Cartography

[Writing, and by extension thinking things thoroughly, is not really about meaning and narrative, but about cartography and landscaping, including countries yet to be known.]

The city of Leyden in the Netherlands ("Leiden" in Dutch, pop.120,000), known as "the Dutch Oxford", located in the province of SouthHolland.

Over the centuries, Leyden was home to many scientists, includingConstantijn Huyghens, René Descartes and Albert Einstein, as well as anumber of notable artists, such as Rembrandt (a native of the city) and other Old Masters. Leyden was also the city in which Theo van Doesburg founded De Stijl in 1917, together with Piet Mondrian. De Stijl was both a magazine and a movement, founded on the principle of abstracting things down to their geometric essence.

Here's a map of Leyden, in the style of De Stijl, made by Jos Agasi in 2007, the 90th anniversary year of the movement’s founding.

“I was inspired by works by Theo van Doesburg, who lived in Leyden from1916 to 1920. My map is a homage to his work, which I admire greatly.The map started out as a graphic exercise: I wascurious to find out whether it would be possible to ‘translate’ Leydencity centre to a map, using only verticalm, horizontal and diagonallines. I managed to do it — all the streets and alleyways in Leyden areon the map!”

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Some beautiful words:

  1. cartocacoethes – the compulsion to see maps everywhere;
  2. apopheniain its most general definition, the experience of seeing patterns in random data, a term that also covers the phenomenon of ‘false positives’ in statistics;
  3. pareidolia(a more specific type of apophenia) perceiving significance in stimuli that have none. This perceived significance is usually more revealing of the perceiver than of the stimuli (might explain why it’s often the devout that see images of Jesus on a piece of toast).

Via Strange Maps, a few examples of cartographic pareidolia (as "sometimes the stimulus is just too convincing, the pareidolia too blatant"): Britain-shaped clouds, Africa in a milanesa, Australia as a puddle.

Agasi-de-stijl-kaartBritainAfricaAustralia

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