Sunday, October 15, 2006

How Do Maps Work?

I was lost in a shopping mall so I found a directory map and there was a big red circle on it labeled, "You Are Here." But what did that mean? I was not even touching the map. Now, if the big dot were on the floor and I was standing on it, it would make sense for the dot to say, You Are Here. But that wouldn't be helpful.

From what point of view was I “here” at the red dot on the map? Somebody who had an impossible view of a transparent mall from a blimp overhead, might be able to identify my spatial location in relation to the shops and corridors around me, and they could take a picture and put a dot on the image and say, "He is here." But that wouldn’t help me.

A map is a view from nowhere. How does one take a view from nowhere when each of us is always somewhere?

A map that includes a representation of its viewer is a paradox, and yet you must have an idea of where you are on a map in order to read it. But you can't be represented on the map and the viewer of the map at the same time.

I don't understand how maps work.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

What Could This Mean?

Here is an actual sentence from an article I did not finish reading:

"In this context of political defeat and disillusion with the possibilities of subjective action, structuralism, with its discovery of a Platonic world of mental phenomena conceived on the model of Saussurrean langue, immune from material determination, historical forces, or the effects of social activity, and equally insulated from the illusions of subjectivity, transmuted the political alienation of a generation into the appearance of an apolitical, scientific approach capable of penetrating levels of humane psychological and cultural reality inaccessible to either traditional Marxism or Sartrian phenomenology."

Terence Turner, Bodies and Anti-Bodies, in Csordas, T.J. (Ed.) Embodiment and Experience: The existential ground of culture and self. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994, pp. 32-33.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Why is it so much easier to destroy than to create?

You drop a serving tray full of dinner on the floor and it is ruined. The whole thing takes maybe 2 seconds. Yet it might have taken hours to prepare the meal and who knows how long it takes to make a dish.

You can destroy a person's reputation in a few days, but it takes years to build a reputation.

Your house, that took months to build and perhaps years to furnish with your stuff, can burn to ashes in an hour.

You can kill a person with one bullet in one second, even though it took that person their whole life to become that person.

The asymmetry in effort between creation and destruction doesn't seem reasonable. Why is it that way?