145 - The Madonna Map Syndrome
From a young age, Frank was fascinated by maps and atlases, and the stories they contained. Finding his birthplace on the map in the endpapers of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings only increased his interest in the mystery and message of maps.
While pursuing a career in journalism, Frank started a blog called Strange Maps, as a repository for the weird and wonderful cartography he found hidden in books, posing as everyday objects and (of course) floating around the Internet.
"Each map tells a story, but the stories told by your standard atlas for school or reference are limited and literal: they show only the most practical side of the world, its geography and its political divisions. Strange Maps aims to collect and comment on maps that do everything but that - maps that show the world from a different angle".
A remit that wide allows for a steady, varied diet of maps: Frank has been writing about strange maps since 2006, published a book on the subject in 2009 and joined Big Think in 2010. Readers send in new material daily, and he keeps bumping in to cartography that is delightfully obscure, amazingly beautiful, shockingly partisan, and more.
The cyclist pauses amid fields of produce that stretch toward the horizon, punctuated only by farms and roads. He stares in bafflement at a road map far too elaborate for its featureless surroundings. This rather nice picture reminds me of that line in the Madonna song Like A Virgin: Didn’t know how lost I was until I found you.
The picture was taken here from this website, detailing the bike-trips of Bob Lucky in his native US and across the pond in Europe. This particular photo was taken while en route to the Mont-Saint-Michel in Normandy (France).\n
"We took an arbitrary direction, and for the first and only time on our trip, we encountered a road map on a sign – right there in the middle of nowhere", writes Mr Lucky. "Len stared at the map for a while and shrugged his shoulders. I took my turn trying to decipher it, and soon gave up. We had no idea where we were supposed to go to get to Mont-St-Michel. Once again we took an arbitrary direction."\n
A perfect illustration, I think, of what I would like to call the Madonna Map Syndrome, in reference to the aforementioned song quote: the map is too complicated to ‘click’ with the map-reader, who is left feeling even more lost than before he consulted it. Fortunately for Mr Lucky, his name proved ominous:\n
"After the next turn, we got our first view of the abbey off in the distance. It was an exhilarating sight, and one that would be with us for the next day of traveling."\n
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