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Life as a Landscape

Smacholdt's picture

 Reading further into A Field Guide, I enjoyed Solnit's parallels between our lives and a physical landscape. I was able to appreciate this parallel even more after our class activity on the connection between geologic maps and our lives. Solnit works this theme into the book in a few ways. She talks about country songs references to specific places, and she talks about properties of geologic maps.

I was especially struck by the quote, “The landscape in which identity is supposed to be grounded is not solid stuff; it’s made out of memory and desire, rather than rock and soil...” I thought that this did a good job of summing up the point brought up in class on Tuesday that our physical geographic location and how we perceive it are very different.

I also liked her point about the variability of maps. There are, of course, hundreds of ways that you could map an area (population size, education, principle crops, etc. but there are also numerous possible ways to map each of these. Solnit uses the example of how the Great Salt Lake can’t be mapped accurately because, due to the basin it’s in, any change in water level leads to an extensive change in the shoreline. This seemed to fit well with the class point that maps are only a crude representation of what we really wish to portray.



Roy Nelson's picture

and the Borges link grows stronger,

I have just read some more about the Solnit book, and also about the series "Lost" (which I have never seen) BUT I know the that is was losely based on a book called "The Invention of Morel", by ABC ;-)(Adolfo Bioy Casares), now he was VERY good friend of Borges... so much so that ABC and JLB shared a pseudonym... and the story of "On Exactitude in Science" (expands on Sylvie and Bruno by Lewis Carroll) was published under their combined pseudonym... now how it that for find a way back through an incredibly beautiful map...


Roy Nelson's picture


I am fascinated by all this talk of maps... Whenever people talk of maps it reminds me of my favourite author JL Borges... and "On Exactitude in Science" and again through Borges I found out about "John Wilkins" in Borges incredible "THE ANALYTICAL LANGUAGE OF JOHN WILKINS"... the categorisation of language the mapping of language onto reality, how our brains are mapping engines, constantly mapping/categorising reducing complexity/viewing from afar, and how our knack for categorisation that helps us so much, can also lead us to map people into categories, and consequences of that is dangerous, very dangerous... it is easier to hate a label than a person... so the inaccuracy of our maps that enables us to see a global picture can also lead to disaster...

my two pence (change the currency to suite your locale) on subject...

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