Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Romance of Maps

[The range between the blue and pink areas of West Africa are the 'Mountains of Kong', which appeared on maps for 60 years until discovered not to exist in 1889.]

The "romance of maps" is hokum. Twenty years ago I was on a bicycle trip in Patagonia and riding along the South Atlantic coast of Tierra del Fuego. There was a whale skeleton on an empty beach. I let go of my usual skepticism and allowed myself some self-congratulation on having reached a genuinely remote and exotic place. Until I came to a tiny town somewhat away from the main road.

There were teenagers hanging around, clearly bored out of their minds, and counting the days until they could graduate from high school and get out of this boring dump of a town and leave for the Big Apple, Buenos Aires. Which showed that no matter how exotic a place may seem to travelers, to people who live there, it is always same-old, same-old.

The concepts of "romantic", "remote", and "exotic" are all failures of perspective and imagination.



  1. Jasmin11:06 AM

    I would strongly disagree, the beauty of Persepolis transcends the hum-drum life perceived through the Westerner's eyes; a place of tranquility, reflection and excellence.

  2. Persepolis is important, but mainly because it reminds us of how much Muslim Iran is inferior culturally and morally to its greatness under the Acheamenids and Sassanians.

  3. Anonymous11:39 PM

    I met Rita again, she isn't a Patty Pelfrey. You must be getting lazy in your old age.

  4. Nobody is a Patty Pelfrey, except the original. I am just as lazy as I ever was.

  5. Anonymous5:54 PM

    Have you cheated yet?

  6. No, nor do I intend to. I have however Jimmy Carter-sinned by "lusting after other women in my heart."

  7. Anonymous9:43 PM

    I'm not holding my breath.

  8. The community I grew up in saw bus loads of tourists every day...but that did not convince me to stay.