Monday, January 09, 2006

On Maps

I'm revising my first novel, A MAP OF HOME, and reading Timothy Mitchell's book, and I found this section on maps so cool and relevant:
The twentieth century’s new regime of calculation did not produce, necessarily, a more accurate knowledge of the world, despite its claims, nor even any overall increase in the quantity of knowledge. Its achievement was to redistribute forms of knowledge, increasing it in some places and decreasing it in others. At the same time, it transferred this knowledge to new sites. By a series of removals, it opened up a certain distance, the distance between the field and the computing office, between the farmer and the colonial survey officer, between the iron triangulation marker and the paper map. The distance of such removals, repeated countless times in the cadastral survey and in increasing numbers of other projects, was to have a strange effect. The act of removal began to appear not as an action but as something more profound. The distance from the field to the map and back again, from the village to the computing office, would come to mark what seemed an absolute gap: the divide between reality and its representation, between an image-world and its object. The question of accuracy or truth could now be cast as the degree of correspondence between the object-world on one side of this divide and the maps, images, and numbers on the other. The strange effect gave rise to new objects and forms of calculation—among the most important of them, the economy.
My novel's title refers to a scene when the narrator has to copy out a map of Palestine until she memorizes it. But later she finds out that Palestine's maps have changed and evolved so much over the years that there's no telling where it really starts and where it ends... which I think is a cool way of talking about the concepts of "home" and "belonging".


Blogger BridalBeer said...

Beautiful. Looking at US's map of India with Indian eyes, I am often amazed- it seems beheaded, but that is their version of the Kashmir issue. I wonder how many Indias there are and have been in all the globes ever manufactured.

7:58 AM  
Blogger rockslinga said...

Exactly. One of the reasons I am so into the map theme is because it brings up these kinds of amazements. Cool.

9:43 AM  

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