What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos


Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers


Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge


Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more

245 - Love’s Topography: la Carte de Tendre

February 18, 2008, 6:44 PM

tendre_gr.jpgOne of the earliest, and most influential examples of sentimental cartography is the Carte de Tendre, an example of the highly refined imagination prevalent in 17th century French literary salons.  (another one is entry #59 on this blog, a German map of the Empire of Love)Â

The fictional country of Tendre (‘Tender’) was inspired by Clélie, Histoire romaine, a novel by Madeleine de Scudéry (1607-1701), whose much-frequented and tone-setting salon was one of the focal points of Préciosité, a rarefied literary genre noted for its effusive erudition and gallantry.

The map of Tendre is a topographic allegory, representing the stations of love as if they were real paths and places.

The country is bisected by the Inclination (‘Disposition’), a river that runs south to north, joined by two smaller rivers, the Estime (‘Respect’) and the Reconnaissance (‘Gratitude’), before plunging into La mer dangereuse (‘the Dangerous Sea’), which is separated from a reef-ridden narrows from Terres inconnues (‘Unknown Lands’). To the west are the decidedly choppy waters of the Mer d’Inimitié (‘Sea of Enmity’).

The smooth flow of the rivers symbolises the control over passions, the perils of the sea the danger of unbridled emotions. Straddling the rivers are three eponymous capital cities: Tendre-sur-Estime, Tendre-sur-Reconnaissance. Places along those rivers mark the waypoints of ‘civilised’ love – and some of its pitfalls:

Marking the road from Nouvelle amitié (‘New Friendship’) to Tendre-sur-Reconnaissance are the following towns, purportedly representing a gradual increase of affection:

  • Complaisance (‘Kindness’ or ‘Smugness’)
  • Soumission (‘Submission’)
  • Petits soins (‘Care of Small Things’)
  • Assiduité (‘Attentiveness’)
  • Empressement (‘Eagerness’)
  • Grands services (‘Great Favours’)
  • Sensibilité (‘Sensibility’)
  • Tendresse (‘Tenderness’)
  • Obéissance (‘Obedience’)
  • Constante amitié (‘Constant Friendship’)

However, close to the forbidding rock fortress of Orgueil (‘pride’) in the extreme south-west are places to be avoided, such as:

  • Meschanceté (‘meanness’)
  • Medisance (‘disparagement’)
  • Perfidie (‘betrayal’)
  • Indiscretion (‘indiscretion’)

Equally avoidable are the localities leading from Nouvelle amitié towards the Lac d’Indifference (‘Lake Disinterest’): 

  • Négligence (‘Negligence’)
  • Inesgalité (‘Inequality’)
  • Tiédeur (‘Lukewarmness’)
  • Légèreté (‘Levity’)
  • Oubli (‘Oblivion’)

Leading towards Tendre-sur-Inclination and beyond to Tendre-sur-Estime are the towns of:

  • Grand-esprit (‘Great Wit’)
  • Iolis Vers (‘Beautiful Verse’)
  • Billet galant (‘Gallant Letter’)
  • Billet doux (‘Sentimental Letter’)
  • Sincérité (‘Sincerity’)
  • Grand Coeur (‘Magnanimity’)
  • Probité (‘Probity’)
  • Générosité (‘Generosity’)
  • Exactitude (‘Punctuality’)
  • Respect (‘Respect’)
  • Bonté (‘Goodness’)

This map was found at this page of the University of Richmond (Virginia, US).


245 - Love’s Topography: la...

Newsletter: Share: