by some to be Shetland or the Norwegian coast around Trondheim. 16 Here was literally the dangerous edge of 27 28 M A P P I N G S the world, with summer daylight lasting up to six months, a land of firethrowing volcanoes and boiling springs, a sea with freezing fog, ice-slush all around, solid ice rumored to be a day away. ”17 Not knowing anything about the Gulf Stream but firmly believing that to the north of the Black Sea it was too cold for humans to survive, people found Pytheas’ story hard to accept.

52 These profound differences notwithstanding, both artists chose to hang their respective pictures on hooks of shadows, Ptolemy on blocked sun-light, Cosmas on the New Testament foretold by the Old. Gnomons of different kinds, gnomons nevertheless. For just as Eratosthenes had argued that what was visible in Alexandria was invisible in Syene, so the Church Fathers turned the touchable Jesus into the incarnate Son of the nontouchable Father. 54 And yet it must be repeated that both Ptolemy and Cosmas were driven by the same desire of imitating the world in drawing—not, however, of depicting the heavenly life up there or the human life down here taken separately, but of capturing the complex relations between them.

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