April 27th, 2011
Hey, look everybody. It’s a map of America that looks like a pig.
But wait! Don’t worry; it’s not political. It wasn’t made by a bunch of hippies as some sort of commentary on consumerism, no. Hippies wouldn’t be so foolish, because they’d realize that to associate anything with pork is to associate it with bacon, and thereby make it even more awesome.
Apparently, the map above is “the world’s finest – and possibly only – example of sustained porcineography,” and was given out as a party favor at a picnic in 1875. And the fact that I know that all traces back to my new favoritest site in the world: “Strange Maps.”
Warning: Only click that link if you’ve got some time to waste.
I love maps. Adore them. Am maybe, just maybe, a little bit obsessed with them. And I think the reason I love maps is the same reason that I love theatre. Crazy? Crazy.
On some level, all maps are about storytelling. You figure out what you want to display, and then you think about the most expedient, clear, compelling way to tell it. Some details have to be left out, and some you have to emphasize, but in the end you form a type of narrative. Sometimes you’re telling the story of how to get to the nearest gas station. Sometimes you’re telling the story of what synapses in the brain do what tasks. And sometimes you’re telling the story of why Oregon is equivalent to the butt of a pig, and also Cuba is really just one big giant sausage, I guess? You can make a map that shows anything you want, no matter how crazy it may be.
And when it’s all over, isn’t the crazy stuff better? I’m addicted to that blog because it’s called “Strange Maps.” I would be less addicted to one called “Boring Normal Functional Maps.” (I’d still be a little addicted, but I probably wouldn’t blog about it.) I like seeing maps with sea monsters drawn on them. I also like maps of the human brain, or maps that try to demonstrate just how tiny the world is in comparison to the universe. Those are crazy, impossible concepts, and I love them.
I also like plays that have people fly, or have robots, or tell stories about impossible things. (Bam! Connection!) Making a map is all about taking the story you want to tell, and making it jump off the page. Making a play is all about taking the story you want to tell, and making it jump off the stage (hopefully not directly into any of the audience members). You’ll notice that the word “page” and the word “stage” rhyme with each other; how cool is that? Further evidence of my point.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to pack up and move to Arkansas, so as to be closer to delicious, delicious pork belly.