FYS: Power of Maps
This semester our class closely analyzed the Brennen Map Collection during the first semester. As a class we had the chance to dive deep into the truest details of the collection and found our favorite ideas about the maps. I interestingly found the importance on the blank space on a map. Looking through the collection I found almost every map has it’s own blank space to examine. While I have picked up some interest throughout our trip to the collection we have read in class some interesting authors who explore the ideas of blank space in depth and can help us further explore the ideas behind the map. It is sometimes what you can not see that is the biggest component in a map. Blank spaces are hidden values of the maps that can tell us what the author of a map would truly want you to see and what he would not want you to see. While also examining the maps I found out that the idea of maps are forever changing and can be barely ever be an exact replication of the landscape. With these two ideas in mind, I will introduce some of my previous ideas and combine them with the ever so changing map details to give us more information behind the true meaning of maps.
“The blank page, then, is only a beginning, as opposed to the beginning.” (Turchi 29). A quote like this one in the beginning of the chapter offers us a bone to pick at. Turchi bring up some examples in the second chapter of some “Putter Outers”, famously said by Thomas Wolfe. These are the authors that leave out information so the readers can fill in the information themselves. Turchi explains that other authors are leaving out information on purpose so the readers are constantly asked question about the missing information. Turchi brings up John Cage’s 4’33” as an examples of a putter outter. This is a musical piece that is strictly composed of only rests. The audience is left to imagine only what the composer meaning was to create a song with no sound. This is an example of complete blank space and it goes along with Rauschenberg’s art work of two completely blank white pieces of paper. These two pieces of art leaves the people wondering what the true meaning of the piece actually was. These two examples of putter outers shows us that the amount of information given to the on goers was too minimal to interpret the true meaning of the piece of art. “Kate Chopin’s “The Storm” is highly selective, leaps through white space, and propels us into the world of the unspoken” (Turchi 51). This example is a story only gives us bits and piece of a story and at the end it tells us that everything turned out fine and everyone was happy. This leaves us in confusing asking was everyone actually happy or not. The author purpose is to make a reader prose question like these in order to define the story’s meaning. The author is trying to leave the reader with just enough information that the interpretation can happen in the reader’s mind and not on the text. All examples of these “putter outers” give us a good reason as to why an author will leave out information to get his/her meaning across toward the reader.
While reviewing the maps in the Brennen Maps Collection, I found that all the maps were not exactly proportional but they absolutely did their best they could. Back when these maps were created, the author did their best to interpret the land and draw it to how they saw it. What we barely recognize is the fact that almost every landscape changes every second. With that being said, no map can be the exact and no map can stay updated since it is only a snapshot of the land at that time period. While reading in class, we read through a chapter that spots out the significance of the shift in the preciseness of exact map. The world is forever changing and we can not stop that from happening. We also have the knowledge that the coastlines of every continent will change due to the ever changing water level and tides. Beaches and islands can be created or taken away in a blink of a tide.
We as a people created the blank space – of the maps – in our minds. “The earth itself was never blank.” (Turchi 29). The earth was always full of detail but the cartographers paint the blank space in order to create a certain meaning to the landscape. For most authors of maps, it is the challenging promise to create a map that could be used for a prolonged time. Since the authenticity of the map wears due to global change, it is the map makers that deal with the issue and try to replicate that time period in it’s best stance. The map makers, just like the authors, have full control of the information given out and by that they control the meaning behind every map. Some of them leave out too much information and some put in too much information but all as one they try to bring a meaning out of the context. Map makers control the information and by that control the meaning.
(second paragraph from previous works cited by sean jansson)