Wednesday 24 December 2014

There is no other relic of the disciplines of geography

. . . In that Empire, the Art of Cartography attained such Perfection that the map of a single Province occupied the entirety of a City, and the map of the Empire, the entirety of a Province. In time, those Unconscionable Maps no longer satisfied, and the Cartographers Guilds struck a Map of the Empire whose size was that of the Empire, and which coincided point for point with it. The following Generations, who were not so fond of the Study of Cartography as their Forebears had been, saw that that vast map was Useless, and not without some Pitilessness was it, that they delivered it up to the Inclemencies of Sun and Winters. In the Deserts of the West, still today, there are Tattered Ruins of that Map, inhabited by Animals and Beggars; in all the Land there is no other Relic of the Disciplines of Geography.

Borges's On Exactitude in Science has always been something that struck me as eminently game-able. (To be fair to Lewis Carroll, I've recently learned that the idea is more properly attributed to him.) A map with a scale of a mile to a mile which was cast aside as useless, but of which large fragments can still be found here and there - maybe themselves miles across. These map fragments are obviously not tied to their corresponding locations (the wind having swept them elsewhere) and over time have become refuges for exiles, hermits and outcasts - a sort of parallel world where things vaguely resemble what they purport to represent, but in a twisted and unusual way. A little like what I was playing around with in New Troy, but with a magic realist spin.

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