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  1. #1
    & Badger, Ratty and Toad Mole's Avatar
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    Default New Ways of Seeing

    Of course the map is not the territory, but each map is a new way of seeing.

    Unfortunately we all get attached to particular maps and forget the map is not the territory.

    So we see the same old things in the same old way, time and time again - no wonder we get bored, no wonder life seems meaningless, no wonder we get depressed. I think it is called ennui.

    And of course we are afraid to let go of old and familiar maps, after all, all animals are afraid of the unknown.

    But if we remember the map is not the territory, we know we can let go of a particular map and the territory will not disappear.

    And in fact the belief that the territory will disappear is simply neurotic. But it is a neurosis that is very common - call it ontological uncertainty if you will.

    And we have good reason to be ontologically uncertain, because everything we see, we see through a map. In fact we can't see without a map. And so naturally we think that if the map disappears, the territory disappears as well, when the territory only disappears from view - and when we open a new map, the territory magically reappears - the territory only goes into hiding when we blink the map of our eye - and when we open a new map - voila! - we see the territory anew.

    And this is the raison d'etre of poetry. Poets simply make new maps. So we might say poets are map makers.

    So no wonder poets are poor. Poets are poor because we fear their power to open out eyes with new maps. We would prefer to put out our eyes with boredom, control and ennui. Just as Narcissus put out his own eyes.

    Oedipus did not have the map of his own parents, and in his ontological blindness, he killed his father and slept with his mother. And when he discovered this, he put out his own eyes to show us how blind we are without a map.

    If you physically hold your eye perfectly still, and continue to look at exactly the same scene, quite soon it disappears from view and we are blind.

    Our eyes depends entirely on movement to see. And as the eye is a mapping device, it depends on moving from map to map.

    So map makers are ontological kings. Captain James Cook mapped Australia and brought it into sight. So without James Cook's map, you would not be able to see me now.

    Map makers and poets plumb the deep down freshness of things, and the deep down freshness of things makes map makers and poets.

  2. #2
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    I believe Frank Black said it best...

    With your feet in the air and your head on the ground
    Try this trick and spin it, yeah
    Your head will collapse
    But there's nothing in it
    And you'll ask yourself
    Where is my mind?

  3. #3
    Supreme Allied Commander Take Five's Avatar
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    If you simplify this busy metaphor to clarify what the blazes you're trying to say (to make sure I understand you), I'll comment on the subject.
    Johari Nohari

    "If an injury has to be done to a man it should be so severe that his vengeance need not be feared. "--Niccolo Machiavelli

  4. #4
    morose bourgeoisie
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    Quote Originally Posted by Victor View Post
    Of course the map is not the territory, but each map is a new way of seeing.

    Map makers and poets plumb the deep down freshness of things, and the deep down freshness of things makes map makers and poets.

    I like this. Interesting perspective.

    Except I think you mean Oedipus, Not Narcissus.

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    Gotta catch you all! Blackmail!'s Avatar
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    (Before I say anything, Victor, I think you have confused Narcissus with Oedipus)
    "A man who only drinks water has a secret to hide from his fellow-men" -Baudelaire

    7w8 SCUxI

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by nebbykoo View Post
    Except I think you mean Oedipus, Not Narcissus.
    Hey, yeah, sure - it's a natural mistake to make, anyone could make it. Look, I made it myself, so it can't be all bad.

    But we must ask ourselves, who would mind the most?

    Would Narcissus take it as a compliment to be confused with Oedipus, or would Oedipus take the most offence?

    I mean has anyone ever thought of introducing them to one another?

    After all, they both had one thing in common - neither knew what they were doing.

    Oedipus did not know it was his father he killed, anymore than he knew that it was his mother he slept with.

    While Narcissus had no idea at all that he was looking at his own reflection in the pond.

    Yes, both of them, like Sergeant Shultz, knew nothing.

    Both were innocent. Innocent victims of themselves. Just as we are.

    As indeed I am an innocent victim myself - my mistake was entirely innocent - how can you leave me unforgiven?

    I was simply reading the wrong map - so I blame the map itself - it's not me, it's the map. Maps have a life of their own. They are sent to confound us, send us mad, and destroy us. Just look what happened to Oedipus and Narcissus.

    Both Oedipus and Narcissus stand with me on this - and ask you to join us.

  7. #7
    Senior Member matmos's Avatar
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    Brilliant, Victor. The map is a perfect metaphor. It is both a noun and a verb, so without context it is also meaningless. It's scale defines it; scale is its primary consideration. Ergo, the mapmaker intrinsically acknowledges the flaws in his product, because no map can ever be a substitute for that which is mapped, unless it is a 1:1 scale model - at which point it ceases to be a map. The perfect paradox.

    The scale gives us how much we have reduced; how much we reduce tells us not about what's there as much as it acknowledges what is not there; and finally the map is out of date as soon as it is published. It is by definition flawed; it is defined by it's flaws.

    We have a flat bit of paper that attempts to represent a curved surface. Every trick in the book is used to make your bit of paper work.

    I have an old map of Kant's hometown, Konigsberg - now called Kaliningrad. The map is dated 1942, produced by the British and shows the city before it was extensively bombed. It is an interesting piece of history, but as a map it is useless. It's life short - because it served it's purpose well.

    And Victor is spot on: the eye is a perfect mapping device. Most of what it sees is ignored or is made up. It is both the most perfect mapping device and the most flawed.

    Remember with all reductive practices: it's not what you see that matters, it's what you don't. Rest assured, the cartographer thinks long and hard about what he's leaving out; that's only a problem if the humble user doesn't get that point.

    So I might sell my "map" of Konigsberg. I assume there is still a Prussian or two around that might be interested in decorating the hallway; they might follow the road up to the old family home, or stroll in the mind's eye around a English-style park, or visit an old bakery for some rye bread.

    Maybe they might also contemplate the irony that the little plan of Konigsberg on the wall was used to obliterate the old city and the only thing left of the place is the map that helped the British and Americans do it.

    It doesn't do to extrapolate big things from small things. Ask a mapmaker or a poet.

  8. #8
    Junior Member Friend's Avatar
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    Unfortunately we all get attached to particular maps and forget the map is not the territory.
    I like this analogy victor, what do you think about this- perhaps the goal is to live inside the territory never using another map again. this would be enlightenment.
    "It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society." J. Krishnamurti

  9. #9
    Senior Member matmos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Victor View Post
    Of course the map is not the territory, but each map is a new way of seeing.
    I am minded of this from the King James Bible:
    And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire. Matthew 18:9
    When I first read this I found it a detestable and grim little phrase. Those monotonous little christian words, penned by a pimp.

    But I took Matt's advice and plucked out an eye.

    Now I love it. It is one of my favourite quotations.

    If it offends you, just look at it a different way.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Friend View Post
    I like this analogy victor, what do you think about this- perhaps the goal is to live inside the territory never using another map again. this would be enlightenment.
    I'd like to be enlightened. Enlightenment, I am told is your friend and mine.

    And I am also told that I perceive by making distinctions. And it is out of distinctions, we make maps.

    So the only conclusion I can draw is that we can't see without maps.

    And so enlightenment is forever out of my reach.

    Perhaps this is the tragedy of being a contingent human being.

    And I must admit I have always been attracted to tragedy as being closer to reality.

    But I can handle only so much reality at a time.

    So I take one faltering step at a time, just as I write one faltering line at a time.

    And I don't know what the next step will bring, anymore than I know what the next line will bring.

    But it is usually a surprise.

    It is almost as though reality wants to surprise me, and so keeps me in the dark, lest I become enlightened.

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