There is the veneer of authority in a map. A splotch of color bordered by cold, static black lines is the world as it is and as it is for all. Maps, however, are an abstraction of reality. We see the world in a particular way and so we splash this vision onto the page. There is within this a tension.
A fellow editor for this paper recounted to me a story of travels in Saudi Arabia in the 1980s. He arrived at the border with a book of maps. Written on certain pages, as in most political cartography, was the term “Israel” — the ink hovering above a portion of land in the Middle East. This was, in the mind of the customs officer, clearly a mistake, one he would promptly fix. Every instance of this word, be it above a squiggle of borders or buried in the index, was totally blacked out. The term was, literally, wiped off the map.
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