Wednesday, May 7, 2008


The finger pointing at the moon is not the moon. The map, goes the same idea in another tradition, is not the territory.

The difference between maps and territories is an important but small point. What interests me is why isn’t the map the territory?

The map has edges. It is edges that make a map not a territory. If the map extended infinitely in all directions as territory does, it would be a territory, not a map. Infinity makes territory territory, edges make maps maps. This was the confusion of early European explorers: their maps had edges and, in their minds, so must the territory. They worried about falling off.

What makes a map a map is not what gets on the map – difference, as Gregory Bateson pointed out – for difference is in the territory, too. What makes a map a map are its edges. Its usefulness, like a window or door, comes from what it is not.

Turn the question around: when might a territory be a map? Is my yard not a territory, a plot of ground, a landscape? And yet my yard is a map of my universe: my home at the center of it, within a periphery, and beyond that no man’s land, the frontier, what is off the map.

My house itself serves as template for myself: the rooms and cabinets and drawers correspond to the rooms and cabinets and drawers of my mind, the walls, the skin of my body, the windows and drains, orifices of pores, eyes, nostrils, ears, mouth, urethra, anus. I occupy a body outside my body. Both serve as guides to the rest: all territory, all map.

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