In the memory of the map : a cartographic memoir by Christopher Norment

By Christopher Norment

The prior is often with me -- What I wanted such a lot used to be break out -- It was once very unlikely to not ask yourself -- The silence was once like no different -- They constantly knew their manner -- the reality might be published -- Fathering the map -- within the fullness of time -- after which i used to be domestic

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Irritates me. indb 39 9/16/11 3:04:03 PM 40 First Maps obvious, like the label on the butane lighter I use to ignite my camp stove, which admonishes me to keep the open flame away from my face and not chuck the lighter into a fire. In a similar way, the passage in Sierra South states what should be obvious — that a trail beginning at five thousand feet and ascending a steep, south-facing slope may be a brutal bugger on an August afternoon. If I were contemplating hiking into Granite Basin I’d ignore the rococo of Sierra South in favor of Starr’s Guide’s minimalism and leave more to my imagination.

I desired a world of possibilities and adventure, leavened by an imprecise hint of the known. For, as Peter Turchi has observed, maps are a common feature of children’s and adventure books, such as Winnie-thePooh, Treasure Island, and Lord of the Rings, and it was the quest that I craved, the experiences that would take me deep into another country. I wanted terra incognita, not terra cognita. Turchi describes the map in Treasure Island as creating “a space precisely the size of a boy’s imagination,” and in me this space was filled by maps of the High Sierra.

At nine years of age I lacked the means to undertake independent journeys beyond the boundaries of a world made accessible by my rattletrap one-speed bicycle, but my cache of road maps was a catalyst for my imagination. ” And the world that I might know was far removed from the Saratoga orchard where I lived. Although the reasons for my obsession with maps and automobile travel were no doubt complex, created out of a particular chemistry of personal experience and innate tendency, I suspect that some of my motivation lay in the possibility of escaping from my childhood home.

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