Abysmal: A Critique of Cartographic Reason by Gunnar Olsson

By Gunnar Olsson

Humans depend upon cause to consider and navigate the summary international of human kin in a lot an identical means they depend upon maps to review and traverse the actual global. ranging from that straightforward remark, popular geographer Gunnar Olsson deals 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 robust to map out different people’s lives.A spectacular interpreting of Western philosophy, faith, and mythology that pulls on early maps and atlases, Plato, Kant, and Wittgenstein, Thomas Pynchon, Gilgamesh, and Marcel Duchamp, Abysmal is itself a minimalist advisor to the terrain of Western tradition. Olsson roams extensively yet continuously returns to the issues inherent in cause, to query the outmoded assumptions and glued rules that considering cartographically involves. a piece of ambition, scope, and sharp wit, Abysmal will entice an eclectic audience—to geographers and cartographers, but additionally to somebody attracted to the heritage of rules, tradition, and paintings. (20061024)

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It has even been suggested that the real reason he undertook his voyage was that he wanted to verify what geometry had already taught him. If so, then Pytheas may be best described as a paradigmatic scientist obsessed by the idea of combining theoretical insights with direct observations, in effect a geometer of intersecting lines turned into a geographer of nameable places. The most outstanding result of this approach is that he established the exact location of the celestial pole, that imaginary center about which A N D B E LOW all stars appear to circle, that dematerialized point which corresponds to the outward projection of the earth axis—a geometer’s abstraction so abstract that even though it can be thought, it can never be seen.

21 Yet another case of ontological transformation, yet another instance of invisible ideology turned into touchable stone, the Earth made a mirror of Heaven, the Heaven itself a material projection of social relations. ”22 And yet. For absolute rulers enough is never enough. Moved by the desire to create a work of consummate art, Marduk conceives a plan designed to solidify his position and perpetuate his rule. To placate the supporters he promises that they will never need to work again, that after the next election leisure will be their blessed lot.

The only problem with the latter is that in order to be useful to anyone but school teachers and interior decorators, the globe must be so big that no one is strong enough to handle it. ”38 Ptolemy’s own competence and ambition were beautifully demonstrated in his three map projections, all of them pictorial inventions designed to flatten the earth without destroying it. The first was a conical projection constructed with straight converging meridians and curved parallels, the second a modified spherical projection with curved converging meridians and curved parallels.

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