Personal Geographies and Imaginary Worlds

Our two readings for this week both involve what the subtitle of Katherine Harmon’s You Are Here” refers to as “maps of the imagination.” Whether discussing maps of fictional/imaginary places, as in Ricardo Padron’s chapter “Mapping Imaginary Worlds” from Maps: Finding our Place in the World, or the wide variety of unique, interpretive, and often artistically stunning maps in Harmon’s book, the variety of subject matter, points of view, aesthetic choices, and political/ideological perspectives is the first thing you notice. After awhile, though, I found that I could really appreciate that there is a deeper commonality running through all these different maps, and that is that they are all–maps. As Padron writes at the end of his chapter, 

“And so, while maps of imaginary worlds do indeed delight, distract, reveal truths, whisper secrets, unsettle, reassure, perhaps they do not do so because they are maps of imaginary worlds, but because they are maps.”

The idea that the map itself is more than a form or even a genre but is instead an actual mode of thinking about the world and our place in it–that’s an idea that could apply not just to this weeks readings, but to this entire course.

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3 thoughts on “Personal Geographies and Imaginary Worlds

  1. Like you, I found the artwork impressive. The ability to break away from certain mapping conventions and add a personal stamp on the interpretation is intoxicating, yet with too much variance in the structure, I found these maps tend to overwhelm after awhile. Taken in small bits, like visiting an art museum, one can appreciate the details and nuances. Still, it seemed like a mental workout to try to interpret each map without detailed context or explanation and like you said, rather like trying to read the mind of the creator for interpretation. This was challenging for me because I was not trying to navigate through a terrain of recognizable features, but rather through a mind map with unknown parameters and unfamiliar levels of significance – a difficult genre for me to navigate. Still, if I could incorporate some of the incredible artwork into maps, that would indeed be a skill worthy of emulating.

  2. Pingback: Imaginary Maps as Cartography or Art | The Journey to Enlightenment: Making the Leap to the Digital Age
  3. The whole aspect of an unconventional cartographic expression is very interesting. These maps are not based on geography, but experience and perceived location, be it real or imaginary. As with all the readings this semester, my definition of a maps and what it is used for has greatly expanded.

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