“What a useful thing a pocket-map is!” I remarked.
“That’s another thing we’ve learned from your Nation,” said Mein Herr, “map-making. But we’ve carried it much further than you. What do you consider the largest map that would be really useful?”
“About six inches to the mile.”
“Only six inches!” exclaimed Mein Herr. “We very soon got to six yards to the mile. Then we tried a hundred yards to the mile. And then came the grandest idea of all! We actually made a map of the country, on the scale of a mile to the mile!”
“Have you used it much?” I enquired.
“It has never been spread out, yet,” said Mein Herr: “the farmers objected: they said it would cover the whole country, and shut out the sunlight! So we now use the country itself, as its own map, and I assure you it does nearly as well.”
— from Chapter 11, “The Man in the Moon,” in Sylvie and Bruno Concluded, by Lewis Carroll
The map is not the territory — Alfred Korzybski, Polish-American scientist and philosopher, 1931
The saying “The map is not the territory” has become a truism in intellectual circles. We cannot trust the map, a distillation of the data of our senses, to give us the true essence of the territory. The map guides us through the territory because the structure of the map is analogous — but not identical — to the structure of the territory. And so we pass through the territory without knowing the nature of it.
But with regard to the outside world, in any case, we are prisoners of our senses; we must depend upon them to bring us some indirect report of that world, and it is only within our imaginations that we can conceive of it directly.
Within collage, we make or find a map of the imagination. And it is a map to covet. For the collage map fulfills a dream far beyond the dreams of the mad cartographers in Sylvie and Bruno: collage not only corresponds perfectly point-to-point with the territory of imagination; it is that territory, or a part of it.
And when we dream of every such map ever created anywhere — seen or unseen, known or unknown — we see with the mind’s eye the vast territory that is the collective imagination, the territory that is the mosaic map called Collage.
RELATED POSTS: “On Interpretation & Interaction”