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"Going beyond reality to record a real world"

Anne Dalke's picture

As a follow-up to  jrlewis's description of closely related literary kinds--and an invitation to get you to think about the "connections" between your own "cloister" and the world portrayed in Satrapi's autographics...'s a rail map that shows how you can get from Oslo to Pyongyang “without changing trains.”

This image is entree into a NYTimes review essay reflecting on maps’ value as conceptual artwork.
Like graphic narratives, maps are another example of a genre that combines the verbal and the visual:

"They can be maps of the designer’s mind as well as maps of terrain, concerned not just with topography but with typography too. Some maps have gone down in design history as milestones of visual erudition."

"...the exotic and fantastical antique maps reveal their makers 'daydreaming about the world' .... a map is not always geographically accurate .... it sets out to record a real world, but in doing so has to go beyond reality...."


Herbie's picture


I love maps, but this one in particular just brings back fond memories of my summer in London. But by looking at this map, I tried to replace the city names the artist used with the real names of the stops in London.  For instance, the stop nearest to my dorm was Kensington, which is where Alexandria is on the map.  The map is also missing several stops, but that's not entirely the artists fault.  Maps are great because they can help you recall previous vacations, but they also can inspire new vacations, trips, and excursions. 

Maps can also inspire creativity in other ways.  When my family evacuated for Hurricane Rita, we joined a mob of others and were stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic for 8 hours, plus another 5 hours to our actual destination once we got out of the densest traffic.  As a result, on the way back, anytime my dad thought he saw traffic ahead, he had me get out our Texas State Road Map and plot a new route home.  It required me to think outside the box, while still thinking inside the map.

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