Tuesday, December 28, 2010

of cartographies

I must have the look of a guy who could use a map: disoriented, off track, out of place.

For Christmas last year my dad got us a great National Geographic world atlas. It's huge too, like a kitchen door with pages. The same year my brother gave me this beautiful physiographic map of Nevada from raven maps. One of the things I really like about this one is how starkly it shows the caprice of state boundaries, especially with western states, like a cut of meat laid out on white butcher paper. It’s about 4 x 5 feet and takes up an entire wall at our house!

And this year my mom went to visit my sister in Scotland where they found me this fabulous Seale/Rapin map of North America from 1745, “with the European settlements &. whatever elfe is remarkable in ye West Indies, from the lateft and beft obfervations.”It’s from the Carson Clark Gallery in Edinburgh, who does maps and sea charts from the 16th to 19th centuries.

While we’re on the subject, and limited wallspace isn’t an issue, here are a few more to look at.

Let's start with an old favorite.

A high school teacher of mine kept this one hung up in his classroom.

Joel Garreau’s “nine nations of north America," as of 1981.

this land is your land, this land is my land

Another favorite. Where to begin.

Maybe even better, this one goes a step further, putting "the West" back out on the margins, splitting the Prime Meridian, and centering the International Date Line.

Above, toy exports & toy imports. These Worldmapper guys have hundreds like this! Like, you can sort of see where Santa's elves live.

clothing imports look similar.

grain exports.

weapon exports.

nuclear weapons.

landmine casualties.

rabies deaths.

and books published.

the Book Depository shows a map of who's online buying what books where. the “live” thing is a little misleading, but a cool idea all the same.

below, a geography of narcissism and leisure, or "who's using facebook?"

On a similar note, here's this little piece of steampunk foppery from boingboing.

And check out Kevin Kelly’s 2009 internet mapping project on the Technium.

Also see mapping stereotypes, where there's an especially fine collection of inter-European prejudices. (Thanks for the tip, Jon P. Spencer!) Now they've even done a 2011 calendar.

Ex: the American view.

And, finally, for some more great old ones, the David Rumsey map collection has thousands of all kinds, like this heights of mountains, lengths of rivers from 1846.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

writer photos

A couple of weeks ago I was at this used bookstore with Tom, who, for an illiterate two-year-old who can only reach the second shelf, does pretty well at bookstores. This time we’d already run a few errands so he was a little antsier than usual. And as I was looking through the M's for a copy of Beloved, he started pulling stuff off the shelves.

At the library I once watched a mother beat her kid for getting all excited and pulling out too many books at once. I’d rather Tom like books than reverence or fear them, even if it means he trashes a few. I looked up and saw the backs of a bunch of James Patterson novels that had been set up on display facing the opposite side—James Patterson whose bib reads like a daytime TV series. So I handed one to Tom, reasoning to myself that he could do his worst and it would be like spoiling a $2 roll of paper towels. No problem.
But all the different author pics on the backs of those James Patterson novels was a little more unsettling. Patterson the dopey-eyed novelist. The wristwatch model. The waterside character with a mouth like a rabbit’s bum, as it were, and some sort of flattened baseball cap draped over his skull. Since then I’ve paid more attention to the photos writers and publishers choose to put on their dust jackets, who they’re trying to be there, what certain props and other accessories are supposed to mean, and why author photos at all.
Here are a few more examples.
Let's start with a couple of V.S. Naipaul, OK?

At left, the working writer. The earnest, enigmatic creator and custodian of a heaping tome of a (probably type-written) manuscript. Heavy glasses.
On the right, the elderly, joshing libertine, playfully thrusting a cat your way.

more cats:

Phillip K. Dick clutches one.
Mark Twain, in his white suit here, with a kitten and cigar. Like a nice cat, smoking, actually, is tremendously helpful for simultaneously offsetting and emphasizing the "thoughtful guy" ethos of a good author portrait.

Steinbeck holding his smoke like a riddle beside his face; I've always liked this one.
Bukowski, whose portrait would be incomplete (maybe indistinguishable) without a faceful.
And David Sedaris, of course.

As fine as smoke is, see how striking the turbulent clouds in this one of Borges for comparison.

And must a portrait be a human face? Why?

These last two of Borges are by Susana Mulé. With cane. Between two Asian men. (Also, another cat.)

Finally, maybe another genre itself: critics, theorists, and other such types.

Derrida, as always, looking like a rock star.
Slajov Žižek, who acts like a rock star. (Real awkward family photo material here.)
Walter Mignolo, quite appropriately placed in the foreground of what looks like a labrynth garden, sneaky guys milling around in the background.
And Christopher Lloyd?